We can make it, people.

Hello, poor little neglected blog. I am so sorry I have not updated in so long. I am having a really hard time getting motivated to log in here, and I blame it fully and completely on this terrible, no-good winter we are ALL (with the exception of you lucky people in southern California) having. This has been a tough one, hasn’t it? My whole body has just felt tense against the cold for about four months now and I have had little-to-no impetus to get out in the garage and work with the jigsaw, or paint, or go through the massive pile of crap that’s out there to see what can go to the booth. I just want to huddle inside my house only there are these two demons in here with me, see, that create the opposite urge to flee no matter what the weather outside is. It’s quite a conundrum. We had a beautiful stretch of two to three days at the beginning of this week where temperatures were in the fifties and sixties and the change in my mood — in ALL of our moods, actually — was drastic and wonderful. We spent two full mornings outside, with the kids running around and me cleaning out my wood pile, cleaning and washing the car, and sorting through stuff in the garage that I forgot I had. I got two big projects done — remember those barn stools I got at auction many moons ago?

I had sanded down the tops during another freak warm snap we had some time back but had never moved past that stage. I decided to try and stain the top of the big one and paint the rest.

I feel a little “eh” about them. I do think the long would would be great at the end of the bed…the small one is an odd shape — almost square — that makes its utility kind of awkward. They’re up at the booth, taking a LOT of room, and I don’t think they sold this week as someone told me two days ago they saw them there. Business has been downright CRAPPY. I know I made rent this month, but it was touch and go there for a few days — I’ve never NOT made rent so worrying about it was pretty unsettling. I’m not counting on much of a check this month at all. This is my official one year marker — I started at this flea market in February of last year, and February was my worst month in that 12-month cycle, so it may just be a crappy month, period. But we’ve had several weeks of inclement weather and the store has been completely shut down for probably four or five days this month, so that adds to the lackluster sales. Of course there haven’t been any yard sales, very few estate sales, and I’m limiting my auction exposure due to my addiction issues (ahem) so I haven’t brought in a ton of new merchandise to take to the booth — which is good, because the garage is full. I have stuff under dropcloths out there that I’ve forgotten about. I’m going to take it easy on buying anything new for the next six weeks or so and see if I can’t clear out a lot of stuff that’s taking up so much room. Despite the gloomy weather, it should be warming soon, and I can get out there and paint what I need to and just get the projects done. It really starts to wear on you after a while, doesn’t it, having so much STUFF hanging around your neck and so many projects on your to-do list that have been there for…YEARS. I would like a cleaner slate going into yard sale season, you know what I mean?

Though I SAY I’m limiting my auction action, I did go to one a couple of weeks ago that looked promising. It was overcrowded and over-priced, yet I sat there for five hours because I had spotted a couple of things I couldn’t stop thinking about that I HAD to have. There’s that PROBLEM I mentioned. The last few times I’ve gone to auctions I’ve bought primarily for myself, not for the booth. A 50-50 ratio would even be okay, because then it’s like you’re funding your bad habit by buying some stuff that you’ll make a profit on by re-selling, but lately, everything has been for ME and has been way too expensive. Case in point, this set of bookends I couldn’t resist.

How adorable is this little guy? TOO ADORABLE IS WHAT. Which is why I found myself bidding him up to $27. Ridiculous. That is a fortune to me! I like my treasures cheap — a low price adds to the appeal and to the great story you can tell everyone.

The other thing I really wanted were two toy metal phones, which I have wanted for ages. And one was RED.

I love you, red phone. But I paid $14 for him and $14 for his little black companion and that just can’t happen. I needed to find him at some yard sale out in the country, buried in some box underneath a table, and when I pull him out the woman having the sale needed to say, “oh, you want that old thing? I was just going to throw him away, I didn’t think anyone would want that! How about a quarter?” And I would skip with him in my arms back to the car to tell everyone I know how little I paid for him. But no. Instead I sat in a chair for five hours and paid $28 for he and his friend. I’m grounded from auctions (you know, unless a REALLY REALLY good one comes along).

I have been working on prints, lately. I’m trying to get better at the chalkboard prints, but it’s slow going. I see so many of them online that are just gorgeous but those people obviously have a better grasp on Illustrator than I do. This one did pretty well in the booth — it sold within a day or two:

But there are two others that have been sitting down there for weeks and weeks now. TAKING UP ROOM. I just know that I could be SUCH a great graphic designer if only I had twelve hours a day to sit in front of the computer and monkey around. Is that too much to ask? Twelve hours a day? Sheesh. Here are a few more prints that I’ve been working on.

I’m kind of thinking of doing a whole series of these romantic book quotes. I especially love the Gone with the Wind print…that was my very favorite book for years and years and years. I just SWOONED over it. I read it in fifth grade, against the wishes of the school librarian, who let my frenemy (we were very, very competitive with each other) Kenny read it but not me — she said she thought Kenny was more mature and was more ready for the content of the book than I was. NO, IT WAS BECAUSE HE WAS A BOY. Man, did that chap my hide. I marched off to the city library and checked it out myself. I SHOWED HER.

Hm. What else can I tell you? During the warm snap, I got a bit done in the garage, and dug these framed prints out of a box to bring them inside. They were in the booth for months at a bargain basement price and never sold. I realized they were the perfect color for our kitchen, which was painted in December. So I hung those suckers up! Nothing like shopping out of your own garage.

They are pages from the most beautiful book called In and Out of the Garden by Sara Midda. If you ever find that book at a used book sale or thrift store, buy it. It has gorgeous illustrations.

I did get the kids out this week and hit four different thrift stores — I just needed a fix and hadn’t been in a while, so despite the fact that it was 20 degrees outside, we piled in the car and went on the hunt. Four thrift stores, and this is all I came home with:

This lovely, old picture frame (the glass is wavy with bubbles) for $4.50, which is going in the gallery wall in the living room, and

this pretty (but nothing fancy) little vintage bracelet for $4. Both items came from a thrift store in Springdale that I rarely go to (Shara, it’s the one on Robinson — is it Council for the Blind?) because their prices are outrageous. Anything that is even slightly old gets separated into their glass cases and marked at prices that I would gawk at in an antique store. I swear, they have quilts in there that have been there for a year now because they’re ripped and stained yet they are marked $85. The worst part is, they seem to get some really, really good stuff but they mark it way too far out of reasonable range. But, I wonder, are all thrift stores getting stuff this nice only I never see it because it’s priced low and so it flies off of their shelves? I miss the days when I had the luxury of visiting Chicago thrift stores two times a day. Oh, that was the life!

The only other thing I have to show you is the progress I’m making on my wooden dough bowls. These have been out in the garage for a long time, gasping for moisture.

Just looking at that picture makes me itch with dryness. I bought some Howard Cutting Board Oil and went to town on them. People, it is the most satisfying job I have ever done. I told Justin last night that I wish my job was oiling dry dough bowls. Like, that’s what I did for a living, day in and day out. For two days now I’ve sitting down, listening to my iPod (I’m listening to Five Days at Memorial, the story of the hospital in New Orleans where a doctor was accused of euthanasia during Hurricane Katrina. Riveting and emotionally draining. Really good book.) and just methodically oiling these bowls, again and again. Today I was getting impatient at the kids’ attempts to put off naptime — I wanted to shout, GO TO SLEEP SO I CAN OIL MY DOUGH BOWLS. It is just so satisfying. Look at them now!


And I’m not even finished. I want to oil them at least twice more tonight and then let them dry overnight so I can get them in the booth tomorrow. WHAT CAN I OIL NEXT?

BTW, isn’t that chair gorgeous? Have I ever told you guys that my grandpa MADE those chairs, with his own two hands? Does it not blow your mind to think of someone working with iron like that? I was so lucky to end up with two of these after my grandmother died. They are two of my most treasured possessions.

I hope you are all surviving the winter with your sanity intact. It’s just so, so awful but I promise you that Spring is right around the corner. We can make it. I know we can. Keep the faith.


February 28, 2014 - 10:36 am

Laurie You’ll have to make an exception to your no-sales-until-?? decision so you can come to my clean out sales. 😉

Love the prints!!!!!!!

February 28, 2014 - 12:01 pm

Shara That little phone is adorable and I love the doggie bookends. I think if you bought it and you love it, then don’t worry about the price. But, the scene of finding it in a box for a quarter is the stuff that makes my hair stand on end and gives me goosebumps. When you clutch things to your chest and RUN before they say “NO WAIT, I MEANT ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS!”

I was at the booth yesterday for three hours putting out a lot of new stuff and pulling some ZONKS. I kept finding little spots where this was gone and that was gone and I was feeling QUITE proud that I had sold a number of items despite the dreariness. THEN I went up front and looked in the glass display cabinet where they have 22 items on display and FIFTEEN of them are mine. Craaaap. I didn’t have the heart to ask to peek at my sales for the month. I just pray I make rent at least! What a craptastic month.

*Yes, that is the Council for The Blind. That’s where I got my Valentine Annalee. I held my breath because knowing that store, I expected $10.00 or more. But, it was $1.75. Whew!

February 28, 2014 - 8:25 pm

Pam @ House of Hawthornes I don’t think oiling dough bowls is a high paying profession, but sometimes you have to do what makes you happy 🙂 I’m going to go check out that book on Amazon. I’ll probably be stuck inside for the next few days with this stupid snow storm, so might as well cheer myself up and read about people dying. Oh, and I love those stools! Great paint color.

March 1, 2014 - 6:50 am

Chanelle You had me at Mr Darcy! I love oiling dry wood too. Or applying Old English scratch oil to lightly scratched something and watching it disappear. Took day off yesterday and hit seven thrifts with friends (they look for other goodies than me). It was awesome to take a sanity break, plus a shamrock shake!

March 1, 2014 - 10:59 am

Heidi@TheMerryMagpieVintage I love those benches and I just know they’ll sell when things pick up again. We haven’t had a very bad winter here like most parts of the country but even still we’re just OVER the cold and gray and ready for some Spring.

The dough bowls are gorgeous! Amazing the difference that oil made.

March 2, 2014 - 9:15 am

Melissa That little red phone is killing me, it’s so cool! And I like the way your benches came out. They look a billion times better.
Our weather sucks here too. We keep getting teased with one nice day, then snow and ice. I’m over it!

March 7, 2014 - 9:58 pm

Marsha So nice to have an update! I love the barn benches…I can see them in a garden (yard) or maybe a mud room but I can’t tell how big/high they are. They look great! We’re starting to feel like spring “might” be coming here in Chicago…what a winter!!

March 8, 2014 - 9:26 am

JunkHunk I just need to chime in on how nice those prints look. I really think they’re the best you’ve ever done.

March 8, 2014 - 9:47 am

Lara Jo Why, thank you, JunkHunk, I really appreciate that!

April 20, 2014 - 8:16 pm

Lara Jo Junk Hunk, using you as a test to make sure e-mails are still getting sent…

April 20, 2014 - 8:17 pm

Lara Jo Marsha, they’re really low, which I think is a problem. The little one sold pretty quickly but I ended up bringing the big one home and will try and sell it at the flea market I’m doing in June. You guys have had THE WORST winter! I am so sorry. I have seen some temps in the 60s, though, so I’m hopeful you’re almost through it!! Talk to you soon.