Patio Paradise


By Jenna Pfueller

It’s patio season, thrifty friends! I get excited about it every year and go all out. The mind movies I have about patio season are one of the few ways I’m able to make it through the hard New England winters.

But apparently each year I get a bit of amnesia about the my level of attractiveness to the local mosquito populace. To them, I’m merely creating a convenient outdoor smorgasbord for them to devour me under strings of trendy Edison garden lights.

Nonetheless, I prepare our back patio space with love, paying attention to light, seating, flowers, and doing my best to create the setting for a perfect summer gathering. Arguably it would be much more enjoyable should the entire mosquito population mysteriously collapse, but I digress.

It all started with some freshly birch logs I saw sitting along the side of the road by the power company clearing debris away from power lines. They were the perfect height to set into concrete and make some porch pillars. Lucky for me, my partner was on board with my DIY idea, and quickly got the car keys to rescue them on my behalf.


Credit: Jenna Pfueller

I pulled out some big planters I had in the shed, and got a few bags of Quick-crete from the hardware store. Once the logs were set in place, I topped them off with some dirt and planted  geraniums around them in a lame attempt to keep the mosquitos at bay. I pulled the picnic table over and ran a few strings of patio lights and boom-boom-boom– new favorite backyard hangout!

Thrift stores are the perfect place to make your backyard mecca totally cozy for totally cheap. I like to look for trays to carry drinks out on, like these vintage ones I found recently at my local Goodwill®. Not only do they make it easier to carry ALL THE THINGS in and out of the kitchen for prep and clean-up, but they also make a great conversation piece for your guests!


Credit: Jenna Pfueller

I also look for pillows to make seating more inviting, breezy curtains that can be easily strung up to mute the late day sun, linens that would make fun tablecloths, extra chairs to set out, and used rugs that would be totally fine as a seasonal outdoor landing pad.

Don’t forget about decor, too! Clocks, mirrors, planters– all great ways to add some extra wow.


Credit: @crazywonderfulblog

A few tips?

  • Use a fitted twin sheet as a tablecloth on picnic tables so they don’t blow away.
  • Find a set of used plates and cups you don’t mind getting chipped to create a more stylized look. It also keeps you from using plastic plates and styrofoam and creating more waste.
  • Keep citronella candles inside mason jars. So much cuter on your table, and you can put the lids on them when you’re done so they won’t get waterlogged between parties.

Need more inspiration? Check out this porch $5 challenge from Lauren, who found some great patio accents at her local Goodwill store.

You can sit back, relax, and rest easy knowing your inviting little piece of porch heaven helped people in your community find stability through work, and saved you a little extra money to buy citronella candles. Trust me here. You’re going to need them!

A Dramatic Change in Eli Because of Goodwill Programs

For Eli, the journey he has made with Goodwill has been life-changing. Eli started in the Goodwill Pre-Vocational training program to work on his barriers. One of those barriers was communicating with people in a respectful manner in situations that arise in the workday.  Eli admitted that “it was challenging to stay calm around people when they made me angry.” He worked on this challenge with his skills trainer and Eli is now calmer when a situation makes him angry.

Eli transitioned from the Pre-Vocational program into the Supported Community Employment program. Eli worked at Sears where he enjoyed meeting new people and having the opportunity to work in the community.

Eli was involved in Integrated Day Services during his time with the Goodwill training programs also.  Eli said, “When I first started Integrated Day Services I thought it was a waste of time and I quit Integrated Day Services but when I got a job at Sears I returned to Integrated Day Services. I have made a lot of friends in Integrated Day Services.”

Eli thanks Goodwill for learning how to be humble and how to have a positive attitude because of the training programs he progressed through. Eli is currently on the search for a job and he is interested in welding because it is his dream job.

Questions to Ask During Your Interviews (Pt 1 of 3)


By Randy Wooden

I’m often asked how to answer interview questions; it is just as important to know good questions to ask the employer since interviewing is a back and forth dialogue.

Today, in the first of a three-part blog series, I’ll provide some key questions along with why they’re important and what you could hope to learn from their answers.

At the beginning of an interview, an employer will often ask you to tell them about yourself and what you are seeking in a job. As you conclude your answer, you have an opportunity to learn more about what the interview is seeking. Perhaps, “I was excited to get to meet with you. Could you tell me a bit more about what you’re looking for?”

This question accomplishes a few things.  First, it prevents you from talking too much. When you’re not being interrupted – and are maybe nervous – you can tend to ramble. Asking a question allows the employer to talk.

It can also help establish a trend of productive back and forth dialogue.  You can potentially learn about the job’s education, skills and experience requirements and soft skills or character traits they’re seeking. Once you do, you can better tailor your responses to what you know for the employer wants.

Another question to ask at the beginning of the interview is for the employer to describe the position in greater detail. Just as you come prepared with your work history on a resume and/or application, the employer will often ask you to articulate what you’ve done on those jobs. Be sure to have the employer describe the position, ideally prioritizing the duties for you.

The employer is analyzing you on competency and culture fit. They are trying to learn whether you have the skills, education, personality and desire to do the job well.

At the same time, you are determining whether the opportunity is something you can perform well and whether it’s a company with which you want to work.

To help your thought process, it can be beneficial to ask questions about the goals or objectives for the position.

  • How does the employer judge success in this role?
  • What obstacles might you encounter to accomplishing those goals?
  • Are the goals realistic?

You could also ask about the resources available to achieve the goals. The interview is an exchange of information. Asking thoughtful questions is a great way to determine whether you really want the job.  Good luck!

3 Ways to Upgrade Your Summer Travel Wardrobe at Goodwill®


By Felicia Czochanski

Some days it can seem like saving enough money to travel is impossible. In New York City, if you forget to bring lunch to work or don’t have time to make it, you’ll find yourself running up a $15 bill just for a salad that has the toppings you want. This doesn’t even take into consideration the student loans and debt many people are facing as well.

Yet when it comes to travel – you don’t need to jet off to some exotic place to reap the benefits of much needed rest and relaxation. Even just going away for a long weekend  to a nearby city you’ve never been to can do the trick. If you’re worried about hotel prices, look into Airbnbs and hostels. If you’re nervous about food prices for eating out it’s worth it to stock up on breakfast and snacks before the trip, and even better if you’re able to find a place to stay that has a kitchenette. Saving in these small ways can really add up to help you pay for the absolutely necessary expenses of the trip.

So does saving on a vacation wardrobe, by shopping at your local Goodwilll. By shopping the well-loved treasures at your local Goodwill store you’re not only able to pay around 90% less than retail prices – sometimes for awesome designer clothing with the tags still attached – but you’re also able to help out others in your community. Shopping at Goodwill is both a win for you and a win for others who receive financial assistance and professional training from the organization, fully funded by donations and purchases at Goodwill.

As summer swiftly approaches, there are a few items to scour the racks of your favorite Goodwill store for.

1.Stock up on accessories to help shade the sun



You’ll be able to find some amazing sunglasses steals and beautiful handcrafted hats at your local Goodwill. Take advantage of these deals to shield yourself from the sun this season.

2. Check out flowy dresses and skirts to keep you cool during warmer weather



From walking to the office to the park you’re going to need some options that can be    dressed up or down, while still helping you stay cool. When looking for some of these options, focus on the material. You’ll want to stick with lighter, more breathable fabrics, such as cotton, linen, rayon and fabric blends.

3. Invest in a pair of comfy, neutral sneakers



One of the best things you can do for your feet this summer is to help them avoid getting blisters. Whether or not you’re able to travel, a pair of neutral sneaker is the perfect way to get a few extra steps in every day, because it matches your outfit and provides the ultimate comfort. A pair of white, cream or black sneakers could really help you go a long way!