Thursday, April 30, 2009

My favorite Treasure Hunt

Take a good look at the picture below:

Looks like a big ol' pile of junk, doesn't it? To the untrained eyes, it probably is. To those who know, it is a pile of rocks with diamonds hidden underneath. This is the Outlet. I love this place so much and was going so often that I had to declare a moratorium for myself. I have put my limit to once a week. I'm guessing that it's the last stop for 'stuff' before the landfill, but I could be wrong. Stuff is cheaper there than the regular Thrift Store, especially since the cashiers kind of have the final say on price (this could be good or bad).

Of course it's not for everyone. You have to love a good treasure hunt, and not be afraid to dig into possible broken glass or dirty things (that's why it's good to bring your gloves!).
I absolutely love this place. It's a rummager's dream, and I loves me some rummage! I'm so spoiled that I don't even go into the regular thrift stores anymore, unless for's not a really good place for clothes, I must say.

I usually need a good hour or so. In the back there's furniture, frames, lamps, bikes, sewing machines, stereos, etc. In the main area there are at least 10 rows of about 10 bins each. The last row has just shoes. I don't generally venture there either. My favorite part though is the main area with all the bins. I start on one end and work toward the other. I know I'm going to find some great stuff if I suddenly feel the urge to go. I guess that's because when you're jonesing, you look more carefully. When I go 'just because', I don't do as well.

Watch out for bin-change! Bin change is when they rotate the bins out and bring in a fresh pile of 'junk'. People act like savages because they want to have first dibs at looking at the bins. Once they see the workers start moving the bins, they start lining up in anticipation. Once the new bins are in, watch out! Stuff goes flying at an alarming rate. I usually stay away from this scene and wait till the herd has thinned. I don't mind not having first dibs because people are looking for different things anyway.

No matter what nice stuff I get, I do sometimes get 'cart envy' while waiting to check out. There's just so much stuff, you will miss something, or someone will beat you to it. For instance, the last time I was there, this lady ahead of me in line had a collection gorgeous dishes! I was so jealous!

The pickins have been so good that I'm considering reselling some vintage items, as is or tricked up my way. I don't know about that though...I'd be tempted to keep everything for myself.

Anywhoo...I'm sure you'd like to know what kind of 'stuff' I've gotten from there. First of all, I usually set my budget at no more than $10 for the whole trip (unless of course, I'm getting furniture.) This tells you how cheap stuff is. I've gotten decorative items, as well as functional ones. Here are just a few things that I've gotten from there:

1. I broke the glass cup to my blender. I found 2 identical replacements (on 2 different trips). I paid $0.75 each. Now I don't have to toss the motor and buy a new one.

2. A collection of milk glass and hobnail glass dishes and lamps. $0.39 each.

3. A brand new bathtub corner organizer thingy unopened with all it's parts intact: $2.

4. A brand new 3-bin laundry sorter, unopened with all the parts intact: $3

5. 4 Gorgeous red dining chairs: $8 each.

6. Gorgous side table: $4

7. A pair of funky chairs that I tricked up below: $5 each.

8. An assortment of dishes (brand new): $0.39 - $$0.69 each.

9. A nice bike for my husband: $15

10. All the metal tins I'm using to store my craft supplies (which I will blog about someday soon, hopefully)

These are just a few of the things I've picked up from there. I'm so excited, I get to treat myself and head out there tommorrow! I wonder what treasures await me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My evolving design aesthetic

For as long as I can remember I have been a slave to contemporary know, clean lines, brand new everything, trendy color combinations etc. I must admit I do still love the trendy colors like pink + brown, blue + brown, etc. I think I mostly loved contemporary because it was everywhere. HGTV certainly seems devoted to it, and you know I love me so HGTV.

I am however starting to see my design aesthetic shift towards the love of vintage/vintage inspired/vintage made modern. It must have started with the pair of funky chairs I previously posted. Maybe it's because of my old home. It certainly got cemented with Domino Magazine and their "Domino: The Book of Decorating". (That book has SO helped me with setting up my living room! I absolutely love this book and it will be added to my bible collection, just as soon as I can get it for a good price.) Suddenly I not only appreciate, but love the beauty in old things, the mundane everyday items that have been cast off, etc etc.

I wouldn't say I'm completely into vintage, because I wouldn't want my house to look like the 50's threw up in it. I do love pairing modern with the old. I especially love taking something old and making it new again, as I did with said chairs. Lately I've been collecting those candy and cookie tins. I just love them! I couldn't figure out what to do with them at first, then it hit me that they would make great storage items for my craft supplies. That is a blog for another day when the reorg is done and I have pictures...stay tuned.

I think though the reason that I've fallen in love with vintage decor is because it requires imagination. It is also very warm and to me, conducive to my bustling lifestyle, whereas modern/contemporary design is more rigid and austere. All in all, I realize I don't have to stick to one style, as long as I combine different styles without looking 'all over the place.'

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

In honor of Earth day 2009, I thought I'd finally make the effort to blog about and post pics of some projects I've done in which I've used upcycled materials. Okay, granted everything I do involves some sort of reusing or recycling. This is because:

1. I love the thrill and challenge of finding a new use for something other than it's original purpose. I think it's so boring to use something exactly for what it was intended for, so I always find a new life for something, after the original owner decides that its life is over. Even if when I'm using something for its intended purpose, I still love creative reuse. I was never into shopping the malls and department stores, just for this reason.

2. It is a bargain to do it this way. Let's face it, I L-O-V-E a bargain. I have come to the realization that even if I were to someday strike it rich, would still bargain hunt. It is my hobby, my raison d'etre, if you will. I especially love thrift store shopping. For me it is a high unlike anything else...uncovering that diamond in the rough, that needle in the haystack of discards. More about my favorite haunts, in a minute.

Anywhoo... Here is how I built myself a very nice pantry. My very old home came with a pantry that had seen better days. The floor leaned a little, the walls were horrendous, and the shelves were a disgrace. I wish I had a before pic of the pantry as it was (I took some, but they must've gotten deleted.) It took us months to get the pantry together.

We had to re-drywall and paint...then came the question of shelving. The previous shelves were in pretty bad shape, so reusing them was out of the question. I had originally thought I'd buy some cheap IKEA bookshelves (Flarke, anyone?) and use those, but an even better (and cheaper) alternative fell in my lap. See, this is where it pays to troll Craigslist for bargains. I saw a post for shelves for $2 a piece (???!!!) and immediately jumped on it. The seller was a bookstore owner who was clearing out their warehouse to cut costs. These shelves were over 20 years old and made of plywood. They were bookshelves, but they were built shelf by shelf, meaning that each shelf was a box, and stacked on top of each other. They were about a foot deep, a foot tall and 4 ft wide. I spent a total of $18 for 24 shelves (long story). 2 coats of primer, 1 coat of paint, some moulding to pretty up the edges and sides, and here's what I got in return:

Shelves: Before (this is how they looked at the warehouse, dingy, dusty and full of splinters)

Shelves After:

Total Cost:
Shelves: $18
Paint/Primer: $35 (1 Gal each)
Moulding: $30 (Moulding is expensive, yikes!)
Total: $83
Having the pantry of your dreams: Priceless

I also tricked out my pantry with some thrift store baskets (about .75cents - $1.00 a piece) to store produce. Here are more pics:

Baskets to hold the produce (courtesy of my favorite thrift store) :

My old wire rack to hold my large collection of spices (rolls from side to side for access to the shelves it covers) :

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Envy and the Envy Killer

Envy is a very ugly emotion. For me it's an emotional equivalent of that feeling when you bump your head against something and feel your brain rattle a little bit, and you get that smell in your nose (kind of a hard smell to describe). It's that feeling like I'm never going to be good enough or I'm not going to ever get there, and here I am, doing the exact same thing this person's doing, but I get no recognition for it. Or that this person(s) has it all figured out, and damn, why didn't I think of that!!!

It's really so silly.

I'm working on my envy issues. I only get envious whenever someone gets attention/success due to something that I do well or thought about doing myself. It always looks so easy when I hear these stories, but I know that it really isn't. I also know, that they only attained that attention or success as a result of them doing the one thing that I won't do: Stick with something.

Earlier today my good friend V called to tell me that the $5 dinners lady was on Rachel Ray. I was like 'oh, ok.' Then tonight I'm watching the local news, and they were also talking about it. For those who don't know who she is, she's this local lady who gained fame and fortune for being able to feed her whole family for $5 a dinner. She made a youtube video, and won a $6k gift card from Walmart. She also has a site that shows you how to do this.

The reason for the envy? My friend V. had told me to do just what she did with having the site, because I too, am a maven at feeding my family (very well) on a budget. I didn't really pursue the idea because it wasn't one I was passionate about. I realized though, that I didn't envy her because she was doing something I wanted to do, really. It was really more an envy of knowing what you love, are good at, and having the courage to pursue making somewhat of a living at it. I have a lot of things I'm good at and love doing, but I don't think I've found the one that I want to pursue as a career/business idea. Maybe I'm not meant to make a career/business of any of my current skill-set. I don't know.

Tonight I found my envy-killer. I came to the realization that it's just not my turn yet. I'm not where I need to be to make it happen. I haven't found my 'one thing' that I am good enough at, and passionate enough about to overcome the fear of doing. That day will come and it will happen organically.

Until then, I'm will quietly content myself with doing the things I currently love.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Unanswered Prayers, what ifs, what nots, shoulda-coulda-wouldas...

I, for some reason, have had that Garth Brooks song "unanswered prayers" in my head today. I think it all started while listening to "This American Life" yesterday. That episode was about 'what I used to believe,' and there was a segment in which, two people, a man and a woman meet by sheer coincidence. The man is a christian minister, and the woman an almost-agnostic. They end up discussing whether God exists, and of course the minister spends the better part of the conversation trying to convince the lady. She asks him why is it that God answers some prayers and not others, and the minister explains that sometimes God saves you from what you think you want by not answering what you've prayed so earnestly for.

I'm not at all religious (despite being raised in the christian tradition). I believe this, however, that everything you pray for is not necessarily what is good for you, and that yes, you should thank God (or the creator, or whatever entity you believe in) for unanswered prayers.

'Remember when you're talking to the man upstairs,
that just because he may not answer,
doesn't mean he don't care.
Some of God's greatest gifts
Are unanswered prayers.'

I remember all the times I prayed hard for something, but I couldn't really tell you now, any one specific thing that I had wanted so badly at the time. Somehow everything just works out the way it should.

I do also believe that we are also blessed with free will, but I think it all just works together. One of my favorite movies is "Sliding Doors" with Gwyneth Paltrow. The movie depicts two alternate realities and the possibilities those realities hold. I love that movie so much (though the details escape me right now) because it deals with wondering what if.

I think the reason I love it so much is because I am always looking for the perfect scenerio, perfect solution, perfect everything. What I've learned though, is that there is no 'perfect.' There just IS. It's our interpretation of the IS that makes it perfect, or not. You make the decision, do what you feel is best, and the result is what you more, no less, no perfect, no imperfect. No one can really say with any certainty that their result is perfect, or that it isn't and that there is a more perfect result out there.

So, I'm grateful for answered and unanswered prayers, free will and destiny, and perfect imperfection.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

So many projects

I freely admit I'm the worst at taking pictures and documenting my projects. That being said, I have been doing so many projects that I haven't had time (or maybe the desire?) to blog them. When I get into a project, I'm full speed-ahead, then realize I haven't taken pics. I do actually have some pics of works in progress, so here goes: Chairs rescued and brought back to life:




This chair is not complete yet though. I still need to add the cord to hide the uglies, and possibly paint the frame. I can't decide what or white is predictable, and the room will be orange, so now what? I actually like the bronze on the top part of the chair so maybe that.