Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Christmas in May

M and I were hitting the tag sales a couple weeks ago with my friend D. I think I told you a little about that day. I got most everything on the table for less than fifty cents.

But I didn't show you the cute little snowman M found for me at one particular sale. He's tucked in the back in the photo above.

We pulled up to this sale, in a not-so-pretty neighborhood in a nearby small city. Paper and junk littered the sides of the streets, along the curbs. Cars that looked abandoned, or at least missing parts, were scattered along the street. There were no birds singing in this neighborhood.

But that did not deter us.

We saw three rows of banquet tables set up in a back yard, right off the sidewalk, and a tent with some people sitting under it. We hit the tables, splitting up  to look at different things. Within a few minutes M was calling me over to look at something.

The little snowman. 

I grinned when I saw him. He had to come home with me. Er, but M found him. No, no, I want you to have him, she said. She's such a dear friend. Love her. She doesn't get between me and 1960s Christmas decorations.

Um, I wonder how much he is? 

I wander over to the tent, trying to figure out who's in charge and not look too eager, hoping to get this little guy cheaply.

How much? I mouth when I spot someone who seems like they know what they're doing.

Twenty-five cents. Everything is twenty-five cents.

ACK! That's all I had to hear. I ran back to M and D, told them the good news, and we started shopping.

$1.75 later we were on our way with a box full of goodies.


Fast forward to dinner that evening. The Man and I joined M and the Hammer at our favorite Asian restaurant. We were entertaining the guys with stories from our tag sale adventures that morning and casually mentioned the street where we found the little snowman.

The Hammer looked up and said, "You mean where all the shootings are?"

Found this set over the weekend while I was out with the younger ones. They were laid out flat on the lawn, off to the side, forgotten.

I asked the guy how much and he said, "For all three pieces?"

Yup. I love them all. "One dollar." 



Watching "Mad Men" that night, I saw the big snowman, and Santa, and the two candles displayed at the office Christmas party. 

I can't wait for Christmas.

{M}emor{IA}l Day

I need to confess something. 

And yes, it involves liquor. Lots and lots of liquor. I bet I piqued your interest, didn't I?

My confession? I'm addicted to the show "Mad Men". 

There, I said it. I'm addicted to "Mad Men". I can't stop watching this show.


They drink lots of liquor on the show.


Set in the 1960s, it centers around a group of ad men on Madison Avenue. Evidently that was a very stressful place to work and these guys needed glass after glass of scotch, or bourbon, or whiskey to get the job done. 

So when I saw this nifty little travel case for scotch and bourbon it made me think of "Mad Men" and I had to buy it.

For a dollar.

I love tag sales.
My new lens. You can read about it here, for all you photography people.

I found it in a garage, under a table, inside a brown cardboard box. No scratches, or dings, or rattles. It works just perfectly.



I really love tag sales.
Dinner with some good friends on Saturday night.

We ate outside since it was such a wonderfully warm evening.

The older people were outside, the younger ones inside. Game playing, and laughter, and good conversation.


What a great day. I got to spend the morning with J and P, and J's friend A. We had to drive way far away to get our cameras cleaned. While we waited for the camera man to clean them, I introduced the three younger ones to tag sales.

They had never been to a tag sale. Flea markets, yes. Tag sales, no. So we drove around the small town we were in, looking for tag sale signs, meandering up and down back country roads in search of a bargain.

They were amazed at the prices you find things for at tag sales. A walked away with a brayer for free and a T-square. He bought it for a dollar.

Beside the liquor travel case and the camera lens, I found another bargain but I'll save that for a different day. 
Town parade on Memorial Day.

K was marching. Waving her flag. Trying not to drop it.

Hot, sticky day.
Our town does a short program at the high school before the parade starts.

Veterans perform an MIA ceremony as part of the program. An empty chair is placed on stage with an MIA flag draped over it. We are reminded that there are still over 73,000 soldiers MIA from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

73,000 men and women that never came home. And their families don't know what happened to them.

I don't know how they live not knowing.
Children and parents lined Main Street to watch the parade.

Running, and laughing, and playing tag.

Too young to know what MIA means. Too young to want to cry thinking about all those MIAs.


At the high school, they do a roll call of all those from our town that gave their lives in service for their country.

Boy scouts and girl scouts carry a poppy for each one killed and place it into an empty helmet. 

It hurts to watch this part of the program. So many lives lost. So many families in pain.
Remembering those that made the ultimate sacrifice.

Thank you.

It's not enough.

But I mean it.
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

- Lt. Col. John McCrae

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Prom weekend.

Gorgeous sunny weather. Gorgeous sunny girl.

Hair appointment in the afternoon.

Tag sales in the morning with two good friends, M and D.

Dinner with M and the Hammer after the prom-goers left in their limousines.
K loved the superhero cape on her gown.

Actually, it was the gown's train.

But she liked it better as a superhero cape. She said, "Oh, something to play with!" when she tried it on.

I think it's why she chose this gown.
Her date, D. 

What a nice young man. We've known D and his family for a long time. A very long time.

Like before K and D were even born.

They are part of our church family. J went to a junior prom with one of D's older sisters. So we came full circle when D asked K to prom.
My favorite photo of the day.

K and her friend, H. They were so glad to see one another.

A fantastic smile. You can feel the happy coming out of her, can't you?
Grace Kelly gowns. 




Love, love, love this photo.

She takes my breath away.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mama's Day

For the past couple years, J and K have given me the best Mother's Day gift EVER.

They spend an entire afternoon with me, letting me shoot to my heart's content, and pose for me cheerfully.

Yes, I said cheerfully.

Great sports, they are. Letting me twist them, and turn them, and push them around. 

They get super dramatic so I get some fun shots.
One of my favorites from the day.

J is pretending to be the "Karate Kid".

K is not impressed.
I look at these photos and I see them as they were fifteen years ago.

It's hard for me to believe that they are all grown up now. It's hard for me to believe that by the middle of next month, I'll be the mother of two college students.

They were just eight and five, for Pete's sake.
P is home from college. She stopped over for a visit tonight and we all had a nice chat. Since P's brother is a tennis player, we started talking about high school athletics and how many athletes are poor sports. And refuse to shake hands with their opponents after a match or a game.

All this talk led to stories from the past and I got to tell her some stories from when J (and K, for that matter) were little tykes - things she hadn't heard before.


When J was about eight years old, he was playing soccer but was not an especially aggressive player. He liked playing with his friends, running around and chasing the ball all over the field but that was about it. 

His coach kept encouraging him to be more aggressive and go after the ball and take it away from his opponent. J just couldn't do it. We started encouraging him to be more aggressive, hoping that if he heard it from us he'd take it to heart.

And he did. 

In the next game, he actually went after the ball in a one-on-one situation. He beat his opponent to the ball but in doing so, knocked the boy down. J was left standing with the ball and had a clear path down the field.

What did he do? He ignored the ball. He leaned over his opponent, apologized for knocking him down, offered him a hand up, and asked him if he was okay. J's coach was a bit perturbed and started yelling at his team to go after the ball.

The Man and I gave J a thumb's up.
K played softball until she was nine years old. Third grade was the last year she played.

She was on a team with one of THOSE coaches. The type of coach who believes in winning at all costs. We did not enjoy that year at all.

Lots of practices and many lost weekends to softball. I remember thinking, I thought this was supposed to be fun.

We had plans to be away at the beach for Memorial Day weekend and I called her coach to let her know K would not be at practice on Saturday but would be back in time for the game on Monday. Her coach said okay.

Monday night. Game time. K has a lot of family that came to watch her - grandparents and her aunt and uncle. Me. The Man. J.

Game starts and all the girls go trotting out onto the field except K. K is left sitting on the bench. 


She stayed that way for several innings and I kept wondering when the coach was going to put her in. I was watching K during the first few innings and her shoulders kept getting more and more hunched over. By the third inning, she was crying.

I went over and talked to her. Coach refused to let her play because she missed the practice on Saturday. Coach and I had a very short conversation in which I reminded her of our phone conversation. She refused to listen to me and said K would not play that entire game. I decided to back down and address it with the president of the league.

Who happened to be the father of K's best friend. He spoke with the coach and the coach changed a bit after that. K never sat out more than the other kids again. And we had to miss a few more practices.

I made K finish the season but that was the end of her softball playing days. Actually, she never played another sport again.
I'm sure there are many good things that children get out of sports programs but there are also plenty of negative lessons learned, too.

J was learning to be something he's not. Aggressive. I'm glad the Man and I changed our hearts after seeing his opponent knocked over. And seeing the look on J's face when he realized what he had done. I'm glad we were there to encourage him when he chose to be kind and caring.

K was learning some of the hardest lessons of all. 

Life's not fair. 

Don't give up.

But she also learned how much her mom loved her and and how far her mom would go to protect her tender heart.


I hope they remember the love. I sure do.

Thanks for a great Mother's Day, J and K. You guys are the best.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Not the best picture. It was a bit steamy. But this dish was g-o-o-d.

This was on the table in under an hour. Next time I make it I'll have the Man grill some extra chicken and save it for this recipe the next night. That would make it go together even quicker.

The whole family liked this. Even the dog.

And the little bit leftover? Got eaten that night by J and K.

The Man went looking for it the next day and it was gone. 

G-O-N-E. Gone. As in the bowl was licked clean and there was no trace of it left behind.
I painted two more sets of clogs.

Now there's five pairs and I'm not done yet. But it has to stop drizzling, raining, misting, and all other things wet that fall from the sky so I can paint some more clogs. And finish my stool. 

I am totally loving all this color together. 
My latest find. 

A pair of vintage ice cream parlor chairs. 

Don't you just love the {sweet}hearts?

I do.


Watching one of my favorite movies, "Sweet Land".

M recommended it to me a while ago and I fell in love with the story. Immigrants. Farmland. Photography. Music. Sweethearts.

This film has it all. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Random Sunday

Started transforming my new stool.

Whew. That's a lot of sanding. I was covered in red dust from head to toe. I could have been a character in a "Woman from Mars" movie.

I was able to start {spray}painting some of the pieces. I just jumped in and started spraying. The Man watched me from a short distance while he was doing some yard work. He lasted about a minute.

Literally. One minute.

Then he had to come over to "check" on me. And tell me that I was doing it all wrong and wasting paint. He gave me some tips on how and when to spray the nozzle.

Then he took the can to show me.

Finally he let me have it back with a stern warning to move away from his garden. He didn't want any paint appearing there accidentally.
While I had the spray paint out, I decided to start a project I had seen on Pinterest.

Happy wooden clogs.
I love, love, love all the colors. Especially against the stone wall.

I can't wait to do more.
K jumped into my photo just as I was snapping.

Kind of like that cheeky squirrel that's been popping up all over the internet.
Took this one too fast and didn't give the lens time to focus.

I like it anyway.

Doggie love.
Saw a tutorial on how to do this and gave it try this afternoon.

I couldn't remember all the details so I had to make it up as I went along. I'm pretty happy with the results.

I love bubbles. They're so happy.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tagging and Bagging

Today was so. much. fun.

One of my bestest friends, D, and I went "tagging" - also known as tagsale-ing - in a neighboring town that was having a town wide tag sale.

Our very first stop was phenomenal. I found a giant map of the U.S. that I had been searching for after seeing all the clever things people are doing with maps over on Pinterest. 


As we were leaving I spotted a smallish leather case hiding in the way back on one of the "man" tables. You know, the tables with tools and other sharp, dangerous objects. Usually a lot of dirt and grease covering these things. Nothing I would ever pick up with my hands. Ewww.

But I had to check out the leather case because it looked so old. I opened it up and inside were......


Yup, those are coming home with me. Er, maybe I should ask the price first. Off I go to find the owner and she tells me the whole kit and kaboodle - leather case and two cameras - will cost me......


ACK! Ten dollars! For TWO cameras! Can you tell how excited I am?
Next stop found D buying a brand-new-in-the-never-opened-box set of white Corning casserole dishes and covers.


Those two stops were our most expensive purchases of the day.

I went on to find two very old clear Mason and Atlas jars with zinc lids ($0.50 each), a vintage condiment serving caddy with three clear glass jars with metal lids and wooden knobs ($2. 00),  an antique magnifying glass ($1.00) and an Imperial Glass Candlewick mayo bowl and saucer ($1.00). I picked up a pair of vintage faux (at least I think they are faux) pearl earrings and brooch for an idea M and I are going to do - again, I saw it over on Pinterest.

And that red stool pictured above. The back slides up and down to adjust the height of the piece.


I'm going to spray paint it a bright color and stick it on the back porch. D assures me I can spray paint. She says my troubles are because I hold the can too close to the object I'm painting. She doesn't know it, but I may have her come over and do it for me. To show me how it's done.
D walked away with a basket for a wedding present ($1.00), a three tier wire storage basket for her scrapbooking supplies ($2.00), a wreath (free), three vintage handkerchiefs ($0.11).

Yes, $0.11 for three handkerchiefs. They were really $0.10 but there's a penny tax on a dime at thrift stores. Oh yeah, we found a thrift shop while we were out tagging and had to stop.

Her best deal of the day?

A TV.....


We walked up to a house and the wife said her husband was tired of the tag sale and was giving everything away. Everything was free. Really.

We laughed at the joke and kept looking around and they said, No, really. Everything's free. Want a TV?

They had consolidated all their stuff and just wanted it out of the house. They unplugged it yesterday. It works fine. I drove up the driveway, he put it in the back of the car, gave her the remote, and we drove off, giggling all the way up the street.

The car was filling up. There was some talk about having to go home and pick up a truck from one of our husbands. But we figured they'd clip our tagging wings and we'd be grounded for the rest of the day.

So we kept going, tucking things into bags all over the place. And kept our eye out for rope. Just in case we needed it.


At some point, we got hungry and stopped for lunch in a small eclectic sandwich shop. Thick roast beef sandwiches, topped with cheddar and horseradish, lettuce and tomato, on a hard roll. Slices of pickle, a few wedges of orange and a bag of chips.

And chai. D had never had chai before so she tried mine. 

Now she's a chai drinker.
One of my favorite purchases of the day was one of the last stops of the day. We were heading home and saw a sign that said "Giant Tag Sale" with an arrow pointing up the dirt entrance to some sort of industrial type of area. High fences all around, lots of heavy looking equipment, truck trailers, pieces of machinery and beat-up long white buildings with dented bay doors and dirty windows on a lot of acreage in the middle of nowhere.

Huh? A "Giant Tag Sale" is in this place? Where?

We kept driving along the dirt road meandering through this industrial area and found another sign that said "Tag Sale" with an arrow turning left. 

Okay. We'll turn left. Cue spooky music. If this were a movie, this is the part where the audience would be yelling, "No, don't keep going! Turn around and LEAVE!"

Now we were in the bowels of this abandoned alarming scary industrial pit and finally spotted some people. People that  were kind of giving us the stink eye, wondering why we were driving in this area. A young guy (aren't they all young now?) moseyed over to the car and I asked him if there was a tag sale around. He pointed to one of the long white buildings and said, "Yeah, in here are two floors. And don't forget to check out the trailers over there."

Five tractor trailers were parked with their back doors open and some decking built up so you could walk between them, ducking in and out of the trailers. 

We parked next to the white building, skeptical but curious about this whole area, and headed into the white building.

I have never seen so much stuff in my life.

Boxes and boxes of stuff. Furniture everywhere. Stuff just tossed around, piled up with no rhyme or reason. And dirty. Very dirty. But a little dirt (er, a lot of dirt) wasn't going to stop us and we dove right in, looking into boxes and corners and behind furniture until I found...

Mr. Snowman. Mr. Vintage Snowman.




You can put a light in the back of him and he'll light up. Three and half feet tall of lighted beauty.

I can't wait for Christmas.
I cleaned everything up with lots of hot, soapy water. Except the cameras. They just got wiped down with a wet cloth. I took the Kodak outside to play around with for a while. The viewfinder is huge and makes things look pretty dreamy.

I love the Diana/Lomography look of these scenes.
Now I'm sitting in my cozy chair, looking at all these pictures and smiling, just thinking about all the fun we had today.

I can't wait to do it again. Ready D?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Piano Buying Blues

Picture of our new arborvitae. And some cones, I think.

Gulp. Looks like a lot of them. Hope they don't make a mess.


My friend R tried to drop off K's prom dress tonight, thinking she was finished with the alterations she'd been working on.


The feisty chiffon material stretched and pulled after being shortened and needs to be shortened even more.

We made her take it back. Despite the stink-eye she was giving the dress.

She told K never to buy chiffon again. As a matter of fact, K is only allowed to wear upholstery fabric from now on. R is comfortable working with that.

R is an awesome seamstress. She made her own wedding gown. And has made bridesmaids dresses. And costumes for theatrical events.

But she comes completely apart when you put a pile of chiffon in front of her. I told her to buck up, little buckeroo, you can do this and sent her off. Two hours later.


While K went to change out of the dress, R and I settled in for a chat. We talked about lots of things, mostly our children.

And memories. I shared a story about her brother helping me out when we were {much} younger. She had never heard it before and we had a few giggles over the whole thing. 


At one point in my life, sometime during my college years, I decided to audition for a community play. A friend was helping me practice a song to sing for the audition and I became so enamored with his piano playing that I wanted to learn to play. I convinced my parents to let me buy a piano, looked in the classifieds and found one about a half hour from home. All I had to do was find someone to help me pick it up. 

Enter R's brother, B. The lucky guy who owned a truck.

He was a regular customer at the convenience store I was working at and knew the piano player, who had also agreed to come with me to check out the piano. So the three of us piled into B's truck and took off to see this piano.

The house was not in the best condition, which should have been my first clue, but I was in such a haze of tra-la-la-I'm-buying-a-piano fog that I tamped down my hesitation and marched up the front steps, ready to purchase my first big piece of furniture. The seller came to the door, cigarette dangling from his mouth, decked out in a wife beater and tattoos. My second clue.

We went in the house. Big dog. Big mess. Third clue.

And then B saw the piano. And shot me a look.

It was big. And solid. And heavy. There was no way he and the piano player were going to be able to lift this thing. Oh sure you can, I urged him. 

I think we're going to need more people, he might have said. While slowly backing out the door.

The piano player took over. He asked the seller a couple questions and got no answers. He tried a few notes, deemed it unsuitable, and that was that.

We couldn't get out of there fast enough. B was a happy guy.

And that was the end of my piano buying phase.


R's phone rang and we realized almost two hours had gone by. Our trip down memory lane was finished. Until she comes back with the dress. 

I'm sure we'll find something else to talk about.