Our Gathered Cottage » Gathered home and family

Have you ever been afraid of shopping at thrift stores because of what you might bring home? Many people believe that second hand items are much dirtier than brand new items, but I’m here to tell you, that’s actually not true. When you browse through a rack of sweaters at Target and maybe pick up that top, hold it up in front of the mirror..chances are dozens of others saw that top and have done that too. Same goes with shoes, home items, toys, linens, etc. People with colds and germs are all touching stuff you buy from the store. I’m not trying to freak you out, I’m just trying to point out that your every day stores aren’t as clean as you think. The new things hanging from hangers or sitting on shelves are covered with germs and while that doesn’t worry me, it makes me aware that thrift stores are no different than all of the other stores I shop at – nothing is truly ever clean when you buy it brand new.

If you don’t thrift because you worry about the cleanliness of things, hopefully this blog post will change your mind!

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1. Thrifted clothing – My first tip is before you ever purchase the item is to look it over for stains. Although there might be ways to get stains out, I typically steer clear of clothing with stains. Before I wash thrifted clothes, I start with checking through any pockets to make sure there is nothing in them. When I purchase boy’s pants, I actually like to pull the pockets out before washing them so it washes the inside of them as well. *Shoes – I always toss thrifted shoes in the dryer for 10 minutes, then spray them down with disinfectant spray. You can always change out the soles of shoes as well if you feel like they need some extra help. *Purses and bags – I don’t buy a ton of these but when I do, I wipe them down with antibacterial wipes and use a vacuum attachment to get anything else out. If it’s a bag made with a material that can go in the dryer, I toss it in there for a few minutes.

Many people sent in messages about a certain “thrift store smell” on clothes. While I rarely have that on my own purchases, I suggest using a 1/2 C of distilled white vinegar instead of detergent on wash one, then on wash two use normal detergent! This has always worked well for me!

2. Thrifted home décor – Home décor is my favorite thing to thrift because I have put some beautiful spaces together on a tight budget thanks to thrifting! For most décor items I use my household thieves cleaner but if things are a little more “well loved”, I use dish soap and warm water to wash things down. *Antique furniture – Last week I shared a chippy chair I found at Goodwill and how I was cleaning/sealing it! Lead paint can be dangerous so after I cleaned it with thieves, I sealed it with matte polyacrylic so that it safe for my family and it doesn’t continue to chip more. *Upholstered furniture – this one is tough. I really think it comes down to the piece. You can typically tell from the condition if it’s come from a home where it’s been taken care of. In the past, I have used warm soapy water and have had great results. If it’s in really rough shape, just know it might be risky bringing it into your home. * Thrifted boxes, baskets, and trunks – Vacuuming is your best friend for these items. This will remove any sort of dirt of dust that’s built up as well as any little bugs that may have made that their home. If I’m being completely honest I have only found one spider in a basket and that was because I barely looked at it in the store. Again, always look things over well before you purchase them. * Rugs – I have never bought a rug second hand but if I were to, I would clean it outdoors with soapy water, hose it down, then let it air dry if possible.

3. Thrifted Linens – This is probably the most common item I get questions about and it’s also the most simple…just wash it! Curtains, sheets, comforters, throw blankets, etc can be thrown in a load of laundry and treated like any other linens you purchase from the store. *Pillow inserts and pillow covers – I only purchase pillows that have removable covers and so I can wash them separately. You CAN wash pillow inserts but most of the time I just dry them for 20-30 minutes. The heat will kill germs and anything that might be on them. My rule in general is if I cannot wash it, it’s not coming home with me.

4. Kid’s toys – Easy peasy! Just wipe down with thieves or your household cleaner. There might be exceptions to this but for the most part, they are very simple to clean. I got a few questions about books…honestly, I don’t clean them. I don’t clean brand new books so I don’t see the need to do that for second hand ones.

Thieves Cleaner – I got lots of questions about Thieves cleaner in my DMs last week so I thought I would include that in this post as well! We’ve used this as our household cleaner for about 4 years and we will NEVER go back to store bought cleaners. I love that this cleaner is non-toxic and made with 100% plant and mineral-based ingredients. One bottle of thieves cleaner (concentrate) makes around 125 – 30 oz bottles of cleaner which would make it under a dollar a bottle….yes, you heard that right! It also works on pretty much everything so I don’t have a cleaner for every room in the house! We use it on all the surfaces in our home including glass, wood, refrigerator, and even our mirrors. It’s just that amazing and gets bonus points for smelling incredible! You can purchase it here – Purchase Thieves Cleaner

Not all thift stores are created equal – I felt like this was an important part to include because while I’m an avid thrifter, there are stores I refuse to shop at. You can usually tell right away if the thrift store sells most anything they get or they are picky. Right now I have about 3 or 4 on my rotation that I visit weekly or biweekly. There’s typically not a week that goes by that I don’t at least stop into Savers because over the past 3 years I have seen them sell clean, good quality items for a reasonable price. If you haven’t found a thrift store you like, keep looking or even start shopping Facebook marketplace. Don’t lower your standards for a thrift store that sells low quality items. These are also the places that you will typically find things that are dirty and unkept.

I hope if you’ve wanted to thrift but have never ventured out in fear of the uncleanilness of it, I hope this information will nudge you to give it a try. Thank you to everyone who sent in a question for this blog post! I had so much fun answering your questions!

Amy

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Coffee is an experience to me each morning. I love having a space just for our coffee with everything right there to make the perfect cup of joe each day. We are big coffee lovers in this house so having a coffee bar is a must! For the past year we have had a super cute green dresser in this space but it’s always been a bit to wide for our small dining room. Two weeks ago, Curt facetimed me from a Habitat for Humanity and found this darling vintage dresser that was made in the 30’s. We know this because my mom had this exact dresser as a child and it was passed down from her dad; this also made the dresser so much more of a special find!

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I was excited to try out the Mr. Coffee hot cup for a few reasons.  First of all, my family will be in town for the holidays and my dad especially loves super hot coffee.  I have been trying to convince him for years to try out lattes, cappuccinos, or even iced coffee but he loves his coffee black with sugar, my guess is he always will like it that way.  Curt and I like to have a variety of options in our house and since we love it all, this was a perfect solution on the days we just wanted a hot cup of coffee.  The eco friendly Mr. Coffee hot cup is a pod free, single serve coffee machine that offers a 6, 8, 10, or even 12 ounce cup of coffee. This coffee machine provides an excellent tasting cup of coffee because it uses kettle technology to heat it up at the best possible temperature which provides a full-bodied flavor.

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Whether it includes frothed milk, peppermint creamer, or even whipped cream; having a good cup of coffee is the most important part. I hope you enjoyed hearing more about the Mr. Coffee hot cup and you can follow the link here to find out more!

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Keeping 3 kids healthy during the winter is no joke. Last year we started started giving them elderberry gummies and syrup we purchased online. We saw immediate results by using elderberries and even with the flu going around, our kids have stayed healthy for the most part. We would still be purchasing the products online if they weren’t so expensive! It was costing us around $50 for a month’s supply which didn’t include being able to give them more if they started to get sick. The recipe below made 3 quarts which is a super large batch, but all five of us take it every day so we go through it super quick! The total cost for this recipe was $18 and we only used half our bag of berries so we can make more. This batch of elderberry syrup would have cost us $160 if we had purchased online like we had been doing. I swear by this stuff to keep us healthy and I’m so excited to share our recipe with you!

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Here’s the recipe!

2 cups of elderberries (linked here)

10 1/2 Cups of water

1 1/4 Cup of local honey

2 large pieces of ginger

10 drops of vitality orange oil

3 drops of Thieves vitality oil

3 dops of Nutmeg vitality oil

3 drops of Frankincense vitality oil

Cheesecloth

First up, bring the elderberries and sliced ginger to a boil, then let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until the water is significantly reduced.
Strain with cheesecloth into large pitcher.
Add in honey.
Let cool and add essential oils (optional).
Store in air tight containers in the fridge until served.  
Elderberry syrup will last 2-3 months in the fridge.  Our children typically get 1-2 teaspoons in the morning unless they are starting to come down with something or we know sickness is starting to go around – then we will double that. Curt and I take 1 tablespoon each morning and the same goes if we feel ourselves getting sick.  

I have a video tutorial saved in my highlights you can find here!  I hope you find this helpful and if you make our recipe, please tag me on Instagram @ourgatheredcottage!  

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We love hosting family and friends in our home whether it’s for a dinner party, game night, holiday event or just for the fellowship – we truly love having others over. Typically we start to prepare dinner a little before hand and then it finishes up while people start to arrive. We were so excited to team up with Harry and David to provide our guests some delicious appetizers.

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Food truly brings people together and we loved being able to serve beautiful and delicious food. When is your next dinner party? Have you ever thrown one? Maybe you are hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas this year? Here are a few things that have helped us each time we host an event at our house:

  1. Make the arrival time clear
  2. Have plenty of appetizers ready while guests arrive.
  3. Find out guest drink preferences before the event.
  4. Play background music on low during dinner.
  5. Add some candles to create ambiance.
  6. Greet each guest as they arrive and make them feel welcome.
  7. Add an interactive game or conversation to keep things rolling.
  8. Prep as much as possible the day before the event.
  9. Clean as you go.
  10. Enjoy yourself and try to be a part of the event.
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For this event we chose the Ultimate charcuterie and cheese collection, Pork and chicken mini pot pies, Pears, apples, and cheese gift with wine, and Dried fruit and nut wreath. Each item was delivered so beautifully and items that needed to be refrigerated arrived packaged in dry ice.

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From the incredible charcuterie board and fruit to the mini pot pies and sparkling wine, Harry and David provided a perfect amount of food to keep our guests full until the evening began. To find out more about Harry and David’s incredible selection visit the link below. https://www.harryanddavid.com

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Our living room wall has been the absolute trickiest spot in our home to decorate which is why in 2 1/2 years it has only changed 3 times. First it started with our ginormous American flag because something had to hang there and that’s all I had that would work. Then I found two gorgeous mirrors from Kirklands and until this week, those have been up there. My struggle has always been filling such a large space without making it too cluttered. Last week it just hit me like a ton of bricks…board and batten! It would give that wall some character and I could choose more minimal decor.

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I immediately looked it up on Pinterest to see just how easy it would be. Within a few minutes, I was sold on the idea that this project would by easy peasy and it would have a big impact on a small budget. Curt agreed it should be a pretty simple project and since we had the evening free, why not go for it?

Our total budget for this project was: $100 and we came in slightly under budget, closer to $80.

(We had a lot, if not most of these items already so our cost might be lower than yours.)

Here is what you need:

1 x 4 pine boards for top run (length is determined by width of the wall) *Ours was 14 feet long

1 x 3 pine boards for vertical boards for all other boards

Drill (Drill bits and phillips bit)

2 levels – Larger one for top run and small level for smaller sections

Caulk gun

Liquid nails

Tape measure

2 inch drywall screws

Dap drywall repair kit (to fill in screw holes)

Sandpaper

Miter saw (this is necessary to keep cuts perfectly square)

White Paint and brush

Painter’s tape

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Now I’m going to hand this blog post over to Curt since he constructed this project and knows the ins and outs much better than I do! Take it away, sweetie! 🙂

The first step in any project is the planning phase. I hate drawing, sketching, or anything that resembles art, but the sketch had to be done for this in order for me to know how much wood to buy. I’ve attached my sketch below.

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After getting the list of materials complete and making the infamous Depot run, we got to work. I tell Amy this on every project as she eagerly pushes me along…slow down and measure, measure, measure! On any project that involves cutting wood and keeping a perfect square, you want to make sure to measure more times than you think you need to or else you’ll get halfway done and look back to see crooked lines.

Once you’re sure the cuts of wood are square and to the right dimensions, start applying the strips with a coat of liquid nails and screws. Use the level to keep the boards straight. As you can see below, we tested the vertical boards out first to make sure how many we wanted before we began. This also helped us get a better idea of how far apart the boards should be.

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A pro tip from someone who has learned by mistake, pre-drill your screw holes with a smaller diameter drill bit so your screws go in effortlessly. As you apply more strips, you’ll be able to tell if your measuring payed off. Once all the boards are up, fill in all the holes created by the screws with DAP drywall repair putty. Let the product dry for an hour and run sandpaper over it to create a smooth surface for painting.

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Put on your favorite tunes and start what is my least favorite part of the project – painting. Lucky for me, Amy volunteered to do the first coat. This project came to life, from idea to finish in less than 6 hours (and that’s with 3 children running around, a depot run, and stopping to eat dinner).

My advice would be to not let it overwhelm you. This can be a pretty simple project if you have the right tools and board and batten can make a really big statement for a really low cost. Amy and I were really pleased how this project turned out. Amy recorded the step by step tutorial and saved in in her highlights here if you need additional help.

Until next time, Curt

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