Aug 31, 2011

Anatomy of a flea market shopper

Hey, all! Hope you're having a fantastic week so far!

As I mentioned last week, I was hoping to make it to the flea market this weekend -- and I did! I swear, I could go every weekend and still stroll through that place for hours...the allure of finding some secret treasure and turning it into something fabulous for your house -- it's just so appealing! But my wallet keeps me from going back every weekend...'cause then I'd be broke. Which is no fun.

I'm fairly new to this whole thrifting/flea market thing, but I thought I'd share some tips for hunting for treasures -- a few things I've picked up along the way.

First up -- what to wear. If you've never been to Maine, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: we're a pretty casual bunch. For some people in more hip urban places, a day of thrifting might mean a day on the town in a cute sundress and heels. I guess I shouldn't generalize about Maine, so let's just say that is not how I roll.

I like to wear something simple, but not schleppy -- you want people to take you seriously when you're haggling, so looking put together is important. (I feel kind of icky saying this, but looking nice can also help you get some good deals, especially if the dealer happens to be a guy! It can't hurt...). But, since I usually end up crouched on the floor, digging through dusty piles, I don't wear anything I'm too worried about getting dirty. On this particular day, I picked a simple gray V-neck tee from Banana Republic and a (not too short)! Gap denim skirt, and accessorized with some big, fun silver earrings. I like to skip anything bulky or flowy, like scarves, that might get in my way while I'm browsing.

Full disclosure: It was super muggy on Saturday, and the place isn't air conditioned, so I ended up losing the tee and just wearing the black tank I had on underneath and pulling my hair back.

I've thrifted in heels, and after an hour or two, it's no fun, and all I can think about are my aching feet! I love these metallic flip-flops, also from Gap -- they add a little glam, but they're comfy too.

As for my purse, I try to go small, so I don't have to worry about it banging around and knocking stuff over. Bonus points if you can find something that's cute AND has a strap that you can wear across your body, so you don't have to constantly try and keep it on your shoulder. This brown purse is from Maurice's.

What's in the cutie purse, you ask? Here's what I always like to bring:

A list of what I'm looking for. I don't always stick to it, but it helps focus me and keep me from coming home with a bunch of stuff I don't need or want.

A notepad -- either to keep a list of things you want to look for, or a place to write down a dealer's contact information if you want to get in touch later, or even something you see and want to remember to circle back for. I like this one from Wellspring.

A tape measure, especially if you're looking for something to fit in a specific spot.

I always bring a snack, because sometimes I just get so caught up thrifting that I can't tear myself away for food, and I'm super cranky when my blood sugar gets low. The Quaker Oats guy is optional.

Cash. It's best to have a variety of bill sizes, because nothing irks a dealer more than you haggling the price down from $20 to $10 and then asking for change (trust me!). It goes without saying that you shouldn't bring more than you actually want to spend, because, well, if you're anything like me, you'd spend it all. :)

And, of course, I always bring a camera, so I can snap photos of things I like and may want to buy before I leave. If a dealer looks a little uncomfortable with you taking photos, be polite and ask if it's okay.

So, now for the really exciting part -- what I came home with!

Per my list, I brought home three glass bottles. The two clear ones I plan to fill with sand from our various beach trips this summer, and the big green one was just too cool to pass up. The two little ones were $5 for the pair, and the big green one was $2. They all need a good cleaning.

Wondering where our shed window boxes are? We had already brought them inside in preparation of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene when I took this photo, and we laid our birch arbor down too to keep it from blowing over in the wind and getting damaged.

And, an impulse buy -- this apple barrel that the dealer bought from an orchard. I love how it still says Cortland! It was $10, and I'm thinking it'll look great on our porch with some fall-themed decor. I was thinking about building it a top and then stacking gourds and pumpkins on it. Anyone have any other ideas?

I picked up something else, but I'm keeping it a secret for now. :)

Find anything good at a flea market or thrift store lately? Got any tips on thrifting to share -- I'd love to hear them!

Linking up to Home Stories A 2 Z's Tutorials and Tips Tuesday!

Check out my first round-up of flea market finds here!

Aug 29, 2011

Town fair {Maine Monday 5}

Mornin', everyone! If you're on the East Coast, I hope you're safe and didn't suffer any damage during the hurricane. Things weren't nearly as bad as expected here in Maine. We got about three inches of rain and some gusty winds, but no broken branches or other damage. We never even lost power! As I see footage of flooding in other parts of the Northeast, I'm counting our blessing that all we ended up with were a bunch of leaves on the lawn that need to be raked up eventually.

Can you believe it's the end of August already? Where did this month go? I feel like I was just doing Maine Monday for the end of July...and now it's time for August's! This month, I've got photos from...

                          ...the town fair.

Early fall in Maine means it's fair season, and there are a bunch in towns around the state. They all have agricultural roots, but many now include midways with rides, games and other modern amusements. My hometown fair actually happens in August. I absolutely adore the fair! It's pretty much the same every year, but it's one of those traditions that I just love.

Usually the first thing we do as soon as we show up is wander along the strip of food vendors and get something to eat. The hubs is a big fan of this Mr. & Mrs. Sausage booth.

Once we've stuffed our faces, we head over to the barns to check out the animals. Lots of cows...

cuuuute piglets...

and some goats too (it totally looks like this goat is smiling!)

The hubs is usually less impressed with the farm animals since he had them growing up, but for this town girl, farm animals are about as cute as it gets!

There's lots of agricultural activities too, like a kids' pig scramble and cattle log hauling competitions -- which, I found out this year, is a team of two cattle that have to pull a light log behind them and navigate through a series of cones, with the handler giving them verbal direction. I was too busy trying to figure this out to take pictures.

No good town fair is complete without an exhibition hall, where locals submit their wares -- like best tomatoes, best apple pie, best quilt -- hoping to earn a blue ribbon. It's like a little slice of old-time Americana.

After touring the barns and checking out the exhibition hall, it's time to walk around the midway and take in the sights.

Usually this includes another food-booth detour for a sweet treat. I cannot leave the fair without a bag of these hot, fresh, deliciously-bad-for-you mini doughnuts. The dough is plopped into this fryer, then the doughnuts are flipped by little levers a couple times before being flipped onto a tray and scooped into a paper bag.

Then, you head to the sugar station, pour all kinds of sugar in that bag and shake it up to coat those yummy, hot doughnuts. OMG sooo good. (No photo of this, because I was too busy gobbling them up!)

We don't usually do the rides (mostly because I can't get the hubs on any of them!) or games, but I'm a little ashamed to admit that we usually like to watch the demolition derby. We sadly didn't catch it this year, but let me tell you, watching cars crash into each other, flinging mud and sending smoke into the air, is pretty awesome, in a redneck, this-seems-like-a-parody-but-it's-real kind of way.

Fair lights at it!

Have you ever been to a fair? Are you as crazy about them as I am? Does that photo of the cow with its tongue in its nose totally gross you out? :)

Have a great Monday, all!

Check out all the past Maine Mondays here!

Aug 26, 2011

Hurricanes, ice storms and more's Friii-day, people! Let me tell you, I've had summer-itis this week...that, "it's almost the end of summer so all I want to do is lay back and soak it up" feeling. That = not being super productive, which = I have no projects to show you today.

But, it looks like I'll be spending lots of time indoors this weekend, so I'll have plenty of time to keep myself busy. If you're on the East Coast, then you too are preparing for Hurricane Irene, which is headed our way very shortly. She's supposed to hit Maine on Sunday night, bringing lots of heavy rain and wind. Thankfully we don't live on the coast (I rarely say "thankfully" about that, since I would DIE for a cute little beach cottage), but we do live in a rural area, which means we could lose our power. Don't worry -- I've got my emergency radio and flashlights all ready to go!

The really bad thing about losing power in rural Maine is that no power means no well pump, which means no water at all....which means, I think, worst of all, no toilet flushing. I'll be filling up our downstairs bathtub and some buckets with water, so we can at least flush the old fashioned way!

Irene will be the first hurricane to hit Maine since Hurricane Bob in 1991, but I was too young to remember that. I do remember, however, what everyone in the Northeast knows as the Ice Storm of '98. It's the only major* natural disaster I've lived through (and I say major with an asterisk because the damage was nowhere near close to what earthquakes and tornadoes in other parts of the country or the world have caused, but in terms of what us Northeast folks have to live through, it was major for us).

It happened in January, after days of rain and freezing temperatures left everything coated with as much as three inches of ice in the Northeast U.S. and Canada. The ice was so thick and heavy that trees and power lines crumpled under the weight. In Maine, 80% of people lost their power, and for some people that meant power was out for two weeks. Lots of schools closed, and the ones that did have power opened as emergency shelters. Sadly, six people also died in Maine; in total, the storm killed 16 people in the U.S. and 28 in Canada.

Despite all the stats, though, it was actually really beautiful to look at. Everything was coated in ice and shimmered and glittered in the sun. I remember just how quiet and peaceful everything seemed too, without the sounds of traffic and TVs. We ventured outside to check out the damage, and all the trees just bent over completely to the ground, their branches actually frozen to the road. It was so slippery it was hard to walk, and every now and then you'd hear the sound of a branch cracking under the pressure and falling to the ground. One branch almost landed on our dog -- I remember seeing her walking away just as the branch fell, and thinking how crazy that was.

When you're a kid during something like this, it's kind of a cool adventure. It started on my birthday, and I remember being sad that the power kept flickering while I was trying to play my Nintendo, and my mom was trying to bake me a birthday cake. We were lucky that we only lost power for about three days, I think. I can't remember everything we did to pass the time, except we probably read and played games (and maybe I did some homework). In Maine in January, the sun goes down around 4 or 4:30, which means lots of hours without daylight.

Without power, we had no heat except for a propane space heater that we all huddled around to sleep at night. I remember just being bundled in sweatshirts and hats and blankets at night. And I remember my mom cooking whatever food she could on our grill outside, including heating water to make coffee and hot chocolate. It was definitely a memorable birthday!

I'm sure my parents were probably worried about our water pipes freezing and all the other damage to our house and yard, but as I remember it now, it was fun -- kind of like camping, but in your own house. Of course, I was 12, so I was actually probably complaining the whole time....Mom, what do you remember? :)

I don't have any pictures I took, because, well, it was 1998 and I'm pretty sure I didn't have a digital camera. But here are a couple I found online:


Even though I thought it was fun as a kid, I definitely would not like to see another ice storm of this magnitude in my lifetime! Just thinking about no showers for three days and having to worry about our pipes freezing, trees taking out our house, etc., gives me hives.

I don't think the hurricane will do any damage to us, except knock out our power, but it never hurts to be prepared for the worst anyways. I'm thankful we won't be taking the brunt like our neighbors to the south. I hope everyone on the East Coast stays safe this weekend!

I know the title of this post says there's "more," but really I think that's all. :) Have a great weekend, everyone! I'm hoping to make it to the flea market on Saturday before the storm comes, and I'm super pumped about it. Hopefully I'll have some fun finds to show you next week!

Aug 23, 2011

Pottery Barn lantern {thrifty find}

Happy Tuesday, all! It was a chilly 49 degrees this morning when I woke up this morning, reminding me that yes, fall is just around the corner. I'm starting to get used to the idea...

And no, you didn't misread the title of this post...I did use Pottery Barn and thrifty in the same sentence! I popped into PB over the weekend, not looking for anything in particular; actually, I rarely shop there, because I know that I can't/don't want to pay their prices, even though I'm sure their stuff is worth it. But when I saw this lantern in the sale section, I had to snatch it up.

It's the arches lantern in large, and it's BIG -- almost 20 inches tall. The biggest pillar candle I had on hand looks positively petite in it. I think it has a kind of nautical look to it (although PB says it's reminiscent of "French cloches used to shelter young plants from frost", what do I know??).

I thought of it initially for our forgotten office redo, which will have a nautical feel, but since that office won't be done anytime soon, I'm sure I'll find a new home for it until then. I'm already thinking of how beautiful it will be filled with Christmas ornaments for the holiday season!

Here's the best part:

Woo, 60% off! Otherwise I definitely wouldn't have bought it. I probably still shouldn't have, because I don't really need it, but I was already traumatized by spotting this awesome sea foam-colored ceramic artichoke in Home Goods, which I stupidly walked by at first and then went back for, but alas, it was gone! I saw in another woman's cart later (and no, I did not even think about taking it out...nope, not one bit!). I just couldn't let the lantern go the way of the artichoke.

I kind of wish it wasn't so silver...if I get the guts, maybe I'll use some oil-rubbed bronze paint on it or something. What do you think -- leave it as is, or give it a little ORB treatment?

Find any good deals lately? Snatch anything up at Pottery Barn? Did you also see the ceramic artichoke at Home Goods and totally fall for it...or is that just me (and the lady who snagged it)??

Aug 22, 2011

A prettier shed {before and after}

Argg...sorry everyone! I've been a little MIA lately. What can I say...the last, lazy days of summer call to me, luring me to the beach, the deck of my favorite restaurant, etc. I hope you don't judge me :)

I finally finished something I'd slowly been working on for a little while, something we talked about doing at the beginning of the summer but never got around to, until one day we spotted these at Home Depot and bought them on a whim:

We wanted them to pretty up our little shed:

While at Home Depot, we also picked up some Behr exterior primer and white paint. I gave the window boxes a good sanding, then one coat of primer and two of the white semi-gloss paint.

After a little primer...

We used a few heavy-duty screws to attach it to the window frame.

And I drilled a couple holes in each liner, since they didn't have any drainage.

Here's our "before" shed again...cute, but needing a little something.

And here's the after, with our new white window boxes!

There weren't many flowers left for the season at Home Depot, but I did find some fall-hued marigolds and mums. They'll look so pretty once they fill out.

Looking at these photos, I think I need to take some wood filler to those nail holes and repaint them. I like how they have a kind of rustic look, but the holes are a little too distracting...

It's not a big change, but it adds a little color and interest. I'm imagining them overflowing with petunias next summer...wouldn't that be lovely? I'd love to paint that ramp white too, but I can't imagine it would look very pretty after the lawnmower and snowblower get dragged over it. Maybe paint it black to match the door hardware? I'd also like to disguise those cinder blocks on the right that keep the shed level on the uneven ground. We inherited a couple bushes on either side of the ramp, but we don't know what they are, and they've hardly grown at all, so I think we should take them out and plant something else. (Check out the before shed picture, which I took last fall when we bought the house, and you can see that the bushes haven't grown an inch all season. But the weeds have sure grown a lot...oops!).

Ignore the crazy-long grass. I took these photos before the hubs dragged out the lawnmower.
Wondering what those crazy vines are climbing that stick coming off the shed? Those are the hubs' hops plants that he's growing to use in his beer-making. They vine like crazy, and he was sweet enough to ask if it was okay if he attached that stick to the top of the shed for the hops to vine up. Aren't I a nice wife for saying yes?? :) They kind of make the shed look like a sailboat or something.

Linking up!

The DIY Show Off

Join  us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap 
 up           party!