Saturday, April 21, 2012

Garage Sales, Estate Sales and Taking the Easy Way Out

This morning while Jason was still away at his work seminars I found myself awake at 7:00am.  Rather than wasting the morning away lying in bed, I decided to take advantage of the only day of the week I can do a little garage sale shopping.  I found three that looked interesting in West Omaha, two garage sales and one estate sale.

Garage sales are tricky…mainly because no two are alike.  It’s hard to know what the seller is like, and the circumstances that have led to the sale of their items.  If you find a motivated seller that just wants to be rid of the excess items, it’s easy to bargain.  But if the seller is an elderly hoarder who won’t let go of their used croquette set for less than $20, then you are probably going to pay the price that is listed no matter how much wheeling and dealing you try to do.  Usually I can get a sense of the seller by listening to the other customers check out at the garage sale.

The first sale I went to was in a wealthier area of town…I thought I might run into some high-end or antique items on the cheap.  There was an old Kate Spade purse for $20, but it wasn’t my style.  I also spotted an antique dresser for $50, but the size was not big enough for what I am looking for.  I am still holding out for a long and low mid-century modern dresser for Jason’s side of the master bedroom.

After striking out at the first sale, I headed to one promising a lot of antiques and vintage items.  When I pulled up there was a couple browsing that absolutely oozed “hipster” so I knew this place must be legit.  And it delivered!  The only downside was no price labels.  When I come across this I think to myself in my mind “I would pay $__ for such an item”.  I then ask what the price is, and if it comes at or under my price it’s a deal!

There were a lot of cool wood frames, vinyl albums, crystal and glassware as well as this awesome typewriter.

I thought to myself…. “I would pay $10 for such a typewriter”.

“How much for the blue typewriter?”


“I’ll take it!”

It needs a little cleaning, but it appears to be functional still.  I know my mom is thinking, why did you buy a typewriter?  Because Mom…it’s aqua, it has a few red keys (love the aqua and red combo!), it’s not huge, and it was $5!  I don’t plan on doing much typing; it’s mainly for d├ęcor…kind of like our orange rotary phone.  Gotta love the fun, colorful, vintage statement pieces.

I also had my eye on a few empty wood frames, but the hipsters got to them first.  I still feel like I won with the aqua typewriter…take that hipsters!

The next stop was an estate sale of an elderly couple.  It was actually set up by a company that helps seniors with downsizing.  The company goes through the house with pricing guns and labels all of the items for sale.  They also have a cash register set up for check out.  I had never seen this set up before, but it was very neat and organized.  The only downside, you can’t bargain with them since they are not the owners of the items.

Old people’s houses are interesting.  It’s an adventure sorting through all of the junk to find the treasures hidden amongst them.  At this stop I came away with two staplers…one heavy duty staple gun for $4 that will come in handy for upholstery jobs, and one old Swingline stapler for $2.

I also found this adorable tea cup and saucer for $4.  I couldn’t pass up the Kelly green and gold combo.  It is my dream to someday collect cute vintage tea cups and saucers, so I’ve officially started my collection (if one item counts as a collection).  

For now this tea cup will be used for storing jewelry on my dresser.

My last stop of the day was at my favorite local store…TheHumble Home.  I would say shopping here is taking the easy way out when it comes to finding fun antique and vintage items.  Normally I am not very successful at garage sales, and The Humble Home offers a refuge of presorted and cleaned items to save you the hassle of trekking all across town for rare garage sale finds.  The greatest part is their prices; you won’t go into sticker shock here.  Today I came home with two items from The Humble Home.  A fabulous retro car mirror that stands on its own for $14.99…

And this amazing mid-century modern chair for only $49 ($54.99 – 10% off for posting previous buys on Facebook).

Recently I have loved the mid-century modern look mixed in with my modern-eclectic style.  This chair is a similar style to one that I had completely fallen for at an antique store downtown.

The price for four of the above chairs…$1900.  That’s hard to swallow.  Yes, they were leather, and a full set of four, and absolutely perfect (probably vintage Eames), but there was no way I was about to spend $475 per chair.

I am completely satisfied with our much cheaper alternative, which also happens to be quite comfortable!  This chair will help bring in the slightly vintage lounge vibe that I would like to have in our basement.   Another plus, Jason approves!  I usually shy away from buying furniture without his input, but the price was cheap enough that I was willing to take the chance.

So there you have it; the bounty of my morning out.  Total cost…$84.  Am I satisfied…yes!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The State of Our Union: Year Three

Unlike our first two anniversaries, this year’s is a little more…well, ordinary.  We went to work, came home, Jason ate dinner, I did dishes, Jason is at class, and I’m now blogging.  In between coming home and eating dinner we managed to squeeze in a sort of “State of the Union” discussion.  We both agree, we’ve been more stressed recently, and we would both like to be less stressed.

Between having Jason in school, more commitments at work, and unexpected demands around the house (Jason mowing twice a week in March?! Who would have thought!), and this just being a generally busier time of year, I think everything has just been building up…including the clutter around the house.  We both agree that the clutter has got to go, and hopefully some stress will leave along with it!

The solution is not as easy as just cleaning.  This is an ongoing thing as I’m sure you all understand.  We’re very capable of cleaning our house; it is the maintenance that we have problems with.  And this my friends, boils down to bad habits.  My goal tonight is to rethink my “To Do List” and create a new list that focuses more on the things that affect us every day and impact our everyday happiness.  Can you tell I like lists?

So after some research on different blogs and books  I’ve come up with a plan of attack, some commandments or guiding principles if you will…

A Fair Division of Labor  

This comes from Spousonomics by  Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson. “Exposing the fallacy of the 50/50 marriage split. Some people are better at, say, making school lunches, while others panic at the sight of a vacuum cleaner. Here’s a tip: Do what you’re “relatively” good at and “trade” the rest.”  I feel like at the beginning of our marriage we tried hard not to fall into doing the “gender specific” tasks.  Together we helped out with yard work, cooked, cleaned, did laundry, etc.  And we tried to divide it 50/50, which did not work.  It can create other problems which lead to the next commandment…Don’t keep score (see below).
 Over the past four years, my fear of snakes has grown so much that I nearly have a panic attack every time I’m in our back yard…this has left Jason with the yard work.  I completely switched my diet last year, so it makes more sense now for me to do the meal planning and cooking.  Between evolving schedules and finding what we are truly “good” at, we need to have a new division of labor.  I’m okay with doing the “woman’s work” as long as the work gets done and we both feel like we’re contributing to our household.  It’s a team effort!

Don’t Keep Score  

           From Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. “One thing I did was to decide always to do certain tasks myself -- like changing a dirty diaper -- rather than to see myself keeping score. And I try to bite back the words as I find myself starting to start to bargain or trade or make claims. I keep reminding myself of what St. Therese wrote: "When one loves, one does not calculate."
            It’s hard not to keep score.  One thing that I have noticed with Jason and I is that we are rarely on the same schedule when it comes to cleaning and chores.  It never fails that I am in cleaning mode when Jason just needs some time to relax, or Jason desperately wants to get the dining room cleaned while I just want to veg out on the couch after work.  This easily leads to resentment.  I think if we both remember that we are a team and in it for the same goal, it’s easier to allow the other person that freedom to relax without thinking “I can’t believe he’s playing computer games while I’m doing all of the cooking” or “I can’t believe she’s working on another craft project when she could be helping with the laundry”. 

Do it Now  

            This is another commandment borrowed from Gretchin Rubin.  Here she offers Six tips for tackling a dreaded task.  Generally, whatever task it is will take little time to complete, and doing it now saves us time from worrying about it later on.  I love the idea of a daily chore list.  I’ve seen a lot of variations of this on Pinterest and want to create one to fit our needs.

We agree that spending a few minutes cleaning every day will be worth it when we come home to a less cluttered environment.  Here’s a tentative plan I have (still need to run it by the hubby):

Daily Chores/Habits:  
Do all dishes in sink before making a new meal.
Clean up all dirty dishes after eating.
Load any dirty bowls glasses directly into dishwasher.
Throw dirty clothes down laundry shoot as soon as you remove them.
Sort the mail into junk (recycle bin), need to attend to soon (on top of file cabinet) or save (file it appropriately).  No mail on the table! 
Empty lunch bag so dishes can be done.
Make the bed (Still questioning the importance of this one?)
Wipe off bathroom sink.
Wipe down kitchen counters.
Pick up and put away any clutter.
Open any new packages immediately and dispose of box/packaging right away.  Find place for new item
Hug each other when we get home from work (we already do this).
 Weekly Chores:
Clean main bathroom.
Wash sheets in master bedroom.
Vacuum all floors.
Throw out old food in refrigerator.
Plan meals for the week.
Grocery shopping.
Clean kitchen. 
Mow lawn.
 Monthly Chores:
Mop wood floors.
Wash duvet cover.
Wipe out shelves/drawers in refrigerator.
Wash guest bedroom sheets as needed.

PRN or As needed Chores:
Wash comforters (every 3 months).
Donate items to Goodwill or food pantry.

I know there will be more items added and moved around.  I even found this handy template to customize your own chore chart here.  I think a visual will be good, and we love charts around here!

I think if we keep those three commandments in mind…a fair division of labor, don’t keep score, and do it now, it will helps us achieve our ultimate goal, which is a happier more peaceful home that we can share together.

I thought the card from Jason's parents was very fitting for this blog post...

What is Marriage?
It's vacuuming carpet and hammering nails
It's saving a dollar by shopping at sales
It's balancing checkbooks and paying off bills
It's cleaning the windows and mopping up spills
It's doing the laundry and matching up socks
It's a washer that dies when the car needs new shocks
It's two busy schedules, but one happy life
With each moment you share as husband and wife!

Although it may seem slightly depressing  that we spent our few minutes together on our anniversary talking about what we want to change in our lives, I think it’s an appropriate topic.  Anniversaries give us a chance to look back on all of the good moments from the past years, but they also give us a chance to think about what we can do to improve our future happiness and further strengthen our marriage.  And don’t worry!  We did celebrate our anniversary last weekend by going out to breakfast, one of our favorite things to do.   

Here are a few of my favorite pictures (in no particular order) from that wonderful day three years ago.
 Katrina McKeagney Photography

 Katrina McKeagney Photography

 Katrina McKeagney Photography

 Katrina McKeagney Photography

Katrina McKeagney Photography

 Shelby Orians Photography

 Shelby Orians Photography

 Shelby Orians Photography

 Shelby Orians Photography

 Shelby Orians Photography

Happy Anniversary, Jason!  I feel so lucky and honored to be married to such a wonderful man.  Three years down, 72 to go!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Craft Room Update

After two hours of cleaning the Craft Room has been restored to its former glory...

I can only hope for another motivating dream tonight!


Last night I dreamed of cleaning.  How sad is that?  Not like “oh I’m just sprucing up the kitchen after dinner” and then continue on with normal dreaming topics.  No, this was a full-on hoarders style cleaning.  I was in various rooms of our house and at some point in my craft room sorting through piles and piles of random junk.  And I swear I haven’t watched Hoarders in over a month.

It could be that I’m getting the Spring Cleaning Bug.  Or the fact that I started going through a few old year books at my parents’ house the other day.

Or maybe it’s the current state of things in my craft room that has something to do with my dream...

Yeah.  I’d say this is the reason for my all-too-realistic dream.  The funny thing is that it was a nice dream.  I felt calm, and the dream-cleaning was weirdly therapeutic.

If you haven’t noticed I have been really bad about posting recently.  This is because I haven’t had much to post about.  I’ve hit Project Paralysis.  I blame it on stress.  Work has been more stressful recently, but I’ve come to peace with work stress…it’s gonna happen, we’ll get through it, and we’ll develop a new, workable normal.  Now I need to deal with home stress, namely CLUTTER!

Jason and I both agree.  Clutter causes us stress.  I never realized how much of a difference it makes to come home to a clean house.  This only happens for us after we’ve had company over.  So don’t be fooled friends and family, we are not neat freaks.  My neat freak side only kicks in to high gear about 24 hours before company arrives.

Maybe this dream is a sign.  I’m stressing about clutter subconsciously and I need to do something about it.  Cleaning and organizing will help, “a place for everything and everything in its place”, but we also need to develop better everyday habits.  I feel that coming home to a mostly-cleaned and de-cluttered house will allow me to give myself permission to start up on the project list again.

Now if only my sleep-walking tendencies I had as a teenager would somehow turn into sleep-cleaning?  Just a thought.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Camera Tricks

We bought a new camera this last week.  And no, we did not splurge for the latest DSLR model.  I of course thought we needed a DSLR like everyone else has, but luckily my sweet husband talked me back down to reality.

Reasons why we don’t need a DSLR:

1) We rarely take pictures now.  Buying a fancy camera doesn’t mean we are suddenly going to turn into photographers.

2) I don’t know the lingo or how it translates to our current camera.  Aperture?  Shutter speed?  Say what?!

3) Our current camera is somewhat bulky to haul around.  Why would I think that I would be willing to carry a dedicated camera bag with all of the lenses and accessories?

4) Price.  DSLR cameras and accessories are expensive.

5) Complexity.  Did I mention that I don’t know what aperture is?  I would feel obligated to take a class on how to use a DSLR, which would in turn translate to more money.

I really want to take pretty pictures, really I do.  I want my food posts to have the most tantalizing photos and my decorating posts to look like a magazine spread, but I had to agree with the hubby on this one.

He found a great option for us…the new Canon PowerShot S100.

Here’s why I love it!

1) It is small, about half the size of our old Canon PowerShot A710

2) It has easy to use settings for landscapes, pets, and portraits to name a few.

3) It is matte black.

4) There aren’t a million lenses and accessories to lug around with it.

5) It claims to take pictures as good as a DSLR.

I know this is a pretty simplistic view of this camera given the massive list of features and options it has (GPS?!), but my knowledge of photography and cameras is pretty elementary at this point.  My goal is to gradually learn how to use it to its great potential.  Last night we took advantage of the great Spring weather and the “magic hour” and took a stroll at Memorial Park with the dog.

We ended up with some great photos…

And some not so great photos…

 Yes, Winston got a leash wedgie

I mainly used the Auto, Landscape, Portrait and Kids/Pets modes.  Maybe someday I’ll be adventurous and use the manual mode after a little photography research.

Oh, and here’s Winston doing what he does best…getting in between me and whatever he thinks I’m doing.

Little does he know I’m actually blogging, not watching TV.  Silly dog.