Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thrift Shopping: Diamonds in the Rough

Yesterday I showed you some of the creeptastic items to be found at my local thrift shop. So why do I keep going back?

1. I love to find things my family needs, at a fraction of the retail price.
2. I love to recycle.
3. I like the challenge of seeing beyond initial appearances to rethink how something can be used.

In an earlier post I gave some general tips about thrifting. Today I'd like to take you on a trip down the aisles with me to get a feel for what you might find at your local store. I do not go to stores where you have to dig.

When thrifting, it's good to have an idea of what you would like to find (i.e. rollerblades for the kids), but also to keep an open mind, and preferably an open back seat, for the unexpected.

Yesterday I saw row upon row of American Flags people had donated:

I'm not sure whether this means people are getting more or less patriotic, but if you are looking to replace your flag for the upcoming holiday weekend, you should have no trouble finding one. I bought a gorgeous old cotton flag that was in perfect condition.

Then I lingered at the scarves:

While I am not a scarf lady, every few months I'll buy a pretty one to tie around my key chain. This makes my keys much easier to keep track of in my purse, adds some color to my outfits, and lets me hang the keys around my wrist when I walk the dog.

In addition to scarves and hats, you can also find loads of fabric at thrift stores, so if you have an upcoming furniture project to do, be on the lookout.

Speaking of furniture, think SHAPE and STABILITY. If you spot a shape you like, don't get hung up on the finish, which you can easily change. Stability is important unless you like repairing furniture, which I do not.

For example, check out these bistro chairs! What a classic shape, and a little sanding and spray paint will rectify the botched, drippy paint job. Bright red? Black? Yellow? They would look terrific!

Speaking of shape, this console table is gorgeous! It is as long as a couch, and would be great as a sofa table, or with garden stools tucked underneath it, or in an entry way. I love the clean shape, and can picture it painted in a glossy white lacquer.

In fact, at the grocery store today I saw this. Look familiar?

While thrift stores are the BEST place to find household staples, kids' clothes, and books, they are also a little bit of heaven if you like VINTAGE items! The sheer volume of merchandise coming into these shops means you are sure to find something vintage. I've written about my collection of off-white vintage jewelry boxes, which are a thrift store staple.

Other things have been catching my eye, too, like vintage aprons. Check out this cute strawberry number:

Of course, you'll have to make your way through the cheesy French Maid-type aprons to get to the vintage goodness. Ewwww...

And ice buckets! Elle Decor has a feature on lovely and pricey ice buckets in its new issue. Why not go vintage and get a unique ice bucket with a sense of history at a great price? Cocktails, anyone?

One last piece of advice is that if you think you might like something, throw it in your cart as you shop. If you don't, it may not be on the shelf or rack later. Then, just ponder as you shop.

Yesterday I found a 50's-style kelly green dress. I couldn't tell whether I loved it or hated it, but I threw it in the cart anyway. As I wandered the aisles, I had time to decide if it would work for me. They answer was yes, and for $5.25 I have a fun "new" dress for summer. If I had waited until next time, It may have been gone:

Well, that's it for today. I'm off to flounce around in my dress and contemplate the return of Mad Men.

I hope you are having a great day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today on "I Shop, So You Don't Have To"

Although I didn't find any used Gyno tables, today was a doozy at the thrift store! I thought I'd share some of the merchandise I found. How anyone was able to part with it is beyond me.

My iPhone pictures are blurry, but that might not be a bad thing.

For some reason there was an abundant supply of creepy dolls and figurines today. They may have all come from the same person.

Here's Piano Gal:

Not to be outdone by 4, new-in-box, Girl Crocodile Hunter animatronic dolls:

And this flirty, buxom wine jug:

Next to her creepy cohort Mr. Bear:

My fave was Bubble Baby:
Not to be confused with Bubble Boy:

And while I was sorely tempted to buy this hodgepodge of Coin Bank/Teddy Bear in a Cannon/Parrot/Pirate (????)
I was even more alarmed at its ridiculous $19.91 price tag than its assault on my good taste.

Speaking of tastelessness, check out this shoe that will NEVER grace the delicate foot of my 9 year old daughter:

So now you have seen the dark underbelly of my favorite thrift store. Gotta separate the chaff from the grain, baby.

Tomorrow I will share with you some of my ideas to look beyond the craptastic-ness to find something for you and your home.

But before I leave, I want to share with you why you will never see a unicorn roaming the earth:

Widespread Unicorn Asphyxiation.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Half Full or Half Empty?

So if one of your now-adult former students invites you to join her to see a movie called "BAD TEACHER," would your self esteem get a boost or take a nose-dive?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nautical Lovelies for $1.00 at Michael's

Molly and I went to Michael's yesterday, and I found myself drawn to the dollar bins. I loved all of the orange and navy with nautical touches, especially on the...


and Wine Bags:

They also had coasters, cupcake wrappers in more cool patterns.

I ended up buying...

This little square canvas print to go on my desk:

Three big glass candleholders, marked down from 9.99 to .99!
And this adorable muslin wine bag. Now I need to find a party to go to so I can take some wine!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Houston We Have a Problem; And My Cup Runneth Over

I wrote this post in my head last night as I stewed and tossed and turned unable to sleep. Gotta love a post like that, which eventually turns into a dream about some doggie beauty pageant or something weird like that in which I am inexplicably involved.

Anyway, the blog post was mostly an incoherent rant, which would make it not much different than my regular Monday musings, so let's dive in!

It dealt with the bumpy, no, HELLISH re-entry we've experienced since my dear daughter returned after a week with her cousins in Ohio. All week we missed her, mused on her endearing qualities, and prayed for a good trip. Within 5 minutes of her return, we were ready to send her packing again. Apparently, her father, brother, and I are idiots, worth no more respect than a dried booger on the underside of a school desk, while her cousins have the perfect family. Aargh.

Which makes me think of punishments. We have taken away computer time from Jake for a week due to some low marks on his report card-- you know the categories that deal with respecting authority and doing one's best? This is one of the "Who gets punished more, the mom or the kid?" scenarios. It's going to be a long week. I sure hope one of you has read a recent and well-documented article that proves that removing screen time in June improves school performance come September. If so, please forward it to me.

Which leads me to parenting and spousal frustration. Since day one, Tom and I have had different parenting philosophies. His is based on control, while mine is more loosey-goosey, although I do like structure. I want the kids to do what's right, because it's what's right. He wants to give them charts and rewards and punishment. I know my way has flaws, and I know his does too. I tend to base my parenting on the WHY (she's frustrated, he's tired, etc) of a situation and he bases his more on the WHAT (the action).

We each pull from our own childhood experiences. When I was Molly's age I acted like a raging lunatic, but my mother would not punish me for it. As I've written here before, she would just let me spin out of control in my own dramatic way, until I realized no one was getting wrapped around the axle except me. Then I would calm down, sulk off with a book, and be ready to behave well, or not, the next time around. I could re-enter the family covenant without having to dissect what I had done. Tom's family utilized grounding, paid for good grades, and had charts about earning tv time and the like.

The thing is, while this causes a lot of conflict between the two of us, if you look at the 6 kids who came out of these differing environments, some binge drank, some did not, some tried their best in school, some did not, some attend church, some don't. All went to college and received advanced degrees. All grew up, had children, and are now navigating this parenting thing themselves. We all turned out pretty great, so I don't think there's only ONE way to parent.

But Tom's and my relationship seems brittle these days. We are annoying the heck out of each other. I know I can type that here, even though he reads this blog, because when you have been together almost 20 years, it's foolish not to acknowledge that there are ups and downs.

Our latest battle centers around having a TV in the bedroom. I want one; Tom doesn't. There are just times when I want to watch tv in bed. I also want another option when the downstairs tv is on baseball. Ugh. We are at an impasse, but I am super-annoyed that I've given in on this one for the past million or so years. I feel my blood boiling when I think about it.

Which leads to my health, and the fact that 3 weeks ago I joined a small group focusing on health and wellness. I was sick of my back hurting, of staying up too late, and of eating crap. I made a list of goals:

1. Get more sleep 2. Eat better 3. Drink Water 4. Lose 6 lbs 5. Take Vitamins 6. Pray 7. Improve relationship with God and my family 8. Increase libido

So here we are, three weeks in, and I've GAINED SIX POUNDS! Inconceivable! That which I wanted to lose, I have now found. Sheesh. Now my pants don't fit and my bra cups runneth over, again.

And speaking of item # 8, libido, this is the rambling thought that came to my mind as I tossed and turned last night. Prepare to be creeped out to the max.

My brain:

"Well, I hope Tom doesn't expect to get romantic tonight just because it's Father's Day! I mean, it's not like he's MY father."


I think I need more sleep.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Girl Just Wants To Blog; And, What I Will NOT Paint White

So many forces have conspired against my blogging this week: a crashed computer, the start of summer break, health concerns for one of my kids, and that little thing called my day job.

But the computer miraculously works today, one of my kids is deposited in Cleveland, Ohio to hang out with her cousins the rest of the week, the other is parked in front of video games with a friend, and here I am!

No projects to share today, but I thought I'd piggyback on something I saw on another blog and share with you:

"What I Will NOT Paint White-- or Aqua, or Black, or Yellow!"

So you know my spay paint trigger finger is itching to do some furniture transformations, but lest you get the idea that nothing in the house is safe from me, I thought I'd share some pieces that are staying au natural:

Please don't think I'd go all Judgy-McJudgepants on you if you have painted similar pieces. I do not consider furniture sacred and, well, I'm not a man. Men tend to think that if you paint "Real Wood" you are committing a cardinal sin. I say, keep your Oak bric a brac to yourselves boys, and get out of the way of my paint brush.

First up is my mom's desk where she used to sit and write letters on her personalized stationary. Our big yellow desk phone sat here as well, so I spent QUITE a bit of time there during my teen years chatting with boys, before chatting meant something different.

The top folds down to make sort of a buffet surface.

Now the desk sits in my little-used living room. The proliferation of stuff on and around it belongs to Molly, otherwise known as "Mrs. See," as she conducts her imaginary school room here. She uses white boards and markers, hall passes, the works, to whip her imaginary students into shape.
Work Hard but...Have pleasure doing it!

This year her class learned all the state capitals and the presidents! Some day this desk will be clutter and dust-free again, but for now, I'm glad that Molly can sit at the same desk as her grandma, and name-sake, she never met.

Next up is this cabinet:
It's not super-sturdy. One of the legs is just for show. I like how it has been that way since my grandparents gave it to my parents more than 40 years ago. I guess no one is in a rush to fix it.

This used to be in my dining room growing up. The back was lined with wild 70's wrapping paper that looks very similar to some of the fun and funky wallpaper patterns that is coming back into style today. I like how my mom wasn't afraid to jazz something up a bit to fit the style of the day. I store candles and linens in it.

And then there is the "Swan Table."

I think I may have shared it with you before. I used to love to sit underneath this table when I was a kid. Family lore has it that my grandparents bought this at an auction or junk shop somewhere.

Supposedly it had been in "Some fancy embassy in Washington." My grandparents drove hours with it strapped upside down to the top of a sedan to get it to my parent's house. Before my grandfather re-finished it, the beautiful carvings were completely hidden by stain.

So there you have it! 3 things I will NOT paint white.


This post has me hankering to rearrange my blah living room to make it more user-friendly. Suggestions welcome! And yes, I see that the coffee table is WAY off center in this picture. Aargh.


I can't find my followers anymore! They don't show up on my sidebar and I miss them. Thoughts?

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Trash Lady

I see her each day. Stooping to pick up a stray candy wrapper and putting it in her bulging bag of trash. This is a busy road, 2 lanes of traffic with frazzled people zooming by in fancy cars, windows rolled up. No sidewalk or even a safe shoulder for pedestrians. So she walks in the ditch, eyes scanning, for more trash to pick up.

A few months ago she started wearing an orange safety vest, which made me feel a little better, but I still worry about her, clinging so closely to the edge of this windy road, even in the rain. In seven years, I have never seen another person walking on this road.

Again and again, I wonder about her story. This is not an “Adopt a Highway” zone. The vast area she covers surely stretches far beyond whichever weedy, gravely strip adjoins her own property.

Maybe she’s just a concerned citizen. She looks like a soccer mom. My grandpa would have done something like this-- taken a strip of earth and made it his responsibility, day after day, year after year. But he was an old man, a man of earlier times. He also amassed large balls of twine and saved tin foil. He had a vice-grip handshake and looked you straight in the eye when he spoke to you.

In today’s warp-speed culture, the trash-picking lady, who looks to be just a few years older than I am, strikes an odd cord. When I invent her story in my brain, which I have the chance to do every day as the kids and I whiz past on the way home from school, I imagine a woman who is broken, but who finds a way to put things back together by walking, and searching, and making something ugly a little bit more beautiful. I imagine her task as a gift to the world, as a prayer, a meditation, and yes, a compulsion.

Her task of cleaning will never be complete, because there’s always another beer bottle or plastic bag out there. I don’t know how long she works each day, but I have driven by 2, even 3 hours after school pick-up time and she’s still there, further down the road, leaning and picking and walking. Her daily experience seems far different from those of us who zoom by on the way to this and that.

I guess it’s a sad commentary that when I see someone doing good for the world, I imagine she must be wrestling with inner demons, something much bigger than an old newspaper caught in the branches of a tree. I imagine that she's putting something back together, with every piece of trash she picks up.

Today is the last day of school for my kids. But I know the trash lady will be there, through the heat of the summer, doing what she needs to do.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Flea Market Update

Saturday was breezy and beautiful-- a perfect day for a flea market. I had a great time, and Molly and Tom's help meant I didn't destroy my back in the process.

The only drawback? Very few people came. Like 8. Aargh.

It was fun to get "my stuff" out there and see what people thought of it. Those who came, bought, so that was a good sign. I was too busy to take real pictures, but thought I'd share a few phone pics of my booth.

A lot of the stuff that didn't sell will stay in my friend Theresa's store, so I didn't have to lug much home.

My sister suggested that I open an etsy site for small items in the future, to reach more people, but I don't know. Thoughts?

And in case you couldn't survive Hump Day without a narcissistic hair update, here's my new cut:

I looked like that for exactly 2 days, and then I washed it. Now, the bush is back.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bye-Bye Birdie

The kids and I watched as cardinals built a nest in the bush right outside our kitchen window.

We squealed with delight when we saw 3 perfect eggs appear one day.

We roiled with anger when a snake slithered up the branches after those eggs-- and we chased him off with a stick.

We saluted the parents who tended and tended and tended to the three perfect babies that hatched from those eggs. Thin skin, bulging eyes, little tufts of feathers-- they were cute in the most vulnerable, pathetic of ways.

They waited, mouths open, for Mom or Dad to drop in a morsel. After only a few days, the brownish-gray fledglings were ready for their big moment.

They hopped from branch to branch, tentatively testing those wings. Ever solicitous, Mom and Dad Cardinal watched from outside, Jake and Molly inside-- Molly's arm draped around Jake's back.

I stood behind, watching my no-so-small ones watch the smaller ones. In a matter of moments, all three birds took flight. It wasn't graceful, but it worked.

Jake turned to Molly and said, "They just grow up so fast."

Amen, kid.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blogger Question

I promise we will soon be back to our regularly scheduled program of posts about my armpit hair and the like, but first I have a technical question for my blogging friends:

Why am I not able to leave comments on people's blogs?

For the past week or so, after I've written a comment and hit "post comment," Blogger takes me back to the main Blogger screen and makes me log in again. I do that. Then it takes me back to my comment screen where I have to type in a word verification.

Which I do.

Then it takes me back to the main Blogger screen and makes me log in again.

Which I don't do.

I do say a bad word.

Then I admit to myself that none of my comments are remotely interesting enough to warrant this much work.

So I log off.

Then I take a nap.

Please help me before I lose all of my friends.


P.S. This doesn't happen every time I try to comment, but maybe 1/2 to 2/3rds.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday Wramble

How annoying is that title? I know. Plenty annoying.

My skin used to crawl at any attempt at cutesy spelling-- Kwik Kopy-- etc. Now that I have an iPhone, I find myself typing things like, "How r u?" and "k!" Yes, the former English teacher has gone to the dark side.

I am already running late today, and by running-- I mean crawling-- reading the paper, letting my hair start to air dry, and at some point contemplating being somewhat semi-productive.

The main problem is THE HEAT! Having spent 5 straight days outside sweating through: field day, multiple ball games, and an outdoor festival, I feel like a limp noodle. I can't seem to do anything.

Even the prospect of drying my hair seems overwhelming, so I guess I'll traipse into work with it wet again and just roll with it when people ask if I've gone on an early morning swim.

As if.

This would be the time for my annual question of, "Why do I lose weight in the winter and gain it in the summer?" If you've been with me for 3 years, and had to hear this 3 times, I am so sorry.

I just don't understand why, if I'm sweating out all of this water weight, the scale keeps going up and I still can't zip my capris. Perhaps it's the ice cream, the LACK of an early morning swim, or the general lethargy. I'd rather blame it on the superior absorbent quality of my hair. You be the judge.

My living room is now full of the goodies I'm selling this Saturday in Falls Church, Virginia at Stifel and Capra. I'm a little freaked out by the sheer volume of stuff. Transporting it should be interesting. I'll have a 10 x 10 space, but I'm thinking 10 x 20 would be much better.

I am LOVING the awesomeness of what I have to sell, but I'm worried that no one will come!

If you can come by on Saturday from 10-2, please do!

I'll be the one with the under-boob sweat lines and the fanny pack.

Hard to resist?