The Surznick Common Room

Monday, April 16, 2018

What I Bought on thredUP

I've been sharing a bit recently about my desire to make clothing purchases from companies with firm ethical and sustainable policies. In this post from February, I talked about some companies I want to buy from, like PACT Organics, PeopleTree, Everlane, etc. but also about my love of buying secondhand from thredUP.

If you're not familiar with thredUP, it's like an online thrift store, except pretty well curated, organized, and full of name-brands at an extreme discount. I've been shopping there for the past year and have found that searching the site and discovering pieces I love has become like a game for me. It's certainly more challenging than shopping a traditional store or website - but it's FUN. Finding an item that fits your style, in a color you like, in your size, and buying it before someone else gets to it... it's exhilarating and so rewarding. I love opening that box of clothes and trying on the new-to-me pieces, and falling in love with new clothes that I can feel good about buying.

The other day on Instagram I shared an outfit that was entirely made up of thredUP purchases and a couple people asked me to share more of my thredUP finds, so today I thought I would put together some of the items I've purchased, along with the estimated retail price vs. what I paid. Here we go! (Note: I'm linking everything so you can see better product photos, but it's all going to be marked as sold since, well... I bought it. But you can use the links to find similar items!)

Madewell top - $89 retail; $20 thredUP
Madewell jeans - $89 retail; $29 thredUP
Target booties - not via ThredUP

Zara top - $48 retail; $15 thredUP
Kimchi Blue skirt - $45 retail; $11 thredUP
Vince Camuto booties - $95 retail; $26 thredUP

J. Crew top - $32 retail; $12 thredUP
Zara skirt - $36 retail; $11 thredUP
Warby Parker glasses - not via ThredUP
Bonnibel shoes - not via ThredUP

J. Crew top - $88 retail; $17 thredUP
Madewell skirt - $89 retail; $14 thredUP
Jessica Simpson shoes - $60 retail; $10 thredUP
Warby Parker glasses - Not via ThredUP

Old Navy Active top - $17 retail; $6 thredUP
Old Navy Active sports bra - $27 retail; $10 thredUP
Under Armour pants - $45 retail; $18 thredUP
Allbirds sneakers - not via ThredUP

Everything you see here was purchased from thredUP over the last year, unless otherwise indicated. ThredUP's total estimated retail cost for these pieces is $760 and I paid $199 - a savings of $561 or 74%! (To be honest, I bet the savings are even higher because I know Madewell jeans cost at least $120 brand new... not too shabby.)

While it's still my desire to shop for clothing directly from brands that support fair trade, ethical practices, are environmentally friendly and sustainable, I feel like thredUP is a great stepping stone to get there. I also recently cleaned out my closet and sent thredUP a huge bag of clothes I no longer wear, don't fit, aren't my style, etc. They went through my bag and selected about 30 pieces to be listed on their site for resale and they responsibly recycled or donated everything else.

If you liked this post and want to see more like this, let me know! Also, if you've never shopped from thredUP before, you can get $10 off your first order by signing up here. They run promotions relatively frequently, so you can almost always get additional discounts on your orders. I just recently made my first order through their app and saved 20%.

It's been while since I've done a fashion post on the blog and I'll be honest when I say that it feels a little weird for me, but shopping secondhand and using thredUP has been a fun adventure over the past year. I hope that this inspires you to try out the site, find some pieces you love, and realize how great secondhand shopping can be.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, April 6, 2018

Brussels, Belgium

We're back today with the second leg of our honeymoon adventures - Brussels, Belgium! If you missed our post about Amsterdam, you can check it out here.

To be honest, I don't think either of us would have really picked Brussels as one of the first cities for us to visit in Europe. We didn't really know anything about it, and we primarily picked it because it's perfectly situated between Amsterdam and Paris. As it turns out though, Brussels is great! It's small, but packed with plenty to see and do, and we ate some of the best food of the entire trip. Here's a little recap of our time in Belgium.

Day 1
We took an early train in from Amsterdam and arrived to Brussels in the early afternoon. If you'll remember from our Amsterdam recap, I caught a cold pretty early in the trip and unfortunately it seemed to get worse as we got into Belgium.

We checked into our hotel, the Radisson Red Brussels, which was truly amazing. We had the best experience with our Radisson Blu hotel in Iceland last year and this Radisson hotel was no different. It's comic book/Alice in Wonderland-themed and everywhere you looked was perfectly decorated and colorful. We stayed in one of the corner rooms that had a huge curved window with views of the city. They were also the only hotel we stayed in that offered complimentary breakfast every morning - fresh baked croissants and other pastry goodies... so good. We didn't work with them on this trip, but damn I wish we had, because we would totally have moved in.

Anyway, after settling in, we ventured out for an early dinner down the street at The Beer Factory. It was a good place to try a few local Belgian beers, but the food was pretty mediocre with little vegetarian options. We probably would have ventured out further if I had been feeling better, but this was perfectly sufficient to fill our bellies.

We stopped at a local grocery store for more Belgian beers to enjoy at the hotel that night and then stayed at the hotel the remainder of the evening. A quick and easy first day in Brussels!

Day 2
We woke up early on Saturday morning, debating whether or not we should go to Bruges, a beautiful town about an hour from Brussels. It was our tentative plan for day 2 in Belgium, but ultimately we decided more travel was probably not for the best since I was already feeling so sick.

Instead, we grabbed breakfast at our hotel and walked into town to see Grand Place and everything Brussels has to offer. Grand Place is the central square of Brussels and is truly spectacular. Every building is so beautiful with the most intricate detailing - you could just stare at them all day. We walked around town for a little bit, admiring the murals and scouting out places we'd want to grab food later in the day.

We went in search of Mannekin Pis, which is the famous statue of a peeing boy (yes, you read that correctly.) And finally when it was an appropriate drinking hour (although, we're honeymooning so I think any time is appropriate?) we visited Delirium Cafe for some Belgian beers. Belgian beer is not something Nick and I typically gravitate towards, but every beer we drank was so wonderful. Also, we realized that every bartender dips your entire glass into a bucket of water to ensure it doesn't get sticky with beer. Just an interesting little thing we noticed that we don't see in America.

After drinks we headed back towards Grand Place to find a stand that had Belgian frites. We found a small shop with a long line, so we figured it was one of the best. I ordered my frites with the traditional dollop of mayonnaise on top and they were fantastic. Nick ordered the Maffiasaus (mafia sauce), which he loved but was probably a little too spicy for me.

We headed back to the hotel early and had some drinks at our hotel bar while we decided on our plans for the rest of the day and evening. Because we're incapable of going like two days without pizza, we decided to venture out for a couple slices of 'za as a late afternoon snack. Unfortunately, they were incredibly over-baked and nearly inedible, but it was nice to take a stroll around town. Later that night we ordered more pizza from UberEats and settled in for 6-hour binge-athon of The People vs. O.J. Simpson.

Day 3
For our last full day in Brussels, we decided to take the train to the Atomium Museum. The Atomium is a huge building that looks like an atom (magnified by 165 billion) - it was built for the 1958 Brussels World's Fair and later turned into a museum. It was actually a really fun visit! There are a lot of historical displays and art exhibits inside, and you can see panoramic views of Brussels from the top.

After checking out the Atomium for a couple hours, we took a train back into town and went to Peck 47 for lunch. This was the only restaurant of the trip that I planned to go to ahead of time and it certainly did not disappoint. Nick and I ordered the same thing (happens more often than it should) - poached eggs and cheese over a leek waffle. To die for. And because we hadn't had our fill of waffles yet, we stopped at a shop and got our first true Belgian waffle. Can you tell this was by far our best food day?

We strolled around town a little while longer and later headed back to our hotel to settle in for the Steelers playoff game. We shared a cheeseboard (good) but the Steelers lost (bad.) All in all, Brussels is a fantastic city with great food, great beer, a great hotel, and a great peeing statue. We highly recommend a visit on your next trip to Western Europe! And in case you want to see this trip in video form, we put my Instagram stories together below.

One more leg of the trip to go and it's the big one - PARIS. Coming soon-ish.

Sarah & Nick

Friday, March 23, 2018

Lately... (XIII)

Hi - happy Friday! We hope you're all doing well. Just wanted to check and in and let you know what's going on with us lately and what's to come here on the blog (we haven't forgotten about it, promise.)

First of all, I wanted to say thank you for all of the positive feedback on my last post about my current thoughts on buying clothes. It's a topic that I'm thinking about constantly, and I really appreciate all of the kind and encouraging comments and messages. I'm discovering new places to shop all the time and still scouring ThredUp frequently for second-hand items to add to my closet. In addition to buying clothes from ThredUp, you can also send them your clothes for resale via one of their closet clean-out bags. I will be doing that this weekend and am looking forward to heading into spring/summer with a lighter wardrobe. If this topic is something you'd like me to talk about more, or if you want me to share any of my recent clothing purchases that are ethical/sustainable, please let me know.

On a kind of similar topic, I've been spending the past several months slowly switching over to more natural home cleaning, skincare, and beauty products. This is a topic that I'm seeing discussed a lot on other blogs/social media and it's been so helpful having that wealth of information out there. In 2017 our new year's resolution was to stop purchasing/using paper towels in our home, and we completed that successfully. This year I'm focusing more on switching out other products - so far I've replaced our dish soap, hand soap, all-purpose cleaner, shampoo, body wash, face wash, deodorant, foundation, mascara, lipstick, and blush (whew - I think that's it so far.) I'm trying to find products that are not super pricey and are widely available. If you want me to share more about this in a separate post, again, please let me know!

Progress on our house renovation projects has been slow. You may have seen a peek at our in-progress bedroom makeover on Instagram, but we still need to finish several tasks in that room before we deem it ready for a before and after reveal. I'm hoping that upcoming warmer weather will get us feeling invigorated and ready to tackle more home projects again. Nick will be on spring break next week, so that will help to knock out some final tasks too! Last weekend we started ripping out the hedges in our front yard, and it's my goal to continue working on our yard and garden this spring/summer we can have an awesome outdoor spot to relax.

We've also been spending a lot of time exploring this city we love. Since getting back from our honeymoon at the end of January, we've been trying to visit a new-to-us Pittsburgh restaurant every weekend. I started listening to the Good Food Pittsburgh podcast and discovered that over 50 new restaurants opened in Pittsburgh last year and most of them I've never even heard of! So we have a wish list going of everywhere we'd like to visit and these are the places we've checked off already:

Pear and the Pickle
Gluten Free Goat
Threadbare Cider
Michigan and Trumbull
Madeleine Bakery and Bistro
Bitter Ends Garden and Luncheonette
Floor 2
Condado Tacos

And in case you're wondering, our favorite restaurants that we go to constantly are B52, Relish, Iron Born, and Kelly's. We also purchased Pittsburgh coffee passports and are working our way through those too! It's only $20 and you get to go to 10 different coffee shops and get a drink from their special coffee passport menu. Nick has been exclusively getting black coffee so he can compare and pick his favorite, but I've been trying out different lattes pretty much everywhere. A latte for only $2? Yes, please!

So now let's do a 180 and talk about the opposite of delicious food and drinks - exercise, ha. I joined ClassPass last month and have been enjoying checking out new fitness classes in the city. I took a few spin classes in the fall and really liked it, so I'm glad to be getting back into it. The plan I do is 5 classes for $30 per month. If you have any favorite classes or studios, let me know! And if you want to try out ClassPass, my referral link gets you $30 off (so essentially one month free!)

Finally, if you've been following Nick on Instagram (@nmalburg), you know he's been doing a lot of bread baking. If you're in the Pittsburgh area and are interested in purchasing a loaf of his sourdough, be sure to send him a message!

So that's about it - we have our wedding photos back so we will be sharing some wedding posts really soon, and more honeymoon posts (promise!) Thanks for reading.

Sarah & Nick