Friday, December 31, 2010

A Salvaged Life

I recently interviewed the talented and wise proprietress of Salvage Life, Beth Giles,
about a challenge that she and her family embarked on: not buying anything new for one year (2010). It's certainly made me think about ways I want to be more thoughtful about spending my money in 2011. I hope it inspires you too!
Challenge: 1 year without buying anything new
With permission to buy the following things:
Health & Safety Items

Note: I did not include my business in the challenge because I don't think I could keep it running without envelopes, packing tape, paper, printer ink, etc., but I did my best to conserve whenever possible.

1. how did you get inspired to do this?/ what gave you the idea?

I've had my business, Salvage Life, for almost four years now and the concept behind it is that you can find used clothes that are just as good if not better than new ones. I want to help people that normally wouldn't be comfortable buying used or vintage, see that it is a fashionable and sustainable way to live. My business and my family have been such a learning experience for me and I am very interested in the psychology behind what and why people buy. A few years ago I read about a group of people who didn't buy anything new for a year and it intrigued me, but I never thought I could do it. Last year, I decided it would be fun to try our own version of this challenge.

8. was it your idea or your husbands? if it was yours, was it hard to convince him?

It was my idea, but everyone who knows us thinks it was my husband's. In college my husband really took to the idea of simplicity and has been living that way ever since. In general he doesn't buy much, so when I told him my idea he thought it was great. It's been funny though because I think it has been just as challenging to him as for me.

4. what were the biggest challenges?/ hardest part of it all?
For me the hardest thing was not being able to buy any new clothes, shoes, accessories. I love vintage, but there is something about going into a store and walking out with a bag full of shiny new things. It makes you feel good! Unfortunately, that feeling does not last and then you need to buy more new things. For my husband it was little things that make life run more smoothly that was irritating, for example a little part that holds the visor in his car broke and since he couldn't replace it, he constantly has to readjust his visor. And for Ruby, at one point she had no shoes that fit so she was wearing shoes that were a size too small. It's hard to find used children's shoes in good condition.

5. did you ever have to cheat?? (buy something new)

The point of this challenge for our family wasn't to just see if we could struggle and survive a year without new things, we wanted to ask the question, "can we live like this all the time?" This whole experience would be pointless to us, if we just bought everything on January 1 that we hadn't bought all year. We began to analyze every potential purchase. Some interesting things came up, such as: what if something is made of recycled materials? or what if you need a new part to keep an old item working? Do plants and cut flowers count? We did "cheat" when it came to our home. We bought a 1920's house and have been fixing it up over the last few years. We figure that because we were able to salvage an entire house, it made sense to buy a few materials that would help us restore it.
12. how have you dealt with giving gifts during this time?
Gifts have been a big challenge, mostly because you have to plan ahead when you are trying to find a used gift. For example, my dad loves Robin Hood, so I bought him a 1920's Robin Hood book on Ebay for Father's Day. When it comes to weddings, it was sad to not be able to buy a gift that would help a friend start their home. I have been thinking that buying new things is good if it will last a long time, I know my mom still uses many things in her kitchen that she got for her wedding 33 years.

3. what have you learned from the experience?

We all make an impact with what and how we buy whether we think about it or not. This challenge has made me think about the motivations behind my buying. At one point I noticed I was buying a lot of used things that I didn't need because I could. Shopping can be a way to distract myself or fill a void. On the positive side, buying things can be a way to bless people, like giving a new toy to Toys for Tots or buying a flower arrangement for a friend who has lost a loved one. I've learned to take time to think about a purchase before making it, which I hope to continue for the rest of my life.

thanks for reading, and thank you Beth for the wonderful interview!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Taste of Our Christmas

I hope you all had a lovely holiday, here are some scenes from around my house...

I got this anthropologie felted wool sweater dress at a rummage sale for $1! i wore it twice over the holidays and with the big bow in front it kindof makes me feel like i'm a present.
I only dress up my doggies once a year, i can't resist these reindeer ears.
a sleepy reindeer.
our first live tree.
The trip to illinois.
hubby making oreo truffles.
I wore this lovely coat that i inherited from my grandma. its a bit big but i sure love it.
I hope your holiday was full of love and laughter. i feel blessed that mine was.
thanks for reading,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thoughts on Grief part 2

This is the last entry for my thoughts on grief, and then i promise to get back to my regularly scheduled program (whatever that is:)
part 2: Ways you might help a friend who is grieving.

1. Don't say weird stuff. There are a lot of weird things that people say when they are trying to comfort someone who has lost a loved one. My least favorite was "God needed him more than you did." and (to a friend of mine who lost her dad) "At least he died of cancer and not in a car wreck." (WHAT???). These people said these things with the best of intentions, but they just don't help.
In my opinion, the no fail response to someone dying is "i'm sorry." Death hurts, there's no way around it. there's no catchy phrase that can extinguish it. just an honest, "i'm really sorry" is a thoughtful response.

2. Be there for the long haul. There are lots of folks around in the wake of a death; lots of casseroles, lots of cards, lots of flowers, (all very kind and helpful things). But a couple months later, when you actually feel ready to engage with people, it feels as though all those people who cared are gone. Its as if the world is spinning on without you and you are stuck in one place. Asking your friend how they are doing 1 month, 2 months, 6 months, 8 years after is so helpful. it shows that you haven't forgotten their loved one either. Just keep reaching out a hand to them; seeing how you can help, and checking how their heart is doing.

3. Remember the date/time of the loved one's death. I know this is so hard, i'm terrible at remembering any kind of dates. But if you can somehow remember the date or general time when your friend's loved one died and check on them then, it means a LOT. I have a friend who calls me every year on christmas eve (the anniversary of my dad's death) and i appreciate it so much that someone would take the time out of their day (christmas eve, no less) and consider how i'm doing. I can pretty much guarantee that your friend is thinking about their loved one (on that day) and knowing that you are too will make them feel so supported and validated.

4. Remember with them. if you knew the person's loved one and are able to share good memories with them, do it! maybe wait for the right time (you'll know). But don't think, "oh, i don't want to tell them that, it will make them sad." The good memories that people have shared about my dad are priceless to me. Its like i get to have him back for a second or like i get a new little piece of who he was.

5. listen. There are lots of things that your friend might need to say: fears, doubts, regrets, grievances, "what ifs". Some of them seem so terrible that she doesn't even want to say them outloud. create a safe place for her. You could tell her, "you can say anything to me and i will not judge your for it" and mean it. and just let her talk. don't try to solve her problems, just listen.
6. finally, love unconditionally. Your friend may not be the easiest person to be with as he is grieving. grief has a lot of faces and anger/irritability is certainly one of them. forgive him when he lashes out. realize how raw he is inside. I remember one day in my dorm room, going to my mini fridge and getting out a diet pop, which somehow jogged this really sad memory of my dad being sick. I burst into tears and just cried on my bed. My roomate was trying to study, and just ignored me. It was pretty terrible. Even when their pain seems irrational, and is an annoyance to you, just be there for them. just love.

I hope this encourages you to reach out to your friends this holiday season and do little things to show you care and you haven't forgotten their pain.

thanks very much for taking ten hours out of your day to read this :)

p.s. this artwork is from the very talented and thoughtful artist Shirae

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thoughts on Grief

When i wrote this post sharing that my dad died when i was 18, i was shocked by all the responses i received.. So many similar stories of loved ones lost. Radiating through the computer screen, i could feel the pain and struggle over what to do with this deep sadness. One woman asked, “I have a friend whose loved one just died, how can i help her??” I realized once again how death is one of the human experiences that binds us all together. Everyone has been affected in SOME way by the death of someone they held dear.

I desire to address this issue of grief though i am certainly not a writer, a psychiatrist, or a pastor. I do not have a ten step program on “how to be awesome at grieving.” I’m simply a person who has held the hand of her dying father and learned. I learned what helped me (or what would have helped me) and so i hope i can shed a little bit of light on what might help you through your grief or how to be a good friend to someone who is grieving.

I know this is a sensitive subject and that each person grieves very differently. so please just take whatever you can from it. I've been trying to write this for what seems like ages, but it has just now come together. I am hoping that this is divine timing since the holidays can be such a rough time for grief to come back in waves.

part one: a few thoughts that helped me.

The idea that grief is like the waves of the ocean. I kept experiencing this weird phenomenon where i would be doing “okay” getting through life, almost feeling “normal” and all of a sudden i would be HIT with this huge sadness over missing my dad. One author explained that grief is like the waves of an ocean sometimes only lapping at your feet, but sometimes crashing over your head so hard that you can hardly get to the surface for gulps of air. It helped me to have an analogy to explain and identify these feelings. I would wake up and think “okay, this is a crashing waves day, how am i going to get through it?”

the idea that losing someone is an amputation, not a wound. wounds heal completely, amputations do not. One’s body cannot grow a new arm once it is cut off. In the same way, my life will NEVER be the same without my dad. never. but i can learn to adapt, just as a person who has no arm can learn to adapt and have a happy and fulfilled life.

Something i wish i would have known is to not feel guilty for having to go through the process of grieving. a friend who lost her dad recently was telling me, “there are some days when all i can do is watch my favorite movie in bed and i just feel so guilty because i’m not getting anything done!”

one of my mom’s friends who is also a widow told her “i’m just not doing as good as you are at this.” this is another form of guilt through comparison. Grief has no quick fix, it cannot be gone around, you MUST go through it. and you simply have days where you DON’T get much done. and you do go back to bed. and you cry a lot. but PLEASE, please, DON’T pile guilt on top of sadness. it makes my heart ache to think of that.

now, please don’t hear me say that grief is a reason to quit at life. or that its okay to give up on yourself or to give up caring for those around you. certainly not! i’m just saying there are really hard days, and those are just a part of getting through it!

The next thing i’d like to say is certainly not a new idea; its simply that time does heal.

my dad died on christmas eve of 2002, and every year when christmas gets close i feel sick to my stomach. Much of the world feels like singing and decorating and drinking eggnog and all sorts of other jolliness and i feel like rolling up in the fetal position and sobbing. But this year, somehow, i found the emotional strength to put up a christmas tree (steve and i haven’t had any kind of tree since my dad died, and this is a real tree, no less) and it was actually really fun! i couldn’t believe it. some little corner of my heart has healed in such a way that it doesn’t hurt to think about celebrating in this way. i just want to encourage you that the heartwrenching feeling of fresh grief will indeed lessen. i promise.

Finally, i would just i encourage you to have a spirit of thankfulness.

its so easy to focus on the absence of your loved one, but what if we tried to focus on those that are still here and to be thankful for them? And also to be thankful for the joy that our loved one brought us when they were here. Even though i didn’t have my dad for as long as i would have wished, i try to be thankful that he was such an awesome man when some people have less than great dads. In every situation, there are things to be thankful for and as hard as it may be, we have to try to find them.

wow. this has gotten long. so check back tomorrow (hopefully its tomorrw, i’m working on it) for ways that you might help your friend through grief. (these things will inherently include things that helped me through).

thank you so much for reading,


feel free to message me with any thoughts you have

p.s. if you didn't gather, these pictures are of my dad and me. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's on the Table (and around the Kitchen)

This fall (wasn't that just last week? it seems like it), Steve made me one of my favorite meals. and he even used the new duck measuring cups I thrifted. I swore i would never like ducks because my mom decorated with a lot of country duck bits (even duck wallpaper), but i could NOT resist these guys.

yes, its Butternut squash and Vanilla risotto. both savory and sweet, and the MOST perfect comfort food. Just as a tip, a vanilla bean at the store can cost $11, yikes! you can get a much better deal ordering them on amazon.

you know its going to be good when even the compost is pretty.
I set the table. it was such a peaceful at-home date nite with great conversation and lots of laughs.

only ONE member of the family was not happy. a pathetically begging Dylan, who did not get one bite.

Here are a couple of new cookbooks i got at a rummage sale. i love casseroles, especially in winter. this one has some really fantastic sounding ones.
Quite an old book, with lots of antiquated notions, but lots of good recipes too and cute illustrations.
this guy lives inside our metal kitchen cabinet. he makes me smile every time i open it so i had to share.
last but not least, Kringlas, a swedish cookie my friend Laurie makes at Christmastime. she brought us some and they are so delicious. they taste like shortbread, but are light and fluffy like pancakes.
what's on your table?
i hope your holiday preparations are going well (if you celebrate holidays around now) and you aren't getting stressed.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Christmas Party

Steve's work christmas party was this past Saturday. Despite the fact that most people wear jeans, i decided to fancy up. i got this dress from Astral Boutique on etsy. When i spotted it, i screamed and then i pushed the "add to cart" button so fast i almost knocked over my coffee. Its hard for me to date, but Sasha assumes it is from the 1940's based on the lot of clothing she bought it with. its so unique. i'm such a ruffle-fiend.

Steve just LOVED this dress and told me about five times, "This is my favorite dress, ever." He almost always likes what i wear but doesn't always tell me quite THAT much, so that was pretty special.

As a side note, may i say that i can totally see why Susan Powter ended up with her infamous haircut. every time I go to my stylist I find myself saying, "I'd like it shorter and blonder." will i soon end up like this??? :)

The party was fun; talks with steve's work friends that are slowly becoming my friends and really yummy cheesecake.
thanks for reading, and looking at way too many pictures of me,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Avie Designs

When I realized that I was going to sell more than five things on etsy and needed some address labels, I searched etsy high and low. I wanted something cute, but not cutesy. something simple and not too trendy. I was delighted when I found Avie Designs and since that fateful day, avie has provided all of Adelaide's Homesewn's paper supply needs. She has even let me borrow the above design for my business card until I come up with a graphic for my shop. (oh, and if you didn't know, this is what package from my shop looks like :)
Proprietress Avis Wampler designs invitations, stationary, wrapping paper, bookplates, website and calling cards, greeting cards and much more!
and Avis is just as cute and sweet as her designs. I can definitely vouch for her incredible customer service!
so go support her at her big cartel or etsy shop

thanks for reading,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday/Tuesday shop update

These pretties are all in the shop and hopefully more to come tonite. Can you tell i'm wanting to curl up in sweaters and keep warm in leather boots?, but i'm trying to keep the shop stocked with lightweight dresses too, so as not to forget our australian friends who are having summer! (and ALL our international friends with different weather than us).

I found a great vintage shop today and bought several pieces including labels such as Jonathan Logan, Helen Whiting and Nelly Don. if i have a sunny day tomorrow i hope to have them in the shop tomorrow nite!
thanks for reading, and for all the congrats on my new family member :)