Friday, May 13, 2011

Goodbyes and new beginnings

my first strawberries of the year
This post is going to be difficult and serious, so I'll attempt to be brief.

Last evening I received an email telling me that a good friend had committed suicide.  It's quite devastating, and I assume it will be a long time before I can find a way to wrap my mind around it even in some small way.  He left behind a wife and two young children and the tragedy of it is more than I can really stand to think about.

Some day I will make a post about my friend and what an amazing guy he was.  But for now I want to focus on those of us who remain to find some sort of hope and happiness in the world.

This morning my husband and I were both too upset to sleep so we decided to get up and get out of the house for breakfast.  It was a rough night and we both looked like it.  As we headed out the door, this is what I saw.  Our first strawberries of the season, looking all fresh and yummy first thing in the morning.

I know it's just a couple of strawberries, but somehow they made me feel a little bit better, like life would go on and that there is still beauty surrounding us even when life gets very ugly.  So I'm not going to go on and on, but I do want to say that life is always worth living.  There is always hope, there is always beauty, and there is always someone who cares. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, please get help. call 1-800-273-8255

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Becoming a work from home couple

My recent jewelry purchases from an online estate auction arrived on Monday.  I tend to act like a kid with a new toy when I receive a package like this.  My husband dutifully sits with me and watches me ooh and ahh over everything.  Yes, he's a saint, but he also knows that he will have to listen to me yap about my goodies until he comes over to look, so he just does it automatically now.  Without further ado, here are the lovelies that will soon be making an appearance in my Etsy vintage jewelry shop, Reconstitutions.

Recent auction purchases

In other news, my husband starts his new job tomorrow, and he will also be working full time from home!  This is very exciting for us since we actually love spending all of our time together.  It will also mean that we will be able to travel to more sales and auctions together, which is really exciting.

The down side, if I can even consider it that, is trying to figure out how to function in our home with two people trying to work and live in the same space.  Right now we are working on turning an extra bedroom into my office.  It will be a slow process but in the end it will be wonderful. 

The thing I'm most excited about, really, is having a permanent photography area set up for my Etsy product shots.  Right now when I want to take some new shots I have to clear off the buffet in my dining room and set up my portable light box and string extension cords around for my lamps--it's quite an ordeal.  Because it's such a pain, I don't take photos as often as I would otherwise.  So having a specific place where I can take pictures any time I like will be AMAZING!

Before I wrap this up I want to give a shout out to a new team I've joined on Etsy called Ecochic.  I love finding new groups of vintage jewelry lovers and of course I love my teams!  We can never get too much input, and networking helps me every single day.  Have a great day and here's hoping you make or find something beautiful today!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

sooooo excited!!

Why did I wait so long to get back into creating/crafting/whatever-the-heck-you-want-to-call-making-stuff?  Why why why why why?

I love my vintage shops. Love. Them.  However, the creative and artistic part of myself wasn't being utilized.  I knew I was craving it, but I kept making excuses.  My vintage shops are keeping me busy, I'll do it after I have my yard sale, I'll do it once I get our spare bedroom turned into my office, and on they go.  But today we had a beautiful sunny day in the Bluegrass, and I decided to enjoy it.  I headed to Lexington for breakfast then on to Hobby Lobby.  I knew they carried the alcohol inks I wanted to experiment with. 

Ok, back up.  As I believe I've mentioned, my grandmother passed away last July.  She is the person who instilled in my a love of yard sales, vintage goodies, jewelry, and crafting.  She also instilled in me the desire to shove tons of crap into every closet and drawer in the house until it bursts at the seams, but I'm not giving in to that bit.  Anyway, among the goodies I ended up with from her home is a box of ceramic dominoes.  I don't play dominoes, I will never play dominoes.  However, lots of people make and sell pendants made from dominoes. 

Now, I don't want to get a lot of grief from my Regretsy and April's Army brothers and sisters who might think I'm just going to glue shit to shit.  I'm trying to be creative here.  I'm doing custom finishes on them and hand stamping them with fun phrases and who knows what else I'll come up with.  No gluing here, I swear.

That being said, I came home and got started and OH MY GOD.  Just being the tiniest creative today has given me such joy!  I feel like a moron for not doing it earlier.  Obviously I'm starting small and have a lot of ideas about other things I want to make, but I'm just thrilled to be creating again.

So, if you are doing what I was doing and you keep making excuses for not making something, just stop reading this right now and go make something right now.  Draw, paint, sculpt, color, scribble, dance, write, sing, play, carve, whatever it is you do that exercises your imagination.  You will be very happy you did.

Until later, keep calm and craft on.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

stuck in a Eurythmics song

It can stop raining any time. Really.

(In two months there will likely be a post here about how everyone has brown grass and we're in another drought.  Mother Nature is so fickle.)

It would be annoying even if the crawl space under our house wasn't perpetually filling with water.  That is just putting it over the top.  I wanted to take pictures for my Etsy shops outside this spring, but I keep missing the 5 minutes of sun we get per week.

We did have one nice day last week and I got to spend it going to sales and an auction, so I can at least be happy about that.  I am also not so self centered that I don't know how lucky we are to be spared the devastation in Alabama, Tennessee and other areas.

Also, I'm very excited about the little container garden that my husband and I planted.  We are growing tomatoes, 4 varieties of peppers,  cilantro, rosemary, parsley, basil and strawberries.  I'm so excited!  Fresh herbs and veggies have so much more flavor than store bought and I cannot wait for the harvest.

We have also been talking more and more about moving to the east coast.  It's very frustrating to me as a huge seafood lover to not be able to buy any fresh fish or shellfish.  We have some good produce in Kentucky, but even that isn't great unless I drive quite a ways to a better market.  I desperately want to live in a place where there is a large and thriving open air food market for at least a portion of the year.  It will be years before we are ready for a move like that, most likely, but it's definitely something I'm dreaming of.

In vintage news, I still haven't listed all of my goodies from last week's sales.  I do try to spread them out for more Etsy exposure, but I've also been busy with other things.  I'm expecting a package any day now with a number of jewelry pieces I purchased at an online estate auction, so my next post will probably give you a sneak peak at those.

See you then! And Annie Lenox, I love your music but I may never be able to listen to "here comes the rain again" again after this spring.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

sale season - weekly finds

booty from this week's sales

 Each week my husband and I hit local yard sales as well as flea markets and auctions in search of  fantastic vintage items for my Etsy shops.  Since this weekend was fairly fruitful, I decided to start a weekly post to share my finds and to give you a sneak peek at the items that will be surfacing in my shops (ReconstitutionsSwing on a Star Vintage) soon.

more recently acquired goodies
A quick and incomplete list of finds:

-3 sets of salt and pepper shakers
- marble and brass table lamp
- reversible handbag
- set of Anchor Hocking glasses
- diner style shaker
- Flintstones and Loony Tunes glasses

Our first stop was a giant yard sale made of of various ex-flea market vendors who were going out of business.  From there we stopped at some neighborhood garage sales which were not productive, aside from a few things for my future nephew, Jackson.

I did find a number of items at an estate auction very near my home.  The couple who owned these items built their house in 1964 and the majority of their possessions moved in when they did.  I wish I had a need for some wonderful arm chairs because they had some that were gorgeous and I think they each sold for under $10...ridiculous!  It was a great experience to get to chat with some local vintage lovers and to get my first sunburn of the season.  My nose is rosy red and my husband says I look like a drunk.  (Love you too, honey.)

I love getting up each Friday and Saturday wondering what fantastic little nuggets we might find.  Here's wishing all of you a very fruitful sale season.  And if you're reading this and know of any great sales in the central Kentucky area, I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

some things look better in the rear view mirror

Over three years ago I lost a job that I'd had for 13ish years.  Initially I loved it, and eventually I loathed it.  I was lucky enough to be taught the business by my father and I worked very hard to get to the position I held when it ended.  It was financially rewarding but as I look back I know that it simply wasn't worth it.  I don't regret it.  I learned a lot about marketing, management and customer service and I met a lot of great people.  I simply wouldn't do it again.  No way.

I think I can say now that you're doomed if you don't have any passion for what you do.  I should clarify that a bit.  If you throw your whole self into your work, you had better love it.  It will suck the soul right out of you if you don't, and that is what happened to me.  In the end I was a shadow of the hard working and enthusiastic person I used to be, and it's because the job wasn't rewarding and didn't give me any joy.  Some of my coworkers made it tolerable, but that can only sustain a person for so long.

If you are one of those people who can go to a job and see it as simply a job and punch out at the end of the day and live a very rewarding life, then I applaud you.  But since heredity seems to be a sprouting theme in this blog, I will say that I also inherited the tendency to define myself by my career.  It's a horrible thing to do, really.  We aren't what we do.  If you are lucky enough to make a full time living as an artist or a teacher then maybe you can say you're happy defining yourself with your job title.  But if you are a plumber, or an executive assistant or a pilot or any other number of very very necessary things, I doubt that your job gives you total fulfillment in your life.

The first day I woke up without my job I felt like an empty shell and I had no idea who I was.  It was all I had ever known and I didn't think I had anything at all without it.  There was this spark inside of me somewhere that knew it was a good thing to be rid of it, but I couldn't crawl out of from behind that image I had created for myself.  And if I'm totally honest I didn't crawl out of it for a very long time.  I'm just now emerging from it completely.

As I've mentioned, I'm working on decluttering my life and my home.  Today I ventured into our spare bedroom that has become a junk dumping ground and found all of the boxes that came from my old office.  They have been exactly in that spot since the day I lost my job.  I couldn't face them.  It was too painful.  Hell I've only recently been able to drive by my old place of employment without it bothering me, and they've been out of business for quite some time now.  (Does it give me some small amount of glee that they went under after I left?  Yes, yes it does.  I'm a bad person, and I know this.  But I'm honest.)

Anyway, today I did it.  I went through every one of those boxes and got rid of everything, shredding the papers and keeping only the few personal pictures and things I found.  It didn't make me sad or angry.  In fact, I could look at everything and think back fondly of the great people I worked with and all the laughs I had as well as appreciating what having that job afforded me along the way.

I'm grateful to have worked there and I'm even more grateful that I no longer do.  I get to wake up each day and decide what I feel like doing.  I can work on my shops, play with my dog, make breakfast for my husband, run errands and stop at any flea market or sale I please.  I still find myself laying in bed at night thinking about work, but it's excitement in planning my next steps, rather than tossing and turning in utter dread at what fresh hell the next day would hold.

I have a very good friend who is still in the business and he asks me "how much would it take for you to come back?"  That is a very good question, and if I ever come up with a value that is equal to the feeling I get every morning when I get out of bed smiling and excited to face my day, I'll let him know.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

back from Virginia

I am back from a fast trip to Virginia to visit my family.  Got to spend a great few days with my parents, my sister, my brother, my sister in law and of course Kate, my super duper niece.  Here she is, if you don't believe how amazing she is.

Our trip was so rushed that I couldn't stop at any of the flea markets and antique malls along the route, which made me twitch a little.  There will be other trips, however, and this one was all about maximizing family time.  Having my family spread out over 4 states makes these little reunions rare and precious.  Even better was the fact that this one wasn't for a funeral--we've had a fair number of those in recent history.

Mother Nature was swell enough to dump rain on Kentucky the entire time we were gone, ensuring a flooded basement for my dear husband to swim around in smacking the crap out of the uncooperative sump pump when we got home.  Redneck swimming pool, anyone?  

This week will be all about getting ready for my giant yard sale which is coming up in a few weeks as well as finding lots of Etsy tips to share with all of you.  Oh, and the April's Army charity shop which will be open this week!  Mucho exciting!  More about that tomorrow.  For now I have to see if a nice glass of wine or three will get rid of the headache that driving over a mountain range in the rain has created.  Cheers!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Darn you Grippo's. Oh, and important charity stuff!

So I make that post yesterday, then hours later I'm at WalMart with a bag of Grippo's BBQ potato chips in my cart. Aarrrrg.  Whatever, water under the bridge, calories ingested, move on.

This weekend I get to see my family!!! This is always very exciting since we are spread out over 4 states and don't get to be in one place all that often.  My brother and his family have just moved into their new house and I can't wait to see it, and them, and to spend Easter with my beautiful niece Kate.  I'm taking her an Elmo backpack so hopefully I'll be on the good aunt list.

I have close to a million things to do before we leave--I'm absolutely horrible at preparing for trips.  I procrastinate terribly and end up leaving everything until the last minute.

One important thing I must do is to plug a very important charity event.  I am a member and leader of April's Army, a team on Etsy that is made up of wonderful giving people.  The group was founded because of our love of April Winchell and her site, Regretsy.  It is snarky and wickedly funny, but at it's center is a charitable heart.  Often misunderstood, April uses her humor for good and is one of the most tender hearted and truly good people I've had the pleasure to find on the internet.  I am very proud to be a part of the team, and to run the April's Army team blog.

Our team is a support group, crafter and Etsy seller think tank, and many other things.  First and foremost, however, we want to do good things for people in need.  To that end we are holding monthly charity events.  Team members contribute an item to be placed in a special shop, with all proceeds going to benefit that month's cause.

This month we are raising money for an amazing member of the team.  I will likely dedicate an entire post to his story at a later date but if you would like to read about Jason you can do so here.  Jason and his girlfriend are amazing people and I feel so fortunate to have learned about them and to help in some tiny way.

The shop will open soon, and I will alert you when that happens.  If you simply can't wait to help, you can donate directly on his site, or purchase anything from his girlfriend's shop, For Jason.  Jason has even created something of his own to sell.  I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my very own Herp Derps.

Alright, I won't subject you to any of my normal musings today.  Please just take a few moments to read Jason's story, go get a chuckle on Regretsy, and at least for today don't take stuff so seriously.  And if you find your face buried in a bag of potato chips, give yourself a break and go do something good for someone else.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Indecisive? Who, me?

I am my father's daughter.  While he is my ultimate hero, the most amazing role model and a fantastic man, I blame him for my lack of decision making prowess.  It's not his fault, though.  We come from a long line of flip flopping, option weighing second guessers.  Coming by it honestly doesn't make it any less frustrating, but at least it gives me a bit of comfort.

I think I have started five blogs in the last ten days. Probably three times that many in the last couple of months. And by started I mean that I have created them and named them and never made a single post.  Why? Because they weren't right.  I've been trying to figure out what single thing I could make a blog about that would include all the things I want to say.  What suddenly dawned on me while lying in bed this morning is that I don't want this blog to just be about my love of vintage or my weight loss or cooking or Etsy or working from home or any of the dozen other ideas I've had.

What I do want it to be about is me.  Me, the work in process, who is struggling to balance all of these things.  The woman who left her career 3 years ago, the career she had expected to retire from.  The woman who has some screwed up food addiction that she can't get a grip on. The woman who is trying to honor the memory of her grandmother while not becoming the hoarder she was with my love of all things vintage. The woman who is trying to make a living working from home, doing things she enjoys on her own timetable.  The woman who loves her husband, loves her family, loves her annoying cat and mentally challenged black lab, loves her amazing niece Kate and her yet unborn but equally amazing nephew Jackson.

So if you are going to follow this blog, expect something different all the time.  Some days I will be all business and I'll be sharing tips and tricks that I'm picking up along the way while I work to make my Etsy shops successful.  Other days I'll be lamenting about the entire bag of Grippos potato chips I've just eaten or rejoicing that I've actually worked out for a change.  There are a hundred things I'm working on simultaneously in my life and I will likely get to all of them eventually.

I will try to make this blog more about tips and ideas and less about ranting and raving, though that may happen from time to time.  It is in my nature to vent loudly and often but I'm trying to work on that.  It is also in my nature to be unnecessarily vulgar, but I am going to do my absolute best to refrain from that.  It's a bad habit, first of all, but more importantly I would like this blog to be something that people can follow without cringing.  I apologize in advance for the times I fail at these goals.

It seems incredibly arrogant to say, but I would like this to be of some value to the people who read it.  Even if the value comes from you pointing at me and saying "wow I'm not going to do anything that stupid."  I don't claim to know everything, or even very much for that matter.  But there is a lot to be said for sharing ones self in an honest manner.  I will get far more from this blog than you ever will, and hopefully you're ok with that.  Feel free to hold me accountable, call me an idiot, applaud or scream at me--anything you like.  I've been told I'm not great at taking criticism but I'd like to work on that as well.

So.  Here it is.  I'm sticking with this one.  I'm not making any more new blogs, this is it.  Seriously, I mean it this time.