Thrift Store Review – Assistance League Thrift House

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I’ve been trying to make it into this thrift store for about 2 years! Whenever I’m in this area of town they always seem to be closed.

Assistance League Thrift House

4901 Burnet Road, Austin, Texas 78756

Hours: Weds thu Saturday – 10am to 4:30pm

The Good:

This is a local charity which is all run by volunteers so 100% of your purchase or donation goes to charity. This is one of the more neatly organized thrift shops I’ve been into. The workers are a lovely group of nice old ladies. Great location! Across the street from a fab little diner called The Omelettry and a vintage store called Top Drawer. Down the street from Savers Thrift.

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The Bad:

Limited Hours!! If you work during the day it means it is hard to get there before it closes. Not a lot of cute vintage finds on this trip but I’ll keep trying. Prices were a bit high for what seemed to be mostly stuff from the 1990s. Dresses ranged from $10 up to $60. Some framed photos were $30. Smallish shop which was surprisingly crowded for a Friday at 3pm.

 

Stitch Lab – Austin Fabric Store

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Last week, my best friend and I checked out an adorable fabric store called Stitch Lab. It is in central Austin and is located in several adorable little 1920s bungalows on 1st street. You will notice them by the colorful paint jobs and cute sign out front.

Stitch Lab

1000 South 1st St, Austin, TX 78704

Hours: M-Sat: 11am-6pm, Sun:1pm-6pm

They have super adorable prints. Lots of thread, buttons and ribbon. If you are looking for quality felt for crafting or for plastic coated fabric for making tablecloths or lunch bags this is the place to go.

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Everything is arranged beautifully and so colorful and stylish. This staff are friendly young ladies and very helpful. They also offer a wide range of classes for people who have never sewn before up thru people trying to learn more advanced techniques. They even have sewing machines you can use. They also sell vintage sewing machines and do repairs.IMG_8131 IMG_8132

Tips on Thrifting

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Tip: Check the Bedding Section for more than just sheets

One of my recent thrift store finds came from a section many people overlook: the curtain or bedding section. I found a gorgeous red sari with gold trim mixed in with the same section as the sheets. The person pricing and stocking it didn’t realize it was actually an Indian wrap dress. So I picked this lovely sari up for $6.99 from Savers on Burnet Road here in Austin. Could be used as a dress, a curtain or tablecloth.

The bedding section will also have good deals on curtains and shower curtains. Sometimes you find pinch pleat vintage curtains for cheap or nice new double lined black out curtains for less than $10. Great source for fabrics for sewing projects as well.

Picked up the above set of 3 ceramic blue and white Asian soup spoons with a fish design for $3. Savers also has a section along the wall pre-bagged items. Each has 3 to 5 items with home decor, toys, office supplies or kitchen ware for very cheap. Sometimes you may not want everything in the bag but they are generally still a great deal. You can always re-donate the unwanted item. My bag had the spoons and happened to come with a cute ceramic teacup or sake cup. I use it for dipping sauces rather than tea as it is quite small.

Jane Eyre Illustrated in 1943

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Months ago I was wandering thru my local Goodwill looking at the books. I’m a sucker for cheap books and they always have a wide range. Cookbooks old and new, fiction, sci-fi and loads of kids books. Occasionally, they also have old hardback books.

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This time I lucked out and found this illustrated version of Jane Eyre from the 1940s. The original book of course is from 1847. One of my favorite books! Some good movie versions too. Classic fiction novel written by Charlotte Bronte. Gothic romance set in 19th century England. It is matched only by my love of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

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Illustrated beautifully with 17 Woodblock Engraving prints by Fritz Eichenberg published in 1943. These engravings are gorgeous! They are dark, brooding and gothic which matches perfectly the tone of the book. So detailed as well. The cover also has an illustrations of sad orphans.

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To see all the illustrations in the version as well as other drawings from other artist’s edition of Jane Eyre. http://janeeyreillustrated.com/

Sunbeam Mixmaster – 1940s

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I found a darling vintage stand mixer at an antique shop in a small German town in Texas called Schulenburg. It is a Sunbeam Mixmaster in a lovely creamy yellow color. It was rather affordable and came with come attachments. The bright jade green bowl is a citrus juicer bowl and have a special ceramic attachment to juice citrus. I was hoping the bowl would fit my existing retro mixer but no dice. I also made my first video for flickr showing it running and my first youtube video showing how the juicer works.

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It is a Model 7 Sunbeam Mixmaster. It was made during the WWII era in 1941. It has a bit of chipping paint and rust spots but I think that adds to the character. It has 10 speeds and each one lists what it is good for, like mixing dry ingredients or whipping potatoes. It come with the Jadeite green juicer bowl, the metal juicer spout, the white ceramic juicer and three metal beaters. The two beaters with the washers work great, but the third tends to fall out and may be from a different model.

These mixers look futuristic and tend to remind me of the classic Starship Enterprise. ;) There are a ton more pics up on my flickr page.

Bento Box

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Bento boxes are a type of Japanese lunchbox. They can either be made at home or purchased in restaurants as a single plate take-away. I thought I would explain the different types of bento, how to buy your own, and discuss the bento’s rising popularity in the USA.

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In a restaurant, it is similar to a plate with compartments that are often filled with rice, fish and vegetables. The type made at home are often stackable and come with a lid or carrying case. Bento for kids called Kyaraben are often colorful and the food is shaped into cute shapes or animal characters.

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The bento box itself can be made of plastic, steel, or the most expensive ones are lacquered wood. Designs for kids are colorful and often feature anime characters. Bento boxes for grown-ups are a little more subdued and may feature solid colors, polka dots, or be decorated with traditional Japanese designs like cherry blossoms or bamboo.

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Bento are becoming more popular in the US as the average person may be trying to save money by packing their own lunch for school or work. Many people who have food allergies or want a healthier lunch make their own bento. And of course the hipster who thinks its cool to imitate Japanese culture or that being “nerdy” and into anime is now cool. Much as I hate to say it, bento are similar to American kids lunchables or grown-ups using tupperware or glad containers to pack a lunch. But the Japanese bento has more style and is a little more fun.

Where to Buy Your Bento

Asian Markets or Grocery:

If you live in a large city with a sizable Asian population, you likely have a Chinatown with stores that specialize in Asian groceries. Try looking in the section with dishes or gifts. My favorite Austin Asian Market is called MT Super Market. They had the restaurant style plastic tray bento, a 3-tier plastic bento, and a metal stacking bento sometimes called a Tiffin carrier popular in India and Thailand.

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Seller Sites:

Try looking on sites with multiple sellers like ebay, etsy or amazon.com. Prices range from $10 to $40 and up. A small plastic one may be around $10 and the more expensive ones are $40 or more. If you are lucky they are about $20. Try limiting your search by color. If you want a more grown-up version try searching for bento for men which have a plainer design and often darker colors like black or brown. Be sure to pay attention to the measurements. Check that the bento is water-tight and microwavable if need be. Often the removable lid is not microwavable. Most adults need at least a 2-tier bento to be able to fit in a large enough portion.

Specialist Japanese sites:

Websites that focus only on items from Japan and other Asian countries are great also, especially if you are looking for a certain character. Try looking at jbox.com or http://www.jflairhomestyles.com

American Companies that sell bento:

laptoplunches.com

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easylunchboxes.com

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West Elm

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Firmoo – How to Get a Free Pair of Prescription Sunglasses

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If you have never ordered glasses online, I highly suggest it! I just got my first pair of FREE prescription glasses from firmoo.com. Other online places like Coastal have similar first pair free for new customers.

I had been wanting some prescription sunglasses for years because I’m rather blind and finding sunglasses to fit over my current glasses was becoming a pain. I have medical insurance that covers vision but only 1 pair of glasses a year.

If you want more than one pair going with an affordable online place is a good idea. Read below for my little “How to” as the first time might be a little confusing. Before I ordered I not only went to a Firmoo.com but looked at a few instructions from bloggers on how it is done.

You will need to know your prescription before ordering. Everyone’s is different, so be sure to use your own numbers. If you are really blind like me with an astigmatism it may be hard to order glasses online. My Cylinder shows this as the number is -5.50. Firmoo only goes down to -4.50. I did an online chat with one of their salesperson to confirm it. Bummer right? Since they were free, I figured I would just put in the -4.50 and see how it came out. They are actually totally fine, a smidge less sharp that my normal glasses. (Sort of like when the doctor ask is A clearer or B clearer? And you are thinking what, they seem pretty much the same to me.)

So I went with Firmoo rather than Coastal because of my strong prescription. Firmoo goes to -4.50 and Coastal only goes to -3.75. A fudge of the numbers worked for me with Firmoo, but it may or may not work on you depending on your eyes. If the glasses end up not being right for you, don’t wear them, donate them to one of the places that recycles glasses to the less-fortunate.

 How to Order Free Glasses Online

Step 1: Find out your Eyeglass Prescription

This means going to your optometrist for an eye exam. Ask them to give you a copy of your prescription. My eye doctor gave it to me without my even asking. I bought my standard pair of $180 normal frames from my doctor that are covered by my vision insurance. Some doctor’s might make you ask them for your prescription. I think they are used to this as buying online or from a cheaper retailer is a fairly common practice. You will need these numbers to order online. Honestly,  I don’t really know what they mean exactly, looks like a bunch of Greek. Go to WebMD for more details on what the numbers mean. The first line the OD is for your right eye and the second line the OS is for your left eye. Mine looks like this:

Sphere  Cylinder  Axis    Acuity
OD      -.50        -3.00    12       20
OS       +3.75     -5.50    172     20

Step 2: Sign up for a free account with firmoo.com

Step 3: Search for frames you like

My pair seem to be Out-ofStock now but look like this. I went with a brown tortoise shell with a sort of rectangular bug eye look as for sunglasses covering a bigger area for glare is good. A little bit nerd chic and a little bit retro.

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Step 4: Add frames to cart

Step 5: Fill in the pop-up box at the bottom of screen for “How you will use your Glasses”

This means General glasses for distance, Reading Glasses for near, Bi-focal, Clear for fashion, No Lens if you will take your frame to your own doctor to be filled. I picked general

Step 6: Fill in the pop-up box with your prescription info

Step 7: Fill in the pop-up box with your Pupillary Distance

My what now? Ah, the measurement in millimeters (mm) between your pupils. Have a friend measure with a ruler or use a mirror. You need to look straight -ahead. Mine happens to be 70mm but everyone’s face is different. Or ask your eye doctor when you have your exam.

Step 8: Fill in the next box for “Lens Thickness”.

Standard 1.5 is FREE. If you have very poor vision (like me) you may need thicker lenses. Thus, you will likely want lens “indexing” which has a charge. (This is a different type of glass or different method to meet your prescription without having coke-bottle lens.) I went with the next option up Thin and Light (1.57) which cost me $15. Especially important for me as one eye is more blind than the other which would have made my eyeglasses uneven with one thick lens and one thin lens. Paying the little fee, means both lenses are thin and look normal. If the Free thickness is grayed out for you (as mine was) this means your prescription is high enough that they require it.

Step 9: Add-ons (This is wear the Sunglasses part come in)

Here you can pay a fee for Tinting. Since I wanted Sunglasses I paid the $10 for 80% Tint in Brown. (They also have tints in Purple, Green, Grey, and Blue.) Anti-Scratch is FREE on all glasses. You can also pay $35 for the “Photochromic” lenses that adjust to light and automatically transition and darken whenever you are in bright light.

Step 10: Select Shipping and Make Payment

Often, If your lenses are over a certain amount Shipping is FREE. Mine were not that high so I paid like $7 in shipping. So a total of about $32

Step 11: Wait 1 or 2 weeks for your shipment to arrive.

I was surprised to see my prescription sunglasses came with a hard case, a soft case, a cleaning cloth, a tiny screwdriver and spare screw in case the frame hinge screw ever falls out.

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Step 12: Enjoy your glasses!!!

I love mine! I had never had prescription sunglasses. What a difference it makes! So because of my strong prescription and the tinting they weren’t exactly “free”. Only the frame and lens are free the rest are extras plus shipping. So $32 is the most I have ever spent on sunglasses, but as long as I take care of them well worth the investment.

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