Baby-eating
If your baby is working his or her way up to solid foods, you’ve probably at least considered making your own baby food—before also considering how little sleep you’ve been getting and how long your to-do list has gotten. But breaking your reliance on Gerber isn’t just good for your bank account; it’ll also allow you to introduce your baby to interesting new flavors and keep a lid on the amount of sugar, sodium and preservatives in his or her diet. (Turns out packaged baby food isn’t all that healthy.) Here are some tips on how you can make nutritious meals for your baby without too much of a time investment.
Keep your gadget arsenal stocked. Invest in some special ice-cube trays that are just for baby food, and fill them with purees to get individual servings that can quickly be defrosted in the microwave. (These OXO ones even have lids, keeping freezer burn at bay and saving you from confusing them with the normal cube trays.) You can also buy fill-your-own versions of those fruit puree packs, allowing you to carry purees of your own creation on the go. But don’t worry about investing in a special baby-food steamer or grinder: a normal food processor is enough to get the job done.
A fork can go a long way. Most baby foods require some level of cooking, and the subsequent time investment. But don’t forget that nature has a few more-or-less instantaneous baby foods of its own. Keep a stock of ripe bananas and avocados on hand, and with a fork and a bowl, you can have fresh baby food in under a minute.
Trade time. If finding time to make baby food is an issue, consider teaming up with another parent. You can take turns watching the kids while making enough baby food for both households, or trade off babysitting duties: one weekend, someone looks after both kids while the other person shops and cooks; the next weekend, switch roles.
Make dinner for everyone in one shot. There are innumerable adult dinners than can have their components adapted for baby food, without taking too much extra time or causing extra hassle in the dish department. Ratatouille can be pureed for a baby and served over pasta for grown-ups; roasted salmon flakes easily into bite-size pieces; a white-bean stew can have a portion set aside to be pureed. If you can, make extra and set aside a chunk for blending and freezing in your ice-cube trays.
If you can’t always cook, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone has those days when there just isn’t time, and packaged baby food isn’t the end of the world. If you need to feed your baby a premade jar, check the nutrition facts for blends that are low in sugar and sodium and high in fiber. And consider going organic; babies’ tiny bodies are far more sensitive to pesticides than ours.
Got a tip for making baby food a little easier (or a favorite recipe)? Let us know in the comments. 

Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Clean

The kitchen is the true heart of most homes, which ends up being a mixed blessing—great when you’re gathering everyone around the table, not-so-great when you’re digging through drawers trying to find that missing measuring spoon. With spring (and the subsequent impulse to clean and organize) hitting after a long winter, we put together some quick and easy tips that can help you corral your kitchen clutter and make cooking easier, without spending an arm and a leg.

1. Tackle the junk drawer. We all have one (and sometimes more than one), and it’s often the worst offender in terms of kitchen clutter. Make it easier on yourself by picking up either a flatware organizer or a bunch of small plastic containers that fit inside the drawer, which can hold important items like thumbtacks, rubber bands, batteries, and paper clips in an organized fashion.
2. Make a list. Whether it’s a whiteboard on the fridge or a chalkboard-paint panel inside of a pantry door, a place to write things down is essential. Make the top half into a shopping list (and encourage everyone in the family to scribble there when items run out), and use the bottom half as a running tally of what’s in the freezer.
3. Splurge on a sink organizer. Nearly everyone has a dish rack, but if you’re not lucky enough to have a flip-out sponge drawer beneath your sink, your cleaning area is likely a wilderness of stray sponges, scrubbers, and dish soap. A suction-cup organizer (this OXO one gets great reviews) will help corral the clutter.
4. Seek out unused space. Is there a swath of cabinet wall to the side of your sink? That could be just enough room for a magnetic knife strip. Got a tall cabinet that still has no room for all your stuff? Pick up a $5 two-tier shelf and watch your cabinet space instantly double.
5. Upgrade your tubs. Cambro tubs are a standard in restaurant kitchens, but most home cooks don’t know about them. That’s a shame, because they’re great for storing prepped food and leftovers, they’re indestructible, and they last forever. (The CamSquare Translucent are the best ones to get.)
6. Lazy Susans are your friend. You may have one to organize your spices, but have you considered putting one in your fridge? (It makes digging out those leftovers all the way in the back a thousand times easier.)
7. So are magazine holders. Turns out they make pretty darn good storage: they hold everything from onions and potatoes in a cabinet to rolls of aluminum foil and plastic wrap on the inside of a cabinet door.
8. Spice up your life. If you haven’t cleaned out your spices in a while, you might be doing your cooking a serious disservice. Here’s a full guide to what needs to be rotated on a regular basis (and what you can keep forever).
What’s your favorite tip for a more organized kitchen? Let us know in the comments.
mom-packing-school-lunch-for-daughter
Getting everyone out the door with everything they need in the morning is one of parenting’s greatest struggles. While you’re trying to shower and get ready for work, your kids are refusing to get out of bed, haven’t packed their backpacks, and are waving brand-new permission slips in your face—sometimes all at the same time. We’ve all been there, but it doesn’t have to be this way. With some ground rules and consistency, it’s possible to make your mornings relatively hassle-free. Here are our favorite tips for mastering the morning.
Make nighttime prep part of your routine. Everyone’s tired in the evening, but if you can carve out five minutes on school nights to ensure everything’s ship-shape, you’ll save yourself a lot of time the next day. Do a backpack check between brushing teeth and storytime, assemble the foundations of lunches, or even get a little bit of breakfast prep done—if your kids eat cereal, for example, you can pre-portion a couple of bowls and two small cups of milk for pouring and leave them on the bottom level of the fridge, allowing them to “make their own” breakfast while you shower or check emails.
Design your kitchen with mornings in mind. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and usually where most kid-centric battles (drink your juice! where’s your backpack?) end up taking place. So turn it into the command center that it is. A few suggestions: Have several clocks in the room (maybe one wall clock and a couple of digital ones scattered around) so everyone knows exactly what time it is. Create a specific tray for permission slips, checks, and other sign-off material—if it isn’t filed by the night before, it’s not going to school the next day. Make a backpack area, where all jackets and schoolbooks have to be deposited for packing. And to make things fun, maybe add some speakers, to play a cheerful, get-up-and-go playlist as you go about your morning.
Encourage responsibility. When your kids grow up, they’ll have to be capable of waking themselves up, which means using an alarm clock. Get school-age kids in the habit now by teaching them to set and use their own alarm clock, including picking the time they think is best for getting up. They’ll quickly learn that setting the right alarm is the difference that allows them to wear just the right outfit and get that second helping of eggs. (And resist the temptation to check in on them after two minutes—it’s a lesson they need to learn for themselves.)
When in doubt, subtle bribery works. If you have a recalcitrant kid who just can’t seem to get it together, a little bit of parental bribery can go a long way. Set a designated time by which kids have to be 100% ready (with shoes and jacket on and backpack packed), and make it five minutes before you actually need to walk out the door. If they hit the mark, they get something desirable, whether it’s five minutes of iPad time or a mini-chocolate included in their packed lunch.
Allow for “freebie” days. Part of carving out an ironclad morning routine is showing that you don’t always have to be a robot. On weekends or school holidays, allowing kids to get up when they want and making a slower, special breakfast reinforces the idea that school and work require one set of behavior, but everyone gets time to relax. It’s the spoonful of sugar that’ll make the morning medicine go down.
What’s your best tip for mastering the morning? Let us know in the comments.

4 Ways to Save Money this Tax Season

Tax season is once again around the corner, and with a big chunk of change coming out of your bank account, your thoughts have likely turned to how to save some extra money in the weeks and months ahead. Considering that the cost of raising a child has gone up 40% in just the past decade, you’re definitely not alone. And while you deserve a pat on the back for buying and selling clothes with thredUP (money saved + money earned + environmentally friendly = score!), we’re not the only solution for the budget-conscious. Here are a few of our favorite tips for how to save some extra cash in this tight time of year, and stick with it all year long.

Sign up for every rewards program going. Most stores have special rewards clubs that offer regular discounts to their members, but the catch is that the emails can clog up your inbox—and the cards can make a mess of your wallet. To keep things streamlined, keep the pile of cards in a separate pouch and create a separate Gmail address for all the rewards sign-ups. When you need an item from that store, search your email, find the latest discount, and throw the pouch in your handbag. It’ll keep you focused on only spending at the stores you want to visit, and will net you more discounts when you do need to buy something.
Teach your kids to budget. Grown-ups often have a budget for various important items (mortgage, groceries, insurance), but there’s no reason school-age kids can’t have a petite version of the same thing. Instead of just giving in to the occasional request for a new toy, allot each child a weekly allowance (say, $10), and keep track of it in a note on your phone. When your child wants to buy something nonessential, they can see how much budget they have, and deduct accordingly. No financial surprises for you, and a good life lesson for them—you may be surprised how assiduously they save to get that iPad or monster Lego set they’ve been wanting. As they get older, consider adding on clothing and entertainment (like movies or concert tickets) as well, with an increased budget, of course.
Take the 52-week challenge. If it seems like you can’t seem to save up money for emergencies, this trick is a great one. The process is simple: create a special bank account and deposit $1 for the first week, then $1 more each following week for a year. ($1 in week one, $2 in week two, all the way up to $52 in week 52.) It’ll slowly acclimate you to the idea of saving by allowing you to adjust your budget and find your pain points on the fly, and by the end of the year, you’ll have $1,378. Already got your savings under control? Save for retirement by doing the same thing with the percentage of your income that goes into your 401(k) every six months or every year. (1% this year, 2% next year, and so on.)
Try a no-spending month. It sounds like a radical proposition, but taking a month where you spend on nothing aside from the essentials (namely bills, perishable food, and personal care items) can be surprisingly liberating. You’ll end up cleaning out all those nonperishable items from the pantry to create new meals, cracking open books you bought long ago but never read, using those gift cards and certificates lying around the house, and catching up on your Netflix backlog instead of hitting the theater. It’ll encourage you to reconnect with those around you, and appreciate all the little luxuries in life once the month is over. (And the money you save can go right into your savings or retirement account.)

GASP! It’s true. We’re so excited to finally let you know that thredUP is now offering Free Returns across the board – from your computer to your tablet to your phone to whatever device you use, you can now qualify for Free Returns on any eligible item.

To get your free return, you have to just take your refund in store credit, and send the items you don’t want to keep in their original condition within the first 30 days after you received the order.

If you would prefer a cash refund, you can conveniently print your return label at home and easily return your items paying only a flat rate fee of $6.

If you choose to simply take the money as store credit, returns will always be free. We will continue to be making improvements to this service over time so stay tuned for more updates.

One last thing…we know we’ve been making a lot of changes lately. And we thank you for your patience. We’re trying to dial in the right experience to ensure that not only do you have a great time shopping on thredUP but that we’re building a viable business that can serve you for many years to come. We appreciate your patience as we continue to evolve to do what’s best as we seek to inspire a new generation of consumers to think secondhand first.

As always, we’re here to help! Check out our Order Returns FAQs, and if you have any other questions about our new return policy, please let us know in the comments or drop our support team an email at [email protected]

A white button-down has been a closet essential since the Stone Age, and for good reason: there are infinite ways to style it, running the gamut from snappy to swanky. Here are three up-to-the-minute ways to wear this wardrobe workhorse, whether you’re at the office, enjoying a lazy Saturday, or hitting the town.
White Button Up
With a bright pant: Channel a little Palm Beach spirit in the depths of winter by tucking a classic long-sleeved button-down from Vince into a cheerful patterned trouser, like this Lilly Pulitzer number. With your pants doing the talking, you’ll want to keep jewelry minimal, but a classic belt like this one from Uniqlo and a simple heel like this Rachel Roy pair will keep you looking streamlined and professional, perfect for the office.
 White Button Up with Printed Pants
With a ripped jean: It’s the ultimate high-low combo: a freshly ironed button-down with a torn-just-so jean. To make sure you come off as insouciant and not sloppy, you’ll want to keep the button-down untucked and the jeans skinny. A dressed-up shoe, whether it’s a colorful oxford or a sassy printed pump, also makes things seem more deliberate. Finish it off with a big statement necklace, like this one from Forever 21, under the collar.
 White Button Up w/ Ripped Jeans
With a full skirt: It might seem a little strange, but designer Carolina Herrera long ago figured it out: a crisp button-down with a big, full skirt makes for a pretty darn chic evening look. Start with a classic white shirt from C Abi, then amp up the drama with a voluminous formal maxi skirt in a luxe fabric, like this one from ASOS. Add some sleek silver jewelry, simple black pumps, and a cute box clutch, and you’ll be ready to hit the town.
White Button Up with Full Skirt
What’s your favorite way to style a button-down? Let us know in the comments.

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Living in our demanding digital world can become a bit of a drag when you’re a new parent, as precious bonding (and sleeping) time gets sapped in favor of answering work emails, setting up endless Skype sessions with Grandma and Grandpa, and trying to keep track of a spiraling pile of expenses and medical bills. The good news: you can also make the electronic age work for you. Here are seven of our favorite apps and services that have recently debuted on the parenting scene, all of them designed to help you and your baby thrive in that tough first year.

1. MealTrain: Everyone has good intentions about making and freezing a bunch of advance meals for themselves before the big birth, but sometimes the best-laid plans go awry. The good news: you’ll never have a larger group of eager-to-help people in your life than when you have a new baby, and this free site allows you to organize them into an ad-hoc food army, complete with customized delivery times, dietary preferences, and other important info. Let yourself be taken care of for the time being, and make it up to them once your baby is sleeping through the night.

2. Baby Connect: This app serves as a full-on baby command center, perfect for working parents who are entrusting their little one to daycare or a sitter. In the app, you can track feedings, diaper changes, sleep, mood, nursing sessions, and other key activities, not to mention send private messages between everyone in a baby’s circle of care. It works on nearly every platform, and the mobile version only runs $5.

3. Sit or Squat: You may be able to hold it, but you now come with a little person who needs a diaper change or a feeding, like, yesterday. Save yourself from stress when you leave the house with this free app that maps public bathrooms, with tens of thousands listed across the country (and rated on cleanliness, to boot).

4. Citrus Lane: Like a Birchbox for new parents, this service sends a monthly compilation of fun goods tailored to the age of your baby. The assortment might include soft books, tub toys, diaper creams, puzzles, infant toothpaste, and other items designed to make the baby’s life more fun, and yours easier. Subscriptions run $29/month, which gets knocked down to $24 when you buy six months’ worth in advance.

5. Lalaalu: If you’d rather not leave your box delivery to chance, Lalaalu allows you to purchase customized boxes ($50-60 each) where you know exactly what you’re getting. They’re curated by fellow parents, who have the intel on matters both practical (like this pack of parent-approved sippy cups, feeders, and bibs) and fun (like this combo of art supplies, complete with a smock and clean-up products).

6. Baby Sign and Learn: Ever admired those crazy parents who’ve taught their babies how to communicate their needs with sign language? You, too, can make a communication connection before your little one learns to speak, thanks to this animated app that will teach you all of the most important signs (like “eat,” “sleep,” “more,” and “milk”), and give you advice on how to teach them to your baby.

7. Diaper Dabbler: There’s nothing worse than stocking up on packs and packs of diapers in anticipation of a baby’s arrival, only to find out that they don’t fit, or worse, leak. This $75 service allows you to sample the full gamut of what’s out there, with 18 different brands in both newborn and size 1 sizes to help you make your decision. It even comes with a chart to help you track which diapers are working and which aren’t.

And don’t forget, thredUP now buys and sells infant clothing. Whether you need more onesies or a special occasion outfit, we’ve got you covered.

date_night_idea_1With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, your thoughts might be turning to romance—and then turning right back to school schedules, work deadlines, and that suspicious noise the car keeps making. Everyone has more going on in their lives than ever, and it can be hard to make time for our significant others, especially when they’re just as overextended as we are.

But even if you manage to sneak in a dinner out or a movie every once in a while, that may not be enough to keep your relationship vibrant. Studies have shown that doing new things together as a couple is what really makes a difference in promoting lasting love. So in honor of the holiday of amour, we came up with eight fun date-night ideas that will shake up your relationship without breaking the bank.

Going Out

1. Go on a scavenger hunt: The thrill of solving a clue is addictive, and interactive app Stray Boots will do all the setting-up for you, allowing you both to be surprised. It’s available in 14 cities.

2. Mine the second tier: Your hometown may not have a pro team in your favorite sport, but they likely have some kind of amateur squad, whether it’s Double-A baseball, minor-league hockey, or even a really solid high-school basketball team. And since you’re not paying pro-league prices, tickets and a snack or two are usually fairly cheap. Not into sports? Consider checking out your local high school’s latest musical, or the latest community theater production. Even if it’s terrible, you’ll have something memorable to laugh about later.

3. Volunteer at the local animal shelter: Everyone loves a cute cat or dog, and your neighborhood ASPCA is likely always on the lookout for volunteers to help walk, play with, and feed the animals. Donate time together, and get some old-fashioned puppy love in return.

4. Tour a brewery or winery: Craft beer is on the rise, and nearly every town has a small brewery these days. Depending on where you live, you may have some upstart wineries as well. Find out when they offer tours and go together; you’ll learn a lot, and free samples are usually involved at the end of the line.

Staying In

5. Make a complicated dish: Have you ever baked bread before? Made fondue? Cooked up a real-deal Thai curry? You can find recipes online to help you do it all. Then team up and bring your culinary fantasies to life.

6. Play an escape-the-room game: There are tons of versions of this fun, simple video game on the Web, most of which are free and all of which require you to use your smarts and solve puzzles to get out of a digital “room.” Hunker down in front of the computer with some wine and popcorn, and work together to find your way out. Or if you’d rather get away from the screen, try doing a jigsaw puzzle instead.

7. Hold a grown-up pinewood derby: There’s no rule that says adults can’t purchase the Boy Scouts pinewood derby kit (which runs a very affordable $4) and compete to see who can build the fastest model car. There’s also no rule that says you can’t invite all your friends over to participate, to really make things interesting.

8. Set up an at-home massage parlor: Can’t afford a trip to the spa? Bring the relaxation to each other. Spread towels out on the bed, order a nice scented massage oil online, and call up some soft spa music on YouTube, then take turns giving each other lengthy backrubs. (Bonus points if you study up on techniques first.)

At thredUP, we’re proponents of all types of resolutions, but since we spend a good amount of time thinking about personal style and shopping (not surprising, we know), our favorite resolutions are generally of the sartorial variety. This week, we decided to find out what some of our colleagues plans to do – and wear – differently in 2015.

Lauren S.Lauren, Designer 
“My first resolution is to get some more outerwear! I moved to San Francisco from LA, and realized that I don’t have enough outerwear in my wardrobe for the cooler weather in northern California. Secondly, I want to focus on getting staple pieces in a neutral palette that I can easily layer. San Francisco has so many micro climates and I’ve found the best way to dress is to always be prepared with layers.”
10296118_10204184548154811_5721175549453644349_oCameran, Senior Director of Data Science & Analytics
“I’m not sure if this is a ‘style’ resolution per se, but I’ve decided to see more of my clothing items as investments. I don’t want to buy things I can’t sell to thredUP because they don’t wear well. I’m tired of sweaters pilling on the first wear.  So I’m trying to be more cognizant of quality as I purchase items.”
FarrellFarrell, Head of PR
“Dress up a little bit more! Jeans and tees will get you into most restaurants and offices in San Francisco, but it’s fun to put on a dress or skirt with some accessories. I have these in my wardrobe, but don’t take them out nearly enough on the weekdays. Secondly, I’m going to purge what I don’t love (or at least really like). Every item in my closet fits and I wear each piece at least once a year, but recently I find myself opening the doors and feeling “meh” about what’s in front of me! I’ll be filling my thredUP bags a little higher and more frequently this year…”
Kylie
Kylie, Engineer
“Buy less and buy quality. In my 20’s, I was a pro at managing a life-cycle of ‘fast fashion’.  The downside of that art form is that you’re constantly making last-minute emergency trips to Forever 21 because your closet is overflowing with cheap and cute but ill-fitting frocks you bought because at $21.99, even a single wear is worth it. It’s a resource problem for closet space, budget, and time. thredUP’s actually inspired me to invest in more quality pieces, even when I’m not purchasing from thredUP. Additionally, I want to master the art of the work-to-dinner ensemble. I’m fascinated by the idea of taking a simple, work-appropriate outfit, and making small substitutions or adding little touches to make the outfit ready for dinner or happy hour.  I’m always really impressed with the ladies who can pull this off and make it look effortless!”
Morgan
 Morgan, Engineer
“First, I want to save, plan, and splurge on nice pieces instead of impulse buying clothing items. Second, I plan to spend more time consciously cultivating my style-uniform. The ultimate goal is to spend less time in the morning figuring out the day’s wardrobe, without sacrificing polish & elegance. This will also help me with my first resolution.”
Karen
 Karen, Product Manager
“I’m loving the black and white trend this year, especially when incorporated in unique patterns.  Items in these classic colors pair well and can stay in your closet for a long time. Also, I’m looking for pieces that can be taken from day-to-night, like the tuxedo blazer or a colorful pencil skirt.”
pic
Heidi, Engineer
“I plan to only spend a lot of money if it’s something that I can wear over and over, like coats, shoes and bags. Rule of thumb: if it isn’t something I could wear 4 days in a row then I don’t want to spend a lot on it. I also need to clear out everything I own that isn’t flattering, and generally obsess a little less and just have fun with fashion.”
Angelica
Angelica, Merchandising Manager
“It’s simple: Less is more. Buy quality over quantity.”
Nina
Nina, Pricing Specialist
“This year my style resolution is to seek out amazing pieces from local/independent designers and shop secondhand to build a more unique closet.”
Lauren M
Lauren, Senior Director of Marketing
“My goal is to keep it simple and strive to only keep things in my closet that I absolutely love. And I’d like to be less of a critic when I don’t like what I have on!”
Kelly
Kelly, Photographer
“My first resolution is quality vs. quantity. I feel bad way too often when purchasing more expensive items when in reality I wear them more often, they fit better and I feel prettier. Second, I want to refine my palette to suit my figure. I’m paying attention to what I actually wear, as opposed to what I think I would like to wear.” 

Awards season is underway, and 2015 is off to a glamorous start with the Golden Globes! We spent last night glued to our TVs and laptops, because that red carpet was unbelievable.

It’s always hard to pick favorites, but here are the gowns that really wow-ed us.

First up: Shades of purple!

Lupita Nyong’o was sweet and stunning in her whimsical Giambattista Valli gown. Kerry Washington took a risk in a colorblocked Mary Katrantzou number, and we think she pulled it off beautifully. Amy Adams was a vision in her periwinkle gown by Versace.

thredUP Golden Globes Picks 1

Next: Pure Elegance

Helen Mirren was turning heads (as usual) in crimson Dolce & Gabbana. Maura Tierney pulled off 20’s glamour perfectly in Jenny Packham. Lastly, Felicity Jones was oh-so-prim and ladylike in Dior Haute Couture.
thredUP Golden Globes Picks 2

Stunning Silver

If we absolutely had to pick a favorite for the night, we think it would probably be Diane Kruger in this flawlessly-tailored silver Emilia Wickstead gown.  To. Die. For. We also thought Julianne Moore was breathtaking in Givenchy, and Reese Witherspoon was gorgeous as always in Calvin Klein.
thredUP Golden Globes Picks 3

Modern Ladies

Jessica Chastain wow-ed us in Versace with her plunging neckline and smooth waves. Lorde and Emma Stone were the epitome of modern fashion in their pant suits by Narciso Rodriguez and Lanvin, respectively.  thredUP Golden Globes Picks 4

Ivory & Blush

There were so many stunning dresses in shades of ivory and pale blush, but we loved these the most! Tina Fey’s Antonio Berardi dress was charming and interesting. Anna Kendrick looked like a dream in Monique Lhuillier, and lastly, Salma Hayek was endlessly glamorous in her waist-defining Pinault gown. thredUP Golden Globes Picks 5

Did you watch the Golden Globes (or at least the red carpet)? Share your top picks in the comments!

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