In Defense of Crocs

So, Crocs (the lightweight plastic clog-type shoe, not the animal) had their hey-day (quite?) a few years ago, and I’ve always been someone who thought they were ugly and couldn’t imagine wearing them no matter how comfortable they were.

Yea. So this past summer I was huge and pregnant and hot with swollen feet (and an aching back) that desired a little more support than what my beloved flip-flops could provide. And then I saw a pair of light pink Crocs in my size at a favorite thrift store for $1.50 and thought well – maybe I should give them a try…..just while I’m pregnant, of course, because it’s not like I was putting a ton of effort into anything else I wore at that point (or, who am I kidding? ever) and when I slipped them on in the store they were oh so comfy….

And I basically lived in them for….months. Let me tell you, there’s a reason these shoes were/are popular, and I think we can all agree it’s not because they’re stunningly stylish. My feet have never felt so supported yet free!

Fast forward to a month ago. Baby is born (um, she’s 4 months old) and I’m still spending a good portion of time in my light pink Crocs (I’d started wearing socks underneath them. Because it’s winter. Wow, I just realized how ugly/ridiculous this sounds/is).

Then one goes missing. (Only in this house can a shoe just up and go missing).

So when I just HAPPENED to come across a bright pink, Mary-Jane style pair, in my size, at that same thrift shop, well…..

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Let’s just pretend I’m wearing them ironically, mmkay?

The City Flea

A few months ago I was accepted as a vendor for this summer’s The City Flea  – a “curated urban flea market” held at newly-renovated Washington Park. Due to date conflicts in June & September, I was only able to do the July & August events – the former of which was last Saturday.

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The back of one row of booths

The City Flea isn’t your typical flea market – it’s all handmade, vintage & upcycled goods. I heard someone say it’s like “Etsy in real life” and that’s actually a pretty accurate description (but add some food vendors, and beer).

It was packed! We had a ton of traffic in the booth pretty much all day, and sales were also very good. In fact, I was wishing I had brought more merchandise! Last time I did an event like this I was cursing myself for taking along so much stuff (only to pack it up later to bring home), so it was surprising to feel like my tables were kind of bare during the latter part of the day.  I’ll definitely pack more next month.

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3 or 4 different people told me that their Grandma still keeps Ritz crackers in a tin just like this (circa 1986) one.

It was HOT, and of course, it’s a ton of work setting up and tearing down an entire 10×10 booth in one day.  But overall it went smoothly – my husband actually took the day off work (a rare occurrence) to help, and the girls were about as good as a 4 and 6-year-old can be at something like this. Luckily, Washington Park has a playground and spray fountains where Steve and I could take the kids for breaks.  They also spent some time chilling under our tables 🙂

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For those of you in the Cincinnati area, the next City Flea is on August 17th from 10-4. I’ll be there! If you let me know you’ve read my blog or are a Facebook fan, I’ll give you my special family & friends discount 🙂

Piper turns 6, thoughts on Kindergarten, and a purse.

Last weekend we celebrated Piper’s 6th birthday – let me just go ahead and say the usual…I can’t believe I have a 6-year-old, blah blah blah (but it’s very true). 6 seems pretty big as it is, but then I realized that next year she’ll turn 7 – WTF?! SEVEN?! That seems way older than 6 for some reason. I remember being 7!

Anyway, this year her birthday was on a Saturday, and our parents (and my brother) joined us for dinner at Piper’s restaurant of choice. Aside from slipping off her high-top chair and slamming her chin into the table, I think she had a good time. She insisted that we not let the servers sing to her, but happily accepted the free ice cream sundae 🙂      sundaeAfter dinner we all came back here for cake & presents. Except for the present from her sister, which they mutually agreed she could open before dinner (it was a Pinypon, and somehow Kady reasoned me into letting her get one too).

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The next day, Piper had a “friend party” at Michael’s (the craft store), where 9 little girls painted suncatchers and decorated (and ate) cupcakes. And acted totally crazy with a bunch of balloons.

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On another note, I can’t believe there’s only a month left of school! Piper’s kindergarten year has absolutely flown by, more than any other year since I’ve been a parent. Overall, it’s been an excellent experience for all of us. Her teacher is wonderful, and we’ve been really happy with both her school, and the school district as a whole.

Somewhat aside: Her principal is particularly awesome. On different occasions, I’ve seen him: moving carts of large musical instruments, taking pictures at the kindergarten holiday parties, refilling the hand sanitizer they keep in the hallway, facilitating the kindergarten bus lines on a 2-hour-delay day (no small feat), and, at an outside-of-school event, wearing his own infant in a baby carrier on his chest while socializing with students. While I’m sure they did important work, my main memory of my elementary school principal(s) are listening to them speak at assemblies.) I think it’s great that even the littlest students know him by name and face, and he’s out and among them often and not just some authority figure sitting in an office. The Assistant Principal seems nice too – after one PTA meeting, he came up and told Kady he liked her dress. And told me a bit about how his own young daughter also wears only skirts/dresses too 🙂

I definitely noticed too (although it wasn’t a total surprise) that kindergarten isn’t what it used to be. I don’t remember my kindergarten experience, but according to my mom, it was a lot of playing and just getting used to being away from our parents. My Dad says that he took naps and colored in kindergarten. All of this (except the naps) sounds more like what happens in the 2-year-old class at the girls’ preschool.

In Piper’s kindergarten class, at this point, every kid can read (albeit at different levels.) Most of them can sound out and write words and sentences without assistance, at least to enough that  you can decipher them despite any mis-spellings. They’re finishing up working on single-digit addition & subtraction. They do read stories as a class – but then they talk about things like fiction vs. non-fiction, themes, plot, characters, etc.

I give kindergarten teachers so much credit (for many reasons), but I think their jobs are particularly hard because the kids start off at such vastly different levels. I volunteered in Piper’s class a few weeks after the school year started, and noticed there were a couple kids who were just learning to identify their letters, and others who could practically read chapter books. Yea – those were the extremes of each side – most kids, Piper included, fell somewhere in the middle. But I’m sure it’s a challenge to help the kids on the lower-end catch up while still challenging the higher-achieving kids – and not “neglecting” all those kids in the middle who still need to strive and improve. Especially when you’re one teacher in a room of 20 kids. But  I have to say that Piper’s teacher definitely knew what she was doing, and while there will always be kids of varying abilities, there is a vastly smaller range between what the more-and-less advanced kids in the class can do these days.

I’m so ready for summer. It never seemed like that big of a deal when the girls were in preschool, but now I’m so looking forward to not to deal with the dual AM kindergarten/PM preschool rush. The IL’s generously got us a pass to Coney Island for Christmas, and I anticipate spending tons of time at the pool this summer, making several trips to the zoo, and just hanging out with nowhere to go/be.

Since this whole post was entirely outside of the apparent-theme of this blog, here’s a picture of a purse I made last week (the print is tiny butterflies, and the lining is a floral vintage sheet.) It was the first thing I ever sewed from a pattern (this one), and I found the whole process way more time-consuming than I expected. I’m pretty happy with the results, although in the end, I don’t love my fabric choices (I think it needs more of a color “pop” somewhere.)

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My Newest Favorite Thing…

I got this Dormeyer electric percolator at an estate sale many months ago, and it’s been sitting there waiting to be listed in my Etsy shop ever since. I ended up bringing it to the antique show I took part in August, where a shopper told me that I would regret it if I didn’t keep it to use because it makes the best pot of coffee.

I’m a total coffee addict, and maybe the reason it never made it onto Etsy is because I subconsciously wanted to keep it all along. I recently decided to try it out (not sure what took so long) and she was right – it does make an amazing pot of coffee. Not only that but it doesn’t require filters, there’s a sliding lever to easily adjust the coffee strength, and it looks nicer than a hunk of plastic sitting in the kitchen. I mean, it fits right in with my 70’s-era gold-flecked laminate countertops :p

Junk Hunting from a Junk Hunter

One time this summer I was talking about some of my great roadside finds when my brother jokingly called me “a picker.” I wasn’t insulted or anything, but the truth is, what I (and the many, many like me) do is far from what you see on American Pickers & the like.  While I would love to be able to go through someone’s house/yard/garage/etc. looking for things to buy and hearing the histories behind any interesting items, my vein of “picking” is basically driving around the suburbs and grabbing things from the curb (it’s come to be known as “junk hunting” at our house.) There’s little in the way of human interaction, although once a very nice man came out with his drill and took apart the  wooden bed he had set on the curb so I could fit it into my car. There was only one other time I actually talked to the person I was “picking” from.

I had seen a craigslist ad for free garage sale leftovers, and it was only a couple blocks away from my house. Funnily, I had actually WENT to the garage sale at that house the day before, but only had $2.00 cash with me so I bought very little. When I showed up, the guy was still bringing boxes of things to the curb. As I started loading up my car, he said “go ahead, take everything you can – I do it too.” I smiled and thanked him, and he kind of hesitated, then continued – “actually, I make a living doing just that.” I stopped loading and said “really?”

He went on to tell me that he earns around $30K a year picking up “junk” and selling it through local auction houses. He’s not a furniture rehabber or DIYer – his key is in the sheer volume of stuff he picks up & sells. He actually gave me some good tips on what neighborhoods to hit on various days of the week, and recommended the best auction company to use should I ever decide to go that route. It was such an interesting and unexpected encounter! (and the guy is practically my neighbor…) I ended up getting the speakers I used to make this piece of cat furniture, along with about 4 boxes of random glassware & Christmas decorations. I’m not really sure why he chose to get rid of this stuff versus auction it off, because it was all clean and in decent condition (but if I had to guess, I’d say he probably had no shortage of things to auction & didn’t want to bother with a few boxes of little stuff that would probably only go for a few bucks.)

Even funnier, a couple of days later I was picking things up from one of the online estate sale places I frequent (that also takes consignments) and in walks this very guy. Turns out he knows the owner well (as do I, by this point) and consigns things through him pretty regularly. He was bringing in this very unique wooden sculpture to consign – which recently turned up – refinished – at the antique mall where I have a booth. It’s a small junkin’ world around here!

4th Sundays MainStrasse Antiques

Yesterday I set up a booth at 4th Sundays, a monthly outdoor antiques sale in MainStrasse Village in Covington, KY. My Dad came along to help out, and sell a few of his own things, and Steve and the girls showed up later. It was the first time I’ve done something like this, and although there are a few things I’ll do differently next time, overall it went pretty well.

The Good:

  • The setting – MainStrasse is a charming neighborhood, and the sale took place along both sides of a paved walkway and was almost all in the shade. It was a really nice place to spend the day.
  • The crowd – I thought the event had a really good turnout! There was pretty much a steady stream of people from about 8:45 to 2:00ish, and many stragglers after that (it took place from 9-3).
  • I had put up a little sign at my booth mentioning my booth at the antique mall (and my Etsy shop) and I had several people ask where the antique mall was and say they’d have to come check it out.
  • I got to meet Judi Ketteler, who wrote Sew Retro. She bought a couple of my vintage jewelry magnets, and I complimented her on her super-cute bag that had a vintage hankie on the front. We got to talking, and she (completely unpretentiously) mentioned that she had authored a book and told me the name of it. I had previously heard of Sew Retro (and had added it to my to-read list) but had no idea the author was local! We chatted a bit – she’s very nice and wasn’t annoyed at all by my questions about how she made her bag, even though it’s one of the projects included in her book. I’m going to order Sew Retro from her website very soon!

The Not-So-Great:

  • The heat. It was a pretty, sunny day, and the first part of the morning was absolutely gorgeous. But later on, it got HOT. Even in the shade, it was to the point of being uncomfortable, and packing up afterward was not fun at all. Speaking of…
  • Packing & unpacking. Setting up my 10×10 booth at the antique mall took a lot of work, but at least I only had to do it once.
  • My sales. I talked to a few other vendors after the event, and it seems that no one did that great. I heard a lot of “people were looking, but not buying.” That said, I did sell enough to at least pay for the booth rental, which was my ultimate goal. I didn’t expect to make a killing, but it would have been nice to sell a little bit more (if for no reason other than to get it out of my house).

Overall, I’m glad we tried it. September is really busy for me, but I’d like to do another outdoor show in October – I just haven’t decided which one yet.

GIVEAWAY! Win something vintage, upcycled, handmade or random!

I think the Secondhand Fancy Facebook page has more followers than this blog, but just in case anyone’s missed it – I’m hosting a giveaway to celebrate getting 100 FB fans!

All you have to do to enter is become a fan of Secondhand Fancy on Facebook, and then post a comment letting me know which of the four categories you want to enter the drawing for (vintage, upcycled, handmade, or totally random).

The deadline to enter is Friday at noon (EST) and I’ll announce the winner(s) in each category later that afternoon.

As of now there aren’t many entries, so your chances of winning are pretty good! 🙂

Well, Hello…

If anyone still checks in here – thanks! I’ve been crazy-busy and thus MIA for a few weeks (although I did stay semi-active on Facebook). Unfortunately, the crazy-busy was mostly boring not-worth-reporting stuff, but we’ve had a few fun happenings lately.

First, Piper’s 5th birthday. I know every parent says this at every birthday, but I can’t believe I have a five-year-old! Seriously – anyone with kids will understand – it feels like, oh, maybe a few months ago when we were brand-new parents dealing with a newborn.

And now….

For her big birthday present I turned a flower bed in our backyard into her own flower garden. I have about the blackest-thumb there is (not to mention I just don’t like getting down and digging in the dirt) but she loves gardening with my parents. This flower bed has been pretty much neglected for the last few years, so I bucked up and weeded and mulched it, came up with some decorations, painted a sign, there ya go – Piper’s Garden.

(This picture is from her birthday, the day I finished it. It’s since gained a bunch of flowers and a few more decorations.)

For her gifts, we got her a bunch of just-her-size gardening stuff (shovel, trowel, hoe, kneeling pad, gloves, watering can, etc.) She just loved it all.

We’ve also gone to a few birthday parties, including a princess-themed one, and another with a Star Wars theme.

I accompanied Piper’s preschool class on a field trip to Lunken Airport

Of course there was Easter –

I saw the amazing Hunger Games with the BFF

Piper had her first horseback riding lesson (which went amazingly, considering she’s quit dance class twice and is terrified of everything from ants to getting her hair brushed)

I volunteered at The Crafty Supermarket

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And there was plenty of playing outside, in this amazing weather we’ve been having! Then yesterday was my birthday (sorry, no picture – we (I) went on a Goodwill shopping spree and then to a kindergarten parent-orientation meeting).

Other than that, Steve’s been working a ridiculous amount of hours, I’ve been busy work-wise too, and have also had a lot going on in my volunteer role as a CASA.

Thus, I’ve had very little time to work on projects lately (boo!). But luckily, I haven’t been too busy to accumulate lots of new stuff to work on! I’ve come across some great roadside finds, done plenty of thrift store shopping, discovered the amazing world of online estate auctions, and had a former co-worker/friend give me first dibs on pretty much everything she owns prior to an inter-country move.

I have lots to share, which I’ll do soon! You’ll also be treated to a guest post from one of my favorite mom bloggers, Melissa at MeloMomma.

So please stick around – I promise there won’t be any more weeks-long blog breaks!

Brick Bookends

We have a wall of bookshelves in our den, but I keep a few writing and craft related books in my office. After searching the house for things to function as bookends, I decided to grab a couple stray bricks from the backyard and (after thoroughly washing them) have the kids paint them.

They had fun, and I love my new bookends 🙂

 

Join Me For Mini Makeover Mondays!

Beginning next week, each Monday I’ll share a furniture or decor makeover that took no more than 30 minutes to complete. And I’d love to see your half-hour-or-less projects too!

Grab the MMM button from the sidebar – or just link to Secondhand Fancy on your blog – and then comment to let me know that you participated in Mini Makeover Mondays. On Tuesday I’ll post links to everyone’s projects.

Let’s see what we can make prettier in just a half an hour 🙂