Monday, November 30, 2009


Saturday was the day. No not black Friday early morning, nor even Saturday early morning, department or discount stores.  Nope, not this trip. 

My sister-in-law had it all planned and I was chosen as her shopping partner for the day.  No way out.  Part family tradition, part curiosity pushed me forward.  I didn't want out.

Friday night, even though my husband and I had retired before most everyone else in the house, it was late.  Pulling myself out of my brother and sister-in-law's ultra comfy guest bed Saturday morning was maybe the hardest thing I did all day.  Finally, I did manage to roll out, half an hour after my husband; when the aroma of his espresso drifted up the stairs. 

Not knowing what kind of weather was predicted, but guessing it might be a little of everything this time of year, I dressed in layers.  Friday was a craft fair shopping day and good training.  Layers had been a good choice Friday; likely it would be right for Saturday's shop-a-thon as well.  Matching layers were a little bit of a problem, but I decided not to let that trouble me.  The day's search for great deals was much more important than the fact that I'd be wearing light blue, dark blue, and brown together.

A bit of make up to make me look alive and a few curls with the curling iron and I was off to meet my sister-in-law in the kitchen.

We each nibbled on our favorite left over dessert and drank hot coffee.  We needed to super charge our bodies for the work at hand.  We were pumped; ready for the hunt.  We kissed our men good bye, because, I mean after, they gave us some cash and we headed out.

The first stop was an art, craft and gift shop to look at dolls.  My sister-in-law had spied them on a previous trip and wanted my consult on this important matter.  She and I entered the fragrant shop.  It was beautiful and exciting.  We found a two foot doll in the first display.  She had pink sponge curlers in her hair; was dressed in a gown with matching robe which had large pink flowers and pink feathery trim, and feather trimmed pink slippers!  She was fun.  Should she be the one to accompany us back to my sister-in-law's abode? 

Next we found two other dolls, similar to the first one but dressed "to the nines", as the saying goes.  They had fur jackets, much finery, jewelry, stockings, high healed shoes and ATTITUDE!  One was in light browns and reds, and the other was outfitted in darker browns and maroons.  The later was ultimately the lady who tickled us the most.  She will reside in the half bath on the main floor of my brother's house, where she'll have a couple of friends, one, a cat woman and where she'll fit in perfectly.

The other half of that building was a bakery.  Yum.  They were selling chocolate chip pumpkin bread, orange cranberry bread, and many other wonderfully aromatic breads, cookies and scones.  The young woman there cut me a sample piece of orange cranberry bread big enough for a meal!  It was wonderful.  Along with these beautiful baked goods the shop was selling "homemade" jams and jellies.  We bought the pumpkin and chocolate chip bread and a jar of strawberry/rhubarb jam.  Our men were not upset when we unloaded those purchases later that day.

The next stop on this Saturday shop-'til-we-dropped adventure was a smaller-than-Friday's craft fair, but a big-enough craft fair.  It had many very creative jewelers.  Jewelry doesn't usually excite me as much as other art or crafts but this jewelry was impressive.  There were crafters making beautiful art from sea shells, ladies sewing bags, scarves, hats, gloves, mittens, mittens which allow the fingers to be freed if need be, and many more amazing craft and art creators with their creations.  Regrettably we found no treasures to take home from this craft fair.  I did however, take ideas which will make my bags better.

Our next stop was, lunch at "Five Guys", a burger and fries place, and that's just about all they serve.  We had burgers.  Our men happened to pick the same place for lunch and so they shared their fries.  Satisfying and filling and nice to sit down and relax.  We kissed these two guys goodbye again and continued our day.

Our final stop was the biggest; I mean the absolute biggest, thrift shop ever.  The name on the outside was, "Unique".  At the front of the building there were half a dozen small vendor shops.  They were on the order of an indoor swap meet.  My sister-in-law rushed me past these, saying "Don't stop here, we want to go on in."

As we rounded the corner my mouth dropped open and I caught my breath.  A thrift store shoppers dream come true was laid out before me!

There were at least half a dozen rows of dishes, home decor, pots, pans, come-in-handys and etc.  After that there were as many rows of bed spreads, curtains, rugs, sheets, shower curtains and etc.  Then, there were rows and rows of clothes.  The last row along the far wall was men's ties, men's and ladies shoes and more.
There were rows of Christmas decorations, sewing supplies including some cloth, furniture, appliances and many items I didn't even get to walk past.

We began on one side going up and down searching for whatever we could find.  First thing, my shopping guide found a piece to match her unique kitchen ceramics.  It was a piece worth about four times the thrift store price, and there were no chips or defects; a treasure of a find.  I found place mats to use for making bags. 

We continued on and nothing got past our eagle eyes.  The items in a thrift store always bring back memories, some warming, some chilling and some funny.  There was a little baking dish just like a set my husband and I bought from a man selling them out of a panel truck back in the 70s, it was marked $8.48.  Another shopper showed it to us and we all had a good laugh.  The item was sold in a set of eight I think for less than that.  It had to be mis-marked, didn't it?

I try really hard not to give in to "old arthur" but he got the best of me Saturday afternoon.  While my shopping partner continued her searching, I tested a chair with a metal frame and cushioned seat.  It was very comfy, and if I'd had a place for it I'd have spent the $3.42 to buy the chair. 

While resting I watched people.  This shop is near our nations capital.  There are people from every country on the earth in that area, and I think they were all represented.  But, the only differences were skin color and style of clothing.  There were no other differences.  Everyone shopped the same way, intently looking things over, trying them on, examining them, asking their companion shoppers what they think; all of them, picking up toys for thier children and enjoying the hunt.

After about five hours and another walk-by the dishes and decor items to see what had been set out while we were looking on the other side of the building, we made our way to the check outs.  We were each happy with our finds.  On the second walk-by of the dishes she found a set of beautiful pink glass tumblers and a few other things.  I left with a large stack of new and slightly used cloth for making bags, a bag of buttons for them, Christmas ribbons, a large bag of beads, an espresso pot for my husband and a few other things.  Great stuff.

We were surprised to find it was dark outside when we left.  It was sad, the thrift store shopping was over.  Neither of us talked very much on our ride home.  We were exhausted, hungry and wondering how angry our men might be if they were allowed to see all the day's finds. 

I asked, "Well, did you get your Thanksgiving shopping fix?"

"I guess so." she said dully.

"What?! Well just what would it take?" I asked, loudly.

"I don't know!" she laughed.

I laughed too but really, I think she could shop seven days a week!
Unique Thrift Store

Falls Church, VA
Benefits veterans.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thrift Shopping

Yesterday my daughter and I did the rounds.  We visited most of the thrift stores in my area.  Whew!  Busy day which wore me out, but it was also just so much fun!

I'm wondering about myself however.  We have an OK income for the two of us, in our current home.  We are comfortable enough.  We aren't rich, but I wonder .... is shopping the thrift stores addictive?  I've been at least three times in the last three weeks.  There is still one, a  Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store, I haven't visited, and it's my plan to get there next week.

One local shop has half price sales! Their regular prices are less than any of the other shops!  Plus if you buy 15.00 worth they'll give you 5.00 free clothing.  Yesterday they had more specials, buy two pair of blue jeans for half price and get a third one for free,  purses and shoes - half price, clothing - half price, five sweaters and/or sweatshirts for 5.00 and ten for 9.00.  The shop received three or four large shopping carts full of donations while we were shopping.  Such generosity would seem to be an good indication of their honesty and integrity.  They are doing what they claim with the proceeds.

My daughter found two pair of boots which fit her perfectly, a suit with jacket and pants, one pair of jeans for her husband, and a couple other tops for herself, and she spent less then $30.00.

I bought items for their unusual buttons and cloth.  One blouse in particular will make a beautiful lining for a bag or there may be enough fabric for more than a couple bags.  There are so many (of us) who buy things and never wear them; these are so much fun to find in the thrift stores.  When looking for things to use for my bags I only want good looking and like new items. 

The point of buying clothing, jewelry and etc. to repurpose is each bag will truly be unique.  The hunt for interesting cloth, buttons, jewelry, embroidered designs, and beads to make my bags spurs my imagination.   It's very enjoyable.  Of course, the thrift stores aren't my only places to look.  I do shop the crafts and sewing sections of several other stores.

Two out of three times my thrift store shopping trips have resulted in clothes I can wear as well as clothes suitable for sewing into bags or repurposing into other things.  The savings on these is unbelievable. 

So....I think, after going over all of this, thrift store shopping is addictive.  I may need a 12 step program to stop.  If my bags sell well, I don't know, may just stay addicted! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

City Girl Tries Farm Aid

There was a festival on a local farm yesterday.  The owner of the art gallery where I show my art asked me if I would take a booth.  I could represent myself, and the gallery.  I agreed.  Somebody should've stopped me.

The show is a yearly event with craft and antique booths, food and music, aimed at small farmers.  Therefore it's always held on a local farm, and none too easy to find, that farm.  If I hadn't printed the directions from the festival's online announcement we might still be looking.  Not many signs on country roads.  Of course, not many needed, since most people driving those roads know where they are and where they are going.  But country people are friendly.  I know because everyone waved as we past; even when we passed a second or third time!  Seems country folk will gladly direct lost city people or even lead the way, if they're asked.

We finally arrived and the lady who was my contact greeted me.  She asked a man in coveralls, who never looked up from under his cap, to take us to my booth.  It was in the back of a dilapidated structure they called the barn.  After some hesitation we started to set up.  My husband put up the table I had for cards, small prints and etc.  It immediately sank about six inches.  We, too, were sinking as we tried to walk.  An older man came in with a larger table so we told him about sinking.

"Oh yeah," he said "Well, there's an underground stream right 'bout there.  But, don't worry none, if ya sink up to yer waist, why jus' holler and we'll come pull ya out."

He tried to set up the big table.  It sank farther than ours had.  He brought the man in coveralls to help.  They found some old boards lying around and put them under the legs.

"That's good," I said.  "But People won't be able to walk around to see the art and photos, because they'll sink."

The men gave me "a look", and moved each table a little to one side.  I tried to figure out the best way to place them.  Talking to the wall might have been as helpful.  The older man, who actually was the only vocal one, said to coverall-man, "Reminds me a movin' the couch." To which coverall-man nodded.

I stopped talking.  They stared at me a few seconds and left.  Unfortunately, they returned. 

The older man pointed behind my booth to the far wall.  "Um, there's some bees 'round but don't worry none.  They're jus' rite...there." and sure enough, there they were.  Honey bees...swarming about five feet from my booth.

He continued, "Oh, and um, I think I got that ol' roof fixed so's you won't get too wet if them clouds let loose again."  Following his upward gaze I saw only a little of the dark bottomed large cloud hanging over the "barn".

By this time the whole thing was getting funny to my husband. We were setting up my art and photography in an old "barn"; on top of ancient boards over who-knew-what and a stream under all that.  There might be lots of bees buzzing around.  If it rained which was likely, we wouldn't get too wet.  The wall I was to use for hanging my work had boards that were none too close together, which meant if a wind came up, my pictures would certainly fall off.  And the supports for the roof were sitting on stacks of small boards and flat stones.  So he said, believing he was joking, "OK.  Go ahead and tell her about the snake."

And the farmer said, "Oh yeah, I did cut up a great big un right over there yesterdee, with the tractor when I was mowin' them weeds by the creek.  It was 'bout this long and big, 'bout this big 'roun', really big," he illustrated with arm and hand gestures.

I felt the color leave my face and my mouth fall open.  I tried not thinking about the family that snake probably left.  For several minutes I couldn't take my eyes off the 15 foot wide strip of grass between the barn and the creek.

The two men never smiled.  Nor, did they appear to be kidding.  I told them, "You should just quit talking."

They looked shocked, but thankfully, they abandoned their particular brand of Farm Aid, and left.  My husband and I used the boards to make walkways.  We moved the tables to either side of the walk.  The legs didn't sink - too much.  He hammered nails in the "wall" and we hung the art.  It looked OK, and he left.

The day was nice and warm day - about 90 degrees.  The humidity was probably 100%, judging by my cards and prints, which felt limp and a little mushy.  I brought several bottles of water and a couple sodas.  I was worried about drinking too much; didn't want to have to leave my booth unattended to .. .go.  Turned out not to be a problem.  It was the right amount of liquid to keep me from baking .... I stewed.  And, amazingly, I sold some art and photos.

I earned EVERY penny.  Been thinking about paved roads - with signs, shopping malls, fast food restaurants and cool dark movie theaters ever since.

I wrote this a few years ago.  It is basically true.  What is very true - the quotes from the farmer.
I hope some of you will read it and that you'll tell me what you like about it,  if you like anything about it.