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The Home That Yard Sales Built

How to conquer life's obstacles one bargain at a time!

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RAINY DAYS AND MONDAYS GOT YOU DOWN?

So you say you woke up hearing the song stylings of Karen Carpenter playing in your head?  Well, me too, my friend.  Me too.

Well, not exactly.

Don’t get me wrong.  I actually love rainy days, and I adore rainy nights (*cue Eddie Rabbit), but when that rainy day is a Saturday, well my adoration of rain becomes a love/hate relationship.

I’ve missed yard sales three weekends in a row.  THREE.  In a ROW!  Let me explain through an appropriately erudite analogy, if I may:

If my Saturdays were The Price is Right, by 8am this past Saturday the little lederhosen wearing mountain climber yodeled his way right off the cliff.  No La-Z-Boy Morgan recliner, no Howard Miller Vercielli grandfather clock, no Aqua-bot pool cleaner.  Nope.  Not even a copy of the home game or some lousy Rice-A-Roni. Maybe I wanted some Rice-A-Roni! I mean, IT’S THE SAN FRANCISCO TREAT, for crying out loud!

I don’t skip yard sale days.  I don’t.  Let me give you a list of some things that  have not kept me from yard sales in the past:

Inclement weather (if you’re brave enough to haul it out and put little fluorescent stickers on your unwanted stuff, I’ll be polite enough to show up.)
My own birthday (never underestimate the power of chirping “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!” as you approach a sale to earn you a discount)
Holidays (religious and otherwise)
Non-contagious illness (it’s called WALKING pneumonia for a reason!  Walk it off, Champ!)
Doctor Who marathon (I’ll record it)Threat of a zombie apocalypse (albeit a small one…chance, not a “small” zombie apocalypse…is there ever a “small” zombie apocalypse?)Houseguests (they’re welcome to come with and usually do)Parties (who schedules a party before noon on a Saturday anyway?  Stop doing  that.)

Sporting events (whew!)

Lack of funds (what do you think that change jar is for…parking meters?)

In a typical year I might miss four or five Saturdays.  We haven’t even cracked the seal on February and I’ve missed three!  So, what has led me to this lowly state?  I’ll tell you!  Acts of God and Pestilence!!  Ok, two weekends of steady downpours bookending a Saturday spent fighting off the flu.  Now, on those two rainy days I would have been happy to head out into it, if anybody in my area had had the common decency to haul their unwanted items to the garage and roll open the door, but can you believe most people seemed to think that wasn’t a good idea?  Pfft.

I’ve discovered that the disappointment of missing a few weeks in a row has had a cumulative and ever widening effect on my psyche.  No yard sales means missed opportunity.  Missed opportunity means lack of inspiration.  Lack of inspiration means lack of motivation.  Lack of motivation means inertia.

It’s not surprising, but is a bit of a low blow that these days have happened along during a particularly trying time in my life.  So, this set me to thinking about how common the downward spirals toward inertia are for all of us.

Most of us have experienced it.  It can be something as monumental as the death of someone close to you, or it can start off as small as a speedbump.  Maybe a friend let you down.  Maybe your transmission went out and you couldn’t afford to fix it.  Maybe Trader Joe’s decided that their “Pleasantly Tart” non-fat frozen yogurt (Pinkberry knock-off) is a seasonal item and you don’t DESERVE to have it in December, even though you enjoy it’s pleasant tartness year round!  Whatever the PERFECTLY LEGITIMATE reason you may have for feeling a little down, it can sometimes grow to much larger proportions.

You may have noticed the lengthy gap between my last blog entry and this one.  It was one of those times.  Luckily, I’m not a litigious person, so Trader Joe’s can rest easy, but let’s just say this girl could have benefited greatly from some yogurty goodness to ease her burdens a bit.  I’ve made my own frozen yogurt, but somehow it’s just not the same, and according to the AMA, sating my unrewarded craving for fake Pinkberry by powering back an entire 56oz party sized bag of M&Ms in one sitting could be “deadly.” (*eye roll)

So, what do we do?  It’s different for each of us, but I’ve found that what has always worked for me in the past was to combat the inertia with a project.  The project was seldom what I should have been doing, but if I felt unable to do what I should, at least I would do what I could.  This was very effective.  I recommend it highly.  Many a bathroom has received a coat of paint by my hand while under the influence of disappointment.  I found that the pride of finishing something would propel me towards doing more and more.  It created forward momentum.

When I am forced by unforeseen circumstances to miss a yard sale day, sometimes I’ll hit a thrift store or two, maybe I’ll look around for something I procured at a yard sale in the past with a project in mind and work on that, or even better…clean out a few closets and start gathering some things for my own yard sale!

That said, I’ve discovered recently that there is also a certain amount of quiet productivity that comes from allowing yourself the space to just be.  You don’t have to wallow in whatever is causing you pain, in order to fully experience it.

These times will come and go.  We can either sink into despair, or pay attention to what the universe is telling us.

That, and paint the bathroom.  Seriously.  Consider it.

Get out of bed, put on your lederhosen and COME ON DOWN!  In the game of Plinko that is life, you have unlimited chips…you just have to play them.

The Provenance Makes it Personal

So you say it’s all just used junk?  Well, I happen to disagree, my friend!

WHY THE STORY BEHIND MY “STUFF” MAKES ME SMILE

I like pretty things.  In a lot of ways, it’s as simple as that.  Who doesn’t?  I think we can agree that pretty things are, by and large, universally liked.  You’ve become pretty jaded if you start saying:  “Ugh.  Pretty things?  Pfft.  No thanks.”  That said, that’s not the only reason the things in my home make me happy.  Obviously some things have a place here because they’re practical.  Quite a few things are in my home because they make me giggle.  There is one thing that almost all of the items in my home have in common and that is that they have a story.

This vintage crystal dish was a recent aquisition:

  It was a chilly Sunday afternoon and my daughter and I were out and about.  We went to an estate sale, which, having been held Friday and Saturday as well, was in it’s final death throes.  At most estate sales, by the end of the day on Sunday the carcass has pretty much been stripped clean, the bones left to dry in sun.  The first hour or so of an estate sale is a frenetic feeding frenzy.  Folks are hopped up on the adrenaline that can only come from the thrill of possible treasure, filling their arms with pre-loved riches and rushing from room to room snatching up lace doilies and mismatched kitchenware as if they’re on some real life, musty scented version of “Supermarket Sweep.”  By Sunday afternoon, a random shopper will wander through occasionally, mostly with looks of disappointment or scorn, surveying what meager offerings remain, eyeballing the poor soul having the sale almost as if it is a personal affront to them that nothing is left.

This particular sale, much as it’s proprietress, had retained some of it’s youthful beauty.  In my, never to be humble, opinion, there were a few reasons for the quantity and desirability of what remained:

1.  Location:  Not only was the property off the beaten path, but the GPS map was even a bit “off” in how it displayed the street, which was actually more like an alley.

(Side note:  Always keep a graphic street guide handy folks!  Don’t become so dependent upon GPS that you forget how to read a map.  In the event of a zombie apocalypse, do you think you’ll have GPS?  No!  Hope for the best (no zombie apocalypse) prepare for the worst (zombie apocalypse) and you’ll be better off for it.)

2.  There were very few signs.  What signs there were had been poorly placed and had no arrows.

3.  The prices were high.  Not “have you been smoking crack?” high, but pricier than the typical yard sale clientele are eager and willing to pay.

4.  The prices were high because her things were VERY nice…however, because they weren’t nice in a flashy or ostentatious way, but were nice in an elevated and refined way, a lot of patrons were overlooking their value.  She knew what she had and wanted a fair price for those things.  For instance, she had a leather bound Bottega Veneta organizer.  Now, had it been a Louis Vuitton organizer swimming in “LOOK AT ME!” LV logos, it would have been snapped up early on.  Because its mark was embossed, quietly, on the inside, shoppers had passed it by.

4.  On Saturday, when I had first visited the sale, the woman hosting it was, well, let’s say not bubbly.  Ok, why mince words?  She was flat out unfriendly.  It seemed as if the process of people mauling her treasures, approaching her with said treasures, which she had carefully accumulated over a lifetime, and offering her 25 cents each for them had in some way offended her and affected her mood.  Who woulda thunk it?

So, for all of these reasons, my daughter and I, the only people browsing at this point, found ourselves oohing and ahhing over some pretty fantastic stuff.

The crystal dish above was an item I had seen on Saturday.  At that time the woman hosting the sale, a beautiful woman in probably her late seventies, who my daughter described as having “great style and the perfect glasses”, had, when I chirpily asked the price, snarled at me that it was “Twenty dollars and not a penny less.”  On Sunday, her mood had softened.  She was lovely.  The stress and anxiety of Saturday had left  her and she chatted freely, sharing stories of every item on which we commented.  I touched the dish on Sunday and she told me that it sat on her mother’s coffee table for decades.  Looking at the dish she said:  “Do you like it?  You should have it.  It’s only five dollars.  Please take it.”

I have to say, I had no business spending even five dollars that particular day, I went because I thought we might find some things that my daughter wanted.  But in that moment, I grew attached to the dish.  I was enamored with it and with her.  The dish had grace and a casual elegance.  I was impressed with her grace, and her elegance.  Even her only thinly veiled superiority was charming on that day, rather than off-putting.  Also endearing was that she clearly wanted me to have that dish.  Not that she wanted to make the sale, please understand.  It was something different.  Perhaps in her mind it would go somewhere that it would be cherished, rather than hauled off to Goodwill.

I paid it.  I gave her five dollars.  I brought it home, washed it, dried it and set it out, and guess what?  I do cherish it.  The crystal has soft gentle curves and feels almost silky when I touch it.  The lid’s finish is imperfect and I love it’s aged patina.  When the light hits it, it explodes in a rainbow of colors.  It feels to me as if it belongs in my home.

As much as I cherish the dish, what I cherish even more is that every time I look at that dish, I’ll remember that day.  My daughter and I had a wonderful time, we laughed and talked, we had a lot to say on the way home after the sale…about the house, about what we had found (even about the items we left behind!) and about the woman who we met. She was special. For whatever reason, that day was special to me.

All of these things, all over my house, they have a connection.  To their previous owner, to events in my life during the time in which each item was purchased, to how they connect in ways small and large to everything else in my home.  I appreciate them.  Tremendously.

Have gratitude for all of the little things all around you.

 Every day you wake up and there’s NOT a zombie apocalypse, appreciate it.  😉

A Magical Mistake

 So, you say you can’t afford Christmas presents?

HOW TO TURN A BLUNDER INTO WONDER

 Yesterday I shared how I think when I miss out on a bargain I’ve seen.  Today, I’m going to show you what my daughter did under similar circumstances.  

 My daughter Hadley’s favorite part of Christmas is watching other people open their gifts.  I know, but you can roll your eyes all you want…she really means it.  Even when she was a young child she wouldn’t ask for anything.  She was so wrapped up in the giving that she forgot to care about the receiving.  I don’t know what I did to be so lucky, but I have a really amazing kid.  Every year she spends a great deal of time on gifts for her friends and family.  

(My mother and me…check the rockin’ collar on Mayme’s shirt, y’all.  Pretty sweet.)

 

 This year, due to circumstances beyond our control, for the first time ever we won’t be with family and she and I won’t be opening gifts on Christmas morning, but we’ve found a lot of other ways to make the season special.  For one thing we’ve saved up several weeks of “The Soup” without watching and we’re thinking marathon!  Oh Joel McHale, you wise-crackin’ tall drink ‘a water, you’re gonna save Christmas!

 Hadley created uniquely tailored gifts for all of her friends, things like mix cds (with her own custom artwork) and other homemade gifts.  For one friend she wrote a story customized just for her.  For one friend, a fellow “Doctor Who” fan, she made two medallions from Shrinky Dinks paper, each in Gallifreyan (if you don’t know what this means, trust me, you don’t care), one which translated into ‘Buddies’ and the other into ‘Space and Time‘.

 There was one gift, though, that she really wanted to give to her good friend Lexi Rose and that was a Harry Potter wand.  A Harry Potter item which required retail goods.  Lexi loves Harry Potter and Hadley was set on giving her a wand.  Nothing else would do.  Not long after she told me this, I was in a Goodwill store and found, of all things, a Harry Potter book of posters and inside the book was a wand!!!  What are the odds?  Hadley wasn’t with me, she had walked next door to get something to drink, but I went to get her, asked if she wanted it and we rushed back.  I was gone maybe three minutes.  MAYBE!   Well, of course you know where this is going.  it was gone.  Vanished.  Snapped up by another shopper.  We scoured the store just in case, but to no avail.   

 Obviously we were disappointed, but nothing was going to keep Hadley from handing over a wand to her friend on the last day of school before Christmas break. This kid puts the T in tenacious.    

 Finally it was decided.  She would find a tree branch (see last Friday’s post…we have nothing if not an abundance of yard waste) and fashion a wand herself.

 Time passed.

 Days passed.

 Other projects were completed and the gifts wrapped, some even delivered.

 Now began the last minute crunch.  My daughter is wonderful.  She is kind, she is compassionate, she is creative…aaaaand she can occasionally fall into the trap of procrastination.  Procrastination makes me nervous.  It makes me so nervous, in fact, that seeing someone put things off is sort of like watching a horror movie.  You just KNOW that vapid, nearly topless cheerleader isn’t going to find the quarterback behind the locker room door.  But you have to watch her walking blithely toward her doom, unable to change the course of events.  So, as the days went by, I would open my fingers from where they covered my eyes and peek out…hoping to see progress.  

 It is my humble opinion that nagging children is by and large not only a worthless endeavor, but when it comes to something such as this, unwise as well.  Hadley is who she is and, She’s not me.  She needs to live her way.  Much like my incredibly talented cousin, she often proves to thrive and prosper in that squeaking in just under the buzzer, last minute slide into home way of operating when it comes to projects.  Both of them manage this in a way that I cannot.  Nerve-wracking?  Yes.  Impressive?  Also, yes.   

 Around 10pm on the last possible night, as Hadley was wrapping the second to the last gift, she went to find a stick and asked:  “What knife should I use for whittling?”  WHAT KNIFE SHOULD SHE USE FOR WHITTLING?  Um, unless we have a stash of Andy Griffith knives about which I am unaware, we don’t have knives predesignated for whittling, and as much as I like Lexi, she’s a really great gal and all, I wasn’t really on board with the bread knife meeting its early demise for the sake of the wand.  

Well, apparently, that was 50 points from Hufflepuff for me, but I redeemed myself by suggesting a pocket knife, which we happened to have, thanks to my grandmother (yes, REALLY, my grandmother) and Hadley set to work.

 Her plan was to whittle the branch into the shape she wanted, stain it and apply a coat of polyurethane.  The late hour left that plan an impossibility, due to dry time.  So what did Hadley do?  She put a coat or two of clear nail polish on it!!  It looked AMAZING!  Then she added red Swarovski crystals on the end (Lexi is team Gryffindor all the way.)  

 You might think that she would have stopped there.  YOU would be as mistaken about that as that poor cheerleader was about NOT running into a slow, scary dude in a hockey mask.  Hadley took the box from a roll of parchment paper, covered it in white paper, printed out an Ollivander’s label (if you’re not super nifty cool and knowledgeable like us, Ollivander’s is the wand shop in the Harry Potter books) and added that to the box.

 Did she stop there??  Nope.  She then wrote a bit about the provenance, history and significance of the wand, printed it on heavy vellum-like stock in a font that looked like handwritten script, rolled it up in a scroll and tied it with twine.

 THEN she was finished.   

 It was sweet.  It was special.  It was one-of-a-kind.  It meant something.  But here’s the part that’s most impressive:  It was nicer and better looking than the one we missed out on at Goodwill the week before.

 I wish I had better photos.  It was late and we were both tired, I snapped a few with my phone,  They look terrible, but believe me, it looked like a million bucks.

 So the next time you miss out on some material object and you’re kicking yourself…kickstart your creativity instead!

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