Saturday, December 29, 2012

The December 2012 Sweater Bonanza

I buy most of my clothes at thrift stores and garage sales. Not underthings, but the overthings. Sweaters, shirts, pants, sometimes shoes. If it doesn't work for me after I bring it home (although I do try most things on), I release it back into circulation by putting it in the donation pile. I admit I have bought a couple of things I thought might look good on me because they were really cheap. I seem to forget that olive is not my color. I tend to wear cardigans to work a lot during the winter. The lab is really warm sometimes and we have to wear lab coats and gloves, so it's nice to easily take off a layer when I'm in there.

I have to be in the right frame of mind for shopping this way, because one does have to sort through a lot of unacceptable things. But I look around online for clothing occasionally and can't quite bring myself to spend $50 on a pair of jeans. This is better for the planet anyway, and I do like the thrill of the hunt.

Someone mentioned that a thrift store in the next town south of here had good stuff, so I drove the 20 minutes and did some shopping there this morning.  They had a 50% off sale on items with certain tag colors, so I got most of my items for half price.

And did I find some items! Holy moly, I hit the sweater bonanza. Above you can see the SEVEN sweaters I bought after I soaked them in a gentle no-rinse soap and have laid them out to dry in my basement. Everything does seem to have a certain smell to it from the thrift store and I like to give everything a wash before I wear it. It's funny, four of the sweaters are from Christopher and Banks, a store whose clothing I associate with teacher-wear. But I like the styles and the fit so it works for me.

I also found two tops, a pair of shoes and a pair of snow boots. The snow boots I think are snowboarding boots. I don't snowboard, but I think they will work just fine for $5, thank you.

How about you, do you shop second hand?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Back to work

Mr W and I had a really nice Christmas. I feel a little bad that he doesn't get a strong traditional Christmas when he's with me, but we end up doing what we feel like doing. I suppose that's not a bad thing. This year we had a good meal on Christmas Eve (spaghetti) and Christmas Day (ham and roasted veggies), and those made yummy leftovers. We were supposed to drive to Denver to join friends at their traditional Polish feast, but it there was snow forecasted, and I didn't want to chance it in my old Civic. Instead we drove around town and saw some lights, coming home when the roads were getting a little treacherous from said snow.

We went to the Denver Botanic Gardens and saw the lights, which were fab, plus it wasn't too cold and we got in before the crowds. We went to a winter solstice service at my church in lieu of the Christmas Eve service and that was good. Reflective.

He got me up on Christmas at 6 am, and we had a nice time opening presents. My family sent several things for us and it was fun to open all the loot. SIL L got hardback books for each of the families made from the vacation pictures she took when they were out here in August. It's really cool to have hardcopies of the pictures, in a book - I know, sort of like the old days. Just about all my pictures are digital these days.

And when his dad came to get him yesterday, so Mr W could spend time there and celebrate Christmas with them, I fought back the melancholy, like I always do. I get used to having him around, and when he's not, I miss him. I can't to go back to how things were, so the only option is to move forward, and thinking that way helps. I've got plenty to do around here - thoughts of remodeling projects are sloshing around in my head...

I'm working W-F this week, and will take a couple of days off next week. Not too many people at work, but I've got plenty to do. I'm trying to get some background (via the primary literature) of the genetic work that's been done in insecticide resistance in the mosquitoes we work with. I find it really interesting, so that's good.

One of the people from the group of old-time musicians that plays together weekly is having a New Year's Eve party, and I will likely swing by there. I've decided to start saving for a new banjo. My dad sent a generous Christmas check and I've got some craft show proceeds that could go toward it. Twang, twang, twang.

Things are good.

Monday, December 17, 2012

One small New Year's resolution

I saw this idea and thought it would be right up my alley with regard to New Year's resolutions, which I don't tend to make. I'm put a jar, a stack of scrap paper, and a pen on my hutch and make the effort to write down when good things happen.

I'm not going to have too many rules on what qualifies, but want to have a jar full of stuff to look at at the end of next year. Sounds simple enough.

Things have been good here, busy like most everyone. I've rolled some kid essentials like boots, slippers and socks in Mr. W's Christmas present haul and I'm not ashamed to say that whatever arrives before Saturday (the day we'll do our Christmas) will be wrapped in festive paper and put under the tree.

He's getting one big gift from me this year, and a couple of small things. I wrapped this thing last night. I set the box that the gift came in into a larger box, and secured it with some styrofoam pieces that came as packaging for something else. Then I put four cans of black beans into the box, filled the rest with newspaper, and wrapped that. Ha! Now, to work on the scavenger hunt clues for him to find his gift. Yup, when the number of gifts is small, ya gotta make them work for it.

Image from here

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


As part of what must be one of the most bizarre coincidences ever, I received yesterday this picture from my dog park friend M. He took it while visiting his mom in the central NY town where he's from.

This is the house my mom grew up in.

I'm still trying to grasp the chances of someone essentially random knowing my mom's family and the very house where she was raised. M didn't know my mom, but knew my grandpa (Oompa, we called him) who was a veterinarian and a well-regarded member of the community. His cousins lived across the street from my mom.

My mom's been gone for a long time now, so I need to grill my dad a bit and see what he remembers about the place. He only went up there a few times. 

Life's a strange thing sometimes. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Post-Big-Craft-Show Thoughts

I am relieved the big craft show is over and am looking forward to getting my house put back together and getting my kid out from behind the computer to make some cookies and put up the tree today. It was a large chunk of time to get ready and do this thing, and I wanted to get my thoughts down so I can come back later (maybe next year when it's time to sign up!) and read them.

What sold best was my watch parts bracelets and the bookmarks I make from buttons and clay tiles. As a last minute thing on the Wednesday before, I made about 15 bookmarks with my clay tiles only and sold all of those. All told, I sold about 50 bookmarks, 20 of the watch parts bracelets and about 10 button bracelets. People are looking for something different.

I sold small numbers of magnets, buttons, brooches, earrings, and ornaments. These were my lower-priced items that I figured would sell well because they were inexpensive, but it didn't go that way. The bookmarks were really cheap at $3 and it's hard to tell if I could have charged $5 and still sold as many, or people would have not bought them because they didn't look like they were worth that much. As far as time and materials went, $3 was fair as long as I didn't have to ship them.

People either liked my stuff or didn't and this was very interesting to me. Many looked as they went by and didn't slow down as they passed. Others stopped and I could tell my stuff connected with them and that was really neat to see. One woman wearing a bright blue and purple sweater stopped and looked at the button bracelets. I looked at which button bracelets I had out, and after she passed fished around in the box where the extras were and put out one that was purple blue and green. She came back around, zeroed in on that very bracelet and BOUGHT IT! I was very pleased and told her what I had done and she thanked me. That was pretty cool

I am lucky and fortunate to be in a position where I am not dependent on the sale of my stuff to put food on the table and pay my mortgage. So why am I doing it? It was fun to interact with people, and I get a kick out of having people like my stuff. It was also fun to see people I knew who stopped by because I was there, or happened to be passing through. Without thinking too hard about it, my goal should be to cover my expenses (including my time) and maybe just a little on top of that.

I was talking to the woman in the booth next to mine and she wasn't shy about telling me that I wasn't charging enough for my bracelets. More to the point that I wasn't charging for my time. I do spend a lot of time finding the right elements to buy, and that time is done and passed and I'm not sure how much time it was, but that was time spent making pieces that I made and will make. I guess I need to come up with some way to estimate that, and also to keep track of my time going forward.

With the money I have made at the three craft shows this year, Mr W and I are going to take a vacation. I believe we will go to Washington, DC some time in the late winter/early spring. He's just the right age for it and I'd like to go as well. I was talking to my dear SIL who turns 50 next year and she's organizing a long weekend in Las Vegas in April to celebrate. Looks like I'll have to make more bracelets to pay for that airfare as well.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Puff puff puff

It's been busy!! Not much time to write. I'm participating in a big craft show tonight and tomorrow and have spent the last couple of weeks' worth of free time getting ready for that. All is good, though, and I'm excited to see how my stuff is received.

Mr W had his first ever Band concert, and did fabulously. I'm so glad he plays percussion - I could actually hear him!

Work is super busy at the moment too. Hope things are good in your part of the world and I'm looking forward to catching up on blogs next week some time.