Friday, July 22, 2011

We are Thing-finders, Pippi & I

Last Saturday morning I was out yard saling, of course! My little youngest brother had asked to come with me. The last of us four siblings to leave the nest, he was looking for some cheap kitchen basics and furniture to stock his first apartment and he wanted my help scoring some good deals. My hubby decided to join us since, according to Craigslist, there were lots of books for sale out there. So by just after 8am, the five of us and my cooler full of juice boxes and snacks were all packed liked sardines into my little Corolla (with a broken AC) and off we went with our hit list.

Along the way we ran into a few familiar faces who were also out treasure hunting and we ended up stopping at three friends houses en route too. By 12:30 we pulled back into my driveway, each successful enough to have made the trek worthwhile.

One of my favorite finds was actually a book I scooped up for the kids because it brought back such great memories from my own childhood - "Pippi Longstocking" by Astrid Lindgren. Do you remember Pippi's full name????

Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking
As soon as we got back into the car I started flipping through the book to find Pippi's full name because I was 97% sure I still remembered it after all these years but I wanted to verify. I never could find it in the book but later confirmed my good memory via Google. However, in the process of paging through the book, I came across a paragraph that caught my attention and brought a smile to my face. Turns out, Pippi and I have something in common.  I read this paragraph out loud to my carmates:

"I don't know what you are going to do," said Pippi, "but I know I can't lie around and be lazy. I am a Thing-finder, and when you're a Thing-finder you don't have a minute to spare."
"What did you say you are?" asked Annika. 
"A Thing-finder." 
"What's that?" asked Tommy. 
"Somebody who hunts for things, naturally. What else could it be?" said Pippi.... "The whole world is full of things and somebody has to look for them. And that's just what a Thing-finder does," she finished.

I love it. We're Thing-finders. And speaking of things, following are just some of the items that our caravan picked up Saturday morning, besides the Pippi Longstocking book.

For 50 cents I picked up a lamp shade that I've needed for a while:

Years ago I found this lamp at a yardsale - I loved the color, shape and size. However, the shade that came with it (next to the lamp) is kind of strange and dated, made of hard plastic, smells funky when it gets hot from the light, and is now really dingy and cracking. We use this lamp on our porch when we sit out there in the evenings and I keep saying I gotta pick up a new shade. Well now I have, and it just happens to be perfect for the lamp. My wallet thanks me for waiting all this time.
For a quarter, I scored a brand new in-package Pampered Chef citrus peeler, which I also needed:

And for anyone that ever wants to order Pampered Chef products or host a home or catalog party, I highly recommend my consultant friend Kathy.)
For $2 I found this funky wooden necklace:

I probably could've bartered her down to a buck, but I love it even for $2.

I found a huge lot of beginner readers (my oldest is starting to learn to read - so fun) as well as a few other kids' classics I remember reading like "Charlotte's Web", "Where the Wild Things Are", and Beverly Cleary's "The Mouse and the Motorcycle". The new readers will supplement all my Dick and Jane books nicely. Gotta start her on the classics. :)
From the same sale, I also got a couple of new kids activity books including a Holly Hobby paint with water....dated 1978 with an 81 cent price tag from Child World...memba that place?

For more on my love of Holly Hobby treasures, read a prior post.

How sweet is that? I might have to tear out my favorites first to paint myself and frame...hmmm...for baby's room...might be on to something!
If there is one thing I swear I will never buy at a yard sale it is a stuffed animal. I am totally sceeved out by the thought of taking home any used, plush, unwashable item from someone I don't know. Every time my kids ask for stuffed animals at yard sales, I just tell them we have no room for any more in our house (which is so true...we also tell Great Gram to stop buying us new ones). Well this week I finally broke down after my oldest, who LOVES Shrek, discovered a big stuffed one. Hoping to eliminate her desire, her dad asked if she wanted to pay the $1 out of her "Florida bank" (for over 2 years she's been saving loose change for plane tickets to go back and she's got over $300 so far!). To our shock and awe, as she lovingly hugged Shrek, she said she did want to pay for it. That was a first. So of course her little sister wanted to have one too and she quickly attached herself to an equally large stuffed Nemo. As hubby would say, I folded like a cheap suit. This was after carefully considering the personal appearance of the sellers, the cleanliness of their other items for sale, and the curb appeal of their home. I also prayed that the characters didn't carry bed-bugs or lice. The girls rode the rest of the hot humid morning packed into our no-AC-car with their new buddies on their laps - I'm sweating just thinking about it.

They haven't stopped playing with their jumbo plush dust-collectors all week.
I think hubby said he bought over 15 paperback books. I'm just thrilled that he finally recently agreed to get rid of this type of book as fast as he reads them. There is a place for displaying books in bookshelves, but I draw the line at paperback novels. Find a place to hide them or get rid of them.

My bro scored a free futon and paid $5 for a coffee table, $2 for a pottery crock chuck full of serving utensils, spatulas, wooden spoons, etc, 75 cents for a boot tray, a quarter each for a few random pots & pans and $5 for a pair of Pfaltzgraff serving bowls.  When I saw the price on the bowls, I told him to talk the lady down to $3. Her response to his request was "Oh... I don't know...they are Pfaltzgraff. Have you ever heard of that?" I just laughed because the ugly pattern had to be 20 years old and she acted like she was selling a highly sought after collectible, or Lenox bone china or something. And yes, lady, unlike most single guys in their early 20s, my brother is familiar with Pfaltzgraff. After all, he comes from a long blood-line of Thing-finders. :)

And speaking of brothers, my other one has a passion for both music and cooking. He collects vinyl so the past few weeks I've scored him 15 classic albums he didn't have yet (he's got quite the collection so that's tough) for $1 each. I also found this wicked cool cutting board for him recently at Sally's.

Blogger is giving me a headache and refuses to flip this picture around the right way so I give up, you get the point.
This Saturday I take a week off from yard sales and turn my efforts to a new and different bargain-hunting adventure - a used curriculum/book sale. I'm attempting to teach my oldest Kindergarden at home next year so I'd like to find some cheap used materials if I can. The organization that puts on the sale describes the experience like shopping for wedding dresses at Boston's Filene's Basement. Any normal person should be threatened by a warning like that, but not me, I welcome the challenge. I'm a Thing-finder!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My evil children

This has been a really tough week with my kids. My oldest, who is strong willed and can be very stubborn and proud, decided she was going to raise her ugly horns this week. And her little sister, "the sweet one," decided to follow suit with a fresh bout of terrible twos. So between sibling rivalry at an all time high, stubborn and prideful disobedience and tamper tantrums as a response to my every request, a pregnant, physically exhausted and zero-energy mama, and the highest temps of the year, let's just say it's been miserable around here.

It don't cry very easily or very often, but I've come close a few times this week. Every night after bedtime I've found myself collapsing on a chair or couch, zoning out, and kind of moping, feeling helpless and pitiful. Despite my study of Philipians and how to have joy in all circumstances, satan has been using my kids and our situations this week to try his darndest to stip me of all joy of mothering.

Last night as the kids were brushing their teeth I found myself trying to express my feelings to my oldest without crushing her spirit the way I felt she'd crushed mine. I said, "You know how I'm always telling you girls that you bring me so much joy? Well this week your attitude and disobedience has only brought me sadness. You've been no fun to be with this week." My intent was to ping her with a little guilt and to try to get her to think of someone else's feelings. Instead she responded with all the fun memories we'd had during the week. "Didn't we have fun playing Bingo today?" "Remember when we did this and that? That was fun, wasn't it?" She wasn't being fresh this time, she was so serious. Despite all of the discipline she'd received from me, she was easily able to focus on our good times. My plan foiled.

A few minutes later as they crawled into bed I pulled out a quick kids devotional. It was too late to sit down together around a Bible story so I figured I'd find something fast I could read to them before I shut the door. Well, I could NOT believe what I flipped open to. The big bold verse on the front page hit me like a ton of bricks:

"And he saw that all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil. So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them. It broke his heart." Genesis 6: 5-6   The verses that immediately follow these in the Bible go on to say that God decided, as judgement, to destory the earth and everyone in it with a flood. Only Noah, his family, and two of every animal were to be spared.

Woah. My first reaction was that God knows how I've been feeling, but to the 10,000th degree. I haven't even come close to feeling like I'm sorry my kids were ever born. Though I've issued some pretty strong judgements this week and have desired a vacation from my kids, I haven't wanted to wipe them out completely. But all of mankind had become so bad, so evil and had such disregard for God that he was grieved he had even made them. I have a feeling the world is probably close to, if not at, that point again. I know there have been plenty of times my own attitudes and actions have broken God's heart too. Any time I sin, He is grieved. While kids have a way of illuminating the fact that we are all depraved and full of sin, I love how parenting has given me such a greater understanding of God's love, discipline, mercy, grace and forgiveness as well.

So of course last night I took advantage of the opportunity to remind my kids how God judged the people for their sin by destroying them with the flood. My little smarty pants was quick to reply that that will never happen to us (she knows God promised never to flood the whole earth again and has given us the rainbow as his sign and continual reminder of this promise). And as further proof of her pride, she explained that even if there was a flood, she'd hide under her bed so it wouldn't wash her away anyways. I just rolled my eyes and as we prayed I asked that God would replace their stubborn pride and disobedience with the fruit of his Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. And then later I asked him to replace my self-pity and sorrow with the same.

My little angel

Cherub #1

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If you can't pick 'em, why grow 'em?

That's my theory on flower gardening. For me, the whole point of growing flowers is to be able to pick them and fill vases around the house from as early in the spring to as late in the fall as possible. Even in the winter when my garden is dead, I go on nature hunts for greenery and berries to bring inside.  I'm a sucker for picking up cheap vases at yard sales, especially bud vases because I don't usually have enough big blooms at a time to fill up large vases. My garden is not that big...some day....

These are some of the pictures I've taken this year of cut flowers (with my crappy old camera that, despite sitting in a pool of curdled orange juice for hours, still "works"):

Azaleas on the built-ins from the dining room

Lilacs in the entry

Bleeding Hearts in the kitchen

Azaleas in the bathroom

Pansies and unknown ground cover on the porch

misc blooms on the built ins from the room without a name

Lavender in the bathroom

Hydrangeas in the entry

Dianthus (thanks Christy!) and Lavender in the bathroom

more misc blooms on the built ins

Hydrangeas in the living room

Pansy & Bee Balm, Shasta Daisy, Hosta & unknown groundcover on the built ins

Shasta Daisies in the bathroom

Pansies, Dianthus, Nasturtium, Impatiens, Marigold & Lavender in the pantry
I love fresh picked flowers in little treasure vases. :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trash to become treasure

I've spent the last few weeks doing some SERIOUS nesting in terms of getting rid of crap. I went through the whole basement and put out tons of stuff for trash pickup, then ended up having a yard sale too. One of the perks of living on a state highway is I just piled whatever was leftover at the end of the driveway with a big FREE sign and within 24 hours it was all gone - I didn't have to lug anything to Sally's.

I had a few cases of seller's remorse but for the most part I was so excited to be rid of it all. There was one item in particular that I was a little sad about parting with. It was an old mirror branded "Solid Vermont Hardwood Maple" on the back. It probably originally went with a dresser but I got it a long time ago at a yard sale for a few bucks and have used it in various places since then. For at least the past couple of years, however, its been sitting on the floor of our 100+ year old basement. Due to moisture it was starting to fall apart so I decided to chuck it. Sniff, sniff... As I was carrying it out to the curb, the top literally broke off.

As I stood there holding the top section in my hand I realized, hey, this part has potential! So I kept it.

I don't know exactly what to do with it yet, but the architectural element made me want to salvage it and I am challenged to figure out how I'll put it to use. The top molding is at least 1 1/2 inches deep so I could use it as a ledge to rest a frame on. Any other ideas??? When ever I do something with it, I'll share here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This weekend's loot

Saturday morning I set out to yard sale but didn't have great expectations. I didn't get going until after 9:00, which for me is a late start. I like to get out of the house by 8:00 at the latest to get to some of the early ones when they first start. (It's a race to get the good stuff first you know!) I had my 2-month old nephew overnight Friday to Saturday and didn't count on him cooperating so we could go. So I had just planned to bum around the house with him and the kids all morning.

Kat took it upon herself to crawl under the baby toy with her cousin and take over the job of entertainer.
When he fell asleep after a bottle right before 9:00, I made a last-minute decision to take my chances, buckle up the 3 kids and go!  I didn't have a game plan though. Usually, I write out my list of stops and route the night before. This week my only plan was to head to one sale I saw a sign for up the street and then just drive the loop around town hoping to see more signs. Well the little champ stayed out cold and I continued to see signs all over town so we ended up yard sale-ing for almost two hours and had a fairly successful morning.

First, here's the list of loot for the kids:

  • A few baby toys with buttons, lights and noises for $1 each.
  • A Telling Time puzzle game to help teach the kids about clocks and time. $2.
  • Net for covering a Pack 'n Play to keep out bugs when baby naps on the go next summer. $1.
  • Set of 4 hardcover Mary Poppins books. $2.
  • A Fantastic Mr. Fox book - a good chapter book to read to Kat now. 50c.
  • Another Arthur book for our collection - my kids LOVE Arthur. 50c.
  • 2 giant Magnadoodles for keeping the kids entertained in the car. $1 each.
  • A small play kitchen full of toy food, including lots of the nice wooden ones, dishes etc. $5.
We had a bigger kitchen for years and gave it away this past fall because it took up so much space and the kids rarely played with it anymore. Of course they've been asking for another one ever since. I'm so happy to find a small one that includes lots of accessories and storage space for so cheap. It remains on the porch until I make space in a bedroom, which will be a challenge.
And here's the loot for me:

12-inch cast iron frying pan. $1.
I know cast-iron is great/best for cooking certain things, but what? And I'm supposed to keep it greased when not in use, right?? Anyone with care tips and recipes so I can put this thing to use - please share!
Earring holder. 25c.   (Outlet cover in pic for scale)
A quarter, now that's what I'm talking about! I remember growing up I could go yard sale-ing with just a bag of change. What's up with everything costing at least $1 at yard sales these days?? ;) I'm cheap.
This tacky little piece caught my eye because I've been looking out for things to corral all my jewelry that has overflowed out of my jewelry box into my dresser and into my bathroom built-in. This ladder will be very functional and with a little TLC, has the potential to maybe be cute? I'm going to clean it up, find a way to break off the gold cat, then find a little bird to glue on top instead. That should do it. I'll post an after pic when this little project is complete.
Speaking of corralling jewelry...
I got this jewelry tree at Bernat Antiques a couple weeks ago. I went in to ask about this big tree branch thing I'd seen on display in the first booth that I thought would make an awesome jewelry tree. Turns out it wasn't for sale but for the shop owner to display jewelry for sale. I was so bummed but looked around all the shops to see if anything else was available for holding jewelry and came across this downstairs. It's not old or unique but I liked it and its helped eliminate some of my jewelry piles.
Back to this weekend's loot:
Pair of craft birds (feather covered foam). 50c.
Nothing exotic but I couldn't pass up a pair of cute cheap birds! To see my other bird treasures, view my previous post.

I originally put the birds on a table on my porch but the kids wouldn't leave them alone so I've since tucked them up onto the outside edges of a high shelf in my dining room, at least for now. It's getting too cluttered though. Hmmm...upcoming project to replace this old shelf with two ledge shelves I have that match the wood frames on my picture/plate wall.

Set of 4 herb salad plates. $2.
I think I'll display these in my dining room, or at least the Basil and Lovage ones. If I decide soon not to hang the other two (or lean them on the ledge shelves once up), I'll pass them on to a friend who is looking for china to break for a mosaic stepping stone project.
Now I need to get into a different kind of yard sale mode. We are having a yard sale at our place this Saturday, July 9th, along with my neighbors and in-laws. I don't have as much as much stuff to sell as I have at my yard sales in years past because I have proudly not collected or hung on to things I don't need anymore. I have been pretty good about purging things throughout the year by giving them away or dropping them off at Sally's. And that's a great feeling. Except when you find out your pregnant and already purged all your baby stuff. That's not such a great feeling. Thankfully God is always faithful to provide all of our needs and in the past couple months people have literally given me all the major stuff we'll need.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Good bye dear friend

Today I had no choice but to part ways with a once dear friend. To protect identities I'll call her Friend #1. I can't remember exactly how long we've known each other, but I feel like we've gone everyone together for the last few months. The first time I met her I remember being struck by her simple beauty and great sense of style. The more we spent time together the more I appreciated her work ethic and the way she stayed focused on only the most important things in daily life. She refused to let in the clutter and junk that weigh so many people down. So Friend #1 and I hung out a little here and there at first but then we lost touch for a while when I met Friend #2. Friend #2 was much more outgoing. She had a bold and unique personality. She was very creative and had an eye for details.  While she was a little bit more of a show-off, she was also a very hard worker. However, she didn't have the discretion that my Friend #1 had. She didn't know how to say no. In many ways I appreciated her "can do" attitude but it caught up to her (and me) very quickly. She ended up carrying a very heavy burden and was disorganized and messy. Spending as much time with her as I did, it was really starting to effect me. Although I thought she made me look good, people didn't realize how much she was weighing me down. So I decided it was best to take a break from Friend #2 and I ended up picking back up where I left off with Friend #1. More than ever, I loved Friend #1 for the way she helped me to keep things simple. She didn't let me get bogged down by the things that don't matter most. While I in some ways I missed Friend #2's eccentric personality and style, Friend #1 gave me a new found appreciation for classic beauty. Well, after our close and loyal friendship these past few months, I ended up having to cut ties with Friend #1 for good. Something happened yesterday and I realized she has a major flaw that I just cannot forgive. I'm not one to just throw friends out with the trash but...


A sippy cup full of orange juice leaked all into the bottom of Friend #1, completely soaking her and bringing our relationship to a sad, abrupt halt. She sat in my car like this for hours yesterday afternoon (thank GOD she was sitting in my console and all the juice leaked through into my cup holders as opposed to onto the floor or seats!). The juice became all thick and curdled and it isn't worth trying to hand wash. With the bamboo handles I can't just throw her in the wash (her unforgiveable flaw). She originally cost me $2 at Sally's which helps me justify my decision to be done with her. However I will miss her size and simplicity.
So I'm giving Friend #2 another shot. I've actually been thinking about her a bit more recently, wanting to spend more time with her again. It's going to take a lot of accountability to make sure she doesn't fill  up with clutter and junk. Just because she can do something doesn't mean she should. I'll have to continually ask myself, "Would Friend #1 have room for this?" and do my best to help her leave the things out that will just weigh us both down in the end (I have a diaper bag for that). She's so much fun though, its worth giving her another chance.

Apparentlly I had a smear on my lense...oh well.
 I've never loved the look of a bag as much as this one, which is why I was willing to spend over $80 in Anthropologie gift cards on her last year. (I've never spent more than $20 on a new bag and most of mine have come from Sally's.) She's a big bag for short girl like me. My tendency is to not keep up with the clutter and junk that find their way in. Whatever the size of the bag that I have, I tend to fill it. It makes it difficulty sorting through a huge sack of crap to find what I need, not to mention the fact that my shoulders and back hurt when I'm carrying around too much stuff. But she's so beautiful...I've missed her!
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