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.