Category: Life & Home

Host a Free Stuff “Sale”

vintage 047One of my co-workers is moving to a smaller apartment and needs to downsize her life. Lucky for us, as we all benefited because she followed in a long tradition at our workplace of hosting a Free Stuff Sale. A table or counter is designated as the gifting spot, and the giver brings in their wares and sets them out. Then the vultures descend and have a mad feeding frenzy and fight over the discarded goods. You know, normal day at the office. If anything is left over, it gets donated to a local charity or thrift store.

To me, this is about as good as it gets. As a green fiend and writer for a green living magazine, I fully support re-homing unwanted stuff instead of throwing it away. And as a bargain aficionado, I fully embrace getting free stuff. As I write this I am wearing my favorite cold weather wool blend sweater that I got at a clothing swap a couple years ago that I am SO grateful for on super cold days like today.

Accessories are the best candidates for Free Stuff Sales, but pieces of designer clothes and new or close to new beauty products sometimes pop up too. Here’s a guide to what’s usually popular:




-Wallets and small purses



Go through your stuff and make sure it’s something someone might actually want. Used makeup is best left out, since you can’t even donate that due to hygiene considerations.

I was inspired to take some photos of the Free Stuff Sale that happened today for examples of popular items. This stuff is so cute I couldn’t help but share it on the blog.

owl bottlecap necklaceIf the shoe fits...Love Will Save the DayWhat are your favorite ways to give stuff away? Would you do a Free Stuff Sale?

To Use or Not to Use?

Violet Days CartoonWhen I saw the “Violet Days” comic strip about keeping untouched decorative soap, I couldn’t help but relate. Thanks to a childhood passion for collecting and parents who haven’t moved, I was able to dig up my own collection of unused, dusty, nearing-antique-status decorative soaps. The whole menagerie, from the l’Occitane bar that was a party favor at my friend Susan’s birthday to the partially deteriorated Aunt Jemima Puddleduck, are pictured here.SoapsAs attested to in the cartoon, decorative soaps can be pretty confusing! Are they soap? Are they toys? Are they decorations? As a kid I clearly thought they were some combination of the latter two, since they are (mostly–Snoopy is missing part of his face) intact after more than 20 years. It reminds me of something I heard once about fingertip towels–you know, the doll-sized towels that you see in guest bathrooms that are almost always decorated with kitschy embroidery or lace of some kind. It’s said that almost no one uses these because they are, like decorative soaps, confusing. Does your host intend for you to actually use them, or are they meant to be looked at and admired while you shake your dripping hands and then pat them dry on your dress pants?

I once had this dilemma while a house guest in Switzerland. The only soap available in the guest bath was a completely untouched, wrapped l’Occitane bar as if I were in a five-star hotel. Almost wincing, I forced myself to peel open the crisp paper and mar the pristine surface of the smooth soap with water. “You are the guest,” I pep talked myself through the harrowing experience. “They want you to use this.”

Why do we have resistance to using nice things? Is it our upbringing when we were taught that the good silver only comes out on holidays and not to nibble on the dessert until the guests arrive? We deserve to use nice things. Like Chris Monroe says in the comic strip, “I should have just used it in the first place.” We are deserving of the fingertip towels and the good soap. So I’m going to put Snoopy in my bathroom right now and go use him to wash my han–on second thought, never mind, I can’t quite seem to bring myself to do it.

13 Vintage Valentines That Didn’t Age Well

Funny Vintage Valentines

The good people over at the online Vintage Valentine Museum acquire and painstakingly catalog vintage Valentine cards. Their work is commendable, and without them we would not be able to enjoy these gems from the past. For every innocent and cherubic retro Valentine’s card though, is one that didn’t exactly age well. The messages and images might have been cute in the 1930s, but today…well, see for yourself. This collection of mildly horrifying vintage cards may give you Valentine’s Day nightmares so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Funny Vintage ValentinesNothing says true love like calling her your Valentine Ho.

cupid“Say you’ll be mine!” Uhh…do I have a choice? This cupid looks positively homicidal.

bearI’d really rather you didn’t bear me any tidings at all. The only thing I wish for is to go back in time and have never seen this.

bear 2And when I thought it couldn’t get worse, this happened.

token catWhy do I have a sneaking suspicion that this cat’s “Token of Affection” is actually a giant turd left over from taking a dump somewhere in your house?

cat 2I think this cat loves her tuna, not you. Typical.

dog canningThe dog meat trade is illegal…right?

elephanttrunkNowadays, we’ve watched too much CSI to find living in a trunk with your stalker, I mean, Valentine, to be a selling point.

monkeyThis kid is understandably concerned about how this monkey got into his bedroom.

typewriterOh look, we found Don Draper’s childhood Valentine’s card.

pushedaroundvalentineWell, that sounds like a recipe for a healthy relationship.

car1Looks like she’s on the road to rehab and jail time rather than everlasting love.

watchyouThis card comes with a free restraining order!

Head over to Vintage Valentine Museum to see the entire cataloged collection–they’re not all weird!

An Enchanted Grand Opening

Last weekend marked a milestone for a great company I’ve had the pleasure of working with, Tiny Diva Princess Party. Tiny Divas has been bringing royalty to life since 2008. Now, the princesses have a new event space to call home in Eagan, MN. To celebrate the grand opening of the Events! location, they hosted an enchanted party of fairytale proportions.

Tiny Diva Grand OpeningSome of the royalty in attendance, captured in the photo booth provided by Travis Johansen.

The party included chocolate tiara(!) demonstrations by chocolatier Kevin Lindee–he’s the one who did these fabulous, much-beloved truffles. But by far, his most adored creation of the day was a chocolate rose, fit for a princess.

chocolate princess roseThe Grand Opening weekend delighted princes and princesses of all ages, but especially the under 10 crowd. Little princesses got one-on-one time and autographs from their favorite royalty and partook in giveaways, treats and shopping. The Eagan party location will be available for booking parties and events through Tiny Diva Princess Party.



Minneapolis Chandlery

vanilla peppermintGood news, candle lovers. Minneapolis just got its very own candle store. Located in South Minneapolis, the storefront offers a place to meet all your candle needs (and candle wants), including an offering of classes in candle making for adults and children. A chandlery, if you’re wondering, is an old-fashioned name for a candle maker’s shop, but the candles sold here are delightfully modern.

All the candles at Minneapolis Chandlery are made in-house with renewable waxes (soy or beeswax) and 100 percent cotton wicks for a pure, natural product. This is a big deal because many scented candles are made with less pure ingredients and contain toxins that are released during burning into the air you breathe. This is a concern for asthmatics and really anyone who cares about their bodies and health!

Wildflower HoneyShop owners Audrey and Jonny got their start in the candle biz in Chicago, where apparently candle stores are a thing. In Minneapolis, not so much. Until now, of course. They opened Minneapolis Chandlery in October 2013 and are off to a great start, building off their successful business track record on Etsy and the craft fair circuit.

The scents change seasonally so you can always find something different. Seriously, the candles smell amazing.

Keep an eye on this adorable store; you’ll surely be seeing more from them.