Tuesday, February 28, 2012


When I've had a bad day I come home and look at photos from last summer. They calm me. Today was one of those days.
The weather forecast this week is calling for 55 degrees the next few days. I'm trying to figure out any way I can to get my kayak on some water somewhere. I need some water therapy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Not too long now.....

I am excited that March is only a few days away and before we know it April will be here. The above photo was taken Easter Sunday last year. It was the first camping trip of the season and we were camping at Fort Custer State Campground in Augusta. Little did I know it was nesting season for the sandhill cranes. It was an amazing weekend... one I hope to repeat again this year. Our reservations for the same place, same time have been made again for this year. Sandhill cranes.... HERE I COME!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Art of Thrifting

Today is the last Saturday of the month... one of my favorite days of the month. All the Goodwill Stores in our area are 50% off on this day. I have this day marked in my calendar and my phone gives me a reminder a few days ahead of time and again the morning of, not that I really need a reminder.

I was headed to Kazoo by 8:00 this morning. The Goodwill on Milham opens at 9:00 and I was the 5th person in line along the sidewalk at 8:45. We are all standing there waiting for the door to open sipping our Starbucks and making small talk. We are all there for different reasons, but of course we are all there because it's 50% off day. Some had been there the evening before and scoped out what they wanted and knew exactly what they were going to grab. I go early because if you are not one of the first 10 people in the door you cannot get a cart and it's impossible to thrift shop on a 50% off day without a cart, at least it is for me. I don't get there early to get the best things as fast as I can before someone else gets them. I find plenty just taking my time and digging around.

As my title states, there is an art to thrift shopping. Just coming home from a marathon thrift shopping day I thought I would do a post on the art of thrifting and share some of my secrets of thrifting.

1. Learn where all the thrift stores are in your area. And don't be bashful about patronizing them. Although Goodwill stores are great places to thrift, I've found some off the beaten path thrift stores that are amazing with great prices.

2. When planning a day of thrifting be sure to dress the part and do your hair. That doesn't mean put on your Sunday best and spend an hour on your hair. For me it means putting on my most comfortable jeans or stretch pants and putting on a pull over shirt, wearing comfortable shoes with thin socks (so you can try on those adorable dress shoes), and putting my hair up in a pony tail. I don't want to be messing around with layers of clothes with lots of buttons when I'm trying on clothes.... which brings me to #3.

3. Don't buy clothes without trying them on. You may think they look right on the hanger and "heck it's only $2 so I'll just buy it".... don't do it. I've learned the hard way too many times that it rarely works to my benefit.

4. If you like it don't buy it. What does that mean? If you enjoy thrifting as much as I do you can quickly fall into the trap of just plain having too much "stuff". Make sure you don't just "like" the item... "love" it. I've found that this method works for me so I can have the best sweaters, shoes, coats, etc. Early in my thrifting days I would buy something I "liked" because it was really cheap. Now I only buy things that I "love" and I'm willing to spend $4 for that sweater I love. They are better quality and I wear them much more than the things I only "liked" and spent $2 for. Make sense?

5. Go to thrift stores often. Friends and family cannot believe the great finds I come home with. That isn't because I go only one day per month. I've had people say to me many times "I never to go to thrift stores because all I find is junk". Well, that's their first problem..... "they never go". If I only went once every few months I wouldn't be successful either. Of course I have days where I leave empty handed and then there are those days where I leave grinning from ear to ear.

6. Go thrifting alone. I find I do much better and enjoy the experience more when I am alone. I can spend as much time in a store as I want with out "Sally" standing at the door waiting for me to finish. I always feel rushed when someone is with me and to be a successful thrifter you cannot be rushed. If you think you can run into a thrift store walk around briefly and find good stuff, you are mistaken.

7. Learn when the sales are. Many thrift stores have monthly 50% off sales. As I said earlier the Goodwill stores in our area are 50% off the last Saturday of each month. That is my one day per month that I do an ALL day thrifting. I do visit stores all month long but only an hour or two here and there when I can fit it in.

8. And last... Ditch the purse. I have several little wallet type purses (that I found at thrift stores of course!) with long straps so I can put them around my neck and under my arm. They are just big enough for my cell phone, my ID, an my debit cards. This leaves my arms free to shop and also gives me peace of mind that I don't have a purse in the cart that I'm trying to keep an eye on.

Today was a great thrifting day............... Happy Thirfting!!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A post about nothing much and a Friday Find

First off, I have to tell you about my new iphone. Apple should hire me to be a spokesperson because I am in love with my iphone. And for two reasons.... the new and improved wonderful camera and Siri. Every single photo in this post (with the exception of the last photo) was taken with my iphone. I cannot believe the clarity and quality of the photos that this phone takes. Love, love love the camera. And Siri makes me just as happy as the camera. I can send emails, txts, make calls, surf the web, put appointments in my calendar,send reminders just by speaking. I sent emails today while driving and never touched the phone. What will they come up with next?
What's the best part of my job? My patients. They teach me so much day after day. I wish I could share stories with you but for patient confidentiality I can't risk it. I can be having the worst day ever and like a gift from God, a patient will say something or do something that touches me in ways that I cannot explain. These beautiful daffodils were from a patients family this week. I smile every time I look at them.
We had 5 huge (and I mean HUGE!) pine trees cut down in the northwest side of the house. We hated to do it. We've had a love hate relationship with these trees. Love the way they look but hate the mess they make. The gutters were always full of pine needles, the grass won't grow on that side of the yard, sap constantly fell on the cars..... you get the picture. The nature lover in me makes me somewhat of a tree hugger so it was a difficult decision to make and one we've been throwing around for a few years. A guy that has done tree work for us in the past was desperate for work, being that it is winter, and made us an offer we couldn't refuse. So goodbye pine trees. He even ground the stumps for us. We now have our work cut out for us landscaping that area come spring.
We drove to Big Rapids last weekend to visit Jordan and go to her band concert. It was great as always. Big Rapids has a cool pet store. Lots of turtles, snakes, lizards, birds, and fish. Made me want a fish tank.
Big Rapids had big bulldogs all around town (ferris' mascot).
Nate joined us for lunch.
And here is my "Friday Find" this week. The photo does not do it justice. Being this is glass it was tricky trying to get a photo with a flash. It's clear beveled glass with an etching of an owl in the center. I have it hanging in one of the kitchen windows. For anyone local reading my blog, there are 2 new thrift stores in downtown Benton Harbor, right on main street. One is named "Mosaic" the other is "6 Degrees". Both are awesome thrift stores. Full of great quality stuff and great prices too. I picked up this weeks Friday Find at Mosaic for $4!

Happy Thrifting!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rays of Sunshine

According to FOX news the other morning this is the second warmest winter on record. And I'm loving it! There has hardly been but a few days were it stays below freezing. And snow has been almost nil. We've had a lot of sunny days, we've broken record highs. And the best part? I haven't been terrified to drive to work this year like so many many many years in the past. I know this is unusual and next year we very may well have a real winter again but right now I'm grateful for this mild winter.

But on the other hand that's not to say that I'm ready for this winter to be over! It's February 18th and I'm ready to start spending more time outside. I'm ready to go kayaking, ready to go camping, ready to see green trees, ready to get on the back of that bike. And I am sooooo ready to have some time off work. I just put in all my vacation requests for the spring/summer/fall. I have a total of 20 days off between April and September!!!! Bring it on.

Only about 4 to 6 weeks and we will get the trailer out of storage.

Friday Finds (a day late)

Hats! Hats! Hats! I love em! And thrift stores are awesome for finding hats. I especially like knit hats and many of the hats I find at thrift stores are hand knitted. I hardly ever pay more than $1 and most I get for as little as 25 cents. I embellish them with barrettes, pins, feathers, whatever I think looks cute.

This was a real fun photo shoot trying to get Zoe and Fiona to model some of the hats for me. I enticed them with food. After dog food went flying everywhere (twice), killing my knee by leaning on a nyla bone, having Caleb coming out of his room telling me I was keeping him awake (he works into the wee hours of the morning), and 50 photos later these were the only 2 photos remotely worth posting.
Happy weekend my friends..... and wear a hat today!!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

After many failed attempts....

I finally found a great substitute low carb/low points homemade Starbucks Frappe! Jordan and I found a recipe online a few weeks ago that was complicated and hard to make and it was awful! We both quickly dumped that batch down the drain. Then a few days ago I found another recipe on Pintrest. The first batch was OK, but I have tweaked the recipe each time I made it to where now I am very happy with it. It's so easy to make too.
1/2 cup fat free milk
1 TBS instant coffee
2 TBS sugar free vanilla creamer
1 tsp slpenda
1 and a half glasses full of ice
Simply blend in blender
You can also add 2 TBS of sugar free chocolate syrup for a mocha version.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Finds

Jewelry! One of my favorite things to find at thrift stores. This 3 piece set (necklace, bracelet and earrings) I just fell in love with. And for $5 I couldn't pass it up. It's heavy and well made. Look close and you will see that each piece is a lily pad and look even closer you can see a few frogs on some of the lily pads. Too cute!
See the frog?
And WHAT? might you ask is this? Well, you never know what you are going to find at a thrift store and I couldn't believe it when I came across her. She is exactly what I hoped to find but never really thought I would. But there she was and I snatched her up real fast.
She is a terra cotta head planter. She happens to be Medusa (her hair is snakes). I didn't buy her because she was Medusa but because it was a head and a planter. You see, February has me anxious for spring and gardening. And this year in particular I am wanting to do more container gardening. So the other day I was messing around on Pintrest and I came across this website that does succulent plants in heads that makes it look like the plants are their hair. Sounds crazy and it's hard for me to explain but click on this link here and you will see what I'm talking about. I can't wait to plant my terra cotta head and make something beautiful. I paid $10 for her which is more than I usually spend on things at thrift stores but when was I ever going to come across another terra cotta head planter. I love her!

Happy Thrifting.....

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Is it really February 5th?

I'm loving this winter. One day last week it hit 60 degrees. Today it was 50. I spent hours outside today with nothing more than a sweatshirt on. The sun was shinning beautiful. The dogs were loving it too. Craig built a fire in the backyard and I wondered around picking up branches and tidying the yard, playing with the dogs, filling the bird feeders, all the while snapping photos.
My precious pugs.
"Mommy, aren't you going to come back inside the fence?"
The squirrels were more excited that I filled the bird feeders than the birds were.

I love the lighting in this photo.
And this one too.
Seadra got to go for a ride on the lawnmower.
I took this photo from across the yard. I had my telephoto lens on and Craig and Caleb were oblivious that I was shooting them. So what is so special about this photo? You had to be there and you have to know these two to understand. They are inseparable and listening to them talk to each other and care about each other makes my heart smile. If Craig doesn't get to hang with his boy every few days I know I will hear him say "I miss my boy!". And likewise, the admiration and respect that Caleb has for his Dad is something I cannot put into words.

Today was a good day....

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Finds

Welcome to the second edition of "Friday Finds". In case you missed the explanation last week "Friday Finds" is going to be an ongoing post every Friday featuring my thrift store finds.

This weeks "Friday Finds" needs an intro story.... When my kids were little they loved books, just like most kids do. And I loved reading to them as much as they enjoyed me reading to them. Caleb and Jordan were allowed to choose the before bedtime book and we would read our stories each night before bed. This went on for many years. The kids had their favorites and the same books were read over and over. One of Caleb's favorites was "Where the Wild Things Are". We read that book so many times that Caleb could recite that book word for word long before he could read.

I have to admit.... as much as we loved this evening ritual at our house my children didn't have a very big collection of books. Sometimes we went to the local libraries but we didn't take advantage of that like we should have. Occasionally, we would go to the book stores and we always ended up in the children's section where I would drool over all the beautiful magnificent children's books. I could not afford to buy them as they ranged anywhere between $15 and $20 each for the good ones.
Well, guess what I discovered! You can find these wonderful beautiful magnificent children's books at thrift stores! All hardcover children's books at Goodwill are $1 and on half off days I can get them for 50 cents!!! And why, do you ask, am I buying children's books when my kids are now young adults? The answer is simple... I love them. I simply love children's books. And someday just maybe I will have grandchildren that I can read them to. But really for now I just buy them because they make me happy.
I'm very picky when I choose which ones to buy. They have to be hardcover, and be in excellent condition. And the art work on the pages has to appeal to me. I am especially drawn to children's books that have a nature theme.

If you have young children in your life you should check out children books at thrift stores. You will be surprised at what great books you can find.

Happy Thrifting!!!!!!