Life After PreTerm Delivery

To read about My Birth Journey visit my blog post here.

After delivering my daughter at only 32 weeks, I experienced a huge range of emotions. Of course after any birth experience there are bound to be feelings caused by not only the act of giving birth but all of the hormones surging through our bodies as well. Delivering preterm brings on an entirely different set of emotions as well – grief, guilt, pain, trauma. This isn’t to say that these emotions can’t also be experienced after a “normal” delivery, but this was what I’ve experienced after my own early and emergency delivery. Everything felt very traumatic for me. Nothing happened the way I thought it would, and I hadn’t even gone to the trouble of writing a birth plan. I knew things could happen unexpectedly, but I never expected what would actually happen.

Solitary Confinement

After delivery my emotions were only intensified by the solitary confinement I felt in the hospital for the next two days. My early delivery was caused by preeclampsia, HELPP syndrome and a premature rupture of the membranes (or placental abruption – hence all the bleeding I experienced). Because of these conditions my blood pressure was still very high and unsafe. I was still being pumped with magnesium and I was having my blood pressure taken every hour around the clock. These routine checks made it almost impossible to sleep along with the steroid that I was injected with before delivery. By day two, I felt like I was going insane. I was trapped in a labor and delivery room with no baby and constant reminders that I had failed (at least that’s what I felt at the time). All of this stress and emotion of course did not help my blood pressure, and so I was hospitalized for two days without being able to even see the baby I had given birth to. I started to feel like an imposter – had I really given birth? Did all of this really happen? Of course I knew it had happened because of the massive incision on my abdomen and had all the pain it rendered. I knew my daughter was here because of the video calls I had with my husband while he was visiting her. I had photos, I had videos, I was pumping breast milk (although only drops at this point), I was in the labor and delivery department of the hospital – but I didn’t have my baby. What made it worse were all of the different staff members who would come into the room – people who would draw blood for tests, or people who brought food, or people who cleaned the room. Many of them would ask, “where is the baby?” I specifically remember one of the phlebotomists coming in and asking this seemingly innocent question while one of my nurses was in the room with me. She knew I was not in a good place mentally. I think all the nurses did. They were mothers. Some of them mothers who had been through what I had just been through. When he asked the question – “where is the baby?” – her gaze lit him on fire and I burst into tears. There were many moments like this for me while I was in the hospital. Most of them happened while I was alone, waiting for my husband to return from visiting our baby. They happened while watching videos of him doing skin-to-skin with her for the first time. Many happened while seeing her on video calls, my heart aching wishing I could run as fast as I could all the way to the hospital she was in the next town over. But I was still healing physically myself, and not as rapidly as I would have hoped.

Finally Free (Sort Of)

My final day in the hospital was probably the toughest of all. I had been told I may be released the previous day, however with my blood pressure being as high as it was they decided to keep me another day for monitoring. I was still being monitored every hour, I was eating a bland diet of vegetarian hospital food which some days would be Boca burgers for lunch and dinner. I was also doing my best to pump breast milk every 2-3 hours around the clock. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I was more than ready to leave – I wanted to see my baby for the first time since she was born. The nurses and doctor agreed that I would be released that day. They had placed me on blood pressure medication to keep my blood pressure down and removed my IV in preparation for my release. All they needed for discharge was a last blood pressure check to make sure my levels were normal. They wrapped the monitor around my arm and told me to relax – this was it. When the results came back, the nurse looked at me with such a sadness – my levels were too high to be released. She apologized profusely, as if it were her fault at all and went to talk to the doctors. To my surprise, the doctor and nurses were adamant that I be released. I think they knew I was losing it. Or at least they felt some sympathy towards my situation. I would need my IV reinserted for intravenous blood pressure medication, then I would need to be re-monitored for the next few hours to see if the numbers would come down. These next few hours would be some of the hardest of my life. The nurse who came in to reinsert my IV was not a nurse I had before. She blew through two of my veins and poked me in four different places before giving up and letting another nurse try. I swear I almost screamed in her face. She didn’t know what was at stake for me, or how crazy I felt. Finally, my other nurse, the nurse who had been assisting me all day was able to get my IV in and she would be the one to monitor me. Each check was like waiting for a wave to crash in on me. I knew I had to relax as much as possible, but it was so difficult knowing that if my readings came in too high that I would be kept another day. I screwed up the next couple of readings with my stressed out, whacked out, crazy emotions, but thankfully the medication finally kicked in. The readings were low enough for discharge. Eventually, after being given all of my paperwork and talking to the doctor, I was released. I felt free, well sort of.

Onto the Next Hospital

After being released from the hospital my husband took me home to shower, change and get ready to go see our daughter. I would finally be seeing her for the first time since she left me two days prior. I was ecstatic, I was emotional, I was terrified, I was so looking forward to seeing her. We went to the hospital and another wave of emotion hit me as we went to sign in through security. My tiny precious baby was here in this hospital alone, much like I was only hours earlier. Luckily, I knew she wouldn’t remember what she was going through, but it didn’t make me feel all that much better about her situation. When we entered the NICU it was like something out of a daytime medical drama sitcom. We had to “scrub in” before entering the department, which was guarded by two locked entrances not including the hospitals main security. Apparently they had issues in the past with a woman dressing like a nurse and breaking in to steal babies. Once we were all cleaned up we walked down the long hallway back to the area where our precious baby was staying. We walked by a handful of other babies, all snug in their isolettes waiting for their families to come visit. There were beeping sounds going off all around us. The sights and sounds made everything feel so sterile. You could smell the hand sanitizer and feel the dryness in the air. We entered into her area and my husband showed me where she was. There was a giant incubator style bed, or isolette, a recliner chair and a white board that had all of our names and some of her medical information on it. It made me sad that her nursery was so beautiful and that she was here in this plain and stark place. I walked over to the bed and lifted the cover to see her inside. She was so tiny. My heart burst into pieces. Some of those pieces were burst by love, some by sadness, some by utter guilt. I’m so sorry you’re in here. I’m so sorry you’re alone. I’m so sorry it took me so long to get here.

A New Kind of Love

Once we were settled in the nurse on duty helped us remove her from her isolette so that I could hold her for the first time. I remember feeling somewhat unsettled because of how small she was, but I was also so excited to finally meet her and talk to her and smell her. Moving the wires and monitors around was a feat in itself. It felt odd to have to keep all of this out of the way while trying to keep her close. We had to wear masks at all times in the hospital. But I did break the rules a bit and gave my baby a big kiss on her head as I told her how much I loved her. I felt justified. She just came from my own body, and besides I had just been tested for COVID in the hospital I was in before. I sat and held her for a couple of hours. She was so warm and soft against my skin. It was the happiest and healthiest I had felt in days. Even in her tiny and frail state, she struggled to look up at me, and then settled back in, falling asleep so soundly on my chest. She was (and is) so beautiful, so perfect. I looked at her in amazement and couldn’t believe how precious she was, but I also couldn’t believe how strong she was. She had just been through everything I’d been through, if not worse, and she was only days old. She was so brave. She was so incredible. In those moments I felt so grateful to be her mama. I felt privileged and honored. I couldn’t believe that she had come from me. I held her so close and could feel a love that I had never felt before. The kind of love that parents tell you about but that you never truly understand until you experience it yourself. I held her so tight and I never wanted to leave. I was finally with my baby and she was with me. Everything felt the way it was meant to be, until it was time to leave.

The Waiting Game

At this point, baby needed to gain weight and learn how to eat before she could leave the hospital. Luckily, this was a typically short order for a baby born of her size. She was not on oxygen or any sort of breathing machines. She did not have any infections or problems. She was just so small and so early. She had a feeding tube and a pic line for other nutrients and fluids. It was difficult to see her with tubes and things in her face and body, but it was nothing compared to how bad it could have been if she needed more assistance. We would visit the hospital twice, sometimes three times a day. Fortunately we lived super close so we could come in the morning, go home for lunch and then come back in the evenings. As time went on and she grew stronger, we started to learn how to care for her as she learned how to care for herself. She learned to drink from a bottle, and we learned how to feed her. She learned how to regulate her temperature, and we learned how to remove her from her isolette. We learned so much from the nurses and staff at the hospital. It was like getting a crash course in baby care while waiting for our baby to come home. It wasn’t an ideal situation, obviously, but for what it was, it was a good way to keep our spirits high about being able to care for her once she came home. It was hard leaving her every time. And it was hard seeing her in the hospital. Every day I imagined myself grabbing her and running out of the hospital, but I knew that this care was what was best for her. Eventually she would come home – 24 days later. I couldn’t believe how slow and how fast it went by all at once. She would finally be coming home and we would be on our own to care for our baby.

The Adventure of a Lifetime

The day we took our daughter home was one of the best days of my life. I was so excited to be able to see her every second of every day. I would be able to give her all of her feedings, change all of her diapers, give her all of her baths and of course snuggle her whenever I wanted. There would be no wires in the way and no monitors beeping constantly in our heads. She would get to have all of her cozy swaddles and preemie pajamas. She was ours, finally ours. It felt surreal. To this day it sometimes still does. Having a premature baby has been rough. All of the ups and downs are unlike any emotional rollercoaster I’ve ever experienced. But I would do it all again in a heartbeat for her. We are embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to watch her grow into the strong, beautiful, brave little girl that she already has inside of her.

2020 Resolutions #4 & #5: Create Everyday and Try More New Things

2020 is off to an interesting start, and I’ve already missed several days of blogging due to being sick – yay. I’m a bit off my game this week but I am ready to jump back on this horse and get things going. Today is my last overview post of my 2020 resolutions which seems fitting since it feels like I’m having to start all over since being sick. I had been doing such a great job the first few days and then BAM like a tidal wave – hello, cold. It’s interesting how it’s hit me in the midst of cutting all the terrible things out of my life, but I guess that’s how life works sometimes. My mom always said that if it seems really difficult to do something you feel is right then it probably is right. In other words, I guess, doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Especially in my case of cutting out toxic crap from my diet and life.

Anywho – my last two resolutions for the year are fairly simple, Create Everyday and Try More New Things. Creating Everyday so far means that I can make a new dinner, maybe do a macrame project, draw something, sew something, basically do anything creative. Do something besides sitting and watching TV or playing on the Switch – which is terribly addicting by the way. I’ve done fairly well so far. Jewelry making, macrame and lots of new recipes have been taking up my time so far. I’m super into polymer clay recently – well, I’ve done one batch so far – but MAN that stuff is fun and so relaxing for some reason. As always, I love to cook too. New recipes are fun because I’m finding more and more ways to make meals I love vegan-friendly. I’m also getting back into drawing on my iPad and having new stickers printed – stay tuned for a giveaway on that. All in all, I’m feeling more inspired the more that I create and it’s a great feeling that makes me feel motivated and happy.

Trying More New Things is more a resolution to get me out of my comfort zone. I want to take more classes – fitness classes, cooking classes, tactical shooting classes, ALL THE CLASSES. I love learning new things, but my anxiety often keeps me from signing up because I’m nervous about walking into a room full of people I don’t know to learn something I don’t know. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but I guess that’s how anxiety works. So far I’d love to take the tactical shooting class I mentioned and someone just messaged me today about doing a cookie decorating class. How fun does that sound? I’m also gearing up for a yoga class this coming weekend that my brother is teaching. He’s currently in training to become a yoga instructor so not only am I fulfilling my resolution but I’m supporting him too. I’m excited to find new things to learn as well. Other new things I’m trying are pretty recurring in my life already, such as, new recipes, new craft projects, new restaurants. These types of things come more easily for me, I think because they are more personal and don’t force me to meet new people. I think that, overall, is what I need to be better at.

Overall, I’m excited for the possibilities that these resolutions hold. I’m nervous but looking forward to pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying new things and meeting new people. I’m also interested to see what types of projects and creative things I can come up with. All I need to do now is be better at getting to work earlier so I can find more time – ha!

MelissaRose

2020 Resolution #4: Shop Small / Fair / Less

Shopping in 2019 was basically not a thing. I told myself I was not allowed to purchase anything new unless it was absolutely necessary, and for the most part I followed that for an entire year. I did buy a couple of things that were necessary and did buy myself nice things a couple times (literally only twice that I can think of!), but overall, everything I bought came from the thrift store. I even found a can opener at the thrift store, okay? That’s hardcore. This year, I want to continue this thought process but also sprinkle in some fun. Because let’s face it, not shopping for years at a time is no fun, and sometimes ya girl needs to buy something new for no reason.

2020 is about being more intentional with what I purchase. Do I want new towels? Hell yes I do. Am I going to buy them from the thrift store? Heck to the no. BUT what I want to do is set restrictions for myself and try to be more responsible with where I spend my money. I want to shop small businesses and support local companies and people, I want to support companies that maintain fair practices, such as fair trade, no child labor etc., and overall I really just want to shop less. Shopping less doesn’t necessarily mean spending less, let’s face it, unfortunately supporting local and fair-trade companies can be more expensive than the alternative. I thrift shop ALOT. Not as much I did at the beginning of 2019 – yes it was a thing I was working through, I’m over it now. I want to practice only buying things that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE, and this includes with thrifting trips.

I have gotten SO MUCH better don’t get me wrong. I think the last time I went to the thrift store I walked out with only three things which is basically unheard of. BUT the three things I bought are absolutely things I’m going to use over and over and over, so I’ll be getting my money’s worth. So far for 2020 I’ve been to the thrift store only once, in aforementioned trip, and I visited the mall to find some new jeans, because jeans are next to impossible for me to find thrifting for some reason. I decided on purchasing jeans from Madewell, which, hello, are pricey. The great thing about Madewell though that I didn’t know until I went into their store is that their denim (and many of their other products) are fair trade certified. This means that their products are made in factories that maintain fair practices, take care of their workers and are all around just better businesses. You can read more about their initiatives here. Not only that but they will take your old jeans and use them to create housing insulation for Habitat for Humanity. How freakin’ cool is that? So I gotta say, thank you to Madewell actually for inspiring this resolution. 2020 is all about intention people, even with shopping. Shopping smaller, with better intention, and overall buying less. Wish me luck!

2020 Resolution #1: Dry January + Better Health

Every New Year it seems I am trying harder and harder to make promises to myself to take better care of my body. Last year it was a two week detox from alcohol, smoking and sweets, this year I’m tackling an entire month (well, most of it). It’s going to be a challenge for sure, but to be honest I’ve been excited about the possibility of how great I’m going to feel once I’m done. I’m also hoping to be encouraged to stop certain things altogether and to cut back on everything else.

I feel like alcohol is such a huge part of having a social life. Why is that? Is it just a social norm? What do people do when they don’t drink? This is something that I had been thinking about when I decided I wanted to go a month without alcohol. I want to find better ways to fill my time, better ways to spend time with family and friends. Now, I’m saying I am going a full month but I guess I’m actually doing a bit less than that. Because of vacation schedules and holidays this year I decided to start this challenge today, January 6, instead of on January 1. However, I did take it fairly easy in between, I drank a few beers on New Year’s Eve, had wine with friends on New Year’s Day and attended a concert on January 4 where I had a couple of drinks as well. Writing this out now, it sounds like alot which makes me even more excited to cut back. The challenge will end with the Superbowl which is February 2, so all in all I’m only a couple days short of a full month.

The most difficult part of this challenge for me will be not making excuses. Someone is having a birthday party, a friend wants to go for drinks, family is coming to town – none of these should be viable reasons to stop the challenge. I want to be strong and consistent throughout the entire term mostly because I don’t want to smoke. Smoking lately has totally grossed me out UNLESS I am drinking. Drinking is the main time I want to smoke and lately has been the only time that I do. But it stinks. It’s expensive. And yes, it’s deadly. I had an epiphany recently where I woke up on my hair and it reeked of cigarettes. I immediately decided I wanted to change. This will be difficult for sure, but not as difficult as if it would be if I weren’t cutting out drinking as well.

Today is the first day of the challenge, which of course is easy. It’s Monday, I’m back at work after a long weekend off and I have no worries. I will try to continue to post daily or regular updates of how I’m doing and feeling. Like I said, this is going to be challenging, but I can’t wait to see how I feel at the end. For the rest of the year, this resolution basically just means to be better to myself. Walk more, exercise more, eat better. I feel like I made leaps and bounds with this last year, especially eating better and practically vegan, and I can’t wait to continue it for this year as well. I think another thing I’d like to really press upon myself is to wake up earlier as well and get a small yoga flow routine in in the mornings. I was doing it for a couple weeks before the holidays and felt amazing. I need to get back into the swing of waking up early – this will be one of my biggest challenges for sure. Wish me luck!

MelissaRose

Half Way Through 2019 – Resolutions Check-In

We are half way through 2019 already – can you believe it? It seems like the years go by faster and faster every year and this one is no exception. It’s been fun though having real attainable goals and trying to achieve them, and stick to them, throughout the last 6 months. I wanted to do a post today to tell you all about how my resolutions are going, what I’ve been able to do to stay on target and what my plans are for the remaining half of the year. Let’s get into it! If you want more details and specifics about my resolutions go check out my other posts here.

Resolution #1 – Keep Blogging – so far so good! I’ve had a couple lapses where I didn’t post for a while, but overall I think I’ve stayed fairly dedicated. I’ve had to switch my focus from time to time in order to keep myself excited and into blogging, but I think that’s also kept the site more interesting. I mean, does anyone really want to just read about the same thing all the time? I know I don’t want to write like that. I plan on continuing to use this blog as sort of a personal journal to include my resolution accountability, culinary experiments, pop-up camping adventures and overall life lessons. Stay tuned for travel posts about Nashville, some awesome vegan recipes I tried out this weekend for my Mom’s 60th birthday and many more pop-up camping posts!

Resolution #2 – Two Week Detox, January 2019 – okay, so this one has been completed, but I’ve been having some thoughts on it. I think I want to do another detox here fairly soon and this time for 3 weeks. I’m just trying to figure out the optimal date to do it which during the summer and wedding season can be tough, because hello, champagne toasts, camping trips, bbqs and every other excuse for a cold one. However, I really enjoyed the way my body felt after the detox and think it may be time for another. This is something I think I’d like to do more regularly just in general, this way it will get easier every time and hopefully have lasting effects on how often I drink and smoke regularly. So more on that to come…

Resolution #3 – 2019, The Year of No New Things – I have been killing it at this one! I have mentioned this in previous posts but now that we are at the 6 month mark I think it’s an incredibly important check-in. I have been able to go 6 whole months without really buying anything new. Okay so, some exception – first, I bought a vacuum cleaner. Our vacuum died and with having 5 animals in the house it’s not really something I can live without, nor is it something I want to buy used. Our vacuum has to be beastly when it comes to animal hair and I just don’t think a thrifted vacuum would cut it, so I bought it new. Second, I rewarded myself a little early. I had decided in January when I made this resolution that I would allow myself two slips – one at 6 months and one at the end of the year. Well, I went to Nashville in May, and really wanted to buy a new hat – like a nice hat, a really nice hat. I did just that. I bumped my reward up a couple months and bought myself a hat in Nashville. It’s super awesome and I’m in love with it and it’s really the only fun thing I’ve purchased new (unless you think lotions and toothpaste and stuff like that is fun, which hey, you do you.) Every other items I’ve purchased this year has been from the thrift store or somehow secondhand. I’ve also gotten lucky enough to receive some pretty sweet hand-me-down items (hello, new overalls) and I think have been distracted enough by my other resolutions that this goal has not been difficult to accomplish so far. I definitely think it’s something I will continue to do for years to come.

Resolution #4 – Sustainability Through Food – this resolution has been a little tougher, but hey I’m still here and doing it! Mostly this resolution started as a ploy to get myself to garden, but it’s also about cooking at home, meal-prepping and saving money along the way. The gardening has been going great. My garden is finally producing and the harvest is not only delicious but fun and rewarding. If you want to see my recent post on my Garden Check-In you can read it here. The other facets to this resolution have been tougher for sure and have started to slip even more now that we’re in the middle of the year. I’m cooking less and eating out more it feels like, but still not eating out as much as before. I’ve continued to actually pick my groceries up at the store versus having them delivered – Except the occasional Costco delivery, because let’s face it that place can be hell. I’ve been trying a couple different subscription boxes lately to see if that helps with the urge to be lazy. I’m not super duper disappointed in myself, but I know I need to get better. This week I have some meals from HelloFresh that I need to try out. I think it’s just been so busy these past few months that sometimes it’s just easier to grab a pizza or tacos from somewhere else. I’m determined to get back into the swing of meal prepping and making my own food though, so I’ll check back in a few weeks and let you know how that’s going.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Resolution #5 – Take Better Care of Your Body – this one has been great, but of course with up and downs. The downs are more due to just being busy and either not having time to hit the gym or not having the energy. I have gotten better about doing exercises at home even if I can’t get to the gym though, and that’s something I was never good with before. Today is a new day, and the beginning of a new month, so I plan on hitting the gym after work for some cycling. The big bummer about this resolution is that the gym was super clean and empty in the beginning since it was brand new. As it’s been open longer it’s gotten more and more crowded which in turn makes it more annoying for me to go. I’ve thought about maybe cancelling the membership and working out more at home instead, but I do enjoy the stationary bike and just can’t see myself purchasing one right now. Overall, I can see a difference in my body since working out more often which is what the goal was. I have definitely lost some weight as well and I am back on the intermittent fasting regiment. Basically what this means is I’m allowing myself to eat between the hours of noon and 8pm and fasting for a full 16 hours in between. Sometimes this time range fluctuates a bit but is always a 16 hour fasting period. I’ve seen big differences in my body and in my mental capacity by fasting this way. The hardest part is the weekends which I do sometimes cheat for. I love a good breakfast and sometimes it’s more fun to do breakfast earlier in the day on a Saturday then to wait for a brunch. I’m also looking forward to more walks in the fall as it’s too hot to take the doggies right now. I know they miss walking but don’t want to risk burning their paws on the asphalt. Luckily, I’m more active in the summertime in general so I think I’m doing fairly well on this resolution so far.

So there you have it – my half-way through the year check in. Overall, I’m pretty proud of myself and can’t wait to stick through it to the end of the year. I’ll continue to keep this blog updated. Let me know in the comments below how your resolutions are going. Are you still staying committed or have the months made you fall off the wagon?

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Camping at Sly Park

This weekend was our very first trip in our new pop up camper! We went to the Sly Park campgrounds in Pollock Pines, California. The trailer worked out beautifully and we couldn’t have chosen a better weekend to escape the heat at home. We had a great time boating, fishing and hanging out with family and even learned a couple of things along the way too. Sly Park is located on Jenkinson Lake in Pollock Pines. It’s a little over an hour away from Sacramento in the mountains which makes it a great place to take a weekend away from the summer heat in the city. Jenkinson Lake is owned by El Dorado Irrigation District and provides drinking water throughout parts of the county. Because of this irrigation distribution, dogs and children in diapers are not allowed in the lake. There is also no personal watercraft allowed (ie: jet skis, wave runners, etc.) This keeps the campground fairly quiet and I would think keeps it a bit less crowded as well. There were many stand up paddle boards and kayaks, however, and plenty of fishing boats out on the lake. The water was gorgeous looking from the shore and on the boat. The blue-green color made it look almost tropical, especially compared to some of the other lakes near Sacramento. We ended up catching and releasing around 12 small trout on Saturday which was crazy, and if you look super close at the image below you can see one of two bald eagles that we spotted while we were out too.

There are 9 miles of hiking trails around Jenkinson Lake. I really, really wanted to do the hike out to the waterfall which is halfway along the 7 mile trail that goes around the entire lake. Unfortunately, since it was a short weekend and we ended up in or around the water for most of it, we didn’t end up hiking. Luckily, this beautiful place is pretty close so we could drive up just for the hike if we wanted to. The staff at Sly Park was super friendly from what little interaction we had with them. They have over 190 campsites around the lake with a camp host for each area. Many of the sites are water view, which if you have a chance to visit and snag one of these sites I definitely recommend. There are no hookups in any of the sites, but we didn’t let that bother us much. Luckily our little pop up trailer has an auxiliary battery for lights, water storage tanks for washing hands and dishes and my husband’s mom brought us a generator for powering the outlets (which we really only used to make coffee in the morning). We did not have the generator on the first morning we were there (we thought the battery might power the outlets), but thankfully there is a small market right outside of the park that sells coffee. If we were only going up for the day there are ten day use areas to choose from. We really liked the day use area near our campsite (called the Sierra Point day use area) because it sits on a long peninsula that juts out into the water. We spent most of our Saturday afternoon here visiting with family who had come up to picnic and bring the kids swimming. The boating was super fun too. My husband’s brother brought up his fishing boat and took us and our pup Nixie out on the water. It was the perfect weather for it, not too hot or cold, and Nixie did really well for it being only her second time on a boat. Here she is in the cuddy area posing for a picture 🙂

The campsites in our area were larger than we expected. Especially when they told us we could only have one motorhome/trailer in our site. We could have easily fit another small trailer, but it is what it is. If we would have had guests that were tent camping it would not have been an issue. The site was fairly level and was indicated as such on their website when I made the reservation. We were close enough to the vault toilets and a couple water spigots which was nice. If you don’t know what a vault toilet is, it’s basically a permanent port-a-potty. It’s a little creepy because it’s basically a giant hole in the ground with a bathroom sort of placed over the top of it. Thankfully they were fairly clean and it didn’t end up being as bad as I thought it would be. The site came with a fire ring, a standing barbecue and two picnic tables. There would have been plenty of room for us to have several guests in our site, but again, no other motorhomes or trailers were allowed and that’s what most of our family uses to camp. I loved the smell of the pines trees which filled the campsites and surrounded the lake. Looking up at the sky at night was also amazing. You could see so many stars and it was so dark inside the trailer once we went to bed that you could barely tell if your eyes were open or closed. We also appreciated how quiet the campground was after 10pm. We laid in bed and all we could hear was the whistling of the wind through the trees.

Obviously, since this was our first trip in the trailer we haven’t done any sort of renovating to it. It truly doesn’t need any work other than aesthetically. We were super comfortable in the larger bed, which we are thinking now might be a king size instead of a queen like we originally thought. I haven’t been able to find a floor plan online for this particular year and model anywhere so we just need to measure to figure it out. I was able to find places to put all of our camping gear even though we were worried about the minimal storage space. We did learn a few things while setting up and taking down the trailer. Since we had only taken it down the one time when we bought it we had to try and remember all the steps and pieces that went into assembling it. Overall it went fairly smoothly, and we didn’t yell at each other at all HAHA. Sorry, that’s sort of an inside joke based on past trips and watching other people set up campers. Seems like there’s just certain things sometimes that cause people to bicker and fight a bit (if you’ve ever been camping at all you probably know what I’m talking about), luckily that wasn’t the case for us on this trip. The pump sink (which I forgot to mention in my introductory post) worked great for dishes and washing hands and brushing teeth. The pop-up has two portable 5 gallon water storage tanks that sit inside under some of the seating. We were able to fill one of those up and use it for the weekend. The biggest thing we actually learned was remembering to remove the water from the trailer before packing up and leaving. This trip we accidentally forgot that we had left water inside of the seating. Fortunately, we remembered on the way home and we were able to easily pop-up the trailer just enough to climb in and grab the water and wipe out all the water that had spilled. Had we not remembered it could have meant some seriously devastating dry rot to the inside of the trailer.

We had such a great time at Sly Park and are already looking into booking another trip here. The pricing was super reasonable for what you get and with it being only about an hour away it was easy to pack up and leave on a Friday night after work and enjoy two nights away. We feel so blessed and grateful to have our new trailer. It worked out perfectly for us and is a great balance between tent camping and having a full on RV. I can definitely see us taking many more trips not just to Sly Park but to other areas as well, maybe even out of the state! Let me know below what your favorite camping spots are and if you use a tent or a trailer. We have been looking for new camping spots within California especially that we can take quick weekend trips too. We feel so fortunate that there seems to be an abundance of them fairly close to us, and we can’t wait for our next adventure!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Introducing Our Pop-Up Camper

Camping has been a family staple for me as long as I can remember. In fact, one of the first trips I ever took with my husband when we met was one of the most remote camping trips I’d ever been on. It was pretty much love at first trip! My parents also used to take me and my siblings camping and same with my husband and his parents. Since we’ve been together, we’ve done many camping trips together ranging from BLM hardcore camping to setting up a vintage trailer on a lake with full plumbing and showers. Each trip has helped us to create such wonderful lasting memories, as each one will do in the future. Our more recent trips have gotten more and more organized as we’ve continued to learn what is important to pack and what is okay to leave behind. We have been camping in my in-laws 1959 Shasta trailer for the last few years. Before that we had tents and have even slept in our car. But since our last trip in May, the poor Shasta formed a leak. The trailer is obviously super old and in need of some serious renovation. It’s completely original and unfortunately has developed some wear and tear over the years. We had to tarp up the trailer this last trip since we experienced some heavy rainfall, lightning and even hail. Funny enough, people still walked by our little trailer and would tell us how cool and cute and even “how beautiful” it is. These remarks always make us want to renovate the little Shasta to not only make it more functional for the future but to make it a cool little piece of vintage camping history. In order to do that though, the trailer needs to be gutted, which means we wouldn’t have any options other than a tent for foreseeable trips. This was when we decided we should look into getting a camper of our own. This isn’t because I necessarily dislike camping in a tent, but when you camp with three dogs for a week at a time, a tent can become a bit uncomfortable. So, we started out on our journey to find the perfect camper for us.

When we started looking for a camper we knew we had to find something we could park at home so that it would be easily accessible at a moment’s notice. Sometimes camping trips just happen and it’s easiest if we don’t have to go somewhere else to pick up our camper before heading out. The Shasta we were using previously is parked at my in-laws house and unfortunately isn’t always in the most accessible place, so this was kind of our learning curve in knowing we wanted something parked at home even without any RV access. In order to fit something in the garage, we either had to find the tiniest trailer around or look into buying a pop-up camper. The tiny tear drop trailers weren’t really going to work for us – again three dogs and two humans would equal no leg room. There were some lo-liner vintage trailers that may have fit in our garage, but we felt that since we already had a vintage gem in need of work that a pop-up camper would be the best option. You can read more about our process and considerations for buying our pop-up camper in my post Buying a Pop-Up Camper: What to look for. I looked for several weeks (and let’s be real had actually been looking for months) on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and even some RV dealership websites just to see what would pop up over time (no pun intended). The RV dealerships were too expensive for sure so eventually I just stuck to Facebook and Craigslist. Luckily, there seemed to be quite a few options in our price range and people were very responsive in letting us come to view their trailers.

We looked at a few campers that fit our requirements before finding the one we ended up settling on. It had been posted on Craigslist for a week before I messaged the owner asking if they had photos. In the end, I think this was lucky for us because I don’t think many people bother with Craigslist posts that don’t include photos of the item for sale. Instead of waiting for photos to be posted, I realized the trailer was fairly local to us and decided to set up a time to go see it instead. When we got there, I was floored by the condition and the care given to this trailer that was over 20 years old. The owner was the original and only owner of the 1996 Jayco J-1007 that we went to go see. He brought it with him through a couple of interstate moves and had used it to take his family camping over the last 23 years. You could tell the trailer was loved because the condition was impeccable compared to the other trailers we saw of around the same age. The trailer had been garage kept as well which kept the exterior in pristine condition. I was so excited to find something so nice and in our price range. I think the owner knew too because he said that someone had recently told him that he could have sold it for more if he wanted to. I think the fact that he knew we were going to use the trailer instead of just trying to flip it to make a buck made him feel okay but offering it for a lower price. You could tell he had loved this trailer. He spoke fondly of all the trips he went on with his family and reminisced about all of the beautiful photos he could have posted in his Craigslist ad. In the end, he even mentioned that he was happy it was going to go to someone who would actually use it. We were thrilled to carry on this little trailer’s life and ended up naming him Randall in honor of the original owners. This wasn’t the owner’s name but the name of the street which we went and purchased the trailer from. I think it’s a fun nod to our camper’s history, and let’s face it, it’s just fun to name inanimate objects.

So let me tell you a little bit about this camper and why we love it so much. It is a 1996 Jayco J-1007. It’s one of the mid-size pop-up campers that Jayco offered in this year which was a selling point for us since we knew we wanted to fit it into our two car garage. When fully extended it’s about 22 feet long and sleeps up to 8 people which is quite a lot compared to other pop-up campers. We love that it has a queen size bed on one side of the pop-outs. The Shasta had a teeny tiny bed that wasn’t even a full size so the prospect of having some wiggle room is definitely exciting. The other side is a full size bed. There are also two areas that could serve as dining areas. One is the familiar booth layout with benches on either side and the other is a U-shaped seating area with a table in the middle. Both tables are removable so you can use them outside or not at all. I foresee us using the U-shaped area as more of a couch than a dining space, or setting up the table for game nights when we have guests camping with us or nearby. Both dining areas fold down into decent sized beds as well. I love that the tables can be moved outside. One of the tables even attaches to the outside of the trailer so that it’s like an entirely separate dinette area. There’s not a whole lot of storage in this camper, but we knew we could make it work. I hope to be able to do a post eventually on how we end up organizing the trailer as well as tips for what essentials to keep and what to toss. Some of our other requirements were a stove that was indoor/outdoor, which it has, and a refrigerator which it also has. This will make cooking and storing food so much easier than it has been in the past with ice chests and ice boxes. There is an awning that rolls up and stores inside of a case on the outside of the roof of the trailer. It’s fairly easy to set up and will make the perfect place to hang our string lights. We have a pop-up shade tent too, but this will make it even nicer when we end up in sites without alot of shade. The feature that we hadn’t really thought about was the heater. However, after seeing that it had one my mind reeled with the possibility of coastal camping trips or camping trips later in the year when it gets a bit chilly. It will definitely be a nice amenity to have even if we don’t use it often.

Overall, I am so frickin’ excited about Randall (and his name if I’m being honest). I think what I’m most excited about is how clean and ready to use the camper is. We are actually going on our maiden voyage this weekend (more on that in another post later on). I definitely have plans of makeovers and glamping it up, but knowing I can use it without having to fuss over it first is so nice! I can actually take my time to do a budget/thrifted makeover and find things that I really like and want to use for Randall’s new look. I feel like everything just worked out perfectly from the condition, to the price, the amenities and that fact that we (more like my husband) were able to get it up our super steep driveway and into our garage without too much effort. Sometimes things just fall into place and it’s such a wonderful feeling. I can’t wait for our trip this weekend and to use Randall for the first time. Stay tuned for more pop-up camper posts and exciting adventures in the world of pop-up camping!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Buying a Pop-Up Camper: What to look for

My husband and I love to camp. There’s something so relaxing and freeing about getting out into the wilderness for even just a night, and living in California affords us so many options for places to go. The past few years, we haven’t gone camping as much as we have wanted to. We take a week long trip in May every year, but other than that we haven’t been able to make it out much. Between buying a new house, issues with the camper we were using previously and other scheduled trips we just didn’t have time to get out into the wilderness. This year though, we decided we wanted to try and get out more. What better way to do that than to have a camper trailer that was accessible to us at all times and ready to go at a moments notice. So we started shopping. We learned alot about what we needed and wanted throughout the process. Firstly, we knew that we needed something that we could fit into our garage since we don’t have RV parking at our house. We didn’t want the extra expense of storage and we didn’t like the idea of having to go somewhere else to pick it up before we were able to head out. This basically made it next to impossible to buy anything but a pop-up camper trailer, also known as fold out camper trailers or tent trailers. This realization didn’t bother us one bit. Once we knew what we could fit, we started thinking about all the other things we needed to consider and look for when shopping for our pop up. So, I thought I would use our experience to create a new section on my blog – Pop-Up Camping. This post will outline what to look for, and future posts will tell you about our adventures in pop-up camping including trips, set up and tear down, organizational tips, makeover stories and more. I hope you enjoy! Now let’s get into the things you should look for when buying a pop-up camper.

Budget

This first consideration may seem like a no-brainer, but the first thing you need to think about before even looking at pop-ups is your budget. Sure, it can be super fun to look at dealerships and websites and dream about your new pop-up, but if you’re limited on price it’s better to know before you start drooling over what you can’t afford. When we bought our camper, we knew we wanted to stay around $2,000. Once looking online we figured this gave us enough money to get something nice but older and hopefully something that didn’t need any mechanical work and only minor cosmetic work if any. We wanted something functional and mechanically sound so that we could take it camping as soon as possible. If you have more to spend, consider looking at options below your budget that will give you money leftover for supplies if you need them. We had to look for a few weeks to find something that fit our needs and our budget, but once we found what we were looking for, it was totally worth the search and the wait. Keep in mind that pricing may vary depending on your area. Many campers I saw in other states were quite a bit cheaper than in California for whatever reason. I even saw some that were under $1,000 in certain states. This may be because of the wage limits or cost of living, but just wanted to throw that in there since $2,000 may seem like alot more to people who live in other more reasonably priced areas.

Size

Size matters when it comes to pop-up campers – especially if you have parking restrictions, a large number of people to sleep, or a smaller vehicle for towing. For us, the sleeping capacity was not as important as our ability to fit the trailer in our garage while also still affording us space to reach our washer and dryer and fit my hubbies motorcycle. However, we did want to make sure that there was enough sleeping room for us, our three dogs, and an extra bed for friends and family when necessary. We have a larger SUV so weight was not something that was a huge factor, but if you have a smaller 6 cylinder vehicle or similar it’s important to also factor in how much your vehicle can tow. Camping World’s website has a great feature that will help you determine what you can tow based on the make and model of your vehicle. Check that out here. Another important consideration is parking space. Measure out where your trailer is going to live and make sure that whatever trailer you purchase will fit into that space. We found that the most important dimension to check was the trailer length, since most pop-up camper trailers are right around 7-8 feet wide. Sleeping capacity could also be something that you may need to consider. If you have children or often take people with you on your camping trips it’s important to make sure everyone has somewhere to sleep. Most pop-up camper trailers feature full size (or comparable) beds that pop out on either side and one dinette that folds into a bed. Sometimes there are other seating areas (like in our new trailer) that also fold down into beds. The dinettes are sometimes smaller twin beds, but I have also seen pop-up camper dinettes that fold down into full-size beds as well. Overall, you want to make sure that you have enough space to fit everybody comfortably – pups included!

Amenities

Amenities are things I would consider to be wants more than needs from a camper. For example, one of my amenities that I knew I wanted in our new trailer was that the stove would move from the inside of the trailer to the outside for outdoor cooking. Now, this wasn’t necessarily a make it or break it feature (since I could always purchase a small outdoor camping stove as well), but it was something that I looked for when looking at trailers. Other amenities to think about would be things like, do you want your trailer to have a refrigerator? Does it need to have a toilet or shower? Do the amenities run on propane or electricity or only full hook-ups? All of these items will make a difference in your experience camping if they are things that you are either used to having or want to have on your trips. For us, we knew we wanted a refrigerator but also knew we didn’t want a toilet or a shower in our camper. We typically stay in places that have full plumbing and showers available and so we didn’t want the unnecessary hassle of having a black water tank on board our trailer. Plus, the idea of having a tank of waste kind of grosses me out. We figured that by eliminating the need for this amenity we could also lengthen the life of our trailer by having one less item that may require ongoing (and stinky) maintenance. One of the last amenities we thought alot about was the amount of storage available in the camper. Since we had been using another camper trailer, we already have a stock pile of camping supplies that we knew needed to fit in our new trailer unless we were willing to downsize. In thinking about it, we realized we could probably part ways with some of our supplies since we don’t use them and that we could simplify our needs to fit into the storage area available without sacrificing what we need. Each family’s needs may be different depending on the type of camping they do and what’s important to them during trips. I find it best to make a mental list of what those amenities are either before or while shopping for your new camper trailer.

Condition

Once you’ve decided all of your restrictions and desires you can start the fun part – looking for your new pop-up trailer! There are many things to look for and many questions to ask the seller when shopping for a new pop-up trailer. First, check all of the canvas and make sure there are no tears, rips or holes. The canvas can be one of the most expensive things to replace on a camper so it’s important to make sure that the one you’re buying is worth the money you’re paying. If there are tears in the canvas and you don’t mind spending another couple grand to replace it be sure to factor that into your offer price. Keep in mind that smaller tears can be patched, but I haven’t done this myself and so cannot attest to the level of complication or the skill needed to do that. Ask the seller where the unit has been stored, if they are the first, second or third owner (or whatever!), and ask them how long the trailer has gone unused. This question is important because I’ve actually heard that the worst thing you can do for a camper or rv of any kind is to let it sit unused. Have them walk you through all of the amenities to ensure that everything works. Plug in the electrical, check the pilot lights and overall have the seller show you that everything works. You’re not being a dick – you can trust people all day long, but it’s important to protect yourself especially in the case of the seller not knowing that something may not be functioning as it should. Also be sure to check the structural integrity of the trailer. Check for dry rot in the subfloor, any possible leaks or sagging in the top, and make sure that the lift system for setting the camper up is functional. When we bought our trailer, the seller even walked us through taking the entire trailer down so that he could show us that everything was in working order. A pop-up camper is an investment, and it’s important to do your due diligence to make sure everything is in working order before purchasing, otherwise you’ll just be stuck with something you won’t be able to enjoy as you should. A great resource can be found on ThePopUpPrincess.com where they have a three page PDF document of questions you can ask your seller before purchasing.

I think that’s pretty much everything you need to look for when purchasing a used pop-up camper. Stay tuned for more posts about camping with a pop-up trailer such as camping adventures, how-to posts and makeover process posts. Let me know in the comments below if you like to camp with a pop-up trailer and if you have any suggestions on fun posts for the future!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Soaked Oat Groat Cereal

Groats. According to Wikipedia, groats are the hulled kernels of various cereal grains, such as oat, wheat, rye, and barley.

Groats are whole grains that include the cereal germ and fiber-rich bran portion of the grain, as well as the endosperm.

Groats are an excellent source of fiber as well as potassium iron and zinc which all help fuel a healthy diet and prevent disease such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues. They are also very filling which makes them a great addition to any meal if you’re trying to watch your caloric intake.

My mom introduced me to groats one day with a bowl full of something cinnamon raisin scented. I took a bite and was impressed with the crunchy but chewy texture and the simplicity of the recipe. My mom said that all she did was soak the oats in water overnight and then added raisins and cinnamon. Instantly, I thought of my usual overnight breakfast oats using regular Quaker brand oats, and I wanted to find a way to use these oat groats instead. I liked that the texture was different from the usual sort of mushy overnight oats. But I also liked that I didn’t need to add yogurt, milk or sweeteners to make a delicious easy breakfast or early lunch. My mom sent me home with a care package that day that included a bag of oat groats, a jar of homemade almond milk as well as some other items, and I knew almost right away how I wanted to try out this new recipe.

I love fruit with oats. It’s pretty much a must for me, especially if I’m not adding and sweeteners. Dried fruit is even better in my opinion because it lends another interesting texture to the mix. For this recipe, I wanted to stick to items I already had at home, so I ended up using dried cranberries instead of raisins. I also used my mom’s homemade almond milk instead of water to hopefully lend a hand in softening the oats while also providing more nutrients than with just plain water. Lastly, I added a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top which I think paired well with the cranberries and gave the oats a little bit of kick in flavor. Overall, the recipe was super easy to concoct and was super filling and delicious as lunch the next day. The next time I try it out, I think I will try soaking the oats a bit longer than just overnight to see if it softens the groats even more. I was satisfied and full after eating it though and so I thought I’d share my recipe here. I hope you enjoy!

Soaked Oat Groat Cereal

1/2 cup raw oat groats

1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)

A handful of dried cranberries (or dried fruit of choice, in small pieces)

A dash of cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a small jar and shake until well combined. Place in the refrigerator to soak at least overnight or longer. That’s it, enjoy!

5 Unexpected Thrift Store Finds

Since starting my No New Things Resolution for the year 2019, I’ve learned that I’ve needed to become quite resourceful in the things I buy second hand. To date, I’ve only purchased new toiletry/makeup items, a vacuum cleaner, and a hat from Nashville which was a reward to myself for doing so well so far. It’s felt pretty amazing to see not only all the money I’m saving, but to see all the things I’m able to find at the thrift store as well. Sure, some items have been challenging and have maybe taken a few trips to find, but overall has saved me probably hundreds of dollars in just under 6 months alone. In this post, I want to show you all the surprising things I’ve found in hopes of inspiring you to shop these types of items secondhand as well. The thrift store isn’t just for clothes!

Camping Items

Spring and Summer are the ultimate outdoor seasons – at least here in sunny California. My family participates in a week long full-family camping trip at the end of May every year, and every year it seems like there is something that needs to be purchased or replaced. This year, I went with the intention of finding some rain gear (which I’ll outline in another section), and what I was able to find was even better. Did you know the thrift store carries everything you need for camping from ice chests, to tents, to lanterns and chairs? Sure, you can get these items from the big box stores for fairly cheap, but how long do they really last? And spending the outrageous prices at the outdoor specific stores – forget it! You can get the same name brand items at the thrift store for much less. I’ve seen Coleman tents (be sure to check for all items inside the bag!), camping lanterns, TONS of folding chairs (again, open them all the way to make sure they are functional), camp stoves and of course you can stock up on all of your outdoor cookware. You can find all of these things for a fraction of what you’d pay at the store, and usually you can find much cooler looking items too. My recent find was a very cool fish cutting board (I don’t know what else to call it). It’s basically a fillet board with a big clamp on one end. This clamp holds the fish tail in place so you can fillet the meat or remove the bones – so cool, right? We fish a bunch when we camp so it was awesome to find such a specific piece and be able to bring it home for only a few bucks.

I also found this awesome crate full of cast iron cookware. It was super heavy duty and unique! The cast irons even came with zip-up covers! Unfortunately, I’m not too familiar with cast iron and it was $40 (they knew what they had here!) so I had to leave it behind, but I just know that someone else was so stoked to find that. I’ve also scored ice chests in the past. My favorite of our ice chests is actually a vintage Coleman ice chest. it’s fairly small but is in this really cute olive green color and has a great sturdy drain on the bottom. I found it on a half off sale day and paid only $2.50 for it. The other is a rolling igloo ice chest that we had contemplated purchasing at Costco for $40, but ended up finding at the thrift store for only $13. You may have to dig a little more in these sections to find the good stuff, but if you’re like me, you enjoy the thrill of the hunt just as much as the excitement of finding a good deal.

Outdoor Clothing

This goes along with camping (sort of), but I think can also use it’s own section – outdoor clothing. This year before camping we knew it might rain a bit. Instead of slushing around in sweatshirts and jeans, my husband came up with the great idea of looking for some lightweight rain gear to go over our clothes. Off to the thrift store I went and what I found did not disappoint. I was able to score a Jones New York rain coat and a pair of waterproof North Face pants for me (Yes! North Face!) and some Columbia water proof pants and a couple vintage waterproof overcoats for my husband. It all ended up being around $25 which is much, much less than what we would have paid for these brands in the store. Among rain gear I found snow suits, scuba suits, hiking boots, rain boots, snow boots, ponchos, trench coats, snow coats, rash guards, swim trunks and pretty much anything else you would need for any type of outdoor weather. Not only that but hello, bathing suit section. Now, years ago I would have passed over this section, but as I’ve gotten older (and maybe more desperate for a deal), I’ve actually found some amazing suits at the thrift store. My most recent being a sport suit made by Body Glove. It has short bottoms and a zip up style tank top. This may seem gross, but if you just check the crotch area for stains, you can always wash the crap out of these items to make sure you’re not getting any heebie jeebies. Also, sometimes people donate BRAND NEW and NAME BRAND items (hello, VS!), so it’s always worth a look. Make sure to check everything for holes and stains of course, but the savings you could score are endless.

Random Kitchen Gadgets

Trying out a year of not buying new seemed so daunting in the beginning. Especially when I realized that my can opener had broken. You know that annoying things can openers do when you turn and turn and turn but it doesn’t actually break open the can?? SO FRUSTRATING. This happened to me at the end of January. I didn’t want to break my rules so quickly by buying a brand new can opener so I searched the aisles of Goodwill. What I ended up finding was a Kitchenaid can opener for $3 – say wha? This particular can opener sells for $13 on Amazon so that’s an automatic savings of $10, plus I saved a can opener from potentially going to the landfill to sit and stew for hundreds of years. Other cool gadgets I’ve found include a lime press – which is actually vintage, completely metal and amazing – an all-metal ice cream scooper, a stainless fondue set, barbecue tools and so much more. Some of my favorite finds have also been a bullet blender (which I actually ended up using so much I burnt the motor out – oops), a vintage bundt cake pan and several matching marble items including a salt and pepper shaker set, a marble tray with a cloche top and marble coasters.

Seriously, the possibilities are endless here. Currently on my thrift list are silicon inserts for my instant pot, a microplane grater, and a lemon press (as the lime press is a little small for lemons). I have no doubt that I’ll eventually find these items and end up paying much less for them than I would if they were brand spankin’ new. Also check these aisles for party-ware. These are less used kitchen items you can often find at the thrift store. I’ve found adorable mason jar style drink dispensers, cake pedestals and sometimes even decorations. It may seem random, but eventually we spend money on stuff like this, so wouldn’t it be better to spend less?

Pet Supplies

We have three dogs and two cats so sometimes replacing bowls, brushes and leashes can get pricey. Luckily, we can find all of these things at the thrift store. Usually the pet items are grouped together in an area, but sometimes we find great metal bowls for food and water in the kitchen area too. We’ve also purchased brand new collars and leashes at the thrift store which is great because when we had a puppy she grew out of stuff so quickly! I’ve also found unopened boxes of dog poop bags which are great for camping and for walks – I think I paid around $.50! Sometimes you can even find unopened cat scratchers and cat toys for only a couple dollars. We don’t typically buy toys for our dogs at the thrift store unless they are in brand new condition. We just don’t want to take the chance that another dog may have played with them and transmit any sickness or icky germs. Our animals are like our children so that’s how we approach that – like psycho over protective parents haha. But it is great to be able to find bowls and things that would cost much more at the pet supply store.

Yard Games

Lastly, one of the surprising things you can find at the thrift store are yard games. Things like dart boards, croquet sets and even golf clubs usually get donated fairly often. I recently found a brand new croquet set that had never been opened for only $12 – it still had the original price tag at $39.99. My husband has found a brand new dart board, which is still hanging and getting use in our garage and we often see loads of golf clubs and tennis rackets as well. Sometimes you can even find cool homemade game sets like ladder ball – which I’ve never played, but it looks like it could be fun! Currently on my thrift list are bocce balls and a cornhole set, and while a cornhole set may be more difficult to plunder, I’m hoping to run across some bocce balls soon. This section can get a little crazy and require some digging as well. It’s almost like the better items hide in the back, or someone is hiding them in the back, so be sure to take a good look before giving up.

Overall, I obviously love thrifting. I love it even more now that I’m restricting and forcing myself to only buy second hand. It’s really opened my eyes to the possibility of what I can find. It’s always helpful to keep a list of things you need so that you can stay focused. You may not always find everything on your list in one trip, but it can also be encouraging to check things off as you go.

I want to hear from you! Have you ever found anything super unexpected at your local thrift store? If you did, what did you find and how big of a score was it when you found it?

Until next time,

MelissaRose