Just got back from a lovely weekend with far-away family. My Cousin Geoff married a wonderful girl, Jess that I have known and loved for years, and then the family was gathered round for food and fellowship. And was there ever food!
I think I ate seven meals on Sunday.
Here's me and my cousin Hannah during a break in the eating. Note that we both wear groovy glasses.
It was a fun trip, but it was extra fun because it had been so long since We (Adam and I ) had seen everyone on my dad's side. Almost eight years.
While we were there I was delighted to discover in how many ways I am like this distant family. My tastes in food aside, I inherited lots of little quirks that I never knew were genetic. Like Grandpap, I putter. Puttering is making little things all the time, fingers always wanting to be working. He made stained glass lamps and furniture and jewelry and now it's fountain pens- he restores them. I also putter.
I got my sense of style from my aunt Ilona. She's quirky and vintage and so am I. I also appear to have inherited a tendency to drag young people together and make them talk to each other. I knew I got match-making from my mom's side, but it's now clear that I got a double-dose genetically. If you're single, look out. I'll set you up, plan your wedding, and dress you in something vintage. I can't help it, I was born that way.
Like my Aunt Suzy, I make stuff. I'm always wanting to learn something new and make it. This includes sewing, cooking and other crafts, although I fear I did not inherit her patience, and will never be good at knitting anything.
My cousins, at least the ones my age, share a love of good music on records, British comedy, and Science fiction.
But mostly I find I am like my Grandma. Both my grandmas and my mother like to feed people. But my Grandma and I like to feed people non-stop. She stayed up all night making cabbage rolls, then put half a cheese in my suitcase. She sews things for herself to wear, and has a love of fine fabrics. She is constantly telling her family how to do things. She is inspired by music and curious about the Spirit.
And she is loud. At my sister's wedding four years ago, I commented to her that she and I had the same taste in fabrics, to which she responded, "You know what else we have in common? We both tend to talk a little too high and a little too loud." And when every second person in a house full of people has hearing aids, no one minds. Nobody told me to be quieter all weekend.
My grandparents are also notorious for giving away stuff. Not only are they generous, they, especially Grandpap, are flea-market junkies. They love to find treasures, and they love to pass them on. Perhaps here is the real truth of where my love for thrifting originated. Inspired by my Grandparents, nurtured by my Parents, by the time I was full-grown the outcome was inevitable. I love finding second-hand, vintage, antique, and special old stuff. And I want to share that love with everyone, because- let's face it- I can't buy all this cool stuff myself.
So I realized this lovely labor-day morning that I have never posted about accessories. This is a travesty, because at least half of my jewelry, belts and scarves come to me second-hand.
But not my shoes. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I have large and freakishly thin feet. Apparently, If there are any other 9 1/2 narrows out there, they like me hoard their shoes and wear them until they are unacceptably ratty and beyond donating to anywhere. For The Other Elisabeth's wedding, I could not find shoes. At all. The dress (which I tried to post on Friday, but was prevented from by Blogger's stupidity. Some other time.) was a perfect shade of purple, and therefore it did not match my black shoes or my leather shoes or my copper shoes or my silver shoes. It didn't even match my Yellow shoes! So At the Last Minute the night before I got a brainwave. While I had momentarily contemplated going to the wedding barefoot, I instead grabbed a pair of lime-green canvas kitten heels from the 'donate' bag. My reasoning went like this: Lots of people dye shoes for weddings. They only match one dress and are generally worn only one time. Then the dyed shoes end up at the thrift store, all turquoise and shiny and barely worn. So if strange color dyed shoes are acceptable at weddings, why not unusual color painted shoes? I therefore proceeded to get out my paint box and carefully apply purple acrylic to those lime green shoes. I even used gradation.They matched perfectly. They were awesome. Awe. Some.
Later, both the little plasticky heels broke off and were lost somewhere, so I used epoxy putty and black paint to give them new heels, and I wore them to church. Still awesome.
However, you do not have to be crafty like me to make good use of old accessories. Belts, scarves, jewlry, all can be given new life.
In fact, my cousin's wedding is coming up, and I have decided to wear my smashing vintage turquoise dress. I was going to look for a new dress, but this one is already perfect. And the fun thing about it is, I can accessorize however I want. Shall I wear a cardigan or a silk wrap? Yellow pearls or Turquoise squash-blossoms? Hair up with a jeweled clip, or down with recycled silk flowers? In fact, I can pack it all and decide the day of if I want to because accessories are small and they all fit together in one little pouch in my suitcase!
All I know for sure is that her colors are blue with yellow, so I can wear my yellow shoes.
What are your favorite recycled accessories?
It's true what they say about one man's trash. When we were first married we were still in college and when the school year was up we hit the big time at the local Boy's Hall dumpster.
This may sound gross, but If it does, you have never been dumpster diving. You can find some of the best stuff dumpster diving.
That year alone, we scored a shelf, an old stereo, a chair, and a 27" TV. I'll be honest and admit that someone had rolled up his entire bedding- pillows, mattress pad and all- and dumped it, doubtless to prevent his mother from finding out that it had not been washed all year. And that I did not touch. A boy's dorm at the end of the year is one of the best places to find treasure. Girls will make it all fit in their car, but guys, they just dump it.
Yesterday we were walking thru our neighborhood, and found that someone had rented a dumpster for what appears to be a remodeling project. We grabbed two narrow shelves, one of which will be a lifesaver in the kitchen. And we saved them from going to the landfill. If anyone wants glass shower doors, they're there for the taking.
A close relative of dumpster diving is the annual Boy Scout pick-up day. In our small town, once a year the Scouts come around to haul away large stuff, and everyone puts their stuff they want to get rid of out to the curb. And, being both cheap and friendly, most people put their stuff out a couple days early. Then you can drive around town and grab stuff off the curb. And the Boy Scouts pick up whatever is left.
When my sister moved, she got rid of a bunch of furniture that way.
In Hungary, where my folks live, they are only allowed one bag of trash per week. So once a year all the large trash is brought to a neighborhood center and dumped. Then everybody goes thru it to find things they want. Clothes, furniture, you name it, if it's unwanted it gets dumped. And when everyone's done, the gypsies come dig thru what's left. Then they burn the remainder, which, if the gypsies don't want it, is truly trash.
Frankly, the amount of stuff we throw out in this country is staggering. I wish it was easier to rummage thru other people's unwanted stuff. There are drawbacks, obviously. Those two shelves are out on the porch airing out right now- I'm not gross. I know in some big cities, "Freegans" are raiding dumpsters at night looking for food. That seems very noble and all, but I think I'll stick with the farmer's market.
Have you found anything awesome that someone else threw out?
First off, a fun Mens' t-shirt from our local Goodwill- Cost $1.99. If you can't tell, It says, "Keep It Green". I am contemplating making grocery bags out of t-shirts because they are, cheap, washable, and recycled. My husband has a huge collection of this kind of shirts, but he won't let me make bags out of them.
Second, a vintage (retro?) 1980 Man with Big Muscles. I think he's cute.
This is what happens when you ask your Dad to take a picture of your husband for your blog.
This weekend, went Goodwilling with my lovely SIL Debbi, her two little ones, and The Other Elisabeth*.
Not only did we have a marvelous time (well, I know I did.) But Elisabeth found a fantastic, vintage 40's navy blue dress that fit her like a dream.
Okay, the real truth went something like this:
Her: Oh this is nice (Moves on)
Me: This has a metal zipper! In the side! The tag is original! THIS IS MID-FORTIES! TRY IT ON, IT WON'T FIT ME!
She rolled her eyes and took it, since people were starting to look at us funny.
But, in the end, the Rules, strictly enforced by Me, paid off, as it fit her like it had been made for her, and was generally adoreable. She told me she wore it out the other night, but did not send me pics.
We also introduced Debbi to the wonders of Thrift shopping. Debbi is Queen of Dollar Stores, Empress of Bag Days, and Mistress of the Community Garden, so it was about time we showed her what second-hand was all about. We forced her most cruelly to try on stuff, and she ended up with several cute things, some of which she even admitted to liking.
But the real revelation for me was my 6-year-old niece. It was my first time Thrifting for kids, and, if possible, it was even more fulfilling than Thrifiting for myself. We let her be amused by rooting around finding things she wanted while we shopped. Then I went in the dressing room with her and strictly enforced the "no you can't grow into a size 16" rule. (This is a new rule. I Might have to write all new rules for thrifting with Kids. I need to find some more kids to practice them on!) She ended up with such a haul of cute stuff that fit her, that I had to hide some of it so she would forget about it. And get this- kids clothes are even cheaper than adult ones!
As for me, I got two cute sweaters (which was insane because it was approximately one-hundred-and-seventeen-degrees outside) and a great khaki dress which I can wear to my lovely new job where wearing skirts is smiled upon.
All in all, a fun trip.
*I thought of abbreviating this, but calling her "T.O.E." just doesn't seem very nice.
Yesterday I went to Goodwill with my sis for the first time in, Oh, ages. We were just hanging out and, as usually happens, we wound up out looking for bargains. She was getting ready for the new work and school year, and needed a couple things to spruce up her wardrobe. I was just along for the ride.
And she found some great stuff! While we were there we had a conversation about how no matter what style you are, you can find it second hand. Of course, I love anything retro and relaxed, but she has a much more crisp, tailored style. If she sends me pics I will post them, but she got a darling new black pencil skirt with lace detailing that fit so perfectly! I would not even try on a pencil skirt, but to her, they are indispensable. Even out shopping, she wore a cute outfit of kelly green tank and tailored navy capris. I wore my trusty bell-bottoms and a brown T-shirt (one of several).
We'll never look like sisters, but if you talk to us for more than 30 seconds, you will see the similarities. Or rather, you will hear them loud and clear! We laughed so hard, people were looking at us. At one point she wondered aloud why Goodwill hasn't run out of high-waisted stone-washed jeans yet, and I reflected that they never sell, so they just become more and more concentrated in the inventory as all the other styles come and go. She did not find any new jeans.
One thing we certainly have in common, which we inherited from our mother, is the desire to obtain the greatest quantity of clothes for the smallest price. Cat was commenting amazedly on a friend of hers that had spent hundreds buying a week's worth of new clothes. All in all, Cat spent about ten bucks, and she even bought a tank for me.We returned home victorious, and (I'll be honest) feeling slightly superior. There is something so satisfying about saying, "Oh this? I got it for three dollars. Great, isn't it?" And to me the added bonus of being able to show my "greenness" off with style is quite the temptation. At least Cat will always keep me humble. Nothing reminds you not to take yourself seriously like saying, "Isn't This Cool?" and having the other person laugh uproariously as she derides you for you weirdness. Because she loves you.