Thursday, December 30, 2010

Earthquakes, Fiber-optics and Other Unrelated Things

I awoke early this morning, made my coffee and started to clean the tornado-magnitude mess of a kitchen. Minutes later I felt a rumble, vibrations and heard the dogs barking. It lasted a few seconds and one part of my brain reasoned that a large truck was in the driveway, but the other thought, "Hmm, earthquake...?"

Yes, we had a 3.8 mag earthquake in Indiana today. This happens infrequently, but it is thought the central Midwest will one day experience the "big one". I am now closer to it in KY, but I felt one today in Northern IN.

My mom called this morning and was excited because a heavy holiday village piece she found at the Sal Army earlier this week (on a thrift shopping spree we did together) for 75% is a fiber-optic spectacular holiday show. She had found a plug on the bottom and tried a cord from another village building and found the whole thing is lights and action. She said our shopping trip was the most fun she had shopping in a long while. I converted her to thrift shopping back when I was in high school. She now goes on her own (or with a friend) and loves it.

I have a much larger post to finish about my master bedroom make-over. I just need to stop being lazy and upload the photos.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Scratch Line 1

(Bad photo, but almost everything in the photo is Hand-me-down, thrifted, or found.)
So, for my first WIP completion*, I started rearranging our master bedroom after being inspired by her arrangement and New Year goals. A while back I was pining for my sunny California days at the ocean and found myself despising the inland Midwest, craving a bit of salty sea cottage life. On Catalina Island (and I will totally go there when I win that proverbial lottery), I fell in love with the tiny, colorful cottages. One had a glass door with encrusted bits of sea life (e.g. seastars, seaweed, shells). Completely ignoring any sort of personal space of the owners (who weren't there anyway), I stared and stared at the lovely things and even took a photo (and will post when I find the right card). I so wanted to be living in that great cottage.

A few months later (winter 2009-10) I started spotting sea related items in the thrifts. I started to envision a room somewhere in my house that would at least attempt to give me that sunny calm feeling of a seaside cottage. I picked these items up and stored them away. DH painted the bedroom (at my request) a light blue and it made me think of the sea. I found (in my own house) a chenille bedspread in white-and it made me think of the sea. I already had two giant conch shells in the sun room and various sea related tchotchkes scattered about the abode. I gather them all up and made a plan to turn my bedroom into my seaside cottage escape. I could at least pretend, right?

Fast forward, and I do mean fast forward, a year later and I am finally getting around to the design! Actually, this is much better than my usual years (or never) approach. I didn't take a "before" photo (sadly in a way), but I will take after ones and post when I am through (Goal: Get this done before I head back down to KY). First order of business was moving the giant furniture around. I hate the furniture. We bought my MIL's Sleep Number bed this past summer and she "threw-in" the giant, circa 1980's furniture. It is very high quality, solid wood, but ugly, so damn ugly! It is not my style in any shape or form. It is also not the right size for the tiny room we call the 'master'. However, it is functional and has a lot of room for storage, so it stays for now. Eventually, if I keep it, I will repaint it or something. I don't like the finish or the brass handles or...OK, I digress.

I puzzled the dresser and gianormous chest of drawers into a new layout and I think it is a bit more tolerable. The room is one of those narrow rectangles and there really isn't much more I can do. Next, I made the bed. Don't laugh-this a rare event! I put all the white linens I could find (which actually translate as turning a comforter to the white side, placing a white handmade quilt on top and topping it off with the chenille spread). I put one of the sea-related themed pillows on it. I have plans to make some more from graphics found on The Graphics Fairy and I have one more found pillow I plan to alter (another post). Already the room has a salty feel.

(thrifted "angry" sea print)

Now everyone that knows me, knows I am not a "sunny", "cutesy" type. I like the dark, the weird, the mysterious. Yesterday, I went back to a ST. Vinnie's thrift I had visited with my mom on Monday to get an item I thought about in the night (don't tell me you have never had this happen to you!!). After retrieving the vintage wooden ironing board ($1!), I thought I would glance at the mountain of picture frames they offered. Lo and behold, I found the perfect print (not in the best frame, but that is the fun of this project, right?) It is a vintage snapshot of an angry sea ($1) and I love it!
I have a few more projects in progress for the room (and will share these WIPs another post), but I am really happy how it all came together. It is the first time, in my adult life, I have managed a decorating "theme" beyond Christmas.
*One of my 2011 Goals
Linking to Apron Thrift Girl's "Thrift Share Monday"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Goal Challenge

I have already listed my 2011 Goals in the below post, but I wanted to participate in the challenge on ThriftCore. I hope to accomplish these goals in the New Year and I think her challenge is a great way to stay focused on not just the listing of goals, but on the doing of goals. So, here are some thoughts on how I plan to pursue my 2011 goal list.

1. Do not start major new projects and keep the ones I do start (or finish) focused on the ultimate goal of selling property up north and moving the family to KY. This will mean researching new schools (Louisville has some great public charter schools with a Montessori concentration) and neighborhoods to live. Maybe looking at some homes to buy vs. rent when the big move happens in the spring/early summer.

2. In the process of packing up the house, I plan to purge outgrown/outdated clothing, shoes, accessories, knick knacks, etc. I will discard/recycle/donate the broken items, the unfinished projects (that will never be finished), outgrown collections and toys. I will resell/gift/donate read books.

3. This one goes with number 2, but I plan to pack seasonal items with labels and proper groupings. Pack things I plan on moving in sturdy boxes with like items. I want to inventory music, movie, etc, collections. Find a permanent storage location for items. Along with this goal, I plan to make lists to help focus and accomplish goals. I want to go through our paperwork and shred old documents. I hope to create a financial plan we can realistically follow in 2011 (with a major focus on debt reduction!)

OK, here it is in a nutshell. I actually love this time of the year. The light returns, spring is around the corner (seasons fly in a flash, it seems) and I feel refreshed and refocused on what is important in my life.

Ode to New Year's Goals (2011)

(I just like this photo taken in Santa Monica!)

1. Get my family moved down to Kentucky!!!!

2. Purge the clutter, the broken, the out-grown, the unloved and unneeded.

3. Organize the rest.

4. Pay extra on the debts, less on unnecessary stuff.

5. Be creative, crafty, find art in what is around me.

6. Read more. Write more.

7. Exercise again. Find myself lost in nature. Eat better.

8. Try Ebay or Etsy. Or maybe just a yard sale.

9. Finish the Works-in-progress; begin no new ones without attempting to complete the old ones.

10. Photograph more...especially the family I want moved down to KY this year!

Ten simple goals with a whole lot of room for interpretation. In the past I have listed items under categories with sub-parts and specifics. It just didn't work for me. I need flexibility because my life is so wild, so uncooperative to the whole goal making process. I like my ten simple goals. All can be expanded and I hope to make my quarterly lists of "to-do's" and whatnot (this is where specific enters the picture), but as long as I stay focused on these ultimate goals, I can breath and feel I accomplished the bottom-line of "staying focused" in 2011.

I placed the largest goal at the top (in bold, ginormous letters). I need my boys back in my everyday life. I need to check homework and make cookies and take walks after work/school with them. I miss them terribly and the four-hour distance from them seems like I am on a different continent during the week. It has been a joy to be home this week and let them sleep next to me, watch movies together, read together. If you find yourself overwhelmed, wondering how in the H*ll you ended up a married mom of two (believe me when I say my Barbies of youth never had these goals in mind), separate yourself from them and the original focus will resurface stronger than you could ever imagine. Not that I recommend this method.

Moving to another state is going to be difficult. New schools, no extended family, new jobs (I am four months into mine), new home. I love KY and I think my boys (including Dh) will too, but it is a gamble. I hope I am not making bad decisions. I keep telling myself it is four hours only from grandmas and our hometowns (I mean it is not like we are moving to Paris or London or even Los Angeles!), but it is scary. The good kind of scary in many ways.

So, here is to New Years and the return of the light in the Northern Hemisphere!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

To Badly Quote a Legend

(Enesco 1978 bank found in Northern VA)

"Another year over and a new one just begun..."*

So, we managed to visit two family sides (his and mine), make cookies, open the kiddies presents (the Santa bubble is good for one more year) and that would be about it. The house is a mess of scattered toys and cardboard and all the waste I despise so much each year. I am sitting here sipping coffee (a locally roasted gift from a friend in ol' Louisville) and thinking about all I need to do today. I am too lazy to find my card reader and put up any photos of thrifty goodness**, but I have been totally digging all the lovely posts of folks' vintage holiday decor. I didn't decorate much this year (a tree with a scattering of ornaments, a few vintage santas here and there, a two nativity scenes). It was hard to get everything together with only the weekends home.

I have the next week off from work and I know it will fly by in a blink. I want to go thrifting with the Christmas money I get from DH's mom and may call my own mom to see if she wants to go too. I also need to return a double gift (yes, that would be me that bought two copies of the exact same toy for littlest-I didn't even notice when I wrapped them!) and I have Kohl's cash to blow before they expire (I really want one of those single cup coffee makers, but the K-cups are so expensive and wasteful. I can buy the reusable filter, but I use a thrifted percolator and it is not hard to use, so I keep thinking I don't want to spend the money on one. maybe I will thrift one!) Last, I really need to get my hair cut and painted.

Looking to the New Year, I need to get my family moved to KY. I miss them and want our life to be back to "normal" (oh, man, that is stretching it!) I need to get organized and our finances in order. The house is in need of repairs and cleaning (for the market) and I will have to purge some clutter (sniff, sniff). For the past few years, my main focus was on stockpiling for an emergency (the focus of my last blog was homesteading and hoarding emergency preparedness. I usually shop sales and such and put away things to a point we are set for 6 months to a year. Earlier this week, DH tells me we are down to two rolls of TP. What?! I looked all over (basement, closets, cupboards and, yes, we are out of TP). Because I am splitting time between two cities, I need to be better organized. I am the accountant of the family and it is up to me to make sure the boys and hubby are stocked with necessities.

On the old blog I always posted a list of New Year goals. I liked doing this (even though I rarely succeeded in meeting most of them! :), so I plan to do the same here. I also want to make a "Thrift Wish List" like I have seen on some favorite blogs. I need to focus (my theme for 2011 apparently) and realize the importance of necessity and change.

*John Lennon (of course!)
**OK, decided to put up one! :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thrifty Monday: Blue Christmas Rendition

(Complete and unused bridge set)

Sigh. It is 9:18 already and I feel like I have done nothing at all today. OK, so I went to work today, finished last minutes gift-buying at the Liquor Barn (can't go wrong with Kentucky bourbon), and spent way too much money at the Goodwill across from the L-Barn, but, really, where does the time go?

This time of year is so hard for me. I can't stand the race of Christmas and the darkness gets to me. It is one of the reasons I celebrate Winter Solstice is that I so welcome the return of the light and feeling like my day has some length to it. Yes, the hours are the same (and in fact we "Fall back" right?), but the darkness makes me yearn for my (thrifted) gnome pajama bottoms and a warm bed starting at 5:30 pm!

And, back to the holiday race, why do we not gift all year long? I can't sit on gifts and it is why I am never organized enough to space my Xmas shopping out all year long. It is always on the resolution list, but never happens. I was stressing because three stores were out of something that goes with a gift for my mother, but then I thought how ridiculous my panic was considering the piece is not a "sale" item and will be available in the weeks following the holiday.

Both my husband and I received work bonuses this year (something that has not happened in three years). We indulged partly because we had this unbudgeted money and partly because I feel so much guilt at being away from my boys during the week (I will be so happy when we are together this again...hopefully this spring/early summer). I miss my kids so much. It was stupid, I know, but the sad thing is I feel we got so much less than when we used a smaller budget (is it me or is everything more expensive this year???)

So, with the New Year goal list making season almost on top of us (suffocating us, no doubt), I plan to tighten the belt, be more organized and get my family moved down to KY as soon as humanly possible. I'll post the list next week with the specifics. Sadly, one of the items will be less thrifting for me (with a side goal of selling off lots of my "junk") at least until some of the bills are paid off. It will be good to purge since we plan to rent a smaller place while we try to sell the Northern house and land. We will buy a new house only when the bills are tidy and manageable.

OK, enough with the downer talk. Seems a lot of us out there are thinking about new years and new goals. Here is some thrifty fluff from tonight's scores:

(Cheese plate and dome)

(Set of 8 7 Tab glasses...dropped one in parking lot)

(Ok, so the Spotted Dick Pudding wasn't a thrifty find [container under it was], but I had to snatch it up for a friend last week at a Irish gift shop. It's a long story, but suffice to say it will have meaning to my dear friend...hopefully shared with a sense of humor! ;)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reunited After All These Years

(Sorry for the blurry photos in post)
(A Thrifty Monday find give or take 15 years)

So, other than complaining about work (truly I am a lucky girl to have the job I have) and the cold (it is December in the South North so why am I bugging about it?) and the fact the holidays snuck up on us (ah, finally bought the last, crooked tree on the lot), I have found some time for thrifting. What I seem to be struggling with is updating this blog!

Although the extreme travel I have been doing (again with the work complaints!) is getting really old, I find time after hours to shop new locales. Last week, I found myself in the hills of West Virginia and let me tell you the thrifting is good!

I want to show you one of my favorite finds from last week, but first I have to tell you about a find from years ago (I believe 15+ years ago!) because I had one of those thrifting deja vu episodes and my heart nearly leaped out when I found a relative of the first find. The original one I found has a green lid and is stamped "Unipet Upjohn" (pictured above) on the bottom. It has these great pet graphics all around the bottom. Inside the lid is a bell ringer. When I found the first one back in the '90's, Ebay was a relatively new thing (funny, Google probably was too and Etsy was just a seed in someone's head). I could not find anything about it. I loved it anyway and moved it across many states where it currently sits in a china cabinet in Indiana.

Fast forward...I am walking the aisles of a new thrift last week when lo and behold my mystery jar's cousin (amber top instead of green) sits princely upon a dresser. I did the look-around and then gingerly picked up the jar. I turned it over and sure enough the familiar "Unipet Upjohn" was on the bottom. Price: $1.99!

(Found... again!)

I have to say that, having forgotten about my other one a bit, I hadn't researched the jar in modern times. Through the magic of Google I have learned these jars were once a promotional item for pet vitamins in the 1960's. After the vitamins were gone, pet treats could be stocked in the jar and the you could even summon the pet for a treat using the ringer in the lid. Wow. The manufacturer of the promo item: McCoy!

Don't you wish items still came in (purposely manufactured) reusable and fun containers? Talk about being green before green was, well, green!

Monday, November 29, 2010

We Interrupt your Good Thriftin'...

ETA: I finally read a good report and it seems Obama is only suggesting a pay raise freeze on cost-of-living. I am very much in agreement with this and I actually thought he froze that last year (apparently not, but the increase is so miniscule after taxes and insurance it is hardly noticed). I think this should be frozen. I was upset over merit-based raises and these (hopefully) will continue. Our salaries are public on various websites.

OK, I know I said I was going to have a theme here (i.e. stay focused), but I just can't! I have a rant.

See, I am a federal gummy mint worker and have been for several years. I work hard to keep a certain aspect of our country safe and I am dedicated to my job. We are screened and chosen by a very rigorous job application process and the competition is extreme. All of that being said, I changed positions in September (to something more secure*) and this meant leaving my two little boys and spending weekdays alone in another state. I chose to do it this way because we A.) Have a 10-acre property to sell. B.) Husband is employed in our old area and two job changes would have killed us and C.) my oldest had just started his second year of school and I did not want to disrupt his education. I should add that my in-laws live an 1/8 of mile from our house and our a huge weight off of us working parents.

When I took the job, I knew in a year-one whole year-I would be getting a 'grade' raise. This raise would allow me to move my family to my new state. The gummy mint did not pay for my move (like in years past). Meanwhile, things have been tight for years due to a my husband's decreasing salary. In fact, his paycheck is half the amount it used to be before 2008. We adjusted, but at the same time we sat on two homes that no one wanted, long commutes to our jobs (his 90 minutes one-way and mine 50). I have student loans (you know, I received an education in order to get a higher paying job).

Now, I am hearing on the radio we may be facing a salary freeze because "Civilian employees need to do their part to help end the recession". The reason I have a problem with this is that if I do not get this raise next year I will basically be doing the same (and more in some cases) work as other employees who have topped out in the grade for our position (this next raise for me would have been the top grade I could achieve in this position). I don't know if I will be able to continue to keep an apartment in one city and a home (remember houses are only selling at HUGE losses in my old area) in another (4 hours away). If my husband's income continues to decrease at the current rate, we will be in an even more tight spot.

I am a thrifty person. I keep us afloat. I give food and money to friends who have it worse than us. I open my home for those who need a bed. I teach my children that it is important to help others and be thrifty. Why is assumed Civilian guv workers are not doing their part? I have moved up to the bread winner in my family through a lot of hard work and putting myself out there to be notice; we have struggled through high gas prices, food shortages, rising insurance prices, lower salaries. I really feel like it is a punishment to civil servants. It is hard to stomach in a time of Big Corporation Breaks and little social help. Of course, I am grateful to have employment in these times. I am grateful I am still able to provide...but each year it is getting harder, not easier!

I can tell you there are lots of other ways the gummy mint could save when it comes to employment. Here is one big suggestions: let more employees telework (we pay for unneeded office space). Not only are the spaces expensive and unnecessary, but we would also save on phone service (we have both office and cell phones), electricity bills, and office furniture costs.

I pay taxes like everyone else (us 'civilians' are not exempt). I make less than someone in a similar private sector position. I really don't feel like the recession is ever going to end because a two-year salary freeze will put us even further 'snowball' behind.

OK...End rant.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Here's to Thanksgiving Weekend 2010!

(Zucchini bread with a orange-honey glaze on a thrifted Mikasa plate)
I am grateful...

The Stuff of Sales

(Franciscan Earthenware--Madeira)
I normally avoid all shopping the weekend after our Thanksgiving holiday. I am not particularly fond of crowds, DH works (which means dragging my young sons around) and i love the idea of lounging around the house for a change. This latter bit was feeling especially tempting considering since September I have been driving back and forth between Indiana and Kentucky* and everything feels so rushed and busy.

We spent Thanksgiving at both sets of parents and both sent us home with leftover turkey. I decided to make a tortilla soup (with the turkey) and then discovered we were completely out of tortillas. Sigh. This meant I had to go to town (it was the part of the soup that sounded the best!)

Well, I am going to say it was purely coincidental I chose to go to the market that happens to share a strip mall with a Goodwill. So, after buying tortillas and milk (the store's receipts often have coupons for Goodwill printed on the back), the boys and I ventured into the crazy, busy thrift store for just a teeny peak at the merchandise.

Almost immediately my eyes spied the gorgeous green and chocolate brown stoneware dishes. Like many of you, I have a long-term addiction love affair with dishware. I have had/have many sets and my ideal dishes range from stoneware variety to the fragile and beautiful china sets. I have no alliance to any one type (my favorite set is a gorgeous blue transferware set of Wedgewood, but I love, love, love all of my stoneware for it's durability!) Anyway, back to the weekend, I turned the beautiful and heavy dishes over and learned they were Franciscan Earthenware. With a little further research, I discovered the pattern is called Madeira and were manufactured in the early 1970's. I gathered up the available pieces (a large oval platter, dinner and bread plates, and a creamer). I shuddered to think I would be paying Goodwill prices for them (creamer was cheap at .75, but the plates would be $1each and the platter was marked $2. I was looking at paying roughly $18 for the set, but I loved them so!)

(Orange Stuff)
Earlier I had put a set of orange (USA) leaf-shaped dishware in the cart. I ended up putting it all back in order to buy (yet another) set of dishes. The orange items were marked quite high (two-tiered stand ($3), ashtray ($1) and bowl ($8); in fact, I only had the first two items in the cart since the bowl was marked so f-ing high! I also put the bread plate (depicting the Last Supper) back on the shelf because it was marked $5. i just didn't want to spend too much.

I found a few more items like several blazers (vintage-like, but newer), a couple of skirts, Shiny Bright ornaments and the boys had each found an item or two. I went up to the check-out and told the sweet cashier I had a coupon. She replied, "You can't use your coupons on 50% day..." WHAT? I had neglected to notice the fliers posted all over the register.

Years ago, as a vintage clothing-loving, punk-rockish, oddball of a girl (back when the 50's style had just come around again for the first time and bands like Dead Kennedys and The Smiths were considered cutting edge), my best friend and I would head to the Goodwills in the area for their monthly 50% off day (the third Saturday of each and every month). We would bring home bags of clothes and things for pennies. Now, the Goodwills in the area rarely have 50% off day (apparently on Black Friday), so I was truly surprised! Since the Internet made re-selling easier, the prices in the thrifts have slowly climbed to (sometimes) ridiculous prices. Some items I pay the price because I know if I buy it on Ebay or similar site , I will pay more with the S & H; however, I have seem chipped and damaged items priced amazingly high. And the clothing, I think, is not cheap (I've seen faded, shrunk t-shirts priced $4!) Of course the money goes to a good cause, but I miss those days of youth when I could spend my weekly $20 allowance on a whole plethrea of outfits (and most of it vintage!)

Oh, I also found this great set of red stemware (goblets? candle holders?):

(Blood Orange Red Goblets)

They are very heavy and a beautiful blood orange color. The bottoms are irregular in shape and they have no markings at all. They seem really familiar to me, but I have no idea why (maybe something from childhood). Anyway, with the half-off, I paid $1 for all four.

*Another post, another time...but I transfered to another position within my employment a few months ago; I have basically moved to Kentucky from Northern Indiana. I love it there and will be extremely happy when the houses are sold and family is moved down there with me. For now, I drive home every weekend...)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Suitcases Start Vicious Cycles

I'll edit this with photos later on...

I must be crazy. No, my work must be crazy to put me up in a hotel that is right next door to a Unique Thrift Store. Sigh. Of course I bought last night and now I cannot get it all in my small carry-on. This means I need to go back tonight and buy another carry-on (no use buying large suitcase because I rarely travel beyond a week). I am flying Southwest which means I at least get to check it on as part of the ticket price (a bright lining!!)

I'll add photos in a bit, but here is a sampling of what I bought last night:

Two Holland wooden shoes (a collection)
Vintage Samsonite suitcase (too small for packing my goodies :(
A scientific education tool of the human body
3 cups and saucers: a great Homer Laughlin pattern which will be my next dish set!
2 Japanese figurines (a Scottie and a songbird)
Hindu influences elephant figurine
Planter with flowers
Mikasa shell vase'
GORGEOUS wood vase
Asain influence wall pocket in turquoise
Small yellow bowl
Books: Gnomes (a favorite from childhood!) and Children's Guide to the Sky (DK book)

I think that is all but it is all wrapped for now. I am also next door to two Asian grocery stores and I bought a few neat things from them as well.

OK, I'll edit when I return home Friday!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

To Go Forth

(Sept. 2010 Memphis Finds: Stoneware plates in pattern I have, vegetarian cookbook, stoneware mugs & Bowls for KY Apartment)
I am going to sit on this stick figure of a blog forever unless I make myself add flesh and bones and some life into it. I miss the old blog. The anonymous one I will not resurrect because my life, as life is known to do, has marched into the horizon of changes and I am not that person anymore. I am also still that person, yet changed by age and geography and the rotating world we all call home. I am changed by my gypsy personality.

So, on forth, I am coming out of my hiding and beginning Lime Kiln. One day I will let you all know about the mysterious name (and some may even have a clue), but I like the sound of it and I wanted something that reflected the notions of my reemergence into this bloggy society. I hope some of my old friends find me because I have missed you terribly. I hope I find some new friends!

As far as a theme here: I cannot say without any sort of promise I will stay on track. I am way too eccentric, too eclectic to talk about one thing. I am a blizzard of emotions and ideas and interests and I would bore myself way too early on if I made this a, say, cooking or shopping or frugal or homesteading or whatever blog. My old blog had a basic I constantly suffered from infidelity to and I strayed often into posts reflective of my emotions at any particular time (not always sunny and bright I warn you in advance!) and they were often controversial and ugly.

That being said, I do plan to have a basic theme here. I am going to talk a lot about thrifting. I am a thrifter from my teenage years on (a lot of years I might add) and I am a "collector" of weirdness. I want to share these finds. I am not a decorator by any means (I completely fail at any theme in that area as well), but I love vintage-y things. I often find myself with accidental collections! I may stray from this as I blog onward, but for now this is my chance at re-entry.