Gettin’ Guesty with Zoë Cullie of Haiku Ambulance

We have ANOTHER great contributor this week for Gettin’ Guesty!

Please help me welcome:

Zoë Cullie of Haiku Ambulance

We sat down (virtually) and chatted about how to dress great without spending major bucks. She a lover of thrift stores, style and is a fellow Denverite!

I’m pumped to share her Q&A with ya’ll.

image courtesy of the guest

And Then We Saved: How do you craft your outfits? Where does your inspiration come from?

 Haiku Ambulance: Each outfit is entirely built out of spontaneity and is inspired by any number of things. Most importantly these things: the weather, my mood, anything I’ve recently seen in a movie, online, or read in a book. But my real inspiration mainly comes from other blogs and the items I find in the thrift stores. 

ATWS: What are the biggest “tricks” and tips that you use when buying/looking for vintage/thrift items?

 HA: I think that hands down, the number one best trick is to look in every section. Some of my best pieces have come from either the children’s section, plus size, or lingerie. Try to think about it logically: you aren’t in a store that is selling the same piece in every size. Looking for a shrunken blazer? Look in the children’s section or sizes smaller than you. Looking for oversized items? Search a few sizes up. And always remember that the people in the thrift stores aren’t putting everything back properly. Either way it will pay off for you to look everywhere even if it seems time consuming. And also keep in mind that vintage sizing is wildly different than today’s, so a lot of the best vintage will be several sizes larger on the tag than what you are today. Also buy books on collectible items- things you would never imagine to be worth anything are sometimes the crap that sells for thousands. Read up and you will make better “investments.” 

ATWS: What is the best/worst thing about buying vintage/thrift?

 HA: The thrill of the hunt is one of the best feelings ever in the whole entire world. Knowing that you and you alone, were the one to find a certain item is incredible. Especially when that item is usually $2-$9. I think the overall “yuckiness” of thrifting is the worst. I have definitely gotten pink eye from a thrift store and wore trousers that smelled like manure because I failed to wash them prior to wearing. Always take hand sanitizer: that’s another great rule.

ATWS: What are your wardrobe basics/essentials?

 HA: For me the essentials are a perfectly fitting/feeling: blazer, pair of jeans, and high waisted skirt. And obviously you would need to throw some shirts and shoes in the mix, so you aren’t walking around with your boobies and dirty bare feet hanging out. 

ATWS: What’s the greatest item you’ve found while thrifting?

 HA: Oh goodness. The greatest item I have found… Boy. I have some really fantastic fur coats that are just insane. But I think that each item has the potential to be the best. At least at its own time, each item makes me just as excited as the last. And if we’re judging by how much use an item has received, then hands down it is my black blazer that did indeed come from the children’s section.

ATWS: When you buy new items what are you on the lookout for/what strikes you when you’re shopping “new”?

 HA: When I buy new things I seem to buy more trendy items. I also have pretty much decided that (for the most part) I will continue buying new shoes. My feet are an awful wreck from buying vintage shoes that never quite fit right. 

ATWS: How long does it take for you to get your outfits together? How do you motivate yourself to take pics in the morning outside when it’s freezing out!?

 HA: I wake up with roughly an hour’s time to get ready. I never plan anything ahead of time, so that certainly causes some chaos around the house from time to time. I honestly take the blog photos in all of four minutes before we go to work, so the freezing temps don’t matter all that much when it goes by so quickly! And when it’s cold it we can expedite the process in like two minutes.

ATWS: Have you always been into fashion? If not, when did you become interested in it?

 HA: I’ve always been a thrifter and I’ve always been into clothes. I think that getting into fashion itself actually came later in life. I have had an affinity for theatre and costume design, but my style was a bit more campy and silly until a few years ago. I’m glad to see that I’ve come a little ways since then.

ATWS: How long have you been blogging? Your biggest features/honors?

HA: I have been blogging for well over five years now, but I did my first ever outfit post a year and two months ago. I feel like every feature is an honor. I was exceptionally thrilled to be approached by and certainly 303Magazine was one of the most exciting things ever to happen. 

ATWS: You are the recent recipient of the 303 Denver Style Award! (Congratulations!) How did that feel to get that award?

 HA: Totally bizarre. It was a series of happenstance that ended up being utterly amazing. My dad was there when I accepted the award and it was truly awesome to see him so proud of me over something that I started as a hobby. And 303Magazine is such a great publication—it really puts out some great and gorgeous issues so I couldn’t be more humbled to be acknowledged by such a killer Denver institution.

Zoë Cullie of Haiku Ambulance ● THANK YOU ● for being a part of And Then We Saved!

If you would like to be considered as a contributor for Gettin’ Guesty send me an email at:


in Guest Interviews, Make Do & Mend, Style, Things To Do
Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

homemade laundry detergent recipe

Turns out laundry detergent is super easy and cheap to make!

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe…

Read More »


in DIY, Food & Recipes, Things To Do
A Talk

Remember how I said there were some BIG things in the works!? Well… now I get to tell you about the 2nd thing (the 1st thing was about 5280 magazine).

On Friday, I had the privilege of speaking to over 100 Lexmark employees at their headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky. I spoke on the topic of:

Financial Wellness and the Environmental Benefits of Simplifying Through A Year of Living Sustainably.

(A.K.A.: The Little Things Add Up)

Everyone was so welcoming, receptive, warm and friendly. Also, have you ever been to Lexington? I was surprised by how green and lush the city is. Rolling green hills are surrounded by crisp white fences and horses amble about within those lush fields. We also learned about: Hot Browns, Burgoo and Hoppin’ Johnnies. We got to go to the Keeneland Horse Derby (which just so happened to be the last stop before the Kentucky Derby), we saw The McConnell Springs and we even went to a Shaker Village (like the Quakers but different), a billy goat ate part of my shirt, and we shared a piece of 4 layer orange cake with orange buttercream frosting.

The whole city was really SO pretty and the whole experience was great!

Below are some images from the hour long talk at Lexmark and some photographs from the Q&A session that followed.

(All the photographs are by Aaron Jones)

testing the equipment pre-talk

one of the resource flyers that were given out

fielding questions

answering questions

p.s. if you or your company would like me to come speak shoot me an email:


in Do Without, Environment, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Personal, Press & Interviews, Take Action
The Stands

Today an article about me and the Spending Fast hit the stands in Denver’s very own 5280 Magazine. The article is in the May 2011 issue. The wonderful Sarah Protzman-Howlett wrote the gem and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it.

Thank you Sarah and 5280 Magazine!


in Press & Interviews, Spending Fast
Air Fresheners Are Toxic?

Maybe I’m late on this but have you all heard that indoor air fresheners are toxic?! (sources here, here, here)

That is shocking news to me but not all that surprising when I actually SMELL the smell.

It really SMELLS like a bunch of chemicals.

Being Earth Week and being on a year-long Spending Diet means this information is of great interest to me.

I’ve found that the ABSOLUTE best way to lessen my environmental impact is to consume less.

You can measure your own ecological footprint here. The 21 question quiz measures your impact in different categories and then let’s you know how many “Earths” it would take if everyone lived the way you did. I took the test twice. Once as my pre-spending fast self and once as my current spending diet/post-spending fast self. My rating was 6.85 Earths before and now it is 1.87 Earths. The quiz is a tangible way to see that consuming less means good things for the world.

image via tumblr

I decided that I needed to do without all the expensive, highly-marketed chemical cleaners. That meant making the things I need to clean my house and office from inexpensive, easily accessible ingredients.

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

Ingredients needed: white distilled vinegar, tap water

Pull an old spray bottle from the recycling bin. Combine 3 parts water to 1 part white vinegar. Spray, swipe and the germs are gone. The germs can’t stand up to vinegars acidity. (the smell was hard to get used to at first but dissipates quickly)

Next up: make a house/bathroom air freshener that’s not toxic.

Bathroom/House Air Freshener

Ingredients needed: Essential oil, tap water, a smaller sized old spray bottle (approximately 79¢ at the grocery store if you decide to buy it new, of course re-using something that would have gone into the trash is better but I try to remind myself, it’s about progress not perfection)

Fill the spray bottle almost to the top with tap water and since moderation isn’t my thing I put 40 drops of essential oil in there so it could REALLY smell good. (I found a large bottle of Lemon Myrtle essential oil at the natural food store for $7).  Then shake it all up and spritz it around.

It worked!

Now, when the air is “freshened” up it doesn’t smell like a big fat chemical bomb. It smells like lemon and I feel a lot better about it. Also, there is plenty of vinegar and essential oil left to make more cleaning supplies and room spray in the future.

It’s amazing how little the cleaning spray and the air freshener cost compared to what I used to spend on the stuff. It cost pennies to create those two items where it would have cost quite a bit more in the past to buy the items outright. It also feels good to know that I’m not creating additional waste that comes along with buying the packaged items.

image by abi porterHappy Earth Week!


in Do Without, Environment, Food & Recipes, Practical Solutions, Spending Fast, Things To Do
Gettin’ Guesty (and Crafty) with Hazel and Mare

We’ve got ANOTHER great contributor this week!

Gifts are one of the trickiest parts of the Spending Fast/Spending Diet. Just how do you show someone you care without spending money on them? Here’s a post on JUST that topic (from Day 29!).

Today’s contributor has created a great Do-It-Yourself gift idea that I think just about anyone would love to receive. The little heart is soo cute! (you’ll see!)

Katie Naugle of Hazel and Mare

My name is Katie, and like many of you, I fell victim to societal pressures to spend. I read fashion magazines and saw cute spring clothes that I just had to have. I bought a new phone because all my friends’ phones had video cameras and internet, and my old, normal phone seemed so old… and normal. I spent $20 on pretty measuring cups from Anthropologie (that now I’m too afraid to use because they cost $20). However, I realized that working 40 hours a week just to shop away all my paychecks didn’t make me a happier or more fulfilled person. Instead, that lifestyle led to a closet filled with clothes I never wear, too much credit card debt, and a plan to change it all.

how cute is she!?

I come from a long line of crafters- creative and imaginative people who made things instead of bought things. When I was a child, I couldn’t care less that my Halloween costume was homemade. In fact, I thought it was pretty cool. I cherished my glamorous Barbie mansion made from shoeboxes and painted popsicle stick furniture. And I will never forget the fun times we had creating something together- it made it way more special than just running over to the mall.

So I’m on a mission now to follow in my ancestors’ creative footsteps. I’m going to rid myself of bad shopping habits by putting my sewing and crafting skills to good use. When I see something I want to purchase, I will instead just try to make it myself. Nowadays, it is so easy to just hand over a credit card that we forget how fun, simple, and inexpensive the Do-It-Yourself version can be.

Let’s take Anthropologie, for example. I swoon over their mix of rustic, eclectic, and elegant styles, but their prices are much too high for your average recessionista. $128 for a pillow? I could make two student loan payments with that. Or buy a month’s worth of groceries. Or 128 bottles of Snapple.

Since we are all on our own missions to stop spending and get out of debt, I’m going to show you how to make a pretty, Anthropologie-inspired gift for a fraction of the Anthropologie price.

Home is Where the Heart is Pillow

What you will need:

- ½ yard fabric with a cute print, or a pre-sewn, blank 14” x 14” pillowcase

- Sewing machine (optional- you can also use a pre-sewn pillowcase as mentioned above)

- 1 skein (8 meters) of embroidery floss in the color of your choosing

- Needle

- Pins

- Pencil or invisible ink marker

- Embroidery hoop

- Small piece of red felt

- America template (PDF here)

- 14” x 14” pillow form

*Note: I purchased all the supplies for this pillow at a craft store for about $11.

And the Steps: 

1)    Iron fabric flat.

2)    From the fabric, cut out one square that is 15 ½” on all sides. Then cut out two rectangles 15 ½” x 10”.

3)    Cut out America template. Tape the cutout in the center of the square piece of fabric.

4)    Carefully trace around the outside of the cutout with your pencil or invisible ink marker. (Once you embroider over the lines, you won’t be able to see the pencil marks).

5)    Place the area with the design inside the embroidery hoop to hold the fabric tight.

6)    Take a piece of your embroidery floss. Each piece is made up of 6 smaller strands. Split the piece of floss in half so that you are holding three strands in each hand. Thread your needle with three strands and set the other three aside.

7)    Even if you have never embroidered before, this is a piece of cake! You are just following the lines that you traced with the embroidery floss. Poke the threaded needle from the back of the fabric to the front, then back down about 1/8 of an inch from where you started. Then make the second stitch, moving the needle from back to front about 1/8 of an inch from the first stitch. Bring the needle back down right where you ended the previous stitch, so that the stitches connect in a line. This is called a backstitch. Continue these stitches all the way around the traced area.

8)    Make a heart cutout from your red felt and place it over the state you love! Sew in place by making a simple “X” with your embroidery floss.

9)    Set the square piece aside and place the two rectangle pieces next to each other with the printed sides facing down. Along the long side facing the middle, fold the fabric back ½ an inch and pin. Do this on both pieces. Sew along this seam on each piece, removing pins as you go.

10) Place the embroidered piece facing right side up. With printed sides facing down, line up the unfinished long sides of the rectangle pieces with the right and left sides of the square, and the hemmed sides facing the middle (these pieces will overlap). Pin the pieces in place. Note: the printed sides of the fabric should be facing each other, not the outside.

11) Sew around entire border of pillow. Turn fabric right side out and gently poke the corners with the eraser of your pencil. Topstitch around the border of the square to create a finished look.

12) Insert pillow form, and you’re all done!

cute, cute, cute

Katie Naugle from Hazel and Mare ● THANK YOU ●

for being a part of And ThenWe Saved!

If you would like to be considered as a contributor for Gettin’ Guesty send me an email at:


in DIY, Guest Interviews, Societal Pressures, Spending Fast, Things To Do
  • Anna

    Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Let's do this!

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