Monday, September 26, 2011

Goodwill Cheap Thrills

Do you love to thrift shop, or does it freak you out? This Saturday, I went on an early Goodwill shopping trip by myself. I'm not a thifting expert, but I've learned a couple of rules that really work for me:

1. I don't shop at thrift stores with my little one. In order for me to see past the dust on an item and imagine it in a new way, I have to hold the item and think of all the ways it could be used. This is really hard to do when William is trying to pull all of the porcelain dog figurines off of the shelves.

2. I don't buy something just because I've seen an identical project on another blog or website unless that item would look great in our home. This is tricky; it's so tempting to pick something up when I know that it can be repurposed into something amazing. But if that amazing thing won't be particularly useful for us or would be out of place in our home, I keep walking.

3. Every penny counts. If I overspend at Goodwill, it's just as bad as overspending at Pottery Barn.

I spent $20 at Goodwill on Saturday and came home with a slew of things I plan on repurposing. Here are two that I had time to start using this weekend.

I paid $1.99 for this very chunky gold frame from Pier 1. I spray painted it turquoise, placed a piece of chalkboard vinyl inside the frame, and used a chalk pen to write on the glass. I have this frame propped inside a plate stand because I like the way it looks, and it's sitting next to the kitchen sink with a reminder to choose joy. You could paint several tiny frames and use them as place cards at a dinner party, to name food at a buffet, or to leave a sweet note for a family member sleeping in your guest room.

The cute glass drink jar just needed a good washing in hot, soapy water, but that was it. I love it! It's holding iced tea in our fridge, but it's something unique (at least now that glass Tang containers are not a standard in every household) and a great find for 99 cents.

Have you found anything lately at Goodwill or a consignment shop (or your own garage) that you turned into something you love?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The List Continues

23. For the ability to serve, even if it's only spaghetti to a one-year-old.
24. For beauty in the ordinary
 25. For a husband who makes time
Very grainy pic, but I treasure this moment 
26. That this face was only fleeting
Dang, son. Dang.
 27. For paint that washes out

28. For the signs of a creative life

29. For our time together

30. For the quiet light of early fall

 31. For every once in a while with Polynesian sauce

 32. For helping others spend money at Target

33. For being given a pumpkin spice iced latte for helping others spend money at Target
 34. For fall that comes rolling in

35. For frozen shrimp. Really.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gallery Wall Project: Finished (85%, anyway)

I've had this picture from Pottery Barn bookmarked for months. Literally bookmarked. I actually turn pages in those old paper things called, er, catalogues? I love little treats. I am thrilled for days if someone gives me a magazine or drops a Starbucks tea on my porch, which is why I get great pleasure out of flopping on my sofa with an iced tea and a free Pottery Barn catalogue when the little dictator sleeps.
I've been collecting picture frames from family members, garage sales, and thrift stores for a few years, and I have dozens. I finally got around to arranging a photo wall in our front room a couple of weeks ago.

 I didn't arrange the wall by tracing my frames onto butcher paper and taping them to the walls, like everyone suggests. I probably should have. I did it the hard way, swinging a hammer and little holes in the wall until I got it right. I don't mind doing it that way, even if there are holes that will someday need to be patched (they're actually all hidden right now).

The artwork isn't particularly cohesive, but I think it works. The only thing that each frame has in common is that I like it. I'm still choosing photos for the large frames and I am looking for the perfect insert for the little white shadowbox, but otherwise this wall is complete.

This room has come a long way on a very tight budget. Here's a picture of it "before," before I'd done anything in the room.  This picture of me is the week I gave birth to William in June 2010, and it's the only old photo I could find of the front room.

Before (Not me, the front room. It ain't an easy thing to do, but please look past the ginormous belly to the blank room.)
Yikes, my face is scary swollen in this picture. Not to mention that my stomach looks like it ate an adult basketball player. I have to admit that seeing photos like this makes me not want to be pregnant again and go through the discomfort of those last few weeks. 

So, since 2009, we've replaced the hardwood floors with darker wood, painted the walls, painted the trim, brought in a sofa and furniture, changed the curtains, and added a photo wall. Not too bad for working with a budget that was stretched tighter than my maternity skirt waistband! 

Friday, September 9, 2011

This is What I Saw

I take so many photos...maybe close to 2,000 a week. Sometimes I get to capture something so special that I want to share it, even if it's really only meaningful to me. This week I got to take pictures of a newborn baby girl, our friends, little boys playing, and food. And books. (Is it just me, or do you feel oddly connected to someone when you find out you have the same books they do?) The counseling books are from social work grad school.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Running with William

I've been running with William every other morning for the past three months. It's part of our routine now, and he willingly lunges for his crib as soon as the run is finished. He knows that it's time for a nap before the rest of the day begins. It's definitely harder running with a jogging stroller, but in a way it's so much more motivating. I feel like with every step I'm showing him that mommies can run, too, and run fast, and run for a long time. William is so FUN. He wants to run and throw things and fall down. He is utterly unconcerned with getting dirt under his toenails. I used to think that having a boy might mean that I'd spend a lot of time watching from the sidelines, but that's not the case at all. I'm learning to be athletic and more daring and less concerned with appearances all the time. Today was the third day in a row I didn't blow-dry my hair. That's kind of a big deal, y'all.

This is an iphone picture I took on Saturday after he fell asleep while I ran.
This is the only time he's ever fallen asleep on a run. I think it may have been a direct result of eating his daddy's whole wheat waffles earlier in the morning.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Camera Brain & A Big Fat Lapse in Judgment

Sometimes I am so busy trying to capture a picture that I don't see what's going on right in front of me. This weekend at the river, I was taking pictures of the low water.

 I was trying to get pictures of all the little frogs and fast-moving water spiders that are normally concealed, but are totally exposed because of the drought. My current lens isn't meant to zoom from afar, so I have to get very close to things and people to get a close-up or to capture detail.
 Let me just preface this by saying that William was safe on shore in the golf cart with his grandaddy, pretending to drive.
 I was trying to take a picture of a teeny tiny frog, but he was so small that I had to crouch on the riverbed and lean over the water to get a picture. Even then, you can barely see him. He's in the middle of this photo, and he was about half an inch big. Tiny. I was so focused on this frog that I wasn't thinking about anything else. Like the fact that no one should ever hang out in the tall grass by a riverbed. Or that it was dusk, when many snakes like to eat. Or that I was chasing frogs, and frogs are good snack food for certain poisonous predators.
 I looked for a place to squat closer to the frog. I was squatting on my knees (did I mention that I was wearing shorts and flip flops?) when I noticed movement in the water about 11 inches or so from my leg. Oh, goody! A frog.
I stood about 30 feet away and took this picture of the cottonmouth. If you can't see him very well, too bad. He's in the middle of the photo, largely concealed by the marshy water.
Not a frog. A water moccasin. A very poisonous Texas Cottonmouth snake all curled up, waiting for the movement of prey. I saw a flash of solid black snake and I knew it was a cottonmouth. I have heard plenty of stories from my cowboy father about these aggressive snakes, one of the only snakes who will actually chase down humans to defend its territory. It took about, oh, one millionth of a second for me to fly into the air and run screaming up the riverbed. Note to my foolish self: do not take pictures of prey at dusk unless I feel like becoming prey at dusk.

Number 22: my cowboy father, who taught me about cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, opening gates, and paying attention (even if I don't remember all of his lessons simultaneously)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Adding to the List

14. Peaceful car rides
 15. Sky that reaches forever
 16. Beauty behind barbed wire
 17. Unnamed weed that billows like clouds of smoke unfurling from a fire, or powder escaping Amadeus' wig, or firecrackers exploding

 18. River that flows in drought
 19. A lush, secret lawn
 20. Bathing my son in a riverhouse sink
 21. Sound asleep down dark country roads lit only by the moon (and mama's flash bulb, of course)