Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Boomer Christmas Memories

Some of my very favorite memories of Christmas have nothing to do with the cost of presents. In fact, most of the best of these tales have nothing at all to do with money. 

The sights and smells of my holiday have changed considerably over the years.

I am far too busy to stay at home and bake homemade goodies. In the 1960’s my mother had a litany of Christmas cookies, candies and even fruitcake. As she progressed in age, she felt guilty that she did not have the energy and time to prepare these. Especially her “Swedish Gems” cookies. Hers was the only fruitcake known to man, that did not cause recipients to run away in horror!

In the very early years of my childhood, after I had been adopted by my father and moved into the Edgevale house. Christmas eve was a very busy event as we always visited friends and neighbors. Of coarse, that was back when people actually purchased  put their trees up on Christmas eve. It was also a time when everyone knew all their neighbors. 

The older, more established neighbors  had a sort-of open house with lots of food and drink. Mother made either fruitcake or her famous Swedish gem cookies, which she presented in colorful holiday tins. She would get dressed up in her finest holiday gear  and we always ate too much and laughed and talked and shared.

In 1963, My mother worked keeping books for the man across the way who owned a five and dime shop after his wife suffered a stroke. Mother scrimped and saved every extra bit of money. She brought a baby doll, and lots of scraps of different fabric, from which she made and entire layette for my “baby Susie” as I named her. Daddy made a darling little rocking cradle for her and mother painted it pink.

In 1965, My father was laid off from his job at Chrysler and had to resort to driving a cab and tending bar. Both of these jobs were working for good family friends who knew my daddy needed a job and would work hard. Mom supplemented her income by working cleaning local houses. I now remember how very unhappy this made my father. However, we managed to have a very joyous Christmas. 

The Christmas of 1968, I managed to save a bit of money from my first real job at the five and dime and went shopping at Sears and Roebuck. I bought my mother a lovely blue woolen scarf and matching gloves. I brought daddy a nice red tartan plaid woolen shirt. Both of these items were $5.00 each. I even bought a Beatles album (I think Sgt Pepper?) for my best friend and a new dog dish for our poodle, Pierre.

By the time the 70s came around I was in high school and abhorred spending time with any member of my family. By then all of our established neighbors had moved to the suburbs or passed away.  We were the very last to leave our little subdivision. Soon, I would  have a family of my own. Being in the Air Force, we always seemed to be elsewhere for the holidays. On the years we did make it home, we had to endure no less than 4 Christmas dinners.

Which brings us to the present. My children have grown and have busy lives of their own. We seldom spend the holidays together. My hubby and I usually spend  December 24th and 25th working. This year, for the first time in years, he will be home and available until after the new year. We will have a quiet Christmas eve with our 4-legged-children enjoying our fireplace, some brandy and most likely, an episode of Sherlock Holmes.

I wish all my readers and friends the very best holiday! I would love to hear from you, please feel free to leave comments. See you in 2012!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Leap of Faith

Have you ever taken a “leap of faith?“ Recently my husband and I had toyed with the idea of opening up our own shop. I had been gathering fixtures and even went so far as to share a space with another gal in her shop.

My husband looked at me very seriously one evening and asked, “Why don’t you just open up a shop of your own?” I threw my head back and laughed. I used the excuse that it would be too much work, too expensive, etc. I came up with a million excuses, which he shot down, one by one.

I had been looking for buildings in and around the small southern town I live, with the intention of opening a small ladies consignment shop for quite sometime. I have been selling vintage jewelry online for many years and had recently begun to include vintage clothing.

In one of our meetings with a local realtor, she expressed that owning and running my own shop was a “dream”. Again, I laughed. At my advanced age I have had to let go of many, many dreams.

I am not afraid of a little hard work, and certainly have a lot of experience on the selling floor. I had actually begun my journey into the exciting world of retail in 1968. I lived across the street from an actual five-and-dime store. For you “young-uns” Yes, there were really item for sale at that price.

When I got out of high school I got a job offer for the very first job I applied for at JL Hudson’s at Northland shopping center. Thus began my illustrious career in retailing. I have since worked for JC Penneys, Sears, Kmart, AAFES, and many other companies. In fact, I have served the public for over 30 years.

Soon we found a building, which was actually located in the same shopping center as another consignment shop. We discussed the location and decided that JC Penney and Sears often locate in a center where each is a pull for the other. I did not seem an issue in the beginning. It became a bit sticky later on.

My hubby spent his weekends working tirelessly on fixtures and displays. He built fitting room out of cedar wood, in keeping with our cedar “theme.”

The day before we opened, I looked around the little shop and realized, this was my dream. I also realized that the very act of actually opening up the doors of my own shop, meant I was a huge success. Every other moment after would only be gravy. As I stood there with tears in my eyes, I felt a very different kind of security. We had built a business, but much more. We had built a dream.

We have come a very long way from the first day we started to where we are today, but it is definitely full circle. We have created a comfortable, and pleasant place to shop and my customers are very pleased to have me in the town.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Whether Americans like it or not, capitalism is what keeps this country going. Supply and demand for goods and services. Exchange of monies for anything and everything available in the vast marketplace that is our country.

As some of you may know I have spent over 30 years in retail sales/management. Nothing in the whole world ticks me off more than bad Customer Service. I received my training from some of the finest companies in the business world. Including Dayton Hudson, J.C. Penney and The Federated Group. When I entered the exciting world of retail, I was still in high school.

Customer Service was always the companies’ number one concern. It was stressed to all trainees that without the customers, there would be no jobs. We were given 3 weeks of paid training and a manual. There was a test.

We were not only instructed on professional dress and make up, but also had lessons in telephone courtesy. We were put into groups and given real situations that helped us learn to interact with customers. We were taught product knowledge and eventually would earn raises and promotions biased on our expertise.

When we “trainees” passed the training course, we had real knowledge and were proud to take our place on the sales floor. We were respected. For the first time in our young lives, we had self respect.

The store trainer was second only in authority to the store manager. She was our mother and mentor. Companies realized what a valued component customer service representatives were to its organization.

Companies have long abandoned the idea. The customer is no longer important. Customer service representatives are no longer valued. The financial aspects of training became too much for them to bear. 

The evolution came in the 1950’s with the innovation of “self-serve”. It was more convenient for the customer. Television advertising had allowed the average consumer much more product knowledge. This could not be more false. 

I had a very bad experience in a Staples store this passed weekend. I asked for a product they did not have on their shelf. The assistant store manager told me she had received the item on the truck, but did not have time to go in the stockroom and look for it. She told me to call her back tomorrow and she would have it. I called back (7 working hours later) and she giggled and said she was still busy. She told me to call back in an hour. When I called back, she had gone home for the day and no one there had a clue about the item. There was no apology, no offer to find the item, nothing! 

This is an example of BAD customer service, but not the end of the story. I called the Staples Customer Service line and was told, after I had given the whole story, that I should understand that ‘sometimes people get busy!” Really??? Really??? 

Needless to say STAPLES does NOT get it. Nor will they get another penny of my money.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I guess I’m really showing my age here. I remember S&H Green Stamps. For all the younger crowd out there, S & H (Sperry and Hutchinson) Green Stamps were given out at your local grocery, department store or gas station as a bonus. The stores purchased the stamps from S&H and used them to build customer loyalty. I believe you received one stamp for every 10 cents you spent. Of coarse, that was when a loaf of bread was 20 cents. You would then paste them in books and redeem the books for items in a catalog. In the early 1960s S &H distributed more stamps than the United States Post Office.

Saturday afternoon around 4 pm--somewhere between American Bandstand and Speed Racer, my mother’s radar told her it was time to come into my room, turn off my Sears Silvertone TV, dump the shoebox full of stamps on desk and tell me to “earn my keep.”  I hated this job. I prayed for a baby brother to come along so it would be his job.

The necessary tools for the job included a damp sponge on a plate to moisten the backs of the stamps. I almost always got them too wet. After an hour or so of the tedium, I would announce that I was finished by yelling,“I’m done!“ Invariably, there would be a vacant spot of 2-3 stamps in a book. I was thusly dispatched to the nearest store to buy a case of Faygo.

Filling the books was a chore, but nothing compared to the civil war that erupted when deciding what to redeem them on. Even the Brady kids had a problem regarding that expenditure.

I remember my mother being the authorized decision maker regarding the stamp books. She would almost always decide that she could not make a decision until she saw the item “in person.” We drove from 6 mile road to 26 mile road to the center. It was huge and in the middle of nowhere. It smelled like a new car.

My father pointed out that we needed a new carpet sweeper. My mother had her eye on an  Italian pottery lazy-susan. Mother dutifully tried out the carpet sweeper on the small piece of carpet laid out for demos. She decided to “look around.” Her eye then caught the object of her lust. The lovely Italian pottery lazy-susan she had seen in the full color catalog.  It was shinny and brightly painted with its round faux fruit bowl in the center. Dad knew he was out of luck. For weeks to follow friends and neighbors came to view the divine new centerpiece on the kitchen table. It was never used for food service, but it made a great catch all.

A  series of recessions during the 1970s decreased sales of green stamps and the stamp programs of their competitors.It was the end of an era. An end of dreams of possibilities.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


On July 20, 1969 Astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the surface of the moon. I remember sitting in my living room in Detroit with my parents, watching on TV, along with almost every American. My father scoffed and believed it was a total waste of tax dollars. My mother thought it was faked and said it could not possibly be happening. That was 42 years ago. It was a time in our county when Americans had big dreams. It was a time when we truly asked, “Why not?” We did aim high and we made it happen.

There are many conspiracy theories surrounding the moon landing. It has been said that the whole thing was produced on a Hollywood soundstage. Having participated in the Space Program and interacting with numerous technicians. I actually met many of  the astronauts. I have to declare that, without a doubt, it did occur.

I was lucky to have witnessed the first landing of the Space Shuttle Columbia at Edwards Air Force base in 1981. I still remember that day as a highlight of my life. It is reported that there were 200,000 people there on that day. When the Air Force Band stuck up the Star Spangled Banner, everyone present was overcome by tears, pride, and relief simultaneously.

I understand a lot of Americans believe the space program is an enormous waste of time and money, but I must respectfully disagree. The technology that had to be formulated to make the moon landing possible has completely changed our daily lives. Because of NASA research and developments we have smoke detectors, cordless tools, laptop computers, cell phones, MRI machines, and microwave ovens.

As a child I was lucky to have seen the birth of NASA and the Space Program. I watched as, in 1961, Alan Shepard piloted Freedom 7. I witnessed, in 1986, the terrible heartbreak of the Challenger tragedy. Now, as an adult, in 2011, I am witnessing the end of not only the Space Program, but America’s future. It feels to me like the end of a dream.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


First off, allow me share some thoughts about my country. Although, I am not associated with a particular religion, this country was founded by a group of men who had a profound belief in their creator. They believed in divine providence. They believed in “American Exceptionalism.”  Call it whatever you want, this country is unique among all the other nations in the world. We are blessed to be framed  on either side by water, (in my opinion is the future of the world economy) which will become much more important than oil ever was.

For those who wonder why the world seems to hate America and Americans, here is the reason. Simply because we hold so much power. We have not only a powerful government, but we are a strong people. These countries have lost, indeed given up, their powers. More often, they have allowed groups and factions to remove it from them. They have redistributed wealth and financed one after another “Government Program” until they have simply bankrupted. The European Union is a perfect example of how these type of programs suck the life out of an economy.

Our founding fathers pledged “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor “ as they signed the Declaration of Independence  that instantly made them traitors to the King of England. Many suffered greatly to break away from the tyranny they endured. How many ordinary Americans would pledge the same?

Here at home, liberals laugh at those who favor a limited government. While celebrities with way too much money hold awards and fundraisers for global warming, saving whales and other “problems” all the while wearing $300,000.00 ball gowns as their entourage rides around in gas guzzling limos, as they all condemn us for the type of light bulb we use. They allow themselves to become enslaved to their vision, either through acceptance of monies or beliefs. They depend on our “guilt” to make us ashamed of not only our heritage, but our country.

It all boils down to--America=bad.

I still believe in AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL. I believe this country can be a great world power again. If we can unite and pull together, we will not fall and fail.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Any man can be a Father

What is the difference between a father and a dad? Any man can be a father. A  dad stays up all night when you have the flu. He buys you a cute pair of jammies when you have been in bed with the mumps. He picks you up gently from his bed and carries you to your own when he gets home from working at 6 am. He drives you all the way to your favorite record store when a new Beatles album comes out.

My dad adopted me when he and my mother married. I was 3 years old. My mother had been divorced from my biological father. My uncle frequented the bar where my dad worked weekends to supplement his income as a plant guard for Chrysler. My uncle introduced them one evening and it was love at first sight according to both.

I went everywhere with my dad. I learned to love hardware and Army/Navy surplus stores. My dad and I used to ride around town in his Chrysler. Everywhere we went folks would say, “She looks just like you!” My daddy would always wink.

My father had a college education and had joined the Army Air Corps during the war.  He literally could do anything. He could take a car apart and put it back together. He could do electrical wiring and repair plumbing. He was a math genius. Not to mention he could grow any vegetable  from seed. He taught me to think for myself. He believed in God, but abhorred organized religion. He raised me Catholic and sent me to parochial school, even though he did not agree with the theology.

He was a quiet man and very moral. Only rarely did I hear a “cuss” word out of him. He had the most wonderful garden in all the neighborhood. My mother spent much time after the harvest, canning and freezing vegetables for the winter. All of the other weekend farmers envied his green thumb.

I never knew either of my own Grandfathers. My children used to work in the garden with grandpa and they both have wonderful memories of that time. He was a huge influence on them. They talk about working all day for $1. Of coarse, he would take them to Toys R Us, or out for ice cream to supplement.

When my dad had open heart surgery the year before his death, I came to the small farm to take care of him while he recovered. We very rarely spoke at that time and his family hated my very existence. I was glad to get a chance to re-connect and for him to acknowledge that I was not the person he thought I was. We had some wonderful conversations about many subjects.  We spoke about my mother for the first time since she passed. He told me about her last minutes with tears in his eyes. He told me that he loved me and called me his daughter. I knew he meant it.

I miss my dad very much and remember him fondly.  I’m glad we had a chance to clear the air. My mother was his very best friend. They loved to “gallivant.“ When he retired and they moved south, they very often spent the day shopping, going to flea markets, or visiting local attractions together. I know somewhere, somehow they are out there gallivanting through the universe.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What’s it like to be your age, Mom?

You know the old saying…“If I had known I was gonna live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” These days I have a difficult  time remembering just how old I am. I'm pretty sure that has some deep psychological meaning.  I believe, my views and opinions are basically the same as when I was 25. I look in the mirror and gasp!  It’s my mother looking  back at me. When the heck did that happen?

I have never had a problem with age, until very recently. Not even when I turned 30 and my adorable 16 year old babysitter gushed, “I hope I look as good as you do, when I am your age.” I have instigated a proper curse.

Getting older now means more visits to the doctor and medication for things that seem rather copiously invented by the drug companies. How can I be perfectly fine, walking around humming one minute and seconds away from death, the next?  I’m pretty certain that it is a HUGE scam. I'm still investigating.

I can  remember a time when if the phone (we only had one) rang during dinner, we let it ring. I remember my dad deciding what the family watched on TV after dinner. I can remember the dramatic shift my mothers' wardrobe made when she stopped wearing dresses and began wearing  pantsuits. I can remember "Dime Stores." I guess that really makes me old. What can you buy for a dime today?

I remember watching the Beatles for the first time on Ed Sullivan with my cousin, Suzie and sitting on the floor screaming at the TV. I remember wearing go-go boots with my Catholic school uniform. I remember watching the clips from the Viet Nam war and crying.

There is a physiological theory that time actually does go faster the older you get. I’m not a scientist, but I can tell you--its true.

My daughter recently asked, ”What’s it like to be your age?” I remember asking my mother that same question. She threw her head back,  laughed and said, ”Just wait.” I’m certain she’s having a good chuckle, wherever she is.

Getting older puts you closer to that final countdown--death. Having made a life-long study of religion, I’m still not certain what (if anything) lies beyond.  I do know 2 things to be true.
#1 You will reap what you sow.
#2  Refer to #1

Friday, May 27, 2011

Take me out to the Ballgame...My love affair with baseball

The world recently lost one of Baseballs’ all time great players, Harmon Kilebrew. It gave me pause to recall my experiences with the game, my love affair, if you will.

Many would argue that baseball is no longer America’s pastime. I respectfully disagree. Rarely do you hear of baseball players overdosing at clubs, beating up their wives or getting DUI’s. Oh sure, you can consider Pete Rose. Although, you have to respect what he brought to the game prior to all that.

I grew up in Detroit, which has always been a big baseball town. Tiger Stadium was  a cathedral dedicated to the game. Baseball was as much a part of my childhood as school or church or breathing.  I can remember watching Game of the Week on a Sears Silvertone black and white portable TV. I knew the players names, hometowns, and batting averages  from the backs of the baseball cards I collected and traded. My best friend, who lived across the alley had a brother who became a professional baseball player.

I remember sitting on the glider on a hot summer evening with my father in our backyard under the cherry tree. The aroma of freshly cut grass in the air. Neighbors passing by asking, “What’s the score?“ He would have a cold Stroh’s beer and I would have a Faygo Rock & Rye pop. I can still recall the voice of the Detroit Tigers, Ernie Harwell and his partner, George Kell.

Baseball players may not be better educated or exceptional men, but from personal experience, the players I have met have been darn nice guys. One of my sweetest memories happened at Comerica Park after a game. My son wanted an autograph from one of his favorite players, Lance Parrish, who was now a coach for the Tigers. After the game, we went to the designated area in the parking lot and waited for at least an hour. Slowly, the players emerged from the clubhouse. A few put their heads down and made a beeline for their vehicles. My son spotted Lance. There were quiet pleas from the well behaved crowd of “Lance, Lance, please Lance”. Lance Parrish looked tired. He walked over to his vehicle, put down his soda can and wallet and came over to the excited crowd. My son not only got his autograph and also a picture, but he took the time to speak with at least 20 others who were gathered.  He was not the only player to do so. There were 5 or 6 others who took a few minutes to appreciate their fans.

Baseball is an “All American” game. Wherever the players are from. Cincinnati or the Dominican Republic. The tiny “T-ball” players or Minor Leaguers. From the singing of the National Anthem to the 7th inning stretch. From the first pitch to the last out. Abner Doubleday would still be delighted to play his game.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ya'll come on down......

Yard Sales in the south are as traditional as sweet tea and fried green tomatoes. Here in Alabama, yard and garage sales can be found about 9 months out of the year. Bargain hunters young and old, embark in search of clothing, toys, furnishings, and sundries that the owner no longer wishes to keep. Proving the old adage that “one man’s trash is another mans treasure.”

The discriminating hunter can find antiques and bargains galore. Some items are beautifully displayed, some are merely tossed haphazardly on blankets on the ground. Still others are found in  stacks of plastic totes or cardboard boxes.  My key advice is dress comfortably and be prepared to dig.

Comfort is most important. The weather in the south can be very unpredictable. Ranging from quite cool to very hot in a matter of hours. It is best to be prepared for rain or shine. Layering is a must. Start with a good sunscreen add a tank or tee shirt, then add an over-shirt or sweatshirt. Don’t forget hats and  sunglasses. Its an excellent idea to bring along a change of shoes.

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Soda Pop and Beer DO NOT hydrate your body. Water or a sports drink will do the job. If you have ever suffered from dehydration--you will know what I mean.

In many areas there will not be rest stops or bathroom facilities. Many of the gas stations along the way are not prepared to handle a crowd. They will be marked “out of order”. Be prepared for porta-potties with antibacterial wipes, extra toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

Always have a plan. Bring a list of item you are searching for. Bring cash. Most vendors do not accept checks and are not prepared for credit cards. If you are traveling more than 50 miles it is a good idea to make lodging arrangements.

It is a great idea to  print out a “route” complete with maps, especially if you are traveling into unfamiliar territory. This is in addition to a your GPS. However, don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path.

Always remember to bring sunscreen, a first aid kit, toilet paper, an ice chest, string or twine, Ziploc bags, measuring tape, and CASH. None of these take up a lot of room and you WILL need at least one of them, trust me.

Be prepared to “dicker”. If you see an item and its more than you want to pay, make an offer. The seller can always refuse. If you spot an item you must have--buy it when you see it. It will not be there when you go back.

Don’t overlook the many organizations along the way that will have fresh fruit, vegetables and home baked goodies. Most will be selling for church groups and charities.

Most importantly, have fun!

The worlds longest yard sale is held August 4-7 this year. It runs along Hwy 127 from Hudson, Michigan to Gadsden, Alabama. Maps and vendor information can be accessed at

The 411 yard sale is held  annually from the last Wednesday in September through the first Saturday in October. It runs from Leeds, Alabama to Knoxville, Tennessee.
Information is available at the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce website.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Mother's Day--Spread Your Wings!

Another mother’s day is upon us. My mother Sally, passed away on October 20, 1992. She knew she was dying but never told me. My father was with her at the end. They were genuine partners.

My father never bought my mother a Mother's Day card. He would say, “You are not my mother.” He did, however, purchase a rose bush for me to give to her. Each year I can remember going to Franks Nursery and picking out a Jackson & Perkins rose for her. She had a green thumb when it came to flowers. Hers were the envy of the neighborhood.

I remember the Sundays when she cooked a huge pot roast. The holidays when (although our house was much smaller) she always had the entire family over. Her pies were legendary. She actually won a blue ribbon for her pies and jellies at the county fair. Much to the frustration of the southern born ladies.

I remember her love of animals. Especially our French poodle Pierre and our sheepdog Michael. She had a horrendous fear of cats.

She was an excellent seamstress. Her creations would rival those of any famous designer. I remember my father taking a second job as a cab driver to pay my school tuition. He would stop by the gigantic news stand in Downtown Detroit and bring home a Sunday New York Times. My mother and I would scan the Ladies pages to find the latest outfits by Givenchy, Pucci, Oscar de Larenta, and other designers. We would then go to the fabric store and find similar patterns and fabrics for her to remake into her own originals.

My mother was with me when I gave birth to my son. She was the very first person to hold him. When my daughter came along 3 years later, she could not wait to sew her darling little dresses and buy her dolls.

Sadly, what I remember most about my mother is her fear. She was afraid of almost everything. For all of her talents, she never spread her wings. She could have. In 1969 she had been gone from her job as head bookkeeper at the Sun Oil Company for 10 years. They were moving into new offices and her former boss called her and asked if she would like her old job back. She thought about the offer for all of 20 seconds, then turned it down. She thought about going back to school. She was sure she was too dumb. She considered writing. She thought she had nothing to say.

I vowed at a very early age to never hide my light under a bushel. I am certain some folks find me a bit too loud and somewhat crazy. Sometimes I am very afraid. I try not to let it stop me. When I look at my 2 children, both of whom put themselves through school, both have good jobs, and both are comfortable in their own skin. I know my mother would be so proud of them. I hope she would feel the same about me.

I miss you mom, I know somewhere in the universe you are spreading your wings.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother Nature has a bad couple of days.....

Well Mother Nature really did a number on ole Alabama. We had no real damage to the homestead, just a few broken limbs--from trees. We did have to go without power for 4 long (very long) days.
Being the “cheap-o-nista” that I am on the second day with no power, I was required to cook all the food worth saving.

I made lima beans with leftover Easter ham, "baked" all the pieces of chicken and turkey cutlets on the gas grill. My most ambitious project was a wonderful fish stew made out of bits and bobs of fish and veggies. It also used up the milk that would soon spoil.

Fortunately, we have gas appliances which made washing up  a bit of a hassle, but possible. I heated water in my large stock pots on the stove and used that for doing dishes and also filled the guest tub for a very welcome bath.

We did do some recon on the second day. We went to Rome, Georgia which is about 20 minutes away. They were hit quite hard, due to the amount of very old trees which downed a lot of power lines. It nearly made me cry to see trees that had stood during Sherman’s march to the sea, destroyed. The mall in Rome was also closed. Our favorite restaurant had one of its awnings ripped from the front of the building and strewn into the parking lot.

My husband, an avid reader, had purchased “The Grass is Greener Over the Septic Tank” days before the outage from a local thrift store. As we sat each night in the darkness, he donned a “headlamp” and read from the book. We dearly needed some comic relief. I love him.

Our power was restored shortly after 10 pm on the 4th day. I was asleep when it happened. When my alarm clock beeped, I jumped up and ran around like a child on Christmas morning.

We were very blessed to have little damage. I thank God, the universe and the fairies who live under my deck.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Rest of the Story...

In 1967 my parents decided to remodel the basement. In a dark corner was a cedar closet. My mother who was known for being a "snappy dresser" had carefully packed away her clothes from the 1940’s through the early 1960’s. One rainy day in August, she sent me down to pick out what I wanted before she gave the rest away to Goodwill.

It should be noted that at this time I attended Catholic School and was forced to wear the obligatory "plaid uniform from hell." So naturally, anytime I could get a break--it was more than welcome.

When I did not return for 3 hours, Mother came to see what was going on. I had tried every item on for fit.  I was completely overtaken by these wonderful items! There were broomstick skirts, embellished cardigans, Capri pants, and peasant blouses! Not to mention the boxes full of costume jewelry. I was in HEAVEN! I'm quite certain there was not one item sent to the Goodwill from that lot.

Needless to say, I was hooked. I have spent my spare time since, scouring the countryside for vintage items. 

Please check out my Etsy Shops:

Thrift Store Shopping for the Uninitiated

Due to the price of cotton skyrocketing over 40% in the coming months, many families having cash flow issues and kids being kids, thrift stores, consignment and resale shops are becoming more and more popular. The price of a pair of name brand jeans has gone from an average of $40 to an average of $80 a pair in the past 3 years. Back to school shopping has become a nightmare for many mothers trying to economize.

The secondary market has long been an excellent source for economy minded shoppers. Many prudent moms are aware that thrift stores are not just for Halloween costumes, but are a great source for children’s clothing. Not only blue jeans, but complete outfits can be “thrifted” for a very inexpensive price.

I have been “thrifting” for many years. Lets face it, walking into a gigantic store for the first time can be overwhelming. Stores are organized in various manners. Either by gender, color, item, etc. The key to a successful trip is planning. You will need to take your time and devote about 1 hour per store. It sounds like a lot, but it almost always pays off. In fact, many thrift stores have special “sales”. It is a good idea to ask the staff for a hand out of prices and upcoming sales and events.

First, take a list. Know what items you are looking for, noting size, color and quantity. If, for instance, you will be dressing for a new job. Make a list of items you might require for that position. Blouses, dress pants, and sweaters are always a very good bargain at thrift stores. Many times priced at less than 1/3 of the amount they would cost retail. I have purchased many name brand items that still had their original tags and had never been worn.

Second, look for name brands and/or brands that you know and love. I myself, love Ralph Lauren. I have found many designer items at bargain prices. I always get a basket and do what I call a “sweep”. I grab items that might appeal and hold them for closer scrutiny. If your trip is on a weekend, this is a good strategy, as most stores are quite crowded at that time. If you are planning a Saturday trip, an early start is imperative.

Third, check, check, and re-check the items. Do a first glance  all over inspection for condition, wear, rips, etc. I have found issues even after 2 examinations.

Some simple Dos and Don’ts:

  • Never buy and item that is stained. 9 times our of 10, it will not come out.
  • Never buy an item that is ripped unless you are a VERY good seamstress.
  • Never buy and item for $5 that you can purchase new for $10.
  • Check all seams for rips, frays and tears.
  • Check all zippers, snaps and check for missing buttons
  • When purchasing jeans and pants, check the bottom leg seams for rips, tears and excessive wear.  Don’t forget to check the pockets for holes.
  • When shopping for “vintage” items look for the ILGWU label .
  • Check the tag for wash-ability. Some items can be home cleaned using store bought “dry cleaning” products.
  • If you see something you LOVE…but it! You will regret it when its not there when you come the next time.
Have fun!