Category: Life & Home

May it be of Use Month

May it Be of Use MonthWhen I saw this idea posted on Facebook, I knew I had to jump on board. We all have nearly new stuff lying around we’re not using. The idea, created by Maggie Harris, is to give away one item a day during the month of May to someone who can actually use it.

“This May, I have decided I am calling “MAY it be of use” month. Every day I will be *responsibly* purging something from my home that is useful but not used by us, every day in May. Imagine the de-clutter and the help that can come from 31 days of “MAY it be of use”, says Maggie.

This is meaningful to me because throughout my life people have generously given me hand me down items that were truly useful to me in times when I didn’t have a lot of extra cash. I’d love to pay that forward, but honestly a lot of stuff that I have just sits and sits unused at my house. So, this is the month that changes!

So why give stuff away for free, you might ask, if it might be worth something? If you have the time to sell your stuff online or through a garage sale, I applaud your efforts wholeheartedly. I’ve meant to have a garage sale for, oh, probably three years now, and it never happens. Meanwhile, the stuff keeps accumulating.

For example, I had a floral blazer sitting in the back of my car for an embarrassingly long time, destined for the consignment shop but never actually making it there. Eventually I needed to clean my car out so this lovely jacket wound up that very day on a lovely friend whose health sometimes prevents her from doing a lot of shopping. She looked great in the bright blazer, which fit her perfectly! Every time I think of it I feel so giddy that something that was a hindrance to me became a cherished possession to someone else. That’s why I’m so excited about May it Be of Use Month–I could have gotten maybe $5 off consigning the jacket, but the relief of not having it on my to-do list and the pleasure of seeing it go to good use is worth far more than that.

So, where to start? An item a day is pretty daunting for me and my busy schedule, so I’m going to focus on doing this once per week for a total goal of 31 items. For example, if I give away ten items in a free stuff “sale” next weekend, then I’ll count that as ten toward my goal.

Ideas to get started with:

-Clothing you bought but never wore, but might suit a friend’s size and style.

-Kitchen items that you’re not using could be given to a family member going off to college or getting her first home.

-Don’t have a specific person in mind? Just bag up your miscellaneous goods for drop off at a local charity.

Let’s see what we can give. Join in and let me know what you’re giving with the hashtag #MayitBeofUse on twitter and Instagram and be sure to share your ideas and inspiration with the May it Be of Use facebook page.

Help Make Prom Dreams Come True

Ever After GownsIf you’ve read my about me section, you’ll know that I love raising awareness on causes I care about. I’ve been a volunteer for Ever After Gowns for the past four years and am still so honored to be part of this great organization. And guess what time of year it is? It’s prom season! I’ve put together a post on how you can get involved in helping prom dreams come true.

Minneapolis Volunteer Opportunity

What really sets this organization apart is that it’s entirely run by volunteers with no paid staff members. The biggest volunteer opportunity is at the annual boutique event taking place this weekend. Right now volunteers are needed for set up on April 11th for the following set up shifts: 12:30-2 at The Lock Up Storage in Bloomington, 3-6 at Richfield High School and 6-9 at Richfield High School. Interested volunteers should follow the instructions on the sign-up PDF. (You can ignore the listed deadline since shifts are still open.)

And if you’ve volunteered with an organization like this in the past, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below or on Facebook.

Donate a Formal Dress

Maybe you read about the 40 hanger closet or are just doing some spring cleaning and you’ve realized how much space that beaded ballgown is taking up. Congratulations, making the decision to donate is the first step toward helping others and clearing your closet clutter! Donations can be brought to a number of locations around the metro area year round. The drop spots are local businesses who contribute their own space and time to be a convenient collection point for donations so make sure to give them a big thank you! Not from the Twin Cities? will connect you with another deserving organization in your area.

What to Donate

Dresses that are of current style (bought within the last 5 years) and in good shape make the best candidates for donation and underrepresented sizes (0-6 and 14+) are especially in demand. Shoes and jewelry are also really needed! Last year I volunteered in the shoe station during the boutique event and there was an astonishing demand for pretty, glitzy flats. Some of the young women Ever After Gowns serves either can’t wear heels for medical reasons or opt for a comfy dancing shoe (I can’t blame them. I love flats!).

Donate Your Prom Shoes

If you know a student who could benefit from the organization’s services, Ever After Gowns takes referrals from the students’ school guidance counselors based on financial need. Boutique guests are treated like royalty and get lots of one-on-one personal shopping and styling. Now go take a look in your closet and see if you can make a difference!

Minneapolis Must-See: Macy’s Flower Show

Macy's flower show brochureEvery spring, the downtown Minneapolis Macy’s partners with local floral giant Bachman’s to create a themed flower show that attracts thousands of visitors. And every spring, I think about going but never actually do. This was a milestone year, however, because my family happened to be hosting some out of town guests. Since they were from afar (Switzerland) it was a pretty good excuse to see some sights in the city that we don’t usually see.

This year’s Secret Garden theme lent itself nicely to little themed gardens within a garden. There was a little English garden, a German garden and a Japanese garden. The Pièce de résistance was a flower-bedecked sculpture of a women in a dress of red roses.

If you can’t make it to the show, here are some photos to give you a taste of Macy’s interpretation of the Secret Garden. It’s certainly an excursion to put you in the mood for spring, even though an April snowstorm is on its way.

Macy's Flower showMacy's flower show rose dressIf you go: The entire show takes place in one room on the sixth floor of the Macy’s building, accessible from Macy’s by escalator and elevator. The show continues through April 6 during store open hours. I was there on a Sunday right before closing and there was no wait, but a coworker of mine waited in line for 45 minutes to get in the day before. The lighting doesn’t lend itself well to taking pictures AT ALL, so bring a good camera and a lot of patience.

St. Patrick’s Day the Vintage Way

Irish Dance MinnesotaHappy St. Patrick’s Day, Paperdoll-ers. I celebrated yesterday with my traditional trip to downtown St. Paul’s Landmark Center for the Irish Music & Dance Association’s Day of Irish Dance. It’s great to see the growth of many new dance schools in the Twin Cities area and watch Irish dance flourishing here.

Since Irish dance has been a part of my life for more than the last decade, I wanted to share how Irish dance has been portrayed in eras passed. When I was researching vintage cards for Valentine’s Day, I realized that there are quite a few St. Patrick’s Day card designs. A few portrayed dancers, so I decided those were the ones to share with you here.

Back when cards were still super popular, it was traditional to send St. Patrick’s Day greeting cards to friends and family. The vintage images printed on these cards have seen an upsurge in popularity. Even at Day of Dance, I saw Landmark Center’s gift shop had little trinkets with reproduced Irish greeting card image for sale.

Irish Dance PostcardVintage cards aren’t usually worth a lot, since most have already been written on and mailed.This one is from Ruby Lane is selling for $12, the upper end of the vintage card market.

Irish dance posterThis reproduction is available in poster format from Amazon and yours for $7. Not collectible per se, but a cost effective decorative item nonetheless.

Vintage St. Patrick's Day postcardThis postcard has a couple kids doing something that might vaguely resemble Irish dancing, but they should probably work on keeping their arms straight.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

40 Hanger Closet Makeover

Organize Your Closet with 4 Steps & 40 hangers

40 Hanger ClosetHow to do the 40 Hanger Closet

Have you heard of the 40 Hanger Closet? Forty hangers is not a lot. When I counted all the items I had in my closet, it was over 80. And I promise you, I do not have a big closet. My stuff was so jam packed there was no wiggle room to even move one hanger. And I sure wasn’t wearing the vast majority of what was in there. The worst part was I’d actually forgotten about some of my clothes that had gotten lost in my closet. It was time for a major closet organization.

The goal of the 40 Hanger Closet Makeover is to make your closet your very own boutique. Everything you have in your closet you’ll love, you’ll be able to find, and you’ll be able to see what matches with what. Basically it’s a way to turn the closet you already have into the closet you dream about without buying a single piece of clothing.

That’s a lot to ask from 40 hangers. If you’re up for the challenge, here’s how to do it.

The 4 Steps to Create a 40 Hanger Closet

1. Get all matching hangers. I bought forty of the velvet-covered “huggable hangers.” They are available online and just to warn you, forty can cost about $40 (but check discount stores like Ross or Marshalls as they occasionally have some cheaper). This is a lot for hangers, I know, which will make you grateful that this is called the 40 Hanger Closet and not the 100 Hanger Closet. These hangers are worth the extra money because they look amazing, keep your clothes firmly on the hanger, and aren’t as bulky as the plastic kind. Of course, you can always use matching hangers of a different type, the velvet kind are just what worked best for me. Matching hangers might not seem important, but the appeal it gives your clothes will make you feel like you’re shopping in a boutique which is exactly what you’re going for here! Here are a few kinds I like.

2. The next step is to purge your wardrobe down to only 40 hangers. This is an ongoing process for me, as I have a lot of dresses and jackets that I keep hanging up no matter what the season in order to keep them wrinkle-free. I exceed the 40 hanger limit for one type of hanger–an accessories hanger to keep scarves and belts organized!.
You can find something like this for $7 at Nordstrom Rack

3. Stick to it! The important part is not to cheat and sneak in more hangers, or add even one mismatched hanger. If you don’t have enough hangers, ask yourself if there’s something hanging up that you aren’t currently using. Find a spot for it somewhere else or consider letting it go. For more ideas on how to give away or re-purpose your old stuff, I have posts about that too.

4. Enjoy your new boutique of a 40 hanger closet!

If you have tips about closet organization I’d love to hear them. What works for you?

For more information on the 40 hanger closet, visit Ruth at Living Well & Spending Less.