Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Grocery gaming.

The NSBR (non-scrapbooking-related) board at Two Peas is a blessing and a curse. A curse because it's easy to lose large chunks of time there, and a blessing because you can find out about all sorts of interesting things you'd never have known about otherwise.

Last week my discovery was a concept and website called The Grocery Game. It's a database that compiles grocery store weekly sale lists and matches them to available coupons to help you get the rock-bottom price for products.

I hate to grocery shop. Hate it with the white heat of a thousand suns. If there is one chore I wish I could hire out, it's grocery shopping. And since we moved to Virginia particularly, I've noticed the grocery bills climbing and climbing.

So after hearing story after story of saving 50-75% on grocery costs, I decided to do the four-weeks for $1.00 trial. I've got four stores on my list, and I've been to three of them this week, and saved 41% total.

It's time-consuming at first, cutting coupons, checking the lists for each store, and then making the rounds through unfamiliar stores (I don't shop at any of the four on my list regularly) but the folks on the GG message boards swear that once you build a stockpile of your basic food and toiletry items, you can cut both your time and expenses drastically.

For me, since I hate grocery shopping anyway, there's not much that could make me hate it more, so I might as well put the time in and see how it goes. Saving money might even help me hate grocery shopping a little less.

So that's been my life this week--coupons and lists. I dubbed this the Week of Unpleasant Tasks--I have several things on my to-do list this week that are among my very, very, VERY least favorite chores, so I decided to relegate them all to one week and get them over with. The fact that I'm sitting here blogging in the middle of the afternoon should tell you how hard I'm working on my list.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Midnight notes.

I am basking, BASKING I tell ya, in the wonderful cool dry midnight air coming in my study window.

I think this is the first time we've had the windows open at night in at least two months. Tomorrow night it will probably be warm, wet and humid again, but for tonight...I am loving it. I don't want to go to sleep, it's so pleasant to sit here and surf the net and listen to music and feel cool and breathe fresh air. One of the neighbors must have had a bonfire tonight, because there's a wisp of wood smoke blowing in--it smells wonderful.

Today (Saturday) was a mixed bag of a day, for sure. The scrapbook yard sale was this morning, and I spent most of the day Friday pulling more odds and ends from shelves and boxes and...the funnest part: pricing it. Oy, all those tiny stickers.

The church was open Friday evening, so Todd helped me take my carload of boxes inside, then stood around enjoying the wonderful world of female conversation...until I asked him to help me arrange the table. Then he beat it.

It took me most of three hours to set everything up and walk around and peruse everyone else's tables. There weren't as many people participating as I expected, maybe 12 or 15? I was very firm with myself and only bought a few goodies, just the irresistable ones. Some Heidi Swapp chipboard letters, a pack of American Crafts letter stickers (love those) and paper, a big Provo Craft stamp that I've been eyeing at Michael's for months, and an old Club Scrap stamp.

Today I arrived at the church at 8...the sale was scheduled to start at 9...but there were so many people wanting to come in, they just let 'em in. From about 8:30 to 10:30, things were nuts. Then the last hour and a half were slow.

I ended up making just over $300...awfully nice. I had my stuff priced low, and that helped. I put together a box of leftovers for charity, and pulled a few things that didn't sell to keep, and a few more to Ebay if I ever get around to it.

I heard some bad news at the sale about a person I care about. Checked in with her after the sale, and the bad news was true. She's got cancer. It's serious. I'm not sure she wants it spread around, so I'm not, but if you read this, please say a little prayer for her and her family. The news definitely brought me down from my post-sale high. I freaking hate cancer, I hate it.

I took a nap in the late afternoon, I was so tired from the sensory overload of the sale. I get sensory overload pretty quickly anyway, and the sale was hectic, at least for a while. Totaling stuff up in my head, making change, finding bags, answering questions, and trying to keep my spare eye on the table to make sure nobody had sticky fingers. My friend Cheryl, at the table next to me, had a few stamps lifted. Honestly, though, I had so much stuff, I'm not sure I would have missed a few small things going astray. I swear I don't know what is wrong with people...the sale was held in the sanctuary of the Catholic church, and Todd was shocked when I told him there had been "lifting": "Stealing in a CHURCH??!" Yep, this is where we've arrived as a society.

And on that cheerful note, nighty-night.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Blogs to visit.

I've been addicted to finding vintage/sewing/crafting blogs lately. Here are some of the very best I've found:

Yarnstorm. She's taking a little summer hiatus right now, but the archives are so fun to read. Sort of a chronicling of the lovely British life I'd like to lead...

My House is Cuter Than Yours. I may have mentioned this one before--it was the first of this sort of vintage crafting blog that I discovered. I love this girl's flair. (Not the Office Space kind!)

Angry Chicken. Super-ultra-creative cute stuff.

Little Birds. Even more super-ultra, etc., etc.

Turkey Feathers. Apparently bird themes are common among the vintagey sewing creative types.

Meggiecat. I haven't totally explored this one, but she seems to love vintage images and themes.

Pandora's Button Box. I just can't believe real people are this energetic and creative. I need to get off my computer chair and start taking vitamins!

Wee Wonderfuls. This girl is so freaking talented, she creates sewing patterns and embroidery patterns and other adorable creations seemingly at the drop of a hat. Lots of goodies here.

That should be some good surfing fodder for y'all.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More old stuff.

We headed up to Richmond this past weekend to check out a flea market Todd had heard was good, but...um, not so much. Lots and lots of garbage, nothing remotely interesting. Unless you find used pants and stolen DVDs interesting. Todd did pick up a motor and a couple other odds and ends but my thrift vintage junk dream was rudely punctured.

So we headed off to explore and find some antique malls. We went to three all together, and although Todd found nothing, I did buy just a couple little things.

At the last antique mall, I walked into a treasure trove of vintage paper STUFF. The dealer said she's one of the largest paper ephemera dealers in the country, and I can believe it. I've never seen so many magazines and ads and pamphlets and STUFF in one spot before.

I didn't get to look through everything--it would have taken a whole day--but I grabbed just a few old magazines for fun at-home perusal. I loved the colors on this one, and doesn't that look like a room you'd sleep in at grandma's house?

I also got a copy of an old magazine called Everywoman, which features an essay by Senator John Kennedy on whether the U.S. will ever have a woman president (he waffles around the topic in truly Presidential style), and a couple old Better Homes and Gardens.

At the first antique mall we stopped at, I found this old reader:

My dad has been a custodian at a local school for 30 years, and when I was a kid and an avid reader, he'd bring home books that were being discarded from the school library, in a fruitless effort to keep me supplied with reading material. (And also because he's constitutionally incapable of seeing perfectly good items thown away.)

This was in the 1970s, which meant that most of the books being pitched were from the 1940s, and the readers, in particular, were full of the most charming illustrations I'd ever seen. I firmly believe my love for 1940s-style home decor comes from my years of absorbing these pictures.

So whenever I see an old reader with nice pictures, I pick it up. This one is from 1935, so the style is a little older than the readers I remember from my childhood, but the pictures are just lovely:

Friday, August 04, 2006

Old treasures.

As promised, here are a few of my flea market/garage sale/antique store treasures that I've acquired in the past few weeks.

I've had a small globe collection for several years now--only one of which is at all old (late 1940's). My others date from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. While I was home in Ohio, I picked up another medium-sized globe and two small globe banks, which I'm constantly on the lookout for and never seem to be able to find.

I have one more globe in the mix--the small cream globe on the left shelf came from the Dollar Spot at Target a couple weeks ago. What can I say--it was cute!

In the area where I grew up in Ohio, we have a flea market phenomenon that's held in the countryside every Friday. It's the Rogers flea market and open-air sale, so called because it takes place right outside the town of Rogers, Ohio. People at home just say, "I'm going to Rogers Friday," and everybody know whatof they speak. Or as my niece Kylie asked my mom one day, "Does Grandpa have Rogers tomorrow?" Yes, my dad goes often enough that Kylie just assumed it was a weekly obligation, like church or Scout meetings.

When I was in college, Rogers was the summer treasure hunt spot for me and my friends. We had a friend at the time who was heavily into Partridge Family and other 70s collectibles, which in the late 80s were still considered junk and therefore easy to find. We picked up quite a few treasures at the sale, which has several separate elements. There are pole barns with tables and booths selling everything from produce to the finest plastic crap China has to offer. There's a whole alley of tables with more Chinese garbage--sunglasses, offbrand DVDs, cheap tools--and the requisite dusty Avon and Mary Kay boxes.

But there are a few aisles out in the pastures where junk dealers set up their old stuff. Antique dealers come, too, and set out things that are maybe too junky to sell for antiques, but still old and cool. This is my Nirvana.

Todd insisted that our Fourth of July visit this year stretch out to cover the Friday after the Fourth, so we could make it to Rogers for a pilgrimage. He goes in search of old dusty tools to add to his old dusty tool collection in the garage. I went this time in search of house treasures.

At an antique dealer's table, I found this fascinating lady:

She's made of metal, pretty solid, and she has a hole on her back which makes me wonder if she was attached to something--a lamp?-- in a previous life:

I set her in front of my 100-year-old daffodil watercolor that Todd got me for Valentine's Day a couple of years ago, and she looks perfect there. I absolutely love her!

From the same dealer, I got a yellow McCoy-lookalike vase with handles, and in another excursion sometime in the past few weeks, I picked up another yellow McCoy knockoff, expanding my antique collection to--three. (The vase on the far right is a Michael's special--but the one on the far left is a "real McCoy.")

I found this great piece at the Williamsburg antique mall, which is a place Todd and I like to stroll through a few times a year. The pottery is very lightweight, but the style of printing makes me think it's pretty old--19-teens or twenties? Plus, how many years has it been since a cook needed to keep a jar of sand in the kitchen?

The jar is residing on a shelf in my red sea-themed bathroom, waiting for a few more treasures to join it and make the display complete.

That same day at the antique mall, I came across this old U.S. map. It's in a very cheap poster frame, but the map itself (a giveaway from a Pittsburgh company) looks to be 70 or 80 years old. What I love about it is the quote printed across the top: "Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, 'This my own, my native land' ?"

The plan is to mat and re-frame it and hang it over the fireplace in the living room, but I thought it filled this empty dining room spot very nicely till then:

Finally a couple of garage sale finds...when Lisa was visiting in June, she and Todd went off garage-saling one Saturday morning, and came back with a tale of a wondrous sale where an older lady was selling stacks of vintage tablecloths and other treasures. Amazingly, Todd was able to retrace his steps and take me there, where I snagged this stack of tablecloths for $1.00 apiece:

I'd like to sell a few of them on Ebay, but I haven't taken the time yet to check and see what sorts of prices vintage linens are bringing right now.

At the same sale, I got this set of dessert dishes and plates:

And last for today, a bit of amateur artwork I found at a yard sale a couple weeks ago. It's signed on the back by the artist, who painted it as a Christmas present to the family in 1967. The frame has a chunk out of it, which is a shame, because otherwise I'd just leave it in its original frame, which seems to suit it better than a mat-and-frame set-up would.

I love old stuff!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Caterpillars for Kylie.

I took these pictures for my niece Kylie, who is a bug...I was going to say "bug lover," but "bug adorer" would be more accurate. These little buggers ate half of my enormous dill plant a couple weeks ago. Last year, at our condo, they munched my parsley plant down to a few bare stalks, but I guess this year the dill looked more appealing.

Maybe they'll come back to visit in their butterfly stage soon!

I'm baaaa-aaack.

Several people have informed me that I am being terribly neglectful of my blog. I admit it's nice to be missed.

I've been in a summer funk, where nothing seems important, and thoughts are too heavy or tiresome to write down. After many years of being a depressed person, I understand now that it's cyclical. It cycles in and out of my life, and the best I can do is just ride it out.

Sometimes when you're in the thick of it, it feels like you've always felt this way, that your whole life has been a feeble gesture in the face of despair, and you'll never be hopeful again. It's important to cling to reality and believe you'll feel good again. I'm better at that now...I understand myself better.

I'm lucky...the lows aren't as low as they were 10 or 15 years ago when depression really derailed my life. But yeah, last week was kinda low. No real reason, I guess it was just my time. I can point to a couple things, like summer heat and feeling sealed up in this house, but there's always something that my mind latches onto and turns into a reason for feeling bad.

I try not to write about feeling bad or cranky or angry here because I hate reading other people's whiny blogs, so I don't want to subject anyone to my whines. Anyway, this week is better.

In the calm between moods, I've hit several garage sales and flea markets and picked up some really interesting odds and ends for the house, so I will try to get some pictures up and running soon. I'm also purging my scraproom yet again for a community scrapbooking sale in a couple of weeks. I've really been ruthless, and I have several boxes going--fingers crossed I can sell it all and make some cash. The purging has gone hand in hand with a major re-arranging and re-purposing in my study, too, in an attempt to undo the effects of "just get it moved in, I don't care where you put it." Three moves in four years have really put a crimp in my organized life!

Anyway, I'll be back later, hopefully with pics.