My Vintage Romance

Friday, September 30, 2011

Style Your Space

I am currently taking Rachel Denbow's Style Your Space e-course. Those girls over at Red Velvet are the coolest, and it was hard to choose which e-course to start with. But I am pretty inept when it comes to interior design, so it made the most sense to start there. I'm only about a quarter of the way into the online class, but I have to say, I am looking at my home in a whole different light.

I enjoyed Rachel's story about her vintage romance and her bff Elsie's recent story and tips for thrift-shopping, which made me want to explore my own second-hand story.

It all began when I was a tiny little girl spending the night at my grandma's house. Grandma volunteered at a local thrift store and the staff there appreciated our voluntary afternoon help so much that we often left with fistfuls of items that never had a chance to make it to the racks. Many of the treasures I don't remember, but I do still wear the vintage nightgown I once found. But the thrifty legacy my grandma afforded me has shaped my entire existence.



Grandma would admonish us for buying her anything new for Christmas or her birthday, because she'd always say "I can get that at the store." And indeed she could find anything there. Her closet was lined with the cutest "dancing outfits" she'd go out with her boyfriend in and the most darling matching clutch purses. Her reading material, including the latest issues of her favorite magazines, were stacked neatly in thrifted baskets. Even her well-kept furniture looked like it came straight from a modish 1950s department store. She may have even laid the foundation for my active lifestyle, because we never visited grandma without the requisite stop at her local YMCA.

I spent my school years begging my mom to take me to Goodwill. After making sure no one saw me enter (someone did once and I never heard the end of it), I entered my zone. I abhorred anything mainstream, so this was the place to get a completely personalized look.

In college, 100s of miles from home, I scouted out the thrift stores before anything else, scooping up some mismatched vintage plates and ephemera for my dorm room. A friend took me to a thrift store in her hometown where I found the requisite college shot glasses (despite drinking very rarely). Another friend and I snooped around for cool T-shirts we could re-size. My all-time favorite is an "I Have Kaleidoscope Eyes" from the Beatle's song. When I first starting working out, after transferring back to my hometown, I scoured the thrift store for workout clothes and came away with a nice starter athletic wardrobe. And I squirreled things away for my own home one day.


Some of my most interesting memories come from the thrift store. My sister and I watched two guys get arrested in one. They were just browsing, making hilarious comments, so I'm not sure what they got called for.

Before I even knew what "vintage" was, I would raid my mom and dad's old collections of 1970s clothes. I wish I remembered what we did with them. I just knew I loved the look and I knew I didn't want to wear the standard-issue Abercrombie look everyone else was wearing.

Now I love to search out nightgowns, sheets and curtains to re-purpose into other things. Craft supplies. The racks I turn to again and again are the dresses, skirts, crafts, books and scarves. I peek in the toys for my son and only grab things if they're in mint condition and include the play pieces.



I am also highly likely to donate a bag on the same day that I shop. It's too easy to accumulate too much, so I make it a point to go through some things and pitch a few things that don't suit us anymore before I go in and buy more.

I'll have to show you some Rachel-inspired changes around my home as they come. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your romance story!

DIY Wedding Unity Candle

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Remind me to give you the story one day of how my husband and I put together our super-budget wedding. And when I say budget, I actually mean it. Not like when Jessica Simpson says it. Anyhow, I refused to spend money on a few things that I knew for certain I could do myself. A $35 unity candle? No way!!!

A $5-or-less, 5-minute unity candle that looks less cheesy? Yes, please.

This is all you have to do. Find a little modern-day version of the dime store. The Family Dollar would probably suffice. We found this little local party wholesale store. Now, find a large white pillar candle and two tapered candles. You might even look for a nice candle stand while you're at it. Even the dollar stores have some candle holders that would work.

Then, head to your local craft store and find some pretty lace. I picked a beautiful strand for just pennies.

Wrap the lace around the candle and hot glue in place. I wrapped two strips of lace around mine because it was so delicate. Do the same with the tapered candles.


Ta-da. Insta-unity candle without the outrageous price tag. Because I knew that the candles would only be lit for a few minutes, I wasn't worried about burning up the lace. However, if you do plan on using the candle later, you might want to take that hazard into account.

There's a lot more where this came from my friends:)


What to do with an English Major

Friday, September 23, 2011

The most unjust thing a college counselor can say, with brows furrowed, to an English major is: "So what are you going to do with an English major?" You can either become a teacher or a starving poet. That's what everyone thinks. Even the most trusted, well-meaning adult authority figures in your life will nudge you toward something "more lucrative." You'll get annoyed by the dollar signs in their eyes. Don't they understand that words and literature give your life meaning, thrill you to the soul, and push blood through your very heart?

I'm here to tell you to go for it! There are ways to go about a career with an English major in the right way. If reading, writing, analyzing words or editing give you a rush, don't ignore that. After all, the most fulfilling concept you can practice is: Feed your hopes, not your fears. Here is a list of lucrative and exciting careers that having an English degree can prepare you for:

1. Internal Communications
2. Public Relations
3. Social Media Marketing
4. Product Copywriter (that's me!)
5. Advertising Copywriter
6. Freelance Writer
7. Journalist
8. Editor
9. If you're as lucky and strategic as some, you could make money as a blog writer.
10. Resume Writer/Consultant
11. News Writer
12. Technical Writer
13. Magazine Article Writer (on almost any subject, might I add: food, travel, fashion, sports, fitness...)
14. Magazine Editor
15. Author (fiction, non-fiction, adults, children, young adults...chick lit? Oh yes!)
16. Grant Writer
17. Screenwriter
18. Speech Writer
19. Songwriter
20. Proofreader
21. E-book or E-course writer
22. Website Content Writer

There are so many more that I'm missing and so many careers outside of reading, writing and editing. Check out this list of famous people with English majors to see how they're using them. Some of these careers take a long time to infiltrate, building a portfolio, making connections and such. But just take a look at the jobs being posted on sites like MediaBistro and if you're feeling discouraged.

Good communication skills are a dying, yet highly valued art form. Good writing is also one of those skills that translates well to every single business and even to the the digital world. It will not die with technological advances. In fact, technological advances have actually opened up whole new opportunities for writers, including SEO content, social media marketing and brand writing.

A lot of writers defect into the business world, but you can always pen and submit your personal essays and poems on the side. I myself have several poems and a short story in print. One that even provided some pocket money.

An English degree? Lucrative it is!

Vintage Running Clothes

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I love this little article over at The Sew Weekly about vintage running clothes. I've been thinking about this a lot lately too. All the new moisture wicking running clothes, which really is an emerging field of apparel, looks very contemporary. A few coworkers and I were discussing the amount of "pink" we all have in our running wardrobes, because that color seems to be pretty prevalent in the workout clothes department. Along with pink, gray, black and aqua blue seem to hold the highest rank. The cuts and styles are all very similar as well. Curating a personal athletic style is almost impossible because the apparel choices for the everyday female runner are slim.

And vintage running clothes? Forget about it! Not that we'd want to wear vintage running clothes, because of their outdated/non-existent athletic technology. The shoes especially were quite inept by today's standards. But I'd sure love for someone--or even myself--to design some cute vintage-inspired, moisture-wicking, sun-blocking, anti-static garments with cute little flower prints on them. Is that asking too much? Maybe for now it is. But I can see it coming. Tell them you saw it here first.

Ok, maybe Nike already thought of it. Of course they did! This little pamphlet is a hoot. Check it out.

Well, at least we're not required by a phallocentric bureaucracy to wear dresses! Am I right?

Catching My Breath After Skipped Workouts

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I've noticed another side effect of skipping runs during the week. I can't breathe! I run Monday, Wednesday and Friday like clockwork. Sometimes Sundays with a friend too. Last week, after helping a desperate husband work through his homework two nights in a row, rescuing a sister with a dead car and fully enjoying a "date night" said husband planned out completely for us, there was little time or energy left for a 3-mile run. And I never use the "no time" excuse, because I don't believe in it. But staying up so late was taking a toll and my body needed rest. I did sneak in a relaxing 30-minute yoga workout and my husband and I got a little sweaty playing darts on our date, so it wasn't like I completely abandoned my active lifestyle.

But by Thursday and Friday, I felt like I wasn't breathing right, like my lungs weren't getting enough air. The shallow breaths and idleness of my body were screaming for cardio. I had to stop and do some deep breathing just to feel OK. Don't get me wrong though, because I'm not complaining. These reactions are all the more motivation to keep running. Me and running, we've got a good thing going. We don't like to be apart for long.

Peanut Picnics #3

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This week I chose a local school ground for our picnic. Behind the school is one of the best playgrounds in town. But you can't see any of it from the road, so you'd never know. Behind the playground is a humongous open field for soccer, frolicking and other games. Then, behind that, is a chunk of woods with well-managed trails.


However, the boys were not convinced. They saw playground toys and only wanted toys. With a little "we'll go home if you're not going to listen," I got them to indulge me (mwahaha) and follow me to the opening. When they saw the mysterious pathways and beautiful meadow grasses and flowers, they got excited, like I knew they would. We came upon a shelter filled with picnic tables nestled in a corner of the woods. Perfect!


We spread out our food and got to work on supper. This is one of the hardest parts of our picnics. With so much anticipation for what they're going to see and where they're going to play, it takes quite a lot of willpower and self-control to actually eat.



See what I mean? But those goofy goons finally finished and we made our way through some of the trails. The boys just had to carry their own lunch boxes. Grandma made sure they each had their own brand new lunch box for these weekly trips. Grandma's the best.




The ambiance was complete with the smell from the wildfires happening hundreds of miles away in Minnesota. The autumn winds brought the campfire smell and a faint haze to our corner of Wisconsin that day.


We were almost to the end of the trail when my son said, "there's a deer." He sometimes points out pretend deer when we're in the woods just for fun, so I kept going. Then, I looked back and had to look again. Well, I'll be... There stood a beautiful doe. She must be well-adapted to humans, because she stood in the same spot while we talked to her and took pictures.

Deer in the woods right next to us

Then, of course, we had to hit up the playground. I had one little Spider Monkey climbing a web-like rope contraption and another checking out each and every slide. I took a moment to get "up to the sky" on a swing. My stomach had a lot more butterflies in it than I ever remember having.

I was busy reflecting on these great experiences we are having every week. Being outdoors away from TV, steeping ourselves in nature, spending quality time with the kiddos, being active, exploring new territory, and spending very little feels like an adventure in happiness every week. And it's just as simple as carving out one night a week, when my husband is away, to visit a different park. Magnificent! Give it a try!

Peanut Picnics #2

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Last Tuesday we geared up for a picnic on a little island. The island is connected to the mainland by a little bridge. There's still a beautiful lighthouse situated on said island.


We laid out our "new" vintage quilt and cracked open the Yoo-hoo milk.


After a little while, the boys spotted an airplane. My nephew got all excited and said, "They can see Jesus up there!" My favorite moment so far!


Disclaimer: this shot was totally not staged! Ha! My explorers went to scout out the island and stood side-by-side with hands on hips surveying the new territory.

While we were eating, we were graced by the company of this beauty. Something you don't see around the kitchen table or noshing in front of the tube.


When they were done eating--a task that took quite awhile with all the beautiful distractions--we took an adventure exploring the rest of the island. On the opposite end is a little pool of still water. So, the boys picked up a few sticks and got to work "fishing." The seaweed is a beautiful fish, isn't it?




We found holes...


...and mountains.


Then, we took a walk to another section of the mainland park. There's an open field next to a wooded area that I was going to let the Peanuts run around. When I was little, our family would bring our dogs here to run. I've been coming to this part of the park since I was tiny.

I noticed a little opening at one end of the wooded area, so we walked toward it. There was a sign. I assumed it would say "no trespassing." It did not. It said the trail was meant for hiking and cross-country skiing.

How did I not know about this trail all these 20-something years of frequenting the place!?!?!

We started walking and came upon a fork in the road. Taking the path on the right, we found a huge open field. And then we entered fricken' Narnia! Or the Secret Garden! One of those magnificent secret places you always hoped you'd stumble upon as a kid but never found. Really, I was THAT excited about it. I have dreams about such adventures as this. There was a locked up little campground with about four cabins and a main building. We found a picnic table with a grill and a volleyball net. And even a set of well-kept swings!!!


We left the other fork yet undiscovered for another time. We'll definitely be back to see where that one leads.

Vintage Flower Theme Around My House

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I've noticed that I have a vintage flower theme going on in my house. I just love the petite fragile flowers in hearty shades of pink and red. Here is a little peek:


This is a set of three antique postcards standing along the ridge of my cupboard.


I found this giant flower at the local pharmacy of all places. It was on clearance for like $2.50. I have it hanging between two art pictures on my dining room wall.


This is a pretty vintage flower print on a closet door in our room. I'm not usually a fan of wallpaper, but just this tiny little snippet of it on a tiny little door was just enough. The door needed some TLC and this was an easy and charming fix.


Here's a little trivet I picked up at a flea market that I keep on the dining room table:


My mom bought me this set of adorable jars at an antique stores. I still don't have anything inside of them. I just like to look at the little pretties:


And finally, a thrifted botanical print that hangs over the stove:


Of course, there's a lot more where that came from. Perhaps I'll do another post with even more flora.

A Successful Thrifting Adventure

Monday, September 5, 2011

Remember how I said I needed a picnic blanket and tablecloth for our weekly picnics? Just Saturday I went thrifting and came up with everything I need and then some. What a rush!

I found a beautiful quilt that I'm going to have a hard time using on the ground. I feel like I should be using it on my son's bed or something rather than the great outdoors. But for $3, I think it'll be OK.


The vintage tablecloth has a beautiful flower pattern on it. Again, I feel like I should be using this on the dining room table, but we have enough tablecloths for the whole year already. And this beautiful specimen was only $2.


A few other things I was psyched to find:

A nearly complete/barely used set of oil pastels for the youngin' and I to get artsy with. And yes, that's what I paid for it. Nope the other price. A whole quarter!!!


And this gorgeous vintage serving platter for $0.75. I think this was there last time I visited my favorite thrift store. I had my eye on it then too. I even picked it up several times and drooled over the pretty design. Why did I even hesitate for that price?


Especially when it dawned on me what I could use it for. It makes a nice display piece for my homemade hair bows, doesn't it?


Then, there's the beautiful stack of extra pillowcases I found. I was looking for some extras that match the sheets we already have, because pillowcases always seem to be in short supply.