Overheard at the M’s

David, in the kitchen, talking to Jeffrey:

“Jeff, women, and your mama in particular, don’t need to be fixed. They just need to be listened to- it took me a long time to learn that son, and you could go far by learning it now. Just listen.”

Happiness Is…

…standing at my kitchen sink, in a pool of afternoon summer sunlight, peeling boiled brown and green eggs laid by my neighbor’s chickens. Cool water sprays over my hands, while the backlit drops distract me from my peeling. The eggs are for mom’s potato salad recipe, on the counter behind me, for us to take to a picnic tonight.

…my mom phoning early in the morning to get pointers from me on how to make apricot jam.

…Abby yelping “poop’s coming!” and actually making it to the potty, and not the Lego bin.

…a new fabric store in town.

… Ree Drummond’s recipes. Oh my stars, if you haven’t found her, you are missing out on one of the finer things in life.

… finally making progress on a very challenging painting for a family friend.

…hearing the sprinklers come on before the sun comes up, and knowing the day will be here soon, but enjoying the calm, quiet coolness before it all starts.

…crushed ice cubes chinkling in my glass fill with cane-sugar Mexican Coke. Reminds me of my grandma. The taste is as different as night and day, and I know why she complained to high heaven when Coke changed the formula.

…reading a book to child who woke in the middle of the night for a glass of water, and just needs a little Curious George to calm down and drift back to sleep.

…jam making season.

…living so close to so many farms, where I can get fresh organic produce for really cheap, and my kids can pick their own vegetables.

…seeing a tractor loaded to the sky with hay, hazards blinking as he moseys down the road, on our way to school in the morning.

…having a blessedly cool spell when your air-conditioner dies.

homemade English muffins for breakfast. Beanie ate five of them. Best with butter and strawberry jam.

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Olden Days Pictures

bananaThis is my last post about cameras for a while. I promise. Honest. When it rains, it pours.

So when I was in Nauvoo a few weeks back, I picked up a little cheapo throw-away at the market across from Carthage jail. (because that’s pertinent? nope) I left it in a friend’s bag, and it was just mailed to me today. It didn’t take long for the kids to spy something new! and interesting! on my desk- and they asked what it was.

“A camera.” I said over my shoulder, while picking up shards of a mug Abby dropped on the tile floor.

“Oh. A camera? really? Then where is the picture?”

“It’s inside, you can’t see it.” still picking up pottery slivers…

“How does it work mom? What do you do? Where’s the screen? How can you take pictures without seeing them?”

Washing my hands off, I feel really old. “You have to look through the little hole, and the picture goes onto a roll of film inside the box.”

“But WHERE are the pictures? How do you get them out to see them?!”

Taking the camera, I show him how to advance the film, push the flash button and look through the viewfinder. It’s novel and fun, and he and Bean take the whole rest of the roll.

Bringing the spent camera to me, Jeffrey says, “OK mom, I want to see the pictures we took on the old-fashioned camera!”

Old fashioned. Huh. Have I actually reached that stage? Am I… a… relic? Damn. I look at my earnest freckle-nosed son, “I can’t get the pictures out. We have to take it to the store, and they print them for us. It’s called developing.”

He looks at me cock-eyed, “You mean we have to drive to the store, and we can’t see them first?”

“Yup”

“That’s dumb. I’m glad I don’t live in the olden days.”

Yes, my dear son, be glad. Why, way back when I was a small child, we had to get up to change the TV channel, we had to go to the theatre to see a movie, you cooked popcorn on the stove in a pot, bicycles had banana seats,  and you had to beg mom to go to Golf-land to play video games. Our first computer was an Atari, and it had a modem that you set the cradle of the phone on, and a dot-matrix printer- and we were the bomb. We even had a phone that you had to DIAL. It was in the garage, but we had one. Our yard was watered with a rain-bird sprinkler that sucked to run through, we played with all the kids on the street and no one had ever heard of a “play date”. The ice cream man came around every summer night around 7, and everything was a quarter. And you took your camera to the store and had to wait a week to see that you took pictures of your thumb and your eye.

Yeah, it might be dumb. But darling son, my prayer is that someday your memories are quaint and sepia as well. It’s not a bad place to be.

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Runaway Bunny Bean Style

runaway-bunnyReading “The Runaway Bunny” to Bean is an exercise in, uh… well, I don’t know. It has to do with the Aspergers- while in some ways he’s like every other kid (OK, not really) How bout this: In some ways, sometimes, he’s like other kids his age. Other times, the Asperger’s comes blasting through. As I learn more about the way his mind works, and put more tools in my parenting toolbox, it gets easier to anticipate and occasionally (glory be!) knock out problems at the pass. Sometimes, even, they become kind of amusing. Like tonight.

Tonight, Bean snuggled into bed, his mini-fan adjusted just right, his pillow right, his entourage of animals all accounted for, I began to read his story:

Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.
So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”

Bean: Mama, bunnies can’t talk.

Mama: I know, but it’s a story, just listen.

“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you.
For you are my little bunny.”

Bean: Mama, bunnies can’t talk.

Mama: I know Bean. It’s OK.

“If you run after me,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a fish in a trout stream

and I will swim away from you.”

Bean: MOM! He can’t become a fish. He is a bunny. And bunnies can’t talk!

Mama: Yes, Bean, bunnies are bunnies, but he’s using his imagination. It’s OK.

“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother,
“I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”

Bean: MOM! Bunnies can’t FISH!

Mama: Yes, Bean, I know. It’s a story. It’s OK.

Bean: If she is pretending to fish, is she going to pretend to eat him, too? Because when you fish, you have to eat what you catch.

Mama: No, Bean. She is just using her imagination to tell him how much she loves him.

Bean: That’s weird.

“If you become a fisherman,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a rock on the mountain, high above you.”

Bean: Mom!! Bunnies cannot BE ROCKS. They ARE bunnies.

Mama: Yes Bean. Do you want me to stop reading to book?

Bean: No! I LOVE this book!

“If you become a rock on the mountain high above me,”
said his mother, “I will become a mountain climber,
and I will climb to where you are.”

And on it went. Every. Single. Verse.  He takes things very, very literally. It’s easy to forget that sometimes. Other times, it’s painfully clear. I read him the rest of the book, and he snuggled down happy as could be, and he’s already asleep.

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Tag Sale Photo Overload

Canon PowerShot A1000 ISFirst off, meet my new camera. A lovely friend, who wishes me to leave her anonymous, had my grumpy mail-lady leave this little brown-bag wrapped package happily on my doormat. At first I was dumbstruck- who would do something so nice and so thoughtful, and well holy crap, so generous?! Then I thought for half a second and realize I knew a lot of people who are that awesome. I love my friends. The real life ones, and the ones who live in my computer. And today, especially, this particular friend. And her hubby, who she sent out to buy my camera. That’s love. Muuuoosh.

So, without further ado, here’s the updates, the skinny, the poop, the real deal…

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Both of these are tables from garage sales. One the left is the spool table from last weekend, for $5, and is now overloaded with books, next to my bed. Mama Soule’s book is underneath my loud-ticking Big Ben alarm clock. My grandma had one, and I love it. The table on the right was gotten for $10 at a sale, and is in my entry way. The lamp, pineapple down below, doily and the books all came from yard sales.

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On the left is the Singer sewing machine cover made from tiger oak that I paid $2 for. I still don’t know what I’m going to do with it- my treadle machine folds down into it’s cabinet- but come on! TWO bucks! You would have bought it too! I haven’t even cleaned it up or dusted it yet- and it’s that pretty. *sigh* I love wood.

On the right, one of my linens drawers in Phoebe, the Buffet that I put pictures up of last summer. She’s a thrift-store find. All the linens are hand-embroidered and have been gotten at tag-sales, rummage sales and estate sales. Here are some close-ups:

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The goose hand towel is a favorite- I just love it. The napkins behind the goose have tiny rosebuds embroidered on each one. The picture on the right is all applique, and it’s some of hte finest I’ve ever seen. The stitches are so even and tiny it’s unbelievable, and yet it’s all handmade. I love these things. I love that someones hands lovingly decorated and cared enough to make a plain linen towel so pretty. And the feel of real linen is just beyond lovely…. *sigh*

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These are two finds I love- the sewing basket is just like one my mom has that belonged to her grandma- only hers is green, and mine is obviously yellow. You find these at antique shows, but I got this at a junk sale. I think I paid $5 for it. That’s a lot for me, but it had sentimental value, so I bit. The white stool is genuine 1940’s- and I picked it up at a sale last weekend. It was brown with dirt and grime, and the bolts were loose; see what a little elbow grease and an old toothbrush can do? It was $3.00. That’s part of the trick- you have to be willing to look at an ugly-ducking and see the swan.

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On the left is a dress I made Abby- I just LOOOOOVE the fabric. Super easy shift cut, elastic sleeve and a ruffle around the bottom. Anyone who sews could make this, really. The blouse on the right is from the estate sale I went to a few weeks back- where I scored a lot of the stuff I’ve been writing about. I bought it because it was made with such care and skill. It doesn’t fit me, but I hang it in my sewing room for inspiration.

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Bag of solid wooden spools from a week or two ago. This pincushion was in the bottom of the pop-box from the estate sale on Friday. It’s little Asian figures surrounding the silk cushion. I don’t know what to think of it, besides awesome.

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This is the silk ribbon and a few samples of the embroidery that was in the bottom of the box. I guess I need to learn how to do this now, too.

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All of the above is from the one estate sale, found in my pop-box when I got home. I’m never buying anything new again.

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On the left is the pile of handkerchiefs I got for $2, and on the right are the heat-transfer books I found, four books in all, and I’ve never seen anything like them anywhere. They are all entirely intact, and the heat works lovely. I’ve already used one.

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And just for giggles, here’s a shot of one wall in my sewing room. Oh, and yeah, my haircut. Twelve inches, gone. I love it, and it feels so light. It really is not two different lenghts, but that’s what you get at 2 in the morning taking a picture of yourself in the bathroom. Ya get what ya get.

I want you all to go out and garage sale this weekend. Check Craigslist, drive around and look for signs. See what you can find. Don’t be afraid to get out and look- and keep your eyes peeled for things that are awesome, but might not look like it at first. A toothbrush and some vinegar are a garage-saler’s best friend!

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Estate Sale

There is no way for me to adequately explain my finds this Friday. Mostly the sales were kind of poopy, to match the weather. I hit a couple, and only found a vintage potholder that I liked. Then I followed a sign to an unassuming little brick bungalow, and immediately realized it was an estate sale. The good kind of estate sale-  with the stuff sorted and in the garage. (Unlike the one previously, with grammy’s wigs and toothpaste still on the bathroom counter. I felt ill and left that one. It’s just so disrespectful.)

Anyway, the lady holding the sale was chatty about her mom, and I learned she was an art teacher, and her grand-daughters had cleaned out her basement and were planning a trip with whatever money they could make. In the garage, I found box after box of craft and art supplies. Doll-making stuff, sewing notions, baskets of  threads and ric-rac and silk ribbon. My arms quickly overflowed, and I picked up a soda-pop box full of sequins and glitter and put my stuff on top. There was so much I couldn’t even look through it all- and instead just asked the girls how much for the whole box. $10, they said. I gave them $12, what I had in my wallet. On the way out, I saw a vintage tin picnic basket with two handles, and the paint like new. They said I could have it, since I gave them extra money.

When I got home, I sent the kids to the play room and started sorting my treasures. Aside from the awesome picnic basket (which I have looked for images on google, but there are none) I have more craft supplies (and they are good supplies- from the 50’s, when things were made in the US and had substance. Even buttons feel different than they do now…) than I will ever use.

There are tiny pin-boxes of every color and shape of sequins, from birds and bells to large rounds. There are glass test-tubes with cork-stopper full of real glass glitter, and strings of brass beads and faux pearls. There are googly eyes and fasteners and doll-joints and ric-rac. There was a glass flower-frog in the very bottom. There were brass bells and chenille pom-poms from back when they were made of cotton. The skeins and skeins of 100% silk ribbon was very exciting- even though I have never embroidered with ribbon. I will now.

I promise pictures soon. A kind and lovely friend has sent me a fantastic camera, and when I learn how to use it, I plan a whole bunch of pictures, and not a lot of droll, boring words. Really. No, I mean it. I promise. I do.

Design Envy

I like the design blogs. I occasionally read Oh Joy, Frolic, Bloesom, Decor8, DesignSponge, Black*Eiffel, and some others- They have fantastic ideas, creative uses of vintage finds, and even though I don’t generally subscribe to the mid-century design thing, I love their aesthetic. But I have a problem…

With a few notable exceptions, I think so many of the photos and vingnettes featured on these design sites come from homes that just don’t have children. Of course that doesn’t apply to Gabrielle Blair at DesignMom, or Jordan at Oh Happy Day, but by and large, you can’t have a house full of kids, and keep a menage of styled glassware on your end-table, no matter how pretty it looks.

Tablecloths are not kid-friendly. Anyone ever put a pretty tablecloth, set the table with vintage dishes, depression glasses and hand lettered place-cards, only to have a toddler come along and grab the corner of the cloth as he makes his way to the kitchen? I have. It’s ugly. And sad. And causes lots of tears.

Ever put a glass bowl on a windowsill? Or a bowl of pinecones on a coffee table? Or put up really expensive wallpaper, only to have your potty-training kid pick it off the bathroom wall while waiting for the pee pee to come? I have. It’s ugly. And sad. And causes lots of tears. *sigh*

Now, to be fair, some of these women do have children. In photos you often see a delightful little nursery, with cutely stacked shelves and toys places just-so, or a tower of modern wooden blocks on the floor in the kitchen as set-dressing to show a child lives there. But I’ve never seen this at my house- at least not since my oldest became mobile seven years ago.

I’m just jealous. Because either they have a secret I don’t, or they lock their kids in the closet. At my house, the creativity and mess take over the house. There are no neatly stacked shelves, because I would kill myself trying to keep them that way. There are projects spread all over the house. Right now, Jeffrey is putting together a wooden model, and the table is covered in tiny pieces, paint and glue. Beanie is painting a sculpture of a triceratopss-  is now in his room for hitting his sister, and Abby is on the naughty-step for scratching Beanie.

Maybe someday I will have a nice, pretty, decorated house. For now, though, do enjoy the eye-candy of others. If someone has their secret for orderly shelves, pretty tables, and unchipped glassware, could they let me in?

Oh, and p.s.- I’m a big fan of FreshVintage. She’s a thrifter and garage-sale junkie like me, and she shows her finds.

How to Garage Sale

First, yes, I’m still sick(ish) but garage sales only come once a week, and only for a few months of the year- so I drank myself some electrolytes, grabbed my cash stash, and made away without any kids. It was a good day. Again, wishing I had a camera- scratch that, I’m going to take a picture with my phone and email it to myself- just a sec…

0613091444aTah-Dah! Oh, isn’t technology marvelous!? What pieces of minutiae might we know of our ancestors if only… ah, well, it’s probably better. This way I can only dream of the horrors of giving birth in a Conestoga or washing diapers in a river in Wyoming.

Anyway, here is Abby, modelling with the wares of the day. I know it’s grainy- but come now, it’s a picture!~ I’m afraid what you can’t see is the table and stool all the stuff is piled upon. So underneath the hankies and dresser linens is a spool table and a vintage fold-out-step stool. Also, a tiger-oak singer sewing machine cover.

So the haul for the day:

  • A basket of vintage handkerchiefs, seen to the right in the photo, more than 30 of them- $2
  • Vintage fold out stool- $3
  • Antique Singer sewing machine cover, tiger oak veneer- $2
  • Spool table- $5
  • Bag of wooden spools, about 50, with thread intact- $2
  • gloves, 2 pair- $1
  • Assorted notions in 4 plastic bags, including ric-rac and pom-pom trim, all vintage- 25 cents a bag- $1
  • The faux-pearl tie (yes, tie!) Abby is modelling- 50 cents
  • Various knitting needles, including two sets of DP needles- 10 cents each-$1.20
  • Two antique photographs- 50 cents
  • Embroidered dresser scarves, 3 different ones, $1.50

Total spent: $19.70

For me, that’s a lot. I wouldn’t usually buy furniture, and my $5 table and $3 stool really put a dent in my budget for next week- but they really are super cool, and I couldn’t pass them up.

Sooooo….

Many of you have asked me how I do this. I dunno. But as I bounced around the neighborhood today, I tried to keep track of what I was doing. and here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Carry cash. Have small bills and change with you- it makes bargaining easier, and is nicer to the people holding the sale.
  • Learn your neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods are great, some I avoid. Generally, the older, less fancy neighborhoods have the better sales- but not always. Newer developments will typically have newer things, like candles and press-board furniture, kitchen appliances, and what-not. Older neighborhoods are usually where I find things I like, like linens, sewing notions, and vintage pieces. It’s not rocket science why.
  • Be willing to dig. Some of the greatest stuff is in boxes.
  • Be willing to walk away.  If people are trying to get rich, telling me what they paid for it new, I’m not interested. It’s a garage sale. If I cared what it’s sold for at Target, I would be at Target. Most people are not like this, but I don’t even bother when they are.
  • If people are asking fair prices, I do not bargain with them. I give what they are asking and thank them. If they are a little high, I might ask for a deal- as in the bag of spools- it was marked $5, but it was later in the afternoon, and I only had $2 in my wallet. I asked the guy, he said sure. Score. I would not have pouted if he had declined.
  • Know your area. When I lived in California, sales were always Sat-Sun, but here in Washington, sales are almost exclusively Fri-Sat, with almost nothing on Sunday. I don’t think it’s anything to do with my church, since we are a minority around these parts, but I like it anyway. So for the best pickings, I go out Friday morning. For the best deals, I go out later on Saturday. By Saturday afternoon, many people are ready to be done, and are very willing to deal and dicker on their stuff.
  • I almost never make a list, but some folks have success with Craigslist, where you can get links to current yard sales. I know my neighborhoods, and with very few exceptions, usually just rely on road-signs.

That’s about it. I wish you luck and have a good time!

And Now Mama’s Got It

Oh yeah. Up all night, kneeling at the great and mighty porcelain bowl. Fainted once. (Lets just go with the fact I faint, no biggie) The kids are all better. The laundry remains the same. but David cleaned the kitchen and did the floors. I shall now crawl back to bed to moan and groan the rest of the day.

Barf-O-Rama!

All three kids. All. Night. Long. Every sheet and towel in the house is in the laundry (pile) and now David has started… Heaven help me. And it’s Beanie’s last day of school. Damn damn damn damity damn. Tired doesn’t even begin to cover it.