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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bleeding Black and Gold

Pittsburghers have a reputation when it comes to sports. They're diehard, and are usually wearing a Steelers or Penguins jersey regardless of whether or not it's game day. That's great for civic pride, but not so much for fashion.




Outfit No. 1: Shirt, thrifted vintage; cardigan, J. Crew Outlet; pants, Target; shoes, Modcloth (old).

Mark and I have been season ticket holders for awhile now. We got a 20-game pack this year, so we've been going to games about once a week. I thought I'd showcase a couple of the outfits I've worn to games this year.

So, I've been trying strike a balance being civic pride and style. It's easy to just throw on a t-shirt and jeans. Or wear a jersey. And trust me, I did that for years. But I just wanted to do something a little more fun.

The vintage shirt above, from the early 1990s, made it super easy.

Those photos were taken on one of the cooler July evenings last month, so the cardigan was an added bonus to bring out the yellow in the shirt, and therefore, showed just how much I love the Pirates.





Outfit No. 2: Shirt, Homage, via Avalon Exchange; short, Old Navy; shoes, Modcloth.

And the City of Champions shirt has been a wardrobe staple of mine for years. I kind of wear it everywhere, if I want something that's comfy, stylish, and full of Pittsburgh pride. Haha.

It's not like these outfits are crazy out of the box, but I think they're fun.

By the way, the Pirates are five games above .500 as of now. Hooray! Fingers crossed they keep that record up. For some historical background about the underdog Pirates, read this.

What do you tend to wear to sporting events?

P.S. PNC Park a beautiful ballpark, arguably the most stunning one in the country. I definitely recommend checking it out if you're ever in town, baseball fan or not.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Time Capsule: Back to School, 90's style

Sometimes, I'm kind of amazed how much my mom has saved over the years. And as much as I have loathed my parents for being total pack rats, it's treasures like these that make it OK.




* I edited some personal information out of these documents.





I honestly don't remember much about my first grade teacher, Mrs. Gill. However, there is one thing I tell friends and family about what I remember to this day. She's the one who started calling me Katelyn. Prior to that, I went by Katie. Because there was another Katie M. in my class, I would be referred to as Katelyn until the middle of my college years, when I asked people to instead call me by a name I didn't hate.

I'm sure Mrs. Gill didn't mean any harm by inadvertently changing my name for 15 years; she was just trying to lessen confusion in her class. But I remember being 6 years old, sitting in the backseat of my mom's car as she was driving, being told my name wasn't actually Katie. I couldn't stop crying.

But that's what I went by for years and years, mostly out of habit, familiarity.

Anyway, that's what struck out to me in these photos and papers most. "Katelyn" was everywhere. But even on my coloring book page, I signed it off "Katie".

Then in college, I told an internship supervisor about how much I loathed my name, and about my first grade teacher changing it.

"Then why not go by something else?" she told me.

I've been going by Kate ever since.

I think that I learned an important life lesson there. If there's something in your life you don't like, change it. Complaining is OK sometimes, but how far will that really get you? Of course, not everything is as easy as changing a name. But life is too short to tolerate things you don't like, especially if it's something you deal with on a daily basis. Seriously. I think I need to remind myself of that sometimes.

The name Kate just feels more like me, as weird as that sounds. It feels more informal, more personable somehow.

Anyway, it's hard to believe that all of these mementos are from 20 years ago. I was struck by the pristine condition my mom kept all of these old papers in, without wrinkles or fading. And that she shot photos of me drawing a coloring book page that she ended up keeping of of these years.

Now that education and K-12 schools are kind of tangent to what I do at my job, it was really cool to come across these photos from yesteryear, even with the silly memories. What are some of your favorite back to school memories?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

High School Style

I missed my weekly throwback post for the first time last week, and this week's post is a day late. Not that you were keeping track. But this is worth the wait, I swear. Say hi to 17-year-old me:



I was a particularly angst-y high school senior for a bunch of reasons. I dealt with my first break up, totaled my car, and had a major case of senioritis. Also: Note the hands on hips and the glare. And maybe, trying to finish translating Spanish 5 homework in the class before. ;)

But anyway, the highlight of this photo is the skirt I'm wearing. It was originally a t-shirt I bought at a souvenir shop in New York City. From the time I looked at it, I loved it, but wanted to make it into something else. Soon after I returned home from my band trip at the Big Apple, I sewed this little number, wore it to school, and got a crazy number of compliments. I remember someone even asking me if I was going to be studying fashion design in college. Never had I been so proud to own a sewing machine and use it!

Of course, current me would say, why did you wear it with a hoodie? Why did you make it such a weird length? Why the face? But that day I wore that skirt to school was very memorable to me, especially in a year with a lot of gray.

An old friend came over for a cookout the other night, and we ended up looking at a lot of old photos. I had thrifty style in high school, too, but in a much different way. I loved goofy t-shirts paired with jeans and chunky costume jewelry or cereal box watches. I wore Threadless t-shirts as if they were a uniform requirement. I kind of forgot how funky my style was, and how far I've come since then. Not that it was bad, but I think I've toned it down a bit, at least.

My favorite t-shirt back then was a kid's rec league softball shirt I found at a thrift store (of course), and the back of it read "pizza shack" above the number. It was a sad day when the screen print began to peel on that shirt.

How has your style evolved since high school?

Monday, August 18, 2014

My 4 Best Thrifting Tips


Since this blog is called Thriftburgher, I think I've been long overdue for some great thrifting tips to share. I have years of thrifting experience, whether it be at thrift stores, flea market, rummage sales, you name it. I probably have enough experience that it would be resume-worthy if it were ever relevant.

Make a list.

The map pictured above is from a neighborhood garage sale Mark and I went to a few months back. It was heaven, because every garage sale was listed with what kinds of items they each had. We hit up clothes and housewares for me, and sports memorabilia for Mark.


Unfortunately, most garage sales don't make things that easy. I usually try to make a list, whether it's in my head or typed up in my phone, of things I'm looking for. It could be a belt for an outfit, a quirky bag, a teapot. Whatever the case may be, make a list. Because thrifting can be a dizzying/overwhelming/forgetful experience.

Be open minded.

Sometimes, there's that one item that doesn't seem quite right, but has so much great potential. Usually for me, it's a dress with a great print, with some unfortunate side effects: Sleeves, full length, shoulder pads. But don't worry. The 80's didn't ruin it. A great imagination and some willpower can go far. That was the exact fate of this dress, which I wore to a spring wedding awhile back:

While I wouldn't do this every time I go to the thrift store, sometimes, that potential item is simply worth picking up.

Also: I love reading The Refashionista, because she transforms seemingly hopeless outfits into great, current pieces. I am always inspired by her work.

Be selective.

This might seem contradictory for the last tip, but hear me out.

On clothes, always check for tears, stains and (when possible) fit. There are so many great things that were in my shopping cart that got tossed back because I found something wrong with it. This is especially notorious in thrift stores. Even if the tag is in your size, double check fit. A lot of times, clothes are hanging in the thrift store because they shrunk in the wash. I would also make sure zippers work, and check for any missing buttons. One exception are for tears within seams. I have a sewing machine, and since those can be easily fixed, I would make sure I really want that item.

Same thing with housewares, glasses, dishes. Is there fading? Any chips? Just remember you deserve the best. Inspect thoroughly and throw it back if there are too many imperfections.

Be patient.

There are times when thrifting is frustrating. Sometimes, I've been looking for a very specific item, to no avail. Looking for ugly Christmas sweaters in December? Forget it.

Sometimes, it just takes time. I find that if I'm looking for a summery item, it's best to look in the winter, and vice versa. Most shoppers are thinking in the now. Think ahead! Or, perhaps the item you're looking for is just too specific. If you're looking for your favorite American Eagle sweatshirt that your dad shrunk in the wash, except not shrunk and in your size, you're probably out of luck. Find a new favorite.

Just remember, there's so much out there. There's no need to fuss. You'll most likely find what you need, as long as you give it time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams


I was stunned to hear about Robin Williams' death last night. Someone who was so talented, so funny, lost in such a tragic, depressing way.

Honestly, a goofy gif was probably the only thing to keep me from crying about it.

I know he was famous long before his child movie career, but that's how I will always remember him. Whether it's Hook, Aladdin, Patch Adams, or Jumanji. My all-time favorite movie, though, is Mrs. Doubtfire. Sadly, I couldn't watch Mrs. Doubtfire in memoriam, because it wasn't on Netflix (nor was it at Target), so I opted for Jumanji instead.

Mrs. Doubtfire was great because it was so quirky, so nuanced. Any other actor in Williams' role could've looked like a total creep. But that didn't happen.

I quote that movie almost every time I see my family, especially my sister. I think I watched it with her once and now I always say 'Helloooooo!' in the stupid Mrs. Doubtfire voice whenever I see her. See gif above to give the phrase context. Hehe.

I also loved The Birdcage, which wasn't a kids movie, but another great movie with Williams. I remember watching that with my gay friend in high school. (He was the only guy in our class that had come out at that point.)

Mark's all-time favorite movie is Good Will Hunting. We both like Dead Poets Society too.

I don't know. Maybe it sounds melodramatic, but it almost feels like part of my childhood died along with him the other night. There are just a lot of memories with his movies, attached to different memories in my life as I grew up watching them, and he's really the one that made a lot of those movies special.

P.S. If you haven't already, you should read this Reddit AMA!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Guest Post at The Passionista!

There's yet another blueberry recipe I recently made. I guess it's just the overabundance of blueberries at my disposal at the moment. :)


Angela from The Passionista went to Myrtle Beach this week, and asked a few fellow bloggers to provide guest posts while she was away. I was flattered she asked me, and honored to help.

Read more about the blueberry deliciousness (my first tart) at The Passionista!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

(Where are the) Dog Days of Summer

Never in late July/early August did I think a cardigan would be suitable for midday in the Northeast. Normally it's hot, muggy, and the last thing I want to be wearing is a sweater. But this summer has been very cool and rainy. I hate hot weather, so I can't complain. It's just weird.








Outfit: Dress, Room 334; shoes, Marshalls; circle scarf, flea market; cardigan, H&M.

Add a pair of tights to this outfit and this is my go-to fall outfit template: Dress, cardi, booties, scarf, tights. Also, have to thank Elana from Room 334 for selling me this lovely dress for nothing! (She wore it here.) I couldn't resist getting it. I don't really have anything like it in my closet, so it was easily justified. The details seen in the photos really don't do it justice. The fabric has a subtle shimmer to it, too.

In case you're wondering, Kim and I found this wonderful scene just a few blocks from our office, on our lunch break no less. I love lame graffiti... Especially that big, rabid dog head. Hehe.

Depending on where you live, of course, have you altered what you normally wear for summer?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Aunt Annie, But Not Pretzel Related



I went to a family reunion over the weekend, and loaded some of the old photos I've scanned over the last few years onto my iPad to show around.

The wedding photo above was the most popular picture, by far.

Aunt Annie was my maternal grandmother's sister. I knew her in her later years, obviously. She was very different from when she was younger. It wasn't just age; she had brain surgery in the early 1990s that saved her life. AND she outlived most of her siblings. She stayed lucid, but as a result, her personality changed. So I remember her as a sweet, silly, fun lady with an unforgettable laugh. The pictures above characterize her in a very different way. She's the bride in the first photo; in a dark dress in the second photo.

Anyway, some of her children, my mom's cousins, were at the reunion over the weekend. (It's become an annual event over the last few years, but that's an even longer story.) I don't think they ever saw the wedding photo. They were getting teary eyed just looking at it, so I made sure to forward copies to all of them. My grandma is in the photo, too. She's the next lady to the right of Aunt Annie.

Last night, I found a whole group of party pictures with her in them. I'm guessing it was a Christmas party that Aunt Annie and Uncle Johnny hosted a few years after their wedding. They were known for throwing big parties. I even attended a few of their ginormous family picnics when I was younger.

This photo from the set was particularly priceless. The little boy on the left scratching himself; the guy with a light bulb box on his hand; Uncle Johnny wearing a Christmas sweater, with his eldest daughter on his lap. And the expressions are somewhat candid. I love all of it.

Anyway, sharing those photos made me realize why I started digitizing them in the first place. Not only to preserve, but to share. I've been getting really burnt out on scanning lately; I've scanned more than 1,000 images since the beginning of the summer, from the late 1800s to the 1990s. (That's potentially one Time Travel Tuesday post a week for the next 19 years!) And I've scanned even more photos over the last few years. I started the project in 2012. I seem to work in spurts, but lately, I've just been wanting to get done with scanning my mom's massive collection, so I've been trying to finish an album a night.

The reunion just made me realize the hard work is worthwhile.

Friday, August 1, 2014

July in Instagram Photos

It's hard to believe how many activities can be crammed into a month, or how some things from the beginning of the month seem like they were from so long ago.

Unlike other years, Mark and I had a very relaxing Fourth of July. We spent the day at Rogers Community Auction. In the evening, we cooked a couple local, grass fed steaks and we grilled them at home. They were delicious.

During my birthday weekend, I spent the afternoon with my college friend Lauren, who I rarely get to see nowadays. We were supposed to go to Sandcastle, but then things happened, so we opted for the local wave pool instead.

We got to hang out, so that's all I could really ask for. I hadn't seen her since my wedding last October. Yikes.

My dad got me a birthday gift that he ordered in May, yet it still didn't come in until this past weekend. He was teasing me about it every time I saw him. I found out over the weekend he got me a limited edition Nightmare Before Christmas cuckoo clock. Pretty dang cool.

It kind of relates to my wedding, but that's a whole other story.

Another birthday gift was Big Red, Biggie for short, that Kim got me. Thanks to her, I'm now officially a pet owner! Ha. He's actually pretty cool and low maintenance, so he's probably the perfect pet for me right now.

I got to see my cousins, who are in from Florida. We went swimming and went to the mall to hang out. And we played with the Party Party app.

How was your month?