Monday, January 31, 2011

Thrift Share Monday: Blizzardy

It is Monday again already? Do you ever feel like your life is just flashing by and the weeks just seem to blur together? I have no idea where the last 15 or so years have gone, so you can imagine how this may feel on a smaller week-by-week basis!

Spouse and I ventured into a thrift on Sunday while kids were at the circus with grandma. DH found a catcher's mitt and I found the trims and photo album. I almost bought a sweater too, but ended up putting it back. I have not even scrounged together my thirty items for this challenge. The point for me in doing this challenge is to see if I actually will wear some of the clothing I have thrifted in the past year. If I don't wear it, out it goes and I will stop buying that sort of thing while out (e.g. maybe I like it, but it looks hideous on me! Thrift Confess Time: I have been scolded by thrift store staff for trying to take my cart into the dressing room. I am afraid my items will be taken while trying on clothing so I rarely try items on unless I can put them over my t-shirt or pants. Sad, huh?) I did find a great thrift store in Detroit area full of wonderful clothing items. I ended up with a full cart, but in the end put most of it back (I did bring home three cute blazers, a couple of vintage slips, and two pairs of shoes).

I am also trying to be a bit more choosy when it comes to knick knacks. I took that jerk's "hoarders" comment to heart (as my friend told me and she also said to stop caring...!), but I really do need to make a rhyme or reason to all these items I thrift. I have gone through this before having been a thrifter since my high school days. I have purged, re-collected, purged, re-collected many times over. My style is always "early American garage sale" and it tends to lean a bit on the cluttery side. Of course, the judgement was thrown on a dumpy apartment I really just use to eat and sleep when in KY. Believe me when I say it is no palace, but it could stand to be a little more "pulled together". I am also not a reseller (at least not yet), so my clutter is simply a collection of items I like. Case-in-point: I love animals and have a fondness for beastly figurines. My collections range from birds to woodland creatures to domesticated beauties. I have been collecting animal planters since the '80's (and have actually pared that collection down over the years). For this Thrift Share Monday, I'll give you a sampling of recent $0.50 to $1 bird oriented finds (plus two CDs, a small brandy glass I use to make terrariums, and two cherub candle holders for a future project-all found in Detroit). The owl is a bank.

I love to thrift and it takes all I have not to go into the many I pass in the course of my day (almost stopped today, in fact). I have a self-made pact that I need to sort, theme and purge my stuff before bringing in much more. I have been achieving this a bit in the main house, but I still have a long road to travel!

Check out Apron Thrift Girl and Her Library Adventures for a collection of fun thrifty discoveries.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weekly Forecast #2

Well, this is my second weekly forecast...I believe I am going to have to rename it BI-weekly Forecast since it seems the job wants me somewhere else every other week.

First, let's see how I did:

*Clean apartment
*Gather items and dirty laundry to take home Friday
*Gather tax receipts here (meaning apt) to take home
*Work on getting tax preparation organized
*Dust top of cabinets (IN home)
*Pay library fines and check on a couple of books (yeah, really need to improve here)
*Work out at Y at least three times (need to go to KY one and see if IN membership is good here)

Ei ei ei...not so good. I need to focus better. I am just feeling so drained these past few weeks. Maybe it is the travel, maybe just the winter blahs, but I can't seem to shake it. The last item, working out, would help my mood tremendously, but I can't get motivated to go (and I left my work-out shoes in KY).

So, here is the second focus list:

*Clean Apartment (KY)
*Work out
*Prepare tax documents
*Finish Valentine's for swap I am in and get them sent
*Dust top of cabinets (IN)
*Find 30 clothing/shoe items for 30 for 30 challenge (starts Feb 1).
*Update resume
*End of month/beginning of month accounting
*Get oil changes in vehicles
*Pay library fines (KY) and check out the books I need

I am hoping when the spouse gets home from work today I can tackle at least two-three of these things. Namely, the Valentines, the oil change (in one vehicle anyway) and maybe work out. I know none of these items are difficult and some are really routine, but with all my life changes everything feels like a huge challenge. I have so much going on that every. little. thing feels HUGE. Maybe I need to break the lists up into KY and IN lists. My location at any given moment dictates the chore at hand.

I am going through the typical winter blues right now and doing anything feels like plowing through mud. I wish we would have one blue sky day and a bit of winter thaw. I am tired of feeling cold and wet and miss the fresh air. At least we can cross January off the 2011 list.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thrift Share Monday: On the Road Again

I am on the road again this week-this time in "sunny" (yeah, that is tongue-in-cheek) Detroit. The roads were treacherous driving up and I wanted so badly to be in Miami or Phoenix. Sigh.

The best part of the drive was listening to a pet talk show out of Windsor, ON. The host was reading bits and pieces from a book about the Koehler Method of Dog Training. I'd add a link, but no point in connecting you with it (read on). The radio host said, with a voice of amazement after reading excerpts, this book was the "authority" on dog handling/training just 20 years ago. Let me tell you, the book was nothing but a training manual for animal abuse. I about bawled my eyes out thinking of all the poor animals subjected to this Ass and his methods. He claimed that anyone afraid of using his methods were "spineless". If you find a book out thrifting, check it out if you are into horror reading. If I ever subscribed to the thought a book should be destroyed, it would definitely be this guide to pain and torture.

After spending the weekend emptying a playroom and handling thousands of tiny toy parts (e.g. Legos, game pieces, little men and cars), I am now a full blown fan of Giant Toys. The carpet in the playroom is old and nasty (I am just not a fan of carpet) and I decided on a whim to rip it out and install laminate flooring. We will probably be moving the older boy into this room as he is in the habit of waking his younger brother who needs his sleep. We'll see, though, because they are close and I don't want them to stress. Meanwhile, we need to get the house in order anyway, so out with the gross and in with the easy to clean!

I took a driving break on my way to Detroit (to regroup as driving in snow and ice is just plain exhausting). I stopped at a Goodwill and did a five minute walk through the store. I found these giant dinosaurs to add to Littlest's collection of monsters. They had many, many more, but this seemed like a good selection of prehistoric beasts. I also bought a box of screwdrivers and other tools for $3. I haven't had time to look them over, but I can always use tools. All in all I spent $6 (as cheap as fast food!)

I am sharing this with the other thrifters out there both at Apron Thrift Girl and the great blog Her Library Adventures who is also sponsoring a giveaway for one of her handmade and very cute I heart Thrifting (or Flea markets) brooches!! She is in Australia, but her giveaway is open worldwide. I have been on a roll for giveaway of late so maybe, maybe another win for me (or you!!) :)

Speaking of rolls, I also received a blogging award!! The wonderful cook (check out her orange cranberry cake and the Indian inspired Sheppard's pie) Laura at Hey What's for Dinner, Mom passed to me

The rules are I need to share 7 random things about myself and then pass it along to 7 others.

OK, so here it goes...

1. I also have eyes that change colors; usually green, but often blue, sometimes golden and, if truth be told, sometimes red! ;)

2. I have had complete strangers tell me I look like Angelina Jolie (which I take as a compliment, but do not believe); I think it is my long dark Bettie Page haircut.

3. I am an entomologist (Yes, I studied bugs!)

4. In 5 months I have been in 15 major cities in 10 different states. It is exhausting.

5. I have multiple tattoos and am going to be adding a new one soon to my upper back and shoulders (vintage swallows with heart and ribbons with the names of my sons and beloved late dog, in case you were wondering).

6. I have lived in five states (IN, KY, CA, MD, AZ).

7. I am an outgoing Introvert!

I am passing this along to any of my 7 readers (LOL!!!) I'd love to know 7 random things about you too!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Day, New Color

Now that I have a handle on the master bedroom (it is not done, but I am waiting for the Very.Cold.Temperatures to return to reasonable to finish a few painting projects. I found out the hard way spray painting in the basement is a very bad idea!), I am ready to turn my eye on the living room and hallway. The house is painted a solid color throughout: Nicotine Stain. I despise it! It doesn't help that it is scratch and sniff paint (i.e. the former occupants were chain smokers and the house still has that icky stall smoke smell even after fresh paint and carpet by sellers). We are currently working on replacing the insulation in the basement ceiling (I am guessing some of the odor is stuck there) and we plan to rip out the carpet and put in hardwood (or at least laminate for budget sakes and if selling the house is the plan). The walls will definitely need to be Kilz before the paint. This is going to be the hard area to complete.

I plan on looking at paint chips and want to go with a color that no longer reminds me of tobacco and ick. I am thinking a grey tone color (or maybe that is too "smoke"???) I am really unsure of where to go and I think this is why the LR project is taking forever.

Unlike the bedroom I do not have any particular focus. I have a lot of "nature" inspired things in there (an old vintage painting of trees, vintage prints of birds, birds nest found around the farm on the ground, a pair of shed antlers also found on the farm, nature books and field guides, old cameras I inherited from my late collecting father). The furniture is a mish mosh of hand-me-downs and are not my style at all, but they are functional and good quality for a house of boys. I would like to change them out and especially get rid of the giant burgundy recliner, but we all love that comfy chair. I can sit in it with two little boys and still be comfortable!

Part of me needs to keep in mind we may be moving this summer. I am on the fence right now as to look for a job to come back to IN or to stay in KY and move the family. This time of year is just so hard and a bad time to make ultimate changes (in my opinion anyway). We are letting it ride to spring to see how I feel. It is hard to know how to proceed because my situation in KY seems so temporary and I have never taken the one foot out of IN.

I am really just writing most of this out for myself (such a bore!) I am battling something strong in regards to where I am at this time in my life and I like having a record. I am hoping I can find my place without too much damage to my life. I am hoping I can be satisfied. Maybe this is a mid-life thing (turned 40 in Oct), but I have always felt like a gypsy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


(What is in that brown tissue paper?)

Currently, we do not have satellite. We had it for years and then, right after Xmas 2009, husband threw a Wii remote into our expensive flat screen TV and broke it. Repair was not an option. So, I refused to buy another TV and, thus, no longer needed satellite. We did eventually replace the TV (cheap model this time), but I have not restarted cable. We just don't need it.

However, when I travel for work I love the show American Pickers. I have only seen a couple of episodes, but love watching them "pick" over the junky buildings. I would love to do this sort of thing (and I am not even afraid of spiders!) However, picking for a living is just not option for me at this time in my life, so watching the show is the next best thing.

Guess what-I won the first season over at Urban Farm House! I am truly happy about this and can't wait to watch it, but...


The best part of the win? A large, gorgeous feather pillow made out of French-thrifted fabric! I love it! Yellow is my favorite color and the gently stripping is perfect. I have it in my seashore bedroom and it will match the cool whale print I am waiting to be delivered.

Thank you, Serena!

OMG-I heard the "H" Word!

OK, I met this new friend in Louisville a few months back and we have hung out a little. It is a long story I will spare you the icky details (suffice to say friendship was very short lived-what is with all the weirdos out there??) Anyway, New Friend comes to my apartment uninvited. I had told him earlier that I would invite him over sometime in the future, but for right now my apartment was messy and I did not have time to organize due to my traveling (weekdays for work; weekends home). He insisted, but I resisted.

Anyway, one evening I am home and talking to DH on the phone. I hear a rap at my front door (which is actually my bedroom due to the strange layout of Shotgun House). I peeked out the window and saw this New Friend. I opened the door, sighed and said I told you my house is messy right now and I don't want guests. He said he didn't mind a mess.

I let him in and we talked for a bit. He then proceeds to Come On to ME! He knows I am married, but this does not stop him. Stupid (both he and I for trusting this asshole). I told him to leave and I was calling my husband back. He says he is leaving then says, "You ought to be on an episode of Hoarders..."

OMG! He hit me exactly where it hurts!

I told him again to leave (he was already leaving at this point). See my post below about my Shopping Habits. I can't say my apartment was neat and orderly. I told him I did not want guests, but Hoarders! My f-ing kitchen is clean, my bathroom is clean, I had been trying on clothes earlier and had put the rejects on the futon (to decide if I wanted to donate or try reselling them) and I still had the futon box in the tiny (and I mean tiny) living room to cut up for recycling. I had some papers on my bed (he walked through my bedroom to the other part of the house) and a few piles of books (I am an avid reader), but otherwise my house is not gross! I have a lot of stuff!

How do you other thrifters do it? How do you store it and use it? I am trying at the main house (where I can paint and change things, but it is harder to do in a small apartment where I am not technically allowed to hang things).

Funny, I can handle his "forwardness", but he really bothered me with the comment.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Weekly Forecast #1

One of the positive things my new job has brought me is a different method of planning my week. Because I have to do this for my supervisor, I have made a habit of planning my work week either the Friday before or on Monday (holiday this week, so today is "Monday"). I generally try to get mine done on Friday. It is a very general outline of what I hope to accomplish. I can always do more and, sometimes, a plan changes, but it helps me stay focused. At first I resented being "forced" to do someone else's idea of weekly planning, but I have come around and actually look forward to it.

I want to start incorporating it into my other life: The non-work one. So, here is my weekly forecast:

*Clean apartment
*Gather items and dirty laundry to take home Friday
*Gather tax receipts here to take home
*Work on getting tax preparation organized
*Dust top of cabinets (IN home)
*Pay library fines and check on a couple of books (yeah, really need to improve here)
*Work out at Y at least three times (need to go to KY one and see if IN membership is good here)

This is it. Not a lot really, so it shouldn't be that hard. Of course, we all know how it can go...

Monday, January 17, 2011

No Shopping Update-Week 2

Okay, so this post about too much "stuff" at this funny and potty mouth blog I like (which, BTW, I love and can fuckin' relate to most of the time; I too talk like a trucker and swear like a sailor!) resonated with me and my "no shopping" pledge. See, I am already not much of a retail shopper. It is really not a challenge for me to stay out of them. This past weekend we did venture into Target for something we needed. We had a list (albeit mental one) because we know what we will find there (for the most part). We needed a futon to house the boys at night when they are in KY because Husband has been over the co-sleeping things for years (interrupts his co-sleeping thing if you know what I mean). Personally, I would have just scoured Craigslist or a thrift store for one, but with all the recent bedbug stories, Husband thought paying an extra $50 bucks was worth it (we had some gift cards too). I am an entomologist by trade and am not easily scared by bugs, but that is another story and not one worth arguing about with the DH. The only one I saw out that I liked was the one at Target.

While there I resisted many things (like an awesomely cute Valentine Bulldog Candy Dish for $12.99), but I did let the boys each pick a $1 item (they chose well and exactly as I would have back when I was their age-a bag of plastic farm animals!) I also found a couple of clearance candles which smelled very, very good.

So, after loading our brand new futon into the truck we headed out to drive around Louisville. Of course, spotting a St. Vincents TS, my Husband kindly pulled over and agreed to "babysit" while I "had fun" shopping. I never know what I will find in a thrift store.

Bags and a sewing machine later I headed back to the truck and justified talked about my purchases. Other than the vintage sewing machine, I also bought two swan planters; a "cockeyed coffee" coffee mug; 8 vintage Arby's glasses (Husband works for a company that contracts with Arby's and I actually remember these glasses from the '80's); two packages of First Communion invitations (eldest has one in spring); and a gorgeous vintage Chinese gown that is marked two sizes bigger than my American size, but won't slip over my hips. The only item I actually needed were the invitations and even that is subjective. I then went on to four more thrift stores/flea markets. I shared five items Monday, but I could share an item a day for 3 years, probably, just in what I have thrifted in the past few months.

My 'shopping' problem is thrifting. As much as I love reading all the Thrift Share Monday items and seeing all the great things people find, it is spurring me to be a hunter too. I need to stop because I am turning into a cat that just plays with its prey because I am already well-fed. I could also throw in grocery shopping as this bi-locale living has wrecked havoc on menu planning and thrifty food buying. So, like Monica, I need to revamp my "no shopping" pledge. I already use a list for retail shopping and rarely just splurge shop (maybe one or two times a year if someplace is having a sale). Thrifting, on the other hand, is unpredictable. I think that is the main reason I have loved it since discovering it as a teenager in the late 1980's. You never know what you will find and, if you do find it, you know it won't be there if you leave it.

I, too, have amassed quite a bit of shit in my homes. Sometimes I buy it thinking I may decorate a room around it (and then I promptly forget in the year[s] it takes me to actually do it). Other times I know it is cheap and valuable and I think maybe I will start this reselling business. Maybe. I'm no stranger to buying online, but I have never tried to sell anything.

My new pledge: no more thrift stores. I think I've said this before (deja vu?) I am pledging here and now to stay out until a) I have sold something and b) I have either used 10 items or donated them. I have had an idea for the mass of cookbooks I have collected over the years (another blog I set up and have yet to start), but I need to organize and decide now about this junk. In the past 8 years I have purged my homes twice of crap I bought and then stored and I always seem to do it again. I really wonder what some thrifters homes look like (am I the only one good at the thrifting part and horrible at the decorating part?) Some thrifty people can make their homes look very, very cute; mine looks like the home of a hoarder...junky, cluttered. What am I missing?

And, as for the other side of this shopping problem: Food. I will go back to keeping an inventory of our pantries (both IN and KY ones) and I will be mindful to buy on sale or with a coupon and only if it is needed. I really don't spend a lot because I rarely buy processed foods. We were eating out too much on my weekends home because of the time issue, but I am putting a stop to that practice. DH and I planned to eat out and movie one of these Saturdays, but it has yet to happen.

So, I hope I am successful with the new twist on this challenge. I am cleaning and preparing tax crap this weekend, so bypassing the thrifts should be relatively easy. Next week I am traveling again for work and will be an area with a couple of Goodwills (and an IKEA store and I really want some bookshelves for the apartment), a bit harder to bypass.

So my grade for the week: a generous C+!

ATG's Thrift Share Monday: Thrift Therapy

Ended up thrifting my heart out this weekend and found some great, cheap items. Some I hope to resell someday and others I wish to keep for now. Definitely a keeper is Vern's 1999 'Mixed Tape'. I love mixed tapes! My friends and I used to make 'em in the day and trade our favorites. We would customize them for situations (e.g. break-ups, blues, new love, start of school, etc.) and I kept them for years. I have no idea who Vern is or hails, but I would love to be on his "mixtape" Christmas list. He has some great bluegrass and Americana on the one I found at a Goodwill in Louisville. Thanks, Vern!
I love the set of made in Japan spice containers all for $1.50. The set is missing one, but I know I have one back home to fill in the gap (it may be a repeat of one of the spices, but stranger things have been known to happen and it may be the exact match!) If I keep this set, I want to paint the plain wooden holder.

The little open mouthed bird (29c) and felted finger puppet (50c) are two of my week's favorite and cheapest finds. The bird fell out of my bag in the car (it was wrapped in a wad of newspaper by the clerk) and, later, when I took the items out of the bag and I couldn't find the tiny thing, my heart nearly broke! I found it, obviously, and it now sits on my bookshelf. At this great thrift shop in the heart of rural Kentucky, cash was the only currency they accepted. I had no cash on me that day, but, I guess to tease myself, I went in anyway. Right away I found the little bird and dug in my wallet for a quarter and pennies. While paying I noticed a pretty pearl choker in a basket. Price: $2. I went out to the car and dug around and actually found the money! It turns out the choker is a Sarah Covington necklace and is gorgeous. I left it at work or I would include a photo. The bird is still my favorite item from this thrift store. Maybe I'll make a new header with a gummy worm dangling over it's hungry mouth!

My other favorite and most expensive find: 1944 State Sewing Machine in pristine condition! See where the paint is slightly missing from the word State on the front? I did that removing the sign the TS put on it. Otherwise the machine looks like it rolled right off the assembly line in 1944. The sun in the picture is a sticker I think the store put on too (I forgot to remove it for the photo). It cost me $35 and even has the original (perfect) instruction booklet and parts. It is housed in a brown carrying case and seems to weigh at least 50 lb! For a split second I thought it costs too much, but I knew it would be a "regret" if I left it behind! I can't wait to try it out with some of my vintage fabrics.

Wanna play along? Visit Apron Thrift Girl and her Links O' Thrifty Fans!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Conundrum of Fickleness

Today should have been a great day...

Instead, it turned out to be one of those grey, gloomy, January, what-the-hell-am-I-doing-in Kentucky kind of days. Remember those $1.64 mint M & M's I mentioned the other day? Well, I am eating them straight out of the bag with my cinnamon tea tonight and hoping I don't fall back into one of the crying fits I've been having all evening.

I'm not sure how all of this happened. Kids and hubby came down to stay with me this weekend in order to give me a driving break and to look at the lovely house. We had a great Saturday: thrifting, trying new Louisville restaurant, picking up shells by the big Ohio River, watching movies back at the apartment. The kids seemed happy to be with me and I was truly enjoying having them near me. I miss them so much during the week (so much in fact, that when they squabble and scream at the top of their lungs in an apartment house it takes me longer to nearly have a nervous breakdown!! ;) They had planned to stay until Monday (holiday for me), but it turns out my eldest boy has scholastic testing starting this week so they left this evening. It actually would have made more sense for me to drive home and have an extra day with them.

Earlier today we did view the house. It is as I described, but I forgot to mention that I tend to be a fickle girl. My Ones only stay Ones in my imagination and I soon discover the flaws are bigger than the drive to make it mine. The house, unfortunately, is just too big of a project for me. And, I am just not in love with the land surrounding it. I think this is the biggie for me. While the house is the perfect shabby I could love and love to restore, the land surrounding it is open and ugly. This is difficult for me because I already own a mediocre house on some really, really beautiful land. Eight less acres than the IN house comes with and no woods or pastures or seclusion like my current home. The bad part here is the current home is not in the state I am living in most of the week. Seems I am stuck in the middle of a huge conundrum!

I did take a couple of photos before my battery died (note to self: check batteries before leaving) and I enjoyed looking through it again (I have to say it seemed a lot smaller to me this time). I even found a third fireplace (on the first floor) in a back part of a built in closet. Why would someone cover it? The disturbing thing I notice was someone had removed all of the fireplace doors and/or are trying to remove them altogether. I stressed to the realtor the fireplaces are what is selling me on the house and without them I am not interested at all. Maybe they are selling them...dumb move on their part because nothing else is worth the investment (maybe the main stairwell too).

On the way back to the hovel, I was lost in thought. Sure, the house has all the qualities that my dream house would have: slightly spooky (check), original features (check), located in a rural setting (check), animal visitors (check-first time a beagle, second a black cat), and priced to sell (check); hoever, something is holding me back. Something is not sitting well inside me.

Once home, KY apartment that is, I looked at my husband who is a terribly patient man (one of his best redeeming feature over and over because it is not just houses I can get fickle about) and suddenly I burst into tears. I can't even tell you the last time this happened to me. I don't just go around bursting out into tears. He hugged me and it was then I knew I just want to go home. Home, in my mind right now, is the ugly house and beautiful land we have back in Indiana.

I suddenly realized I am also not in love with my job. I took a huge leap of chance at quiting my old position and taking this new one. My job is interesting and a great party favor sort of job (you know the one where you tell someone what you do for a living and they get big-eyed and tell you how neat it sounds). It is a great job on paper, but I am not fitting myself into it. I, of course, will always do my best and force a fit, but I will suffer from the pain this forced satisfaction will cause. The pay is also great; I will have a hard time finding something in my field for the same amount. How do you know if you should trust your feelings: Should I give up and accept less money for something I may like better or is this just a temporary winter blues bubble caused by homesickness and stress of a new job? It is literally a mind-F if you know what I mean.

When I think about selling ugly house and buying something new (even lovely house) I just feel exhausted. The realtor was talking about lending and surveys and appraisals and inspections and I just wanted to walk away right then. Do you remember how stressful house buying is? We just bought ugly house three years ago. It is still fresh in my mind. And, the house is in sad disrepair. It will need a lot of major work (not on major systems, though, mostly cosmetic, like crumbling plaster and worn floors). This will require money. Ugly house was move-in ready (of course now we will need to fix our "wear and tear"). I just am so not confident we would be able to get it done. There are no outbuildings-a major problem for a thrifter like me and a procrastinator like my husband.

Anyway, I cried and cried. I needed it! I cried about the frustrations at my job (no training and the whole philosophy you learn after making mistakes-I am not good with this type of on-the-job training as I do not like to make mistakes), I cried about both houses, I cried because I miss my kids so much. I cried because I am starting to believe I made a huge faux pas by moving down to Kentucky. When I cried I wanted to go home, my husband never looked happier...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

House Hunting and No Shopping Update

(Don't you love this fireplace and, look, pocket doors! All doors and hardware are original. Windows have been replaced.)

First, I made an appointment with a realtor today. We have talked and talked about housing in KY since I moved down here. I've looked through freebie real estate 'zines and made 100's of mental notes on houses I see for sale around here. My mind keeps going back to one we looked at back in October. When a house feels right, it feels right.

The above picture is one of the five fireplaces in the home. There is also a wood burning stove in the dining room/kitchen. It's a big house, an old house and is need of demolition some major TLC. I have the L in that particular equation!

The house comes with 2 acres of land. Certainly, a step back from the 10+ acres we manage now. I really don't think I would be horribly unhappy (I can still have my chickens and garden); however, I would like to negotiate for an extra acre or more as the property is surrounded by rolling pasture. The owner has not portioned off the homestead from the rest of the farm, yet, so there may be a chance I could get the extra land. Sadly, there are no outbuildings, not even a shed! This could be an issue. I like my storage and this house also lacks a basement. It does have storage under the stairs. (like Harry Potter's bedroom!)

(Don't you just love that stairwell color? I would completely do the entire bottom of the house again in that gorgeous color! The banister, stairs and railing are in perfect condition except for the need for serious refinishing. None are loose!)
From what I saw in October (when I found the key under a pot by the front porch, LOL!), the house has fairly good bones. The back stairs (yes, from a master bedroom upstairs!!!) has a painted mural, however, time has not been too good to it (I'll take pictures on Sunday). It has a new roof and new gas furnace (although, with a wood stove heating cost should be assisted, I would think; wood is everywhere cheap in KY).

The best part about this house (not counting cost of repairs needed), our mortgage payment would be half (with insurance/taxes) what we are paying for the current property! Oh, and did I mention I am in love with this house? I have never been in love with a house. It may be the "one"!

Keep your fingers crossed for me...especially for the hope that my kids don't squeal about our October trespassing!

OK, next up: Shopping. Well, that would be "no shopping". Overall, I did fairly well. I did end up in four retail shops this week and two of those were Goodwills. I went to Target to price something I was thinking of ordering online (future purchase) and bought three bags of frozen vegetables (on sale for 89c), gallon of water and a bulk package of sugarfree gum. I use the gum to curb sweets cravings since I am back on the SB (and doing rather well for now!!) I spent $6 (total rounded to next dollar). I also stopped at KMart on my way home to price same item (like the Target one much better) and found Xmas stuff on 75% off. I bought two hot chocolate tins (2/2.98), a large Frosty tin with popcorn (2.00), two bags of M & Ms ($1.64), a gingerbread kit ($2.00/I skimped out on the boys this year, so we'll do it here this weekend) and a package of 12 coffees in a holiday sampler ($6). I spent $21 at the K. I actually may go back and grab a couple more of the gingerbread kits for later projects and possibly buy a couple of items for future gifts (maybe). The kids never eat the houses, but they have so much fun putting them together and $2 is worth the time to me (I used to make the dough, cut the pieces and put it all together). Everything I bought from new retail was food or food-ish.

I did much, much worse at the thrift stores. I am too embarrassed to put my totals (baaad), but I did end up with a lot of clothes, books and a gorgeous picture frame for a print I have (ended up being too small, but I have another one that will fit instead. I am back to the drawing board of spray painting the boring black plastic poster frame it is currently housed inside). I'll just put a few items up each week for Thrift Share Monday.

As hard as it is going to be, I need to either sell some things (yes, stop being chicken about it all) or stay out of the thrifts for right now (or both would even be better). I really, really want the house above referenced and this means getting projects done at the current 'stead and the start of saving towards down payment, repairs and closing costs on the new one (provided it is not falling into the ground or the septic/well are bad. Big NO if anything is beyond reasonable cost or considerable repair. Cosmetic I can handle or hire out; mechanical or structural issues are another story).

So, I need to print out a photo of the house and tape it to the debit card. I have a "No Spending" goal. I want to be in this house by summer! I also need to carry cash when I go into ANY store (including grocery...Oh, yeah, I also spent $20 at the grocery tonight for chicken breast on sale-stocked up. I did give blood though in the bus parked in the parking lot-so be nice to me! Or at least that is what the sticker says...!)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lost in My Own Neighborhood

A few weeks ago, one of my new bosses (we'll call him #3) came to KY to see a co-worker off to retirement. I was, of course, invited to the party too and when boss #3 (he is from another state) asked me if I would lead the way to the restaurant, I said I would. I have a GPS system and had the address of the place to conveniently plug into the gadget. I figured it would be easy: hop on one of the expressways, jump off on the exit ('Exit left') and pull into a parking lot.

Well, it was not that simple. First, I misplaced my adapter and couldn't plug the (dead) thing into my vehicle. Then, when I asked directions, the person told me using landmarks as reference (you go by the mall, take the exit to the right, blah, blah, blah...what the f mall were they referring too??!!??) So, I followed the "directions" and ended up leading (ok, we'll leave the loosely defined term for now) Boss #3 and co-worker to another county! Turned out the restaurant was fairly close to the office and we were an hour late. I was so, so embarrassed!

I have been in Louisville area for going on five months now and I still don't know my way around this place. I was shocked to see the street I live on is actually N-S according to the car's dashboard (wow, it really felt E-W to me). I got lost yesterday 1. Mile. from. my. apartment when I went to return my library books. I truly blame this not on my lack of direction (I have learned other cities I moved to better and faster than the locals!!!), but on that stupid GPS navigational system which only shows a tiny bit of a map and tells you where to go. I pay more attention to her than to the things around me. I have no sense of landmarks, familiarity, or direction once I leave my usual paths.

And, I also blame it on the fact that in the 5 months I have 'lived' here, I have traveled to...hmm, let me count, 10 other states/cities. Plus, I go home on my days off and rarely just drive around mindlessly or for pleasure (like I would back home, lol). I go to the office, to the two thrift stores on my way home, Kroger or Target (or the neighborhood pubs, but I can walk to those joints :). I really need to get a map of the area and study it before setting out on new destinations. I also need to have the family come here for once on a weekend (they are this weekend) and time to just explore.

So, I am going to steal an idea I started to read about on another blog. I am going to find 50 new places this year to visit in Louisville (or Kentucky) and (maybe) write about it. Perhaps I will discover more than one way to find my destinations (or at least maybe not get lost driving the one mile from the library to my apartment!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thrift Share Monday: Found Fashion

So, we are 10 days into the New Year and I couldn't resist running into the thrift store next to the grocery. At least the grocery store prints coupons for the TS on their receipts!!

I did use some restraint, however, and did not buy the lovely lusterware on the shelves (amber and priced higher than ideal, but still reasonable). I also put back the cute Ralph Lauren black sweater dress (where would I wear it and I do not have time for the reselling thing just yet).

About a year and half ago, I finally did something about the "baby weight" I had gained in the two years after the last one was born. I started working out regularly and followed a fairly simple diet (after researching them all for simplicity and how realistically I would be willing to follow it). I chose one with the initials SB and, after six months, I shed fifty pounds. I actually weighed in and returned to a size I was before the first one was born. The best part (well, after finally getting rid of the heartburn caused by the extra weight on my 5'3" frame) was that I could actually find clothes at the TS that fit. And, my selection increased three fold! I'll admit I had been shunning thrifted clothing (or new for that matter) other than necessity like new jeans or wool sweaters.

Now, I am slowly revamping my wardrobe (that is if I don't stop putting weight back on...I have gained 10+ pounds since October!) I am really ready for winter to be over now. Tomorrow, since I am done with travel until end of month, I am hitting the Y.

I have never been the trendy sort and, in fact, have always mixed and matched vintage and modern. I started this back in high school ( late '80's) and even still have a few fave items from back in the day. I like the "Anthropologie" or faux classic vintage look. I can be both tomboyish and feminine (I mean I am an entomologist!) and myy tastes in thrifty clothes lean toward this style. Bottom line: I like the unique!

OK, I'm are a couple of my finds from the quick TS "run-in" on Sunday. I love them and can't wait to wear them (if the sun ever returns) this spring. I also found a sweater coat I left up North. I have plans for alteration and will post about it at another time. Sorry for the bad photographs-my apartment is a 'shotgun' house and is on the dark side.

(Love this chocolate brown blouse)

(I think this one will be cute with jeans)

(My favorite weekend find: Vintage Lily peasant blouse)

I am linking with other Great Thrifty Minds at Apron Thrift Girl.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Conflict of New

This blog is new, but I am not new to blogging. I kept a hodge podge "life" blog for years and would have kept going on it, but I lost my drive. My life, at the time of the retirement, was a jumble of messes caused by both internal and external stress, including marital discord, a court issue with a land contract, the economy, my job, my in-laws, myself...It's a long, long list. I wanted to just bury my head in the sand ("So, you know where to find me" as the great words in the song "Conversation 16" the National says...maybe I'll put it up for your listening pleasure) and forget it all. I was miserable with the world around me and it was miserable with me. It is the main reason I don't link them here because I want to close the book on that shit and move on to new adventures.

Now, nearly a 3/4 year later (since ending the other blog) I am finding life much more tolerable. We won the court case and then sold the house, our marriage is much better thanks to a little distance (I am so, so, so the opposite of the clingy type), the economy still sucks and my relationship with in-laws is still a bit strained, but I am glad they are in my life (they make our KY/IN life possible right now). However, now that the greyness has subsided, I am wondering if I made the right choice to move to KY. I hate the drive back and forth, I miss my kids (and even the hubby most of the time), and I am looking out at our gorgeous 11 acre property and swooning over the ice covered trees and blue, blue sky. I wonder if I will love a new property when we find it in KY like I do this one (right property, wrong house and location).

The job situation in this area is hit or miss. Like a lot of American cities, we have seen the decline of industry and a brain drain of human resources. I was fortunate to find something in my field and loved what I did, but I saw an issue with sustainability (especially with cut-backs and all) and knew it was a matter of time before I was terminated (well, I was working under contract terms and I thought I may or may not be renewed). When I saw an opportunity to be permanent and an increase in salary I either had to grab it or leave it with a weekend notice. We agreed I should grab it. The husband has been driving 90 miles one way to his job for years (he only has to make the drive 2 times a week) and his company has a DC near the area my job presented itself. He knew he could transfer. It seemed as if fate was moving us to go to KY.

And, I love KY! The people are sweet (I mean I melt when a young man calls me "darlin'"), the landscape is beautiful, and my dad was from eastern KY so I feel closer to ancestral roots there. I live in a metro area of a large city (Louisville) and one of Louisville's slogans are "Keep Louisville Weird". It is a perfect fit for me!!

The negatives are my MIL cares for my children while we work. She sees them off to school and is there when they step off the bus (she lives an 1/8 of a mile from our property which you can understand is both a blessing and an issue). She loves them dearly and they love her. With the move in a few months, we will need childcare again and when we are both on the road for the jobs, it will be a huge issue to arrange childcare when school is in session. She could come down and stay with us, but I do not know how she would feel about this arrangement. I would love to send them to stay with her, but school dictates location.

Another issue is I see my husband losing steam on the idea of moving south. We both know we won't be living on 10 acres on the same price as we have here. We bought the property at a great price and with the thought of using it to sustain us if Peak Oil or other future issues caused us to homestead for survival. I have learned a lot from living with livestock, wildlife, woods and near-by lakes. Now, with the summer move, my hope is to downsize (truth be told we have never had the time to enjoy our property with the long commutes to urban areas/jobs and the ultimate size that keeps us busy with up-keep). I want a smaller property with a more interesting house (i.e. historical home) and hope to just rent community garden space to grow my own vegetable. On the other hand, I also have loved living with out neighbor issues (for the most part*), and will need to deeply screen any neighborhoods we look at in KY (I've had some strange and annoying situations in the past). It may also be nice to have neighbors! I will also miss the wildlife (catching frogs with the boys in spring, the sounds of owls and coyotes, the flutter of songbirds and the occasional sighting of a fox, deer or skunk in the front yard). So much to miss, so much to discover.

All of this is a swarm of feelings I seem to develop on Sunday when faced with four-hour drive back to work. When I return to KY, I know I love it. It is when I am home that I wonder if it is the right place for us. This much I do know: I want my family in one spot and I want a "normal" life. Although I expect it to still be weird. In fact, I need it to be weird! ;)

OK, I need to finish a huge list around here before I leave. Next weekend the family is coming down to me for a change, so I need to complete a couple of projects I started yesterday. I now have a clean linen closet!!

*A snowbird neighbor who parks an RV on wild property near us came home last spring and bulldozed full grown apple and maples trees on OUR property. He claimed the edge of the woods was the property line (it's marked with stakes) and he had the right. He was at least 10-20 feet onto our property and the trees he killed sustained livestock and the bees I kept at the time. I was pissed to say the least!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Year of No Shopping

Van over at Thrift Core has challenged her readers to go without retail shopping for a year. It's been a few years since I tried this type of challenge. I have read recent books and blogs chronicling other people's various level of success of being a non-consumer and, although I have a few gripes on some of the books, I love reading the success stories. It is a challenge I really need to try again with my recent economy worries and the fact I need to save money/pay off some debts.

So, I accept her challenge and will begin producing a weekly report on my progress.

My exceptions to the 2011 Buy Nothing New challenge are as follows (but even these have an exception to the exception; I will try to substitute, find cheap or free or make my own whenever possible):

*Food and/or medical needs

*Cleaning supplies

*Vehicle needs (e.g. window wipers, etc.)

*Hygiene products (I'll include underwear here, but we are really set right now)

*Household items needed to get house on market (see exception to the exception)

*Gifts (again, see exception to the exception, but I will have more on this on a later post)

*Limit our eating out and bar patronage (I will try to be thrifty with coupons and "Kids Eat Free" nights)

I will try to be better at the curb-side shopping or using Craig's List. I plan to be more exceptional at using coupons for food/pet food/household items. I do not want to give up thrift shopping, but I am going to limit is to two days a month (at most and I will make up "passes" for myself to use. If I happen to use them all in months 1-4 then I am done for the year). I will carry my thrift wish list and try to stick with it. Last, if I slip and buy new, I will try to get it from smaller shops (this is part of my gift exception).

I am looking forward to the challenge and will begin my posts on the topic starting next Wednesday!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Thrifty Times

I really wanted to keep this blog light-hearted, a glimpse of what I feel is the happier, more fun me. All of that being said, I blogged about recessions and depression and difficult times for years and it is hard for me to let this go. I have practiced for The End of the World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) for a long time and when I hear something that alerts me of hard times I tend to listen. I don't want to be panicky about the New Year, but I plan to start tightening up the purse strings.

Case-in-point: My friend M. works in the coffee business. He is a master roaster and makes a great, smooth-tasting coffee that I am so hooked on (and often the recipients of his great coffee gifts!) He has been depressed for a couple of weeks and tonight he told me that several employees were laid-off and his hours were cut. Why? I mean coffee is an addiction and I don't see "Drink less coffee" on too many resolution lists. No, the reason is coffee beans have gone up 65%. Another way to put this is consumer coffee is about to go literally through the roof. I am a coffee addict. I need to stock up ASAP!

Then, if this coffee news is not enough, I hear on Chicago news that produce is tripling in cost. Even the price of things like bananas and cabbage is increasing exponentially. 2010 has not been a good year for produce yields. I guess I'll be planting that garden this year after all (order seeds now!) Of course, we could all have wonderful local produce yields come spring and summer (we can hope anyway).

The other agricultural item that is about to increase is cotton. Well, the price of raw cotton is already high, but what is going to go up is the following essential items: blue jeans, towels, and diapers (the non-disposable ones). I will thrift most of the jeans for DH and myself, but decent ones for the 8 yo always seem harder to find (will have to really hit yard sales this summer).
No one is in diapers any more and we are set on towels.

Anyway, I really was trying to get away from the panic, the doom and gloom I felt from being/having to be "prepared", but I still want to be thrifty and ready for tough times ahead. When I hear my friends are losing their jobs and the rest of us have frozen salaries, I wonder if this recession is just getting bigger and not better.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Weeks Fly By Unslowly

Tomorrow is Sunday. Since September, Sundays have had a different meaning to me: They mean it is time to head back to the south. This week, Sunday is especially hard because my week home has made me sad, made me think that maybe taking the job was not such a great idea. We knew it was going to be a hard year, but still...

Yes, Sunday I will be heading back to KY. No detours, no deviations, just a long four hour roadtrip back across the O-hi-o and into lovely Louisville. O, how I wish my kids and hubby were coming too. Five days without them is a long time, yet overall time is just flying by into oblivion.

Actually, even if they were coming back with me, I would not see them for I am heading to Chicago for work this week. I won't be home until Friday and home will be back with them again in IN. I have to keep this perspective to make the next months bearable. June will be here before we all know it, right?

So, today I packed away the Xmas decor and de-ornamented the tree (still in house with lights as I feel like I barely was able to enjoy it). I remembered I wanted to show you the vintage, homemade card baskets I thrifted in November in West Virginia. I filled them full of Shiny Brights for a quick display. I think I paid $1 for them both.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Cleveland for work and down the road from my hotel was an Anthropologie store. I drool over the items in the catalogs they send me (not so much over the prices or the anorexic-looking models), but have never ventured into one of the stores. Much to my surprise, I found Christmas card baskets just like mine (only not really vintage and slightly bigger). They wanted much more than a $1 for their version (I couldn't find a link on their website!) and the graphics were not nearly as gorgeous as the ones on the WV treasures! So, there you have it: Proof that Thrifting not only yields the same thing as big money retail, but something more authentic as well!

Want to make some for yourself? Here is a tutorial.