Stylin' With Swap

Over Thanksgiving, I had lots of conversations with my house guests about parenting styles and how different families focus their attention on different areas of parenting.  It is my belief and my overall opinion that none of us really know what the hell we are doing until it's done.  You may get a "do over" with child number two or three, but even then, you really are winging it with the knowledge you have acquired and just holding out hope that you don't screw it up.  One of the areas I choose to focus attention on is the individuality of each of my children and allowing them to develop their own sense of style.  With my oldest root who is now 20, I royally screwed that up.  I literally chose her clothing until she was entering the 9th grade, and even then, I had the largest influence on what she wore.  Now, maybe she just thought  I had great style, or maybe it was her "people pleasing" attitude that made her so agreeable, but she complied with 99% of what I chose.  I was a young mother when I had her, and I literally had no clue what I was doing.  By choosing her clothing, it, in my opinion, set her up for not feeling very confident in other areas of decision making.  She always has made very responsible decisions, but looking back I feel like I should have encouraged her own individuality and embraced it when she developed her own style.  When the middle root came along, I knew immediately that he was a VERY strong-willed child. If I didn't think it could get any more strong-willed, the tiny root was born and I swear she looked up at me and raised her eyebrow as if to say "You ain't seen nothin yet".  As a now 3-year-old, the tiny root wants to do a wardrobe change as often as I will allow, and the middle root has a VERY specific style that includes no button up shirts, no cargo pants or shorts, and everything must be heavily steeped in an athletic vibe.  With all of the wardrobe changes and the ever climbing retail prices, I decided to seek out an alternative.  Shopping is literally the bain of my existence.  That, and throw blankets in the living room.  I know it may seem odd, but that's me and a totally different subject, so let's stay focused, shall we?  I have never enjoyed shopping, and with the internet at your fingertips, it's just too easy to forgo the crowds and dressing rooms and instead shop from home.  Another thing I have learned as a parent is that second-hand doesn't mean that you are giving your child something that is "less than".  We have several large local consignment sales each year, and for children, you can so often find unworn clothing with the tags still attached for a fraction of the cost of retail.  Have you noticed the expensive nature of athletic gear?  Holy Crow!  Under Armour, Nike, and Addidas will literally break the bank at full price, and as much as I detest the middle root's need for name brand athletic gear, it's more important for me to facilitate his desire to be who he is.  So, while online one day, I stumbled upon Swap. An online consignment store that allows you to take advantage of the same prices as you would find at a local consignment store, but you are spared the other moms that are also trying to elbow their way through a good sale.  I'm not going to lie, I was skeptical because I had tried a different online consignment shop in the past, and the results were very mixed.  I found that there was a very low level of consistency when it came to the quality of the items I chose. I waited for a bit and followed the reviews of other parents, and finally, I pulled the trigger on my first order.  When the box arrived, I quickly opened it and I found that each and everything I purchased was as described and fit perfectly.  Soon after, I placed a second order, and then a third.  I can tell you first hand that this company is definitely on the up and up, and they 100% stand by what they do and what they offer, which is a unique online consignment shopping experience.  I have been able to nurture my children's individual styles and at the same time, stay on a stay at home mom budget.  Another awesome thing about Swap is that they also have women's and men's clothing and a variety of home goods as well.  My oldest root has now developed her own sense of style, and I am proud to report that my Frugal McDougal is a consignment shopper as well, but she no longer needs mom's input.  What can I say you guys, when you know better, you do better.  Nurture your kid's individuality, no matter if they wear cowboy boots and shorts, or dress like a hobo.  It's who they are and your acceptance is the mirror in which they see themselves.  If you are on a budget, or you just want to see what Swap is all about, I suggest you do so.  Use the money you save to enroll them in a fine arts class or a sporting league.  You won't be sorry.  Until then, Live, Love, and Grow Roots.

Here my tiny root is wearing a black and white stripe GAP turtleneck and a pair of 1969 GAP high waist sailor jeans.  This outfit set me back $12 and came new with tags.

Here my tiny root is wearing a black and white stripe GAP turtleneck and a pair of 1969 GAP high waist sailor jeans.  This outfit set me back $12 and came new with tags.

This Hannah Anderson dress that tiny root is wearing was advertised as "Like New" condition.  Leggings weren't necessary, but she likes to wear jeggings and in the Fall, it keeps her little legs warm.  The cost of this dress was $10 which is a fantastic price for Hannah Anderson quality and you couldn't tell that it had ever been worn.  She seems to like it!

This Hannah Anderson dress that tiny root is wearing was advertised as "Like New" condition.  Leggings weren't necessary, but she likes to wear jeggings and in the Fall, it keeps her little legs warm.  The cost of this dress was $10 which is a fantastic price for Hannah Anderson quality and you couldn't tell that it had ever been worn.  She seems to like it!

The middle root is my sporty fella.  He is wearing an Old Navy long sleeve tee with a Puma zip front jacket.  He's picky about pants but loves jeans so we found this pair of Old Navy jeans.  All of these pieces were new with tags and the overall price for all three pieces was $18!  

The middle root is my sporty fella.  He is wearing an Old Navy long sleeve tee with a Puma zip front jacket.  He's picky about pants but loves jeans so we found this pair of Old Navy jeans.  All of these pieces were new with tags and the overall price for all three pieces was $18!  

This adorable flannel plaid Cat & Jack button up was a whopping $3 and new with tags.  We LOVE Cat & Jack.

This adorable flannel plaid Cat & Jack button up was a whopping $3 and new with tags.  We LOVE Cat & Jack.

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Can you guys believe that the holiday season is literally right around the corner? Last night, I just managed to put out Halloween décor, and I’ve already noticed that businesses are all but finished with my favorite holiday before it’s even here to make way for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I must say that October through December is my favorite time of the year because it gives way to change. Change in the seasons, change in life, and time to shed the old animosities, and be with loved ones. Holiday get-togethers, families putting their busy schedules aside to reconnect, and my favorite, getting to decide who in the room will be your partner in crime and stand in the corner with you and a bottle of Vino to discuss “what in the actual fuck Aunt Claudine has done with her hair”. Lucky for me I already have that person to stand in the corner with. Good times! The exchanging of gifts is always the favorite end of Festivus event for many because you get the chance to give that someone special an item that was carefully thought out with them in mind. You also get to find out if you are sock worthy, or if you might just get the classic gift card envelope that was picked up on the way to said Festivus event. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a gift card can be nice, but wouldn’t you like to think you are worth more than a run into the local Walgreens for a card? Well, your prayers are answered here at the Braided Root today, because I have a fantastical list of “out of the box” Must Have gift ideas that may just be the perfect item for that someone special in your life.  I wish I could say that this was going to be an Oprah moment and I would be yelling “YOU GET A CAR, YOU GET A CAR, AND YOU GET A CAR”! Unfortunately, I have yet to become the millionaire diva of the blogging world yet, but should that happen in the next year, you might get lucky. Until then, I’m going to show you some of my favorite items that could be great for many different people in your life. The best part about my list is that they are not typically found in big box retail stores, but instead support hardworking entrepreneurs with a dream to have their vision come to life. Let’s get this party started, shall we?

1. Acoustic Acorn by Carved

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 First up we have an item you may find on several Christmas Lists but just aren’t sure which kind to get. Well, let me help you now because this one is magic in a box. Bluetooth speakers are easy, go to gift for anyone who loves music or listening to talk radio and doesn’t want to depend on the sound quality of their phone. The Acoustic Acorn Bluetooth Speaker by Carved is one of my favorite things that I have come across in a while. Don’t let the size fool you because it puts out amazing sound and is super easy to pair with whatever device you need it for. One of my favorite things about this item is that it's not unsightly. There are many other Bluetooth speakers on the market, but this one is different in that it has an amazing design created from natural materials with a non-toxic finishing process. Even better is that it has a single button operation, so you don’t have to go through page after page of pairing instructions just to use it. You literally turn it on, pair it, and you are good to go. We take this speaker with us when we are camping and because it’s good for 7 hours on a single charge, it’s great for our trips.  Now, who gets to pick the Pandora station you ask?  ME!

2. Embroidery Hoop Art by Earthologie

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As someone who loves all things handmade, this next item is a pure joy sparking item for me.  You may have noticed a recent increase in embroidered items on the market. Well, when I saw this item, it had me hook line and sinker. Earthologie is a store that is FULL of amazing work by Claire Crider. She’s a Southern gal located in Jackson, Mississippi, and she puts that Southern love into everything she does. Hoop embroidery is one of my favorite things, and it has become very popular. Embroidery and Cross Stitching used to be something our grandmothers and our great grandmothers did while we ran around playing at their feet, but it has made a comeback with fresh designs that add depth to each unique piece that Claire creates. To add to an already amazing gift idea, the packaging was super unique and beautiful, which made for a “ready to give” gift. Gifts created by hard and special, and there is no doubt that anyone who receives an Earthologie creation, will certainly feel the spirit of what went into creating it.

3. Turkish Cotton Towel by InfuseZen

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Next up is an item that is literally for ANYONE on your list. If you have not introduced yourself to Turkish cotton towels, you don’t know what you’re missing. This is the most versatile item I have in my home, and will certainly be that for anyone who is lucky enough to be on the receiving end of one of these beautiful towels or throws. InfuseZen has a variety of sizes and colors to choose from, and for those who aren’t ready to fully commit to the switch from a terry towel to Turkish Cotton, they even offer one that is terry on one side for the baby-stepper. I went H.A.M., all in, on the switch and I’m telling you that if you try it, you will never go back. What’s so versatile about this item is that it can be a bath towel, a beach towel, or a small picnic blanket, or draped across your shoulders for those cooler Fall evenings. The best part is that it’s lightweight enough to roll up and throw in your bag and you still have enough room for everything else. While I myself am gushing owner of a towel from InfuseZen, I am eyeballing the stone-washed throw blanket with sniper-like precision (hint for the fam). If you have any questions about Turkish Towels or Peshmetals Michele is your go-to person for what you need to know, and their service and response time is fantastic. 

4. Personal Effects Bag by Artifact Bags

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Now I’m going to show you an item that I have a history with. I am not one to purchase expensive handbags just for the sake of style. I need a functional bag that must meet some very specific criteria for me to not have a meltdown trying to locate something. Several years ago, I purchased a waxed canvas tote bag from Artifact Bags as a birthday gift to myself. At the time, I needed something that could double as a diaper bag/ carry all because I didn’t want to have to carry a purse and a diaper bag. To say that I love it is an understatement. Now that my children are no longer at the stage where I need to carry a larger bag, I used the bag for a grocery tote and a beach bag, or an overnight bag. I knew that the quality of Artifact Bags is top notch, so in looking for something to fit my current need, I knew where to go. I was looking for something that would fit all of my wallet contents, my phone, sunglasses, lip gloss, keys and anything else that was a necessity but not so big that a wristlet wouldn’t be comfortable. I don’t like a large handbag, and I need something that will prevent me from sitting it down and leaving it somewhere. In the past, I had good luck with a wristlet type clutch, but never found one that could house my mammoth phone. Until now! The Personal Effects bag is the exact thing I was looking for. What is so cool about this clutch/wristlet/dop bag, is that its built to last, I love the rustic appearance because I’m not at all fancy, and the size is perfection. I love leather and waxed canvas together, so when I saw this item and the measurements, I knew it was a match made in heaven. The only problem was that when it arrived, my husband wanted to keep it for his “man stuff” (razor, beard trimming stuff, comb). I’m not a selfish person, but in the sweetest way possible, I explained that it would have to be pried from my cold dead hands. Too much? Not if you saw this bag in person it’s not.  Artifact Bags are as dedicated to standing behind the quality of their work, as they are the detailed craftsmanship that goes into the making of each piece. They have a lifetime warranty that covers any defects in materials/or workmanship. A company willing to stand by their products for life is a company that makes sure you are getting a quality crafted item. As a gift idea for that practical man or woman in your life, I would recommend Artifact Bags time and time again.

5. Tea Towels by R&S Scullery

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This next gift idea is so much fun. Everyone knows that quirky rock star person in their life that makes you laugh, adds sunshine to your day, and who appreciates when humor and functionality collide to produce something fantastic which is exactly what this next item offers. I have a strange affinity for tea towels and for companies with the ability to screen print items, creativity is all you need and boy do Sara and Phil at R&S Scullery have it! When I saw these veggie tea towels that were labeled like cuts of meat, it was all I could do to wait until they arrived in the mail. In addition to the humor and quirkiness I love about these towels, they wash VERY well, which is something I am always concerned with. Not a problem with these for sure and the colors are so vibrant and fun. What a cute gift!

6. Macrame Necklace by Gaias's Gifts To Us

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What is a "Holiday Gift Ideas" post without a little jewelry? It’s not one I tell ya! I for one do not wear much jewelry and when I do find something I enjoy wearing, it has to not only make my soul happy, but it has to be something durable and fit my “crunchy mom” style. One day I was on the lookout for a macrame bracelet to replace one that I lost in an unfortunate puppy training incident. RIP favorite bracelet. When I stumbled upon this magical macrame necklace by Gaia’s Gifts To Us. As I said, I was looking for a bracelet but I knew when I saw this piece, it was meant to be.  I have always been drawn to Turquois which I’m certain has to do with my birth sign, but when balancing your Chakra, Turquoise can help you to speak your truth directly. I’ve never had a problem with speaking my truth and maybe it’s because I do wear Turquoise often. The artist behind Gaia’s Gifts To Us, Christine,  and I are like-minded souls, and when the necklace arrived, I could almost feel her good vibes washing over me as I put it on. She is a sweet soul and a super talented artist. She takes great care in securing each stone in place with skilled macramé work that you can see and feel. This shop is a soul sparker on every level.

7. Handmade Cloth Doll by Manolitas

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The last gift idea I want to show you guys today is for one of two people in your life; the doll collector or the little girl who has a great love of dolls. After having three children, I finally have a child that loves “babies”. I have always loved dolls, and as an adult, my taste for dolls has become much more refined. I find such joy in passing this down to my tiny root so that she can develop a love for the craftsmanship of a handmade doll. Manolitas is a company comprised of only 3 artisans located in El Salvador. Each artist is skilled in different categories of doll making which defines their role in the production of each one of these beautiful cloth dolls. Every stitch is done with the love of their craft in mind and with vast experience in their field which is apparent in the attention to detail. From eye color to hair color and even right down to the naming of each doll, Manolitas artisans are masters of their craft. The hard part is going to be picking out a doll because they are all so lovely. I love that Manolitas has a particular collection of dolls called Around the World Collection dedicated to different cultures all over the world. I chose “Stella” from the Laces and Bows Collection for our very first Manolitas doll, but I have Cielo from Mexico on my mind for next time. Each lovely doll comes in a beautiful ribbon-tied box with a clear display front so that you don’t have to wait until the holidays to actually lay eyes on your doll. They also come with a letter of authenticity for those who like to collect and want to pass their Manolitas doll down for generations to come.