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DIY projects for kids of all ages

By Julia Marchand

Before I became a mom, I heard repeatedly how expensive kids are. Creativity becomes imperative for those on a budget who don’t want their little ones to go without the games and goodies that make childhood special, so here are a few kid-approved projects to keep the little ones and your wallet happy.

Fishing can happen any time of any day when it’s taking place right at home. I discovered this adorable little DIY fishing game. Reel in a few low-priced men’s shirts the next time you’re thrifting and get started on this project on your next rainy day! You’ll feel proud creating something from scratch and might just be able to bait your kids into playing quietly for more than five minutes.

By now you probably already know that thrifting secondhand furniture is worlds cheaper than buying brand new. That’s especially true when it comes to kids’ furniture! The worst part about paying full price for the furniture your kids will use is knowing that it will probably be drawn on, scratched and stickered in no time. Why not start with furniture that is already conducive to your kids’ creativity? Jennifer crafted an inspiring playroom and shared it on her blog, Delightfully Noted. It includes a kids’ table that she scored at Goodwill for just $2 and transformed into a chalkboard to stay one step ahead of those inevitable doodles! Go ahead, little ones, draw on!

Who said everything in your kid’s room can’t be just as fun as the toys they request? I challenge you to turn the most boring object you can think of (a dresser, perhaps?) into something exciting. It really can be as simple as slapping a fresh coat of bright paint on a Goodwill bureau and swapping out the regular knobs for toys you grabbed on your way to the check out, too!

Goodwill doesn’t just help my family to live a better life, but it does so for many other families as well through job training, Miracle League programs for children with disabilities, financial counseling and more. With familial support like that, I am proud to invest my hard-earned dollars in Goodwill stores and come home to my own family a little more inspired.

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a not-for-profit human services organization that believes in Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. Goodwill NCW is one of four companies in the nation to be honored with a Platinum Well Workplace Award from the Wellness Council of America, which recognizes our commitment to wellness in the workplace. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, a unique shopping experience at its Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at www.reStitch.com, a women’s apparel website, and www.shopgoodwill.com. It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of GuideStar.org, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit www.goodwillncw.org.

Fashionista: Go back-to-school shopping for trends on budget

It can be hard to focus on a new school year when the temps are in the 80s and we are still dipping our toes in the pool, but it’s time to tackle back-to-school shopping.

We can laugh at that but cry over how much we spend for back to school. Did you know that the average amount spent on back to school is nearly $700 per child?

Every teen is looking for those trendy pieces that no one else has and wants her own style to shine. How about downsizing that apparel budget by going back-to-school shopping on a budget at Goodwill? There are so many choices at Goodwill that are on trend but with a much lower price tag.

Here is a trend to try — high-waisted mom jeans. Here’s a twist on that coveted look. I found a pair of mom-jeans-meet-palazzo pant, which is another trend. They are high waisted with a large stretchy waistband and a wide leg. I paired it with a graphic tee and stylish jean jacket. The faux leather backpack has lots of pockets for a phone, makeup, wallet, sunglasses and more. Plus, it’s sturdier enough to lug all those heavy books. A pair of booties brings the entire outfit together.

Bonus points on this look because you can restyle each of these pieces for completely new looks.

And the total cost of this outfit was under $30. What? So before you walk into a new school year, walk into your local Goodwill for all your back-to-school and fall trends with more affordable price tags.

I can just hear your wallet sighing with relief.

Cost breakdown: Express high-waisted palazzo pant, $8.99; graphic tee, $2.99; LuLaRoe jean jacket, $8.99; Mossimo faux leather backpack, 50% off with color tag of the week $5.99. The watch is from my closet.

Happy BTS shopping!

About Therese Bishop: Therese is Goodwill’s fashionista and always is on the hunt for her next great treasure. She writes regularly about her fashion finds.

Create a DIY children’s reading nook

Crafting a fun reading nook for your child takes as little as five supplies. In this article, we will walk you through the steps of how you easily can make this DIY reading nook with supplies from your local Goodwill!

You’ll first need to visit the housewares, books, and sheets/curtains section of your local Goodwill to pick up the main items for this project.

Supplies needed:

  • Hoop (this can be a hula hoop or a cross-stitch hoop like we used in this example)
  • Bedsheet or curtain to match the theme of your child’s bedroom
  • Hot glue gun
  • Twine (for hanging)
  • Twinkle lights (optional)

Step 1: For this reading nook, we found a cross-stitch hoop for $1.99 to thread the outside neutral curtain through. You also could use a hula hoop or any other hoop form to complete this simple project.

Step 2: We also found a sheer-colored curtain to line the inside of the reading nook as a pop of color and hot glued the top of the curtain to the outside of the inside cross-stitch hoop.

Step 3: Once the glue is dried, fasten the outer ring to the inside ring and tighten the screw to help hold the inside curtain in place.

Step 4: Use the twine and either hot glue it onto the inside of the ring in 4 spots or tie the twine to the inside ring to be able to hang it up via a ceiling hook.

Step 5: We recommend placing the reading nook to hang it up in the corner of the room and decorate the space with comfy pillows, blankets, twinkle lights, books, etc.

Your kids will love this fun new space to enjoy their favorite books. Plus, this could double as a bed canopy instead of a reading nook as your child gets older!

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, unique shopping experiences at its boutiques and Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at www.shopgoodwill.com. It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of GuideStar.org, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit www.goodwillncw.org.

One cardigan three ways

Cardigan sweaters can sometimes get a bad rep because they can be a little stuffy and, well, boring. Recent trends, however, are bringing the cardigan back to life. With added details like lace and ruffles, peplum silhouettes and a variety of lengths (think dusters and boyfriend cardigans), cardigans have come a long, long way from their librarian days.

Cardigans are also great layering pieces, perfect for fall. They are the perfect weight for the unpredictable weather but easily can be thrown over your arm or into a bag when it warms up.

Our absolute favorite thing about cardigans though? Versatility. Now that it’s clear that cardigans are worth having around, let’s dive into how to style the same one multiple ways.

Look 1

This outfit looks a lot more involved than it actually is and that is why we love it so much! Layer your cardigan over a dress of somewhat similar length, like this one from Como Vintage, and boom! You’re done! You can complete the look with an eye-catching watch, a large tote or handbag that fits your laptop and a pretty pendant necklace. Swap the large bag out for a small crossbody, and this outfit can take you from work to drinks. This outfit is truly one and done.

Look 2

A casual way to wear a cardigan is with jeans and a blouse with a simple print. We love this top from Liz Claiborne, not only because we love how white and deep purple play together, but the drawstring is perfect for calling attention to your feminine figure. Losing your curves can be a side effect of wearing a cardigan sometimes, so this top is a great way to cinch it in and still show it off.

These fabulous Lauren Conrad jeans have us drooling for multiple reasons. We always appreciate a dark wash for it’s slimming attributes, but also the higher waist is equally as great.

We would pair this look with a pair of slides and backpack handbag to create the perfect look for casual Friday or a weekend of running errands or brunching.

Look 3

Use your cardigan as a jacket when going out. Find a fun, beaded or embroidered tank, a sassy pair of heels and your oh-la-la favorite black jeans. These black Old Navy have the perfect amount of distressing for a total cool-girl vibe. Top off your look with the cardigan. If you get warm, stick the cardigan in your handbag, but it’s there for the chilly fall nights that don’t quite require a leather jacket just yet.

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, unique shopping experiences at its boutiques and Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at www.shopgoodwill.com. It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of GuideStar.org, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit www.goodwillncw.org.

Fashionista: Shop summer clearance and really save

Goodwill shoppers, now is the time to shop for summer clearance apparel. Every Goodwill store from boutiques to retail stores and training centers are clearing out for fall.

Not only can you get half off with the color tag of the week but you also can take advantage of additional markdowns. I really scored on this look. Goodwill is still stocked with camis and tees so I paired this V-neck tee with this beautiful summer skirt that is so comfy with a stretchy waistband and pockets.

I was in happy Goodwill mode not only with this skirt but my sandals find. I have terrible feet, and it is so hard for me to find a pair that are stylish and comfortable. This black pair have an adjustable ankle strap and fit like a dream. I know they were never worn because they had the original tag on the back.

Yes, I did find that colorful glass beaded necklace at GW also. The summer bag is perfect for summer farmers markets.

Do yourself a favor and get to Goodwill now while the summer looks are still on the racks.

Happy end-of-season shopping!

Cost breakdown: LuLaRoe skirt on clearance, $5.99; Lands’ End T-shirt on clearance, $2.99; glass beaded necklace, $1.99; Sonoma summer tote, $10.99 new with tags; Skechers memory foam sandal (new) with color tag of the week, $7.49.

About Therese Bishop: Therese is Goodwill’s fashionista and always is on the hunt for her next great treasure. She writes regularly about her fashion finds.

Back-to-school shopping on a budget

While back-to-school shopping is underway, parents are paying attention to price and waiting for the best deals, according to a National Retail Federation study.

The average family with children in kindergarten through 12th grade plans to spend $697 on apparel, electronics and other school needs, up from $684 last year, according to the survey. It’s the highest amount ever recorded by the NRF. Including college students, overall total back-to-school spending is expected to reach $80.7 billion, the retail federation said.

One way parents and students can get the best deals now is by shopping secondhand.

When it comes to clothing, college gear and catchy accessories, Goodwill NCW’s got your shopping needs covered and can help keep costs down. Plus, you’re helping others when you shop at Goodwill because each purchase supports job training and other opportunities.

Shop our donated goods to find some real bargains and remember to shop secondhand using our color tag of the week and really save. Each week we have a featured color tag of the week, which is 50% off the ticketed price. For a color of the week schedule, go to www.goodwillncw.org/shopping/color.

Here are our top back-to-school picks:

Jeans

No back-to-school wardrobe is complete without jeans, a student’s must-have staple that pairs well with everything. Children’s jeans start at $2.99 for basic brands, adult at $6.99. You’ll be able to find name-brand picks like American Eagle, Hollister and more in skinny, acid-washed, straight and high-rise styles.

Flannel shirts

Layers, layers, layers. Flannel shirts never really went out of style, and this ideal layering fabric is in style everywhere this fall — for guys and gals. It can be a statement piece or a practical essential. Ours start at $4.99.

Summer bottoms

Just because kids are going back to school doesn’t mean the weather is cooling off anytime soon. If the clothes in their closets and drawers aren’t up to snuff for school, you still can find a selection of summer apparel, including cargo shorts and trendy jean skirts, in an assortment of colors and denim. Plus, find tees and tops to match.

Jackets

Whether out for recess or walking around campus, jackets are a fall necessity. Find donated fleece, lightweight casual and dress jacket options starting at $5.99 for children and $9.99 for adults. Utility jackets and the ever-popular jean jackets are our faves.

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, unique shopping experiences at its boutiques and Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at www.shopgoodwill.com. It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of GuideStar.org, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit www.goodwillncw.org.

How to style your denim skirt

Denim is a girl’s best friend, yes? Expand your favorite denim go-tos past jeans and cutoffs and into the world of denim skirts. We have some fun and easy ways for how to style your denim skirt. Read on!

This first outfit is the perfect mix of casual and trendy. We paired this fabulous denim skirt from American Rag Company with an Express knit sweater tank. Make sure you show off the button details and the pockets on the skirt, so don’t be afraid to tuck in just the front part of the tank into your skirt. If you haven’t heard, the “tuck” is totally in, girl! Complete the look with some slides, a fun peek-a-boo bralette and a deconstructed braid.

For this look, we wanted to dress things up just a bit. We have all the heart eyes for this jean skirt from DKNY with a raw hem waistband. Since you want the raw edge to add some style points, we would tuck in a top so it can be seen. Try a button-down henley tank or lace-detailed blouse to add a feminine twist. If you are daring enough, this is also a great skirt to try out with a tank that’s shorter, such as this one from Aeropostale. Add some stacked heels and a clutch with a fun print such as bold florals or leopard print to complete the look.

Denim skirts do not have to be stiff and stuffy just because they are, well, denim. Try this Madewell skirt, for example. It’s made of a lightweight material, similar to that of a chambray shirt. Since the skirt is loose and flowy, we would pair it with a top that is more form fitting such as this mauve tank from American Eagle Outfitters. Add a pair of wedges and a circle, straw crossbody handbag and you’re ready for anything summer brings your way!

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, unique shopping experiences at its boutiques and Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at www.shopgoodwill.com. It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of GuideStar.org, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit www.goodwillncw.org.

 

Fashionista: Dressy summer shorts get a more casual look

In my last blog I paired these new-with-tags black shorts — a summer wardrobe essential — with a blazer and some accessories to build a dressy summer look. Here I’m taking the same starting piece — the black shorts — and creating a more casual look.

I added some eye-catching pieces such as this brightly colored shirt with cool sleeves and a pompom clutch to create a really fun outfit.

The looks are endless with a pair of black shorts. Dress them up or dress them down. I promise those black shorts are classic and will be worn for many summers to come.

Cost breakdown:  Lenon black shorts, $6.99; H&M bright pink shirt, $4.99; Loft wristlet, $6.99. The silver earrings are from my closet.

Goodwill shoppers, the clothing racks are filled with so many sunny pieces. And remember to shop the color tag of the week and get 50% off. Tag you’re it! Shop for all your summer essentials at Goodwill! There’s still time.

About Therese Bishop: Therese is Goodwill’s fashionista and always is on the hunt for her next great treasure. She writes regularly about her fashion finds.

Back-to-school looks for college

School might be all about the ABCs, but when it comes to college fashion it’s really about the Ls: leggings and layers.

No back-to-school wardrobe is complete without these staples. These basics are the inspiration and building blocks for looks that fit college students’ individualized style and personalities.

Look No. 1: Showcase the Ls with a layering cardigan over a soft tee made even better with comfy black leggings and slip-on sandals. This is what college is all about! Cost breakdown: American Eagle cardigan, $8.99; Jansport Wisconsin Badger T-shirt, $4.99; Old Navy leggings, $3.99; and American Eagle sandals, $5.99. Total for 4 pieces: $23.96

Look No. 2: Name-brand jeans are where it’s at, and every parent knows how big that chunk of change is. That’s why secondhand name-brand jeans are the best. Cost breakdown: Hollister jeans, $12.99; Gap thermal shirt in gray khaki, $5.99; and canvas shoes, $2.99 with 50% off color tag of the week. Total for 3 pieces: $21.97

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, a unique shopping experience at its Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at www.reStitch.com, a women’s apparel website, and www.shopgoodwill.com. It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of GuideStar.org, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit www.goodwillncw.org.

Back-to-school fashion for high-schoolers

By the time they’re high-schoolers, teens have strong — did we mention strong? — opinions on what they like and what they don’t like. Embrace their fashion opinions and style sense by shopping secondhand and letting them put together their unique look for less.

Look No. 1: This is a casual dress-up look featuring a versatile T-shirt dress both parents and student can love. Cost breakdown: Black and white striped Maurices T-shirt dress, $4.49 with 50% off color tag of the week; Mossimo polka dot shoes, $3.99; and YMI Jeans jean jacket, $7.99. Total for 3 pieces: $16.47

Look No. 2: Here’s a casually cool outfit for him that features the comfort of a sweatshirt but paired with quality khakis and a tee underneath to give it a dressier feel. Cost breakdown: Urban Pipeline red and gray shirt, $2.49 with 50% off color tag of the week; American Eagle zip-up sweatshirt, $11.99; American Eagle khakis, $8.99; and Nike new-with-tags suede Zoom Air in gray, $11.99. Total for 4 pieces: $35.46

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, 24 human services programs, a unique shopping experience at its Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at www.reStitch.com, a women’s apparel website, and www.shopgoodwill.com. It offers four Donation Express sites and 10 convenient donation bins throughout the Fox Cities. Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of GuideStar.org, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit www.goodwillncw.org.

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