Radio Star Volume 2

Well hopefully I said something of value to folks the other day on the radio with Michelle Vandepas of  Your Divine Purpose Unleashed on Live your Purpose Radio/Blog Talk Radio on the 15th.  I was quite nervous, but Michelle was a great host and I think I was able to convey my simple message.  Please take a listen by clicking on my show and let me know what you think!  I’ll be eager to see all my reviews!  Thanks for all your support!

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Let’s Get Cooking!

Just grillin'

Just grillin'

One of the many benefits of shopping at places like Goodwill, besides the obvious price-point issue, is that many times you can update your kitchen and literally feed your inner Rachael Ray just by paying close attention to the cookware aisle.

Check out this pan. It’s an All Clad 12-inch grill.  Borrowing directly from the Amazon.com website, the description says it’s a “high-performance grill designed with a heavy gauge, hard-coat anodized aluminum exterior for efficient, balanced heat conductivity and long wear. Quantum-coated nonstick interior. Solid-cast stainless steel handle. Carries the All-Clad limited lifetime warranty.” 

Sounds great doesn’t it?  If you only had the $49.99 in your pocket, plus shipping!  And that’s a bargain, compared to other sites, which list it as high as $89 and above! 

Now most of us these days can’t shell out this kind of cash for such a fine piece of cookware.  But as this lucky Goodwill shopper found out, with a little perseverence, occasionally these gems can be unearthed beneath the stacks of plasticware and mismatched cutlery.  What did I pay for this fabulous All Clad grill?

Three dollars.  Yes, you head that right.   For a whopping three George Washingtons, less than a footlong sub at a famous restaurant, I whipped that bad boy into my cart and home faster than you could say panini sandwich! And was this beautiful grill in a sad state of affairs to find itself wedged in between an old turkey roasting pan and a juice extractor?  Nope!  Probably because it was an All Clad, it was sturdier than its less-expensive counterparts and able to withstand the trip to Goodwill most likely jumbled in a large donation box.

See, thrifting is not what you think.  With a little patience, knowlege of product value, and luck, sometimes the most amazing things can come into your life that up to now may have been cost prohibitive.  Sure, we’d all like to be able to trek to the local gourmet cooking store and walk out with thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise, but as I see it, that trend is morphing into one of a simpler outlook.  Now even those on the most modest budgets sometimes can come away with items of superior value, intrinsic or otherwise. 

So next time when you’re in the market for a new frying pan, swing by your local Goodwill.  You just might be amazed at what you find.

Bon appetit!

Junk Collectors

Junk Collectors School

Junk Collectors School

 

We are all junk collectors.  Even those who don’t outright admit it will testify to their ubiquitous junk drawer choc-a-bloc with rubber bands, pencils, straws, outdated coupons, Chinese takeout sauce packages, matches, candles, or any one of another million of modern society’s objects.  Some, like Jake, in the book above, are experts. And his junktiquing protege, Andy, wants to be just like him.  There’s so much in this world that others have cast off, and oftentimes it takes a special set of eyes to see the beauty in things left unloved and unwanted.  Repurposing and recycling happens to all of us ultimately, whether it starts off as an intended activity or the reusing of an item happens simply by chance.  How many of us have truly bought a new car? Most of us in this economy can only afford used, or as the dealers prefer to call them, “preowned.” 

Isn’t much of what we touch preowned?  Was the first house we bought a pre-fab McMansion in a nice suburb?  I think not.  Life evolves for us in Western society, and we are in a continual state of upgrading and improving our lot in life, sometimes to please ourselves, sometimes to impress others, and sometimes for reasons we don’t yet truly comprehend.  Aren’t the nicest  homes we’ve visited filled not with beautiful new drapes, priceless rugs, or costly fixtures but rather possessing instead the qualities of what we value inherently as a human being? I am talking about basic niceties like a warm hearth, a handknitted shawl, a steaming mug of cocoa, a careworn sofa, familiar books or vintage LPs, a collection of old cards and photographs, comfy slippers, and the quiet familiarity of our oldest friends and closest family.  I daresay most of these things’ value lie not in the pricetag but rather in the warmth and attachment we all feel when sharing them? 

If I am a junk collector because I save some pennies and display an antique photograph of my great-great grandmother, within a thrift-store frame, then so be it.  If I am a purveyor of secondhand and have no compunction in scouring the yards and garages of my neighbors looking for the perfect jelly jar, then I guess I am guilty as charged. 

But like Andy, I would be honored to graduate from Junk Collector School, to share in the wit and wisdom of those traveling life’s path before me, and hopefully gather some beauty along the way.

Published in: on 2009/08/06 at 12:49 am  Comments (1)  
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The Wave is Continuing

 

Hey' how'd my kid get stuck in this beast?

Hey' how'd my kid get stuck in this beast?

 

It’s a phenomenon. Thrift store shopping is the only way to go! Check it out…

http://tinyurl.com/greenbaythrift

Published in: on 2009/07/12 at 5:30 pm  Comments (1)  
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Thrift Store Divas Unite!

Where all true divas shop

Where all true divas shop

Divas unite!  Budgets notwithstanding, we can all look great.

Check out this cool article….

http://tinyurl.com/thriftdiva

Thrift Store Kitty

 

 

Here kitty kitty

Here kitty kitty

There’s a funny story about a woman who apparently got more than she bargained for when she went thrifting the other day. Apparently Ms Mendenhall bought a used couch for $27 at Value Village near her home.
Then the noises started. She looked all over to no avail until her boyfriend felt something underneath him as he sat on the couch. Moving it, he was astonished to find a ravenous kitty cat who had evidently found a hole in the back and stowed away.

Long story short, after bringing the kitty to her animal shelter and contacting the news outlets, the owner was reunited with his cat, having lost all hope of finding her after he had donated his old couch.

It seems the hidden benefits of thrifting sometimes go undetected until much later.

 

 

You Can’t Take It With You

 

Is my old crockpot in here?

Is my old crockpot in here?

The transiency of life cannot be better expressed than when one visits a secondhand store or garage sale. Items that may have been vitally important to the current owner now lay scattered amongst other bric a brac of a life’s journey, some more curious than others. The nondescript Bundt cake pan, once used for many a family party, now sits next to a knitted potholder, a long-ago gift from an ancient relative now long past. Both have outlived their usefulness to the seller and await new hands to breathe life into them once more. Baby buggies that once carted little ones to the park in days gone by now hold slightly ragged, overly loved stuffed animals; their purposes outgrown and their appeal long gone.

Such is life. When we finally leave this Earth, it is starkly true; you can’t take it with you. We return to dust without all the stuff that up to now has defined us and we meet our maker (or whatever destination) with only our essence intact.

Published in: on 2009/04/30 at 3:23 pm  Comments (4)  
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Where’s My Bailout?

 

Is a rat family living in here?

Is a rat family living in here?

 

I don’t get it. The banks have had their bailout dollars, the auto companies are petitioning for money, the real estate industry has its hand out, even Larry Flynt wants some of Uncle Sam’s dough. I, like many of my friends, all hardworking individuals who have paid their bills on time, kept up with mounting interest rates and the continual threat of layoff, simply wonder when the money will flow to us.

Specifically, I need a new couch! My nine-year-old loveseat, a formerly fabulous green leather setee, now sags lower than an overloaded station wagon on bad leafsprings, its foam innards peeking through popped seams resembling some sort of B-movie monster with bad teeth. Sitting on it has become more of an adventure than a relaxing event; you’re never sure if the springs will bite you in areas best left untouched, and the holes threaten to devour every last dime from your pocket.

So here’s my pitch to Congress: Bail out all those big fancy guys but if you’ve got a couple hundred to spare, could you send it my way so I can finally retire old Bessie?

I’d freecycle the darn thing but I’m afraid a small rat family will take up residence before the guy-who-promised-he’d-show-up-yesterday-for-sure-this-time turns up, if at all.

 

Published in: on 2009/04/30 at 3:17 pm  Comments (2)  
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LA Times is Tuned In

Check out this article I stumbled. It’s fabulous and very well written.  Quite timely. 

Come to the Thrift Store

Come to the Thrift Store

 http://tinyurl.com/tunedinlatimes

Published in: on 2009/04/30 at 3:03 pm  Comments (1)  
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Patriotism In the Dump Bin

 

American Flag

American Flag

Patriotism in the Dump Bin Twin City winter living is a dichotomy of natural beauty and dodging that beauty when the mercury dips beyond 20 below zero. It’s visually breathtaking taking in the aftermath of an ice storm yet one’s breath is literally sucked out by the frigid air. You spend much of your time dashing from car to office, from car to supermarket, from parking lot to home, all in a quest to keep your various appendages from developing frostbite along the way. The residents either fall into one of two categories: Those who are undaunted by the arctic blasts and those who venture out only when absolutely necessary.

The former types, most likely native born, seem to possess an extra layer of toughness that enables them to carry out their daily routines in temperatures that would make a polar bear pause. I’ve seen bundled-up citizens of St. Paul gamely trudging, albeit gingerly, on the ice-covered sidewalks, sidling up to igloo-like bus stops, shopping bags clutched in mitten-clad hands, steam pouring from below their icicle-laden scarves. There’s camaraderie of sorts in the true Minnesotans, for whom a drastic dip in degrees only serves as a challenge.

As a transplanted Canadian via California and most recently the balmy climes of Atlanta, it was in this setting one afternoon that I found myself in conversation with a kindred soul.

Admiring my bus shelter companion’s wooly boots, I commented that as a newcomer to the Twin Cities, I’d need some warm footgear soon or I’d probably have to donate my toes to science. Laughing, she said, “Well you could spend a pretty penny on boots around here but if you’d like to be in on a little secret…I got these at the Salvation Army just down on University.”

Now she was speaking my language.

“Oh, really?” I exclaimed. “There’s one so close by?”

Now being the typical Minnesota-nice lady that she was, Kirsten, as her name turned out to be, promptly dug in her purse and produced a local map. Circling the street and scrawling an arrow, she said, “You can’t miss it, dearie. It’s three stories high and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be shopping there all day!”

I climbed aboard my bus that afternoon, sneaking glances at Kirsten’s boots from time to time, wondering what else I would uncover at my newest shopping venue. Meeting my new husband, Alex, at the bus stop, I plunked myself into the careworn bucket seat of our vintage Toyota and eagerly told him my news.

A recent convert to thrift store shopping, Alex smiled, “Do you think they’d have some nice pants for me there?”

That Saturday morning found us parked outside the most monstrous thrift store I had yet witnessed. As Kirsten had proclaimed, it was indeed a three-story brick building nestled underneath a highway overpass, its Salvation Army insignia on the 30 foot sign proclaiming its domination for miles around.

This was going to be good.

I darted across the small parking lot, dodging upended shopping carts and scattered sheets of ice, Alex in tow. Marching through the glass doors, my eyes took in the wonders before me.

An enormous room, clearly a converted warehouse, chock full of seemingly endless racks of clothing, invited me to browse. The soaring walls, covered with latent velvet art and various posters of bygone days, led the eye to a second level where a sign pointed out “Books, Records, Tapes, Baby.” To the left I noticed, amid bent orange racks of every type of plastic ware imaginable, haphazard stacks of coffee cups. One caught my eye. Along its pink side declared the words, “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” Amen.

We decided to try the book section first, being avid readers and having discovered that paying full price for books on our newlywed budget was not feasible. Alex and I had already found hole-in-the-wall secondhand bookstores and were happy to come across another source of books. Noting a lack of elevators, we climbed the linoleum-clad stairs two at a time, eager to see what tomes awaited us on the dusty shelves.

Splitting up, Alex as usual headed for the magazine section, looking for those pertaining to his favorite topics of pop culture, history, and cars. We already had amassed a considerable collection of National Geographic magazines, and enjoyed looking at the vintage advertisements and laughing over the archaic lingo. We agreed to meet downstairs in half an hour in front of the shoes.

I perused the riveted shelves for a while, finding a copy of Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man, a favorite from my childhood. Clutching it to my chest, I gazed down the mismatched collection, ranging from diet books, to coffee table books, to obscure computer-programming manuals. Finding nothing else compelling, I decided to return downstairs and look at shoes while I waited for Alex.

Passing a young man in dreadlocks, I had to smile. His T-shirt, clearly a joke, read “Outrageous Granny.” Meeting my smirking gaze he shrugged, as if to say, “It was cheap!”

At the bottom of the stairs, before turning right towards the rows of shoes, I noticed another sign. This one, scrawled in Magic Marker on a dingy piece of cardboard, said, “Bargain Basement Below.” The hand-drawn arrow drew my eyes down another flight of stairs to what seemed like a cavern.

Not wanting to lose sight of Alex, I waited for what seemed an eternity amid the shoes. Almost tripping over a pair of glittering gold-lame high heels, I finally spied him and waved him over.

“Hey, it says ‘Bargain Basement Below’, let’s go!” I could barely contain my excitement. A bargain basement in a thrift store was an added bonus. Peering over his shoulder at the sign, Alex took my hand and we descended into the depths.

What met our eyes next still reverberates in my mind today. Reaching the basement floor, spread out before us lay the largest collection of junk I had ever seen, haphazardly strewn on white tables, bric-a- brac aplenty jutting out at every angle. It resembled a tornado only with the debris field contained in one room. For what seemed like miles lay the remnants of society, tossed aside by one to be considered yet again by another. The fluorescent lights, intermittently blinking on and off, cast an eerie glow over the entire room. Children darted around and underneath the tables, mothers scolded while holding onto half-mended shirts, grunge kids crowded around a pile of LPs, and seasoned thrift store veterans established themselves at stations at various sites, carefully examining each careworn item in turn, seeking the value in the vastness.

I was in heaven.

Splitting up again, I left Alex to mingle with the grunge kids while I made my way toward a likely looking first table. The only other patron there, a wizened man in too-short overalls and red flannel shirt glanced up from his inspection of a CB radio microphone to smile at me.

“Nice day,” he grunted. Agreeing, I carefully set to work a respectful few paces away from him. Grasping the first item that seemed promising, I turned it over. Stuck inside a wad of ages-old corner lint, sat a thimble from Niagara Falls. Only a small chip marred its bottom rim. Dusting the lint on my pants leg, I considered it’s value but then I noticed no price tag. Looking about for a clue to unlock the mysteries of this bargain bazaar, I saw a sign taped to a support post behind my elderly partner.

“All bin items 10 cents CASH only. NO RETURNS. You Broke It you Bought it. Shoplifters will be persecuted.”

Taking this information in, noting the reasonable price and the standard warnings, amusing misspelling notwithstanding, I decided the terms were fair and continued on in my quest.

Regretfully returning the thimble from my home country, mentally noting to acquire a tube of super glue for just such an emergency in the future, I returned to the bin before me. Digging through tangles of telephone wire, pushing aside a half-clothed dolly, her blonde locks shorn to stubs and missing a finger or two, my fingers brushed up against those of my gentleman shopping partner.

“Oops! Sorry about that.” I said. “Didja want that mike over there?” he asked, pointing at another CB radio microphone hiding below a blue plastic Las Vegas visor, its frayed cord patched here and there with electrical tape. “Gosh, no, it’s all yours,” I said, and slid the mike over to his digging burrow. “Oh, good, thanks. I collect these. Remind me of the days on the road.” His blue eyes twinkled with glee as he began unraveling the cord from around a shoelace.

Finding nothing more at this table of particular interest, I waved farewell to my ex-trucker friend and proceeded along the cracked concrete floor towards the back of the basement where a sign read, “Jewlry and watches 50 cents each.” Nimbly jumping over a purple jump rope strewn in my path, I scanned the area for Alex. Still bent over an enormous collection of vinyl, he seemed quite content. I turned my attention back towards the jewelry table when I stopped dead in my tracks.

The stripes poking out beneath a one-eyed doll called to me. Walking over to the table, blissfully unmanned, heart pounding, I hoped that what I thought I saw was indeed the real thing. Setting my book aside on top of a broken wrench, I grasped the fabric’s corner. Pulling it slowly so as not to usurp a chipped teapot, I gathered the fabric into my trembling hands.

The brass grommets gleamed in the fluorescent light. Turning it over, I read the still-intact tag, “Defiance, Reg US Pat Off, 2 ply Moth Proof, Bunting.” Between the grommets, barely discernible, was a name, “Andersen.”

Counting the stars on the field, I found only 48 individually sewn stars, the patina of age only making the flag more intriguing and poignant. The frayed halyard edge, its fibers unraveled only slightly, still bore marks of attachment to a pole. There were no silk-screened stripes here. Only lovely alternating red and white intermingled in the basement’s harsh light. A single tiny moth-eaten hole marred the field, near the topmost left star. I brought it close to my face, touching its fabric to my skin and breathed in the ancient air.

Whose hands had sewn these stars so precisely? What winds had fluttered this beautiful flag? Where had it been before its untimely and unceremonious end here in the dump bin deep in the bowels of the Salvation Army thrift store? What Andersen had seen fit to donate such a memento rather than preserving it for future generations or retiring it properly? And why, as a Canadian citizen, did I seem more touched than the other shoppers around me by this hapless vintage flag?

Drawing it to my breast, I gathered its folds gently and ambled over to Alex, now holding a copy of an obscure jazz musician’s last LP.

“Look at this.” I held out the flag.

His eyes widened at the find. He took it from me, carefully ensuring that it would not touch the floor, unfolding it fully for the first time in probably a decade. Dust entrapped in years-old creases fell at our feet. Alex drew his finger along one carefully handsewn seam and whistled. “Wow,” was all he could say. His eyes caught mine and we knew we had to have this flag, insulting at a cost of 10 cents yet priceless to us.

We brought it to the cashier, along with my book and his record. Ringing us up, the pockmarked boy stopped for a moment upon seeing the flag.

“It’s ripped. Do ya still want it?” He paused over the register, waiting for our response. Silently we nodded, paying our total bill of $2.58 and took our flag home.

Later research led us to discover that this flag dated somewhere between July 4, 1912 when the State of Arizona was admitted to the Union and July 4, 1959 when Alaska joined the United States. This beautiful old girl had flown during the presidencies of eight men from Taft to Eisenhower. The history she had seen from her vantage point atop a pole resonated in our minds.

The Andersen flag, or as we came to call it, “Salvation Army” flag once again flew proudly at each of our homes until this past winter when a sudden ice storm ripped it in two. Heartbroken we gave it a proper sendoff. We brought it to the American Legion and we participated in a flag retirement ceremony.

And as the flames transformed our flag to smoke, no one was prouder than I was.

Rules of the Road for Dump Bin Items: Never be afraid to get your hands dirty.
 
From: Second Hand Roses: Lessons From the Junktiquing Road, copyright 2009 Dawn Edwards