Sweet Little Treasures

Thought I would share a few of the teeny sweet goodies I’ve picked up here and there in the last few months.

Acorny Bird
This little birdy came from Bazaar Del Mundo in Old Town.

He is cast in resin or ceramic or something – not the carved wood I usually prefer, but the hat!  I love his little acorn hat!  So sweet.  He makes me happy.

acorn hat bird

Hammered Heart
Continuing the bird theme, this two-sided hammered brass and decoupaged heart is also from Bazaar Del Mundo.  It was part of an after Christmas sale, but it’s really rather perfect for Valentine’s Day.

brass heart

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Cigar Box
I bought this cigar box at a Salvation Army thrift store.

When I first saw it, I picked it up and examined it for a long time.  There was nothing wrong with it and the price was right, but what would I do with it?  I put it back on the shelf.  Such a mistake.  When I spied it in someone else’s basket a few minutes later, I felt really disappointed.  😦

cigar box

I even briefly stalked watched the other shopper browsing ahead of me and I thought about the Mary Randolph Carter book I recently received from my mom-in-law:

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I had stopped to think about the cigar box.  Shopping fail.  Fortunately, the other guy changed his mind and plopped it onto a shelf near the registers.  I scooped it up and felt lucky for the second chance.  After the 50%-off-day discount, I paid a meager $0.75!  Ha!

That Book
And speaking of that book above, it’s great.  It’s really fun to learn about other people’s collections and obsessions.  The pictures are true eye candy and the writing is very engaging and thoughtful.  Over all, it’s a delight to read or just browse through.  It’s a large, thick, heavy, well constructed coffee table volume that I am eager to share, but will likely never give away.  I am enjoying it so much!  It’s a keeper.  Thank you, Jenifer!

Bundting Baby
I also added another fabulous large Nordic Ware specialty bundt pan to my collection.

fairytale cottage bundt

These things are generally $20 to $40 in stores or online, so I always snap them up when I find them.  This one was pristine and only cost me about $5 at the local Goodwill bookstore.  It’s called the Fairytale Cottage Bundt Pan.  It holds 10 cups of batter.

I actually put this one to use right away with a cream cheese pound cake recipe.  The cake was good and it helped me to learn a few things about using the pan.  That said, I’m not as concerned with function, as I am with form, when I buy these bundt babies.  I just like the way they look and feel and I enjoy putting them on the wall or stacking them in my kitchen as decoration.  I have a lot of them…you know?  A lot of them.  🙂

Kokeshi Dolls
And last, but not least, here are pictures of something I’ve been hiding away for over a year.

kokeshi shelf

I got this collection of kokeshi dolls from my sweet friend, Leighann.  As part of a spontaneous cross country move, Leighann and her family shed half their belongings a year and a half ago.

kokeshi babies

They uprooted their entire lives and trekked thousands of miles with two kids, two dogs and a u-haul in less time than it has taken me to display these kokeshis!  And really, I’m not done with this.  The wall will eventually be painted and the shelves rearranged with a few more items, but you get the idea.

The real reason I think of this as a recently discovered treasure, is the fact that those two little minis in front were a surprise to me this week.  They were stored inside the two mamas on the right and left and I didn’t even know!  Such a sweet discovery, from a sweet friend.  Thank you, Leighann!

That’s all for now.

Happy Sunday!

P.S. What little treasures have you added to your collections this season?

♥♥

 

Rose Bowl Flea Market & Thrift Store Treasures

I met some friends in Pasadena last weekend.

I spent Saturday night by myself at the Courtyard Marriott in Monrovia.  This hotel is right on the 210 Freeway – convenient, but kind of loud.  If you’re a light sleeper, this may not be the place for you.

On the upside, the room was super clean, the hotel was nicely decorated, the service was excellent, and this was the view from my room:

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I didn’t mind the traffic noise at all and I felt very safe in the area too.  There are a ton of large chain restaurants and stores nearby and parking is free and plentiful, even at the hotel.

I thoroughly enjoyed moving at my own pace, wandering around a couple of stores, then going solo to a late evening soup and salad dinner at Mimi’s before heading back to the hotel for the night.

I found these four huge, sparkly ornaments on clearance at Kirkland’s for $1.24 each:

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On Sunday, I met my friends at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.  Have I told you how much I love that place and wish, with all my heart, that I could go to it every month?  Sigh.

I picked up an odd assortment of things this time.

First, there’s this:

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He is missing a foot (fin?) and has been wrapped in the middle with fishing line to keep from coming apart, but I love him.

He’s made from a gourd or some kind of seed pod and he is filled with little stones that make a very pleasant rain stick kind of sound when you move him.

Um…yeah…if you know me, then you know it was not possible for me to leave without this guy.

I’m not sure what to make of the mermaid and her friend on his back:

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I also found my favorite ribbon vendor and picked up a few things in her 3/$5 bin:

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I found two more Delft-style milk maids too.  I don’t know if I really love these ladies though.  Their faces aren’t as sweet and well painted as the other two I have, so I’m not sure I will keep them.  For the moment, they are in the china hutch with the others.

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I love these little Matryoshka egg dolls:

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I’m not sure how exactly to display them, since they won’t stand up on their own, but they amuse me!

I picked up the sweetest little wooden duckling too, but the ten-year-old promptly claimed it on my return.  I haven’t seen it since.  😦

My favorite find of the day was this wire cake stand:

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The seller wanted $15.

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I offered $10 and hoped she would take $12.50.

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She took the $10!  Yea!  The silver stand below it is another of my favorites from long ago.  Just one more and it’s a collection, right?  Uh oh.

When hunger hit us, I wasn’t in the mood for our usual Italian place, so we ate at the Cheesecake Factory.  I rarely go there, so I never know quite what to order.  This time, I copied my friend – faro salad and fried avocado egg rolls.  Oh my, was that ever a tasty lunch!

We wandered the shops for a while and then went to Goodwill and an unexpectedly large and interesting antique store in South Pasadena before parting company.  It was a disappointment to find the Out of the Closet thrift store closed for the day, but we all felt pretty good about our other adventures.

What a great weekend!  Good friends, good food, good finds, good fun.  Thank you, Leighann and Corina!!

Back on my home turf and apart from my son after three and a half long weeks of winter break, I wandered through the Goodwill and Salvation Army stores near my home yesterday.

I picked up a little wooden candle holder:

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and I found this amazing little wooden stool:

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At first glance, I thought it was painted.  It’s actually decorated with beads.  They are hammered into the wood.

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I would love to know how the artist did this.

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The wood seems soft, but surely there’s a secret.  The whole thing makes me swoon.  It’s clearly hand crafted, an interesting shape, probably Mexican or central American, colorful, detailed and lovingly made – just my taste!

And that’s it!

What did you do this week?

♥♥

Kitty Cat Memorial Cactus Garden

My dear friend, Leighann, was in town for a few hours last Wednesday.

We met for lunch and some thrift store browsing in Poway before she headed to the coast for a meeting.

Whenever we get together, Leighann brings me the most amazing, thoughtful gifts.  This time was no exception.

Behold the beautiful Kitty Cat Memorial Cactus Garden:

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She assembled it in a gorgeous glazed blue pot.

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She tucked some sea glass and a tiny kitty between the plants.  (Sorry so blurry – hard to get a clear pic of the kitty’s little face.)

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I love this little garden so much.  It’s a perfect addition to our backyard.

More importantly, it’s a fitting tribute to Rusty and Poupon who spent so much time where this pot now sits.

Thank you, my lovely friend!  You always know exactly what to do.

Just outside our front door, there is small patch of dirt that makes my eye twitch.

This tiny patch was once home to a beautiful, licorice-scented heliotrope plant, but ultimately it proved too small to adequately contain such an aggressive shrub.  The heliotrope had zoomed to dishwasher size, was dropping its little purple flowers all over the path, and was mercilessly grabbing our clothes when we walked to the door.  We had to tear it out.  😦

For the last few years, the dirt patch has been basically empty, save for a handful of river rocks.  It never used to bother me, but now I stand in my driveway every afternoon as I wait for my son to come home on the bus and I just can’t help but stare at that stupid, unfinished, neglected chunk of yard.  😦

It’s a problematic spot – not very deep, limited water, and anything we plant there must be trimmed back from the walkway.  There aren’t many plants that can handle such routine and vigorous pruning.

A few weeks ago, I accidentally broke off a piece from a succulent in the backyard.  Impulsively, I shoved it into the dirt in the patch out front.  I wasn’t expecting any miracles, but the succulent survived and even started to grow.  Encouraged, I did it again with another plant.  That one made it too.

Today, I bought a few more succulents and tucked them next to the others.  I also added a bag of rocks we had sitting on the side yard.

Here is the (almost) finished patch:

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This may not seem like much to accomplish, but my eye has stopped twitching.

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What have you been up to?

♥♥

Dear Betsy…

I said I wasn’t going to write about you anymore, but I have to say something tonight because I had lunch with your girls and my mind is racing.

I miss you.  I really do.

Today what really overwhelmed me is how much I want my son to know you.

It isn’t fair.  Everything is so hard for him already and he has to make it in a world without you and my dad.

That can’t be right.  It isn’t right.  It hurts me and I hate it.

I can’t stand the image in my head of what would have been.  I don’t want to know how easily my son would have fit into your life.

You would have gathered him in your arms and your heart and kept him safe, just like I try to do.

You would have helped him learn and laugh and love.

I know that as sure as I breathe.  But I don’t want to know it.  I really don’t.

Sometimes, I try to tell myself that we wouldn’t have been friends if you had lived.

I try to tell myself that we were drifting apart.

I try to tell myself that we were not interested in each others’ lives or kids or homes or hobbies or dreams anymore.

But that just isn’t true.

We drifted apart regularly, but we always drifted back.

We fought a lot, but we always made up.

We found each other ridiculous, annoying, rude, uninteresting, boring, petty, maddening…all the time…and then we didn’t.

So I know that picture of what would have been is accurate.

You would have loved my son.  You did love my son.

So I miss you for that, you know?

I miss you because you loved my son.

♥♥

Renegade Craft Fair & Fun With Friends

I met a couple of friends in Los Angeles yesterday.  They rode the train in from the desert and I drove up to Union Station to meet them.

We started our morning with some coffee and Mexican pastries on Olvera Street.  We sat and chatted while the sleepy storekeepers unfurled their goods, then we shopped a bit before walking back to my van for a quick ride to our main destination.  We were headed to the annual Renegade Craft Fair at Los Angeles State Historic Park.

Renegade is an annual gathering of etsy.com artists and local food trucks.  The off-road parking is dry and dirty, the bottles of water are overpriced, and shade is in short supply, but the art is worth the inconveniences!

I think the best thing about this event is that everyone has a web presence.  If you spend all your money before you get to the end of the first row, you can still have fun walking through and gathering business cards for future purchases.  All of the vendors sell items online.

Another great thing about Renegade is that it’s not gigantic.  You can actually see everything.  Twice.  And you still have time for some other adventures in your day.  That’s a boon for me, since I don’t live in the area.

We headed to Atwater Village next.  After a quick peek into the Out of the Closet thrift store, we had veggie burgers at the very teeny Atwater Grill.  I was pretty hungry when we got there, but even with that bias, I think I can say that was one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever eaten.  It came with huge, delicious onion rings too.  Yum!

Ever the fiend for something chocolate immediately after a meal, I shuffled my friends down the street to a little bakery called Sweets for the Soul.

Honestly, I wasn’t impressed when we walked in the door.  The cashier was a bit aloof and there was a stressful vibe in the air.  Odd.  Or maybe we were.  I don’t know.

Nothing in the display cases appealed to me particularly.  I really sort of wanted to leave, but my manners got me.  I chose a salted caramel shot, just to be polite.  I paid a few dollars and thoughtlessly tossed the container into my bag as we walked out the door.

It wasn’t until I had parted company with my friends a few hours later that I found the box and decided to eat the little cake inside.

OH MY!  What a surprise of heavenly goodness!  Small wonder this place has gotten rave reviews.

The “shot” was something in between a brownie and a small cake.  It was dense, but with a good crumb texture.  And it was moist, not like the dry muffin I’d had hours before on Olvera Street.

It was very chocolate, but neither too bitter nor too sweet.  And the salted caramel on top?  It had melted slightly in the box – a happy accident, if you ask me.

The whole thing was just three teeny bites of yummy.  I wish I had another one right this minute.  Sigh.

I’m in chocolate love and MUST go back to Sweets for the Soul.  ♥

This experience taught me a lesson.  I think I’ve concluded that small sweets need to be eaten within mere steps of their source.  If you have to get another one, you’ll need to be right there.

Going forward, I will make my purchase respectfully, but with a fib about saving it for later, then I will duck around the nearest corner and enjoy it at once!

From there, we headed to Potted in Los Feliz.  I love this store!  Love!  My friend had been there before and she described it only as “inspiring.”  I have to agree.  Potted is serene and beautiful, but interesting, just the way a garden ought to be.  I saw many, many things I would love to own from this place.  I will definitely go back the next time I am in the area.

On West Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank, we went to Mindfulnest Contemporary Artisan Gallery.  Over 70% of the merchandise in the shop is made by local artisans, including the line of Klean Spa bath products blended on site in the back of the space.  I bought a small bottle of cream in the Lemon Love scent.  I think I might even like it more than my old favorite J.R. Watkins Shea Butter Lemon Cream!  THAT is HUGE.

Somewhere along the way to all of these destinations, we also hit a few other thrift stores.  I did the driving, but with my friends along, I was blissfully freed from navigation responsibilities.  Yeah, so don’t ask me how to find any of these places again, okay?  In fact, I will confess, I started our day by forgetting where my car was parked at Union Station.  That was a good 45 minutes of frustrated social anxiety.  Sorry, ladies!!  😳

Anyhoo, this is what I have to show for my day of fun.  Not a lot, but enough for me.  🙂

On Olvera Street, I bought a few more teeny chickens for my collection…

and a guatemalan wallet/glasses case.

At the Renegade Craft Fair, I found this whimsical soap dish by Catherine Reece:

and a very heavy weight, well made tote (with long handles like I love!!) by Dutch Door Press

At Mindfulnest/Klean Spa…

and from Leighann, my beautiful friend who always brings me the greatest stuff –

a very fun drawstring Maneki-neko bag – so freakin’ cute –

a pack of bright orange rick rack – not even opened – love!

and a very pretty batik stamp…

I agree – the little curlicue at the top is the sweetest part of the design!

And from one of the thrift stores, I bought a book for Thomas –

because who can resist those crazy Berenstain Bears?

and because I can’t leave my house without buying a book, right?

Right!

That’s it for my day in L.A.

Happy Afternoon!

P.S.  What did you do this weekend?

♥♥

Brain Dump & A Rip Ryder Mailbox Man

Potty Dream

Last night, I dreamed that I was married to Matt Damon and we had a toilet in our dining room.

Matt Damon sat at the dining table and told me he knew we would be together forever when we picked out the toilet because he thought to himself “this toilet will last for the rest of our lives.”

I know why I dreamed this.  I think it had more to do with the toilet than the Damon.

I needed to get up and go, you know?  It was the 4:00 a.m. calling.

My befuddled brain tried to embarrass me awake.

Pee, in front of Matt Damon?

Never.

Eyes open.  😯

Wide awake now, thanks.

And back to real life, very real life…

Dearly Departed

A couple of my friends from high school recently lost someone very dear to them.  Their experience got me thinking about why I started my blog.

I blabbed in the beginning about my childhood friend, Betsy.  She died of breast cancer in 2003.  We were both 38.

Even now, I wake up everyday and instantly think of her.  She is on my mind as I fall asleep and she is sometimes in my dreams.  I also see her in every young mom with a ponytail.

I talk to her constantly and sometimes feel like a fool for doing it, but I do it anyway.  And sometimes I hear her talking to me and I take her advice, or I roll my eyes.

She still informs all of my major life decisions and many of the teeny ones too.  I knew her a long time and I usually know just what she would say.

I’ve written about her a lot – for example, here and here – but coming to this post today, I realize I don’t know if I can write about her very much more.

The rest of what I know and think and feel about her, and myself, and our friendship, is all kind of private.  I can’t have it taken apart by anyone on the internet.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to mention any of this, except that I feel I somehow owe an explanation to Betsy herself.

She was the one who always told me to write.  I’ve been thinking about that a lot this month and I decided that if I don’t write about her, then I have to write for her.

To that end, I entered NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction contest.

Three-Minute Fiction

You know that moment after you leave a big school exam or a job interview and you realize exactly how you sank yourself?  Entering this contest kind of worked like that for me.

I was thrilled by the writing challenge, I got exponentially more excited after I submitted my piece, and I was glued to the Three Minute Fiction Facebook fan page for a good three hours afterward.

Then I started re-reading my story.  I read it over and over and over again.

I saw its flaws unraveling before me and I got kind of depressed and embarrassed.  😦  It wasn’t good.  It still isn’t, and of course, there is no opportunity to edit.  I hit “submit” and now NPR editors are seeing it (and me) with all imperfections exposed.  Ugh.

Several days have passed and I am feeling a little better about it.  I can see what I did wrong and I am learning from it instead of turning red.  It was a good exercise and I will enter the contest again.  You should too.

And speaking of good exercise…

An Update On The Boy

I have been trying to write about him this month, but nothing feels quite right.

There is progress, but there are set-backs too and I can’t think of the best way to talk about all of it.

Instead, you get a video of his favorite activity.

And yes, the video ends because I sneeze.  🙂

Happy Wednesday!

♥♥

Long Beach Flea Market

I don’t know how often I can come on here and say the same things.

Life is hard.  And easy.  And ugly.  And beautiful.

Life is hard…

because my autistic son needs everything to be a certain way and, despite the good intentions of everyone in my life, very few really understand how insanely difficult it is to parent him.

He seems so incredibly normal – whatever the hell “normal” is.  He is beautiful.  He is smart.  He is talkative and cheerful.  He is happy and animated and very cooperative.  Until he isn’t.

Over the two-week break, he hit me a few times.  😦  He pushed me too.  On one of the days he had a meltdown like I can’t even describe.  He screamed, he broke things.  The usual.

He yells about everything.  “No take the plate to the kitchen!”  “No mama say!”  “No mama singing!”  “No music!”  “No.  No.  No!”

And then there’s the OCD stuff…

He has a thing about the pantry door.  He has to close it a certain way, at a certain time, repeatedly.  He chants his little chants, he swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and SLAMS it closed.  And all of the things that hang from the inside of the door go crashing to the tile below.  LOUD.  LOUD.  LOUD.

And the bathroom door.  He closes and opens it too.  All the time.  Just because.

He writes math problems for himself every night.  He leaves the papers all over the table.  He does this when I am in the pit of the day’s fatigue.  Consequently, his math papers never get picked up.  Our house is an overwhelming wreck.  It depresses me.  I am tired and life is hard.

Life is easy…

because I have three fabulous moms and a good friend who listen to all of it.  Life is easy because husband knows how it is and he’s here everyday seeing it, feeling it, and being in it with me.  And when he isn’t here to make it easier on me, he’s out there to make it easier on me.  He works so that I can take care of our kid.  And our house.  And our laundry.  Our never ending, steaming mountains of laundry.

Life is ugly…

because of stupid, evil, mean people who make me sick with worry for my son…and his future…and the potential dangers that await him.

Life is beautiful…

because the yelling, pushing, screaming, toy throwing little boy is also sweet and kind and funny and he makes up songs about silly things like my jiggly arms.  😀  I love him.

Life is beautiful because I get to see my good friend every few months and we always have a great day together somewhere.  On Sunday, we went to the Long Beach Flea Market and I bought a water fountain.  It’s perfect for our little yard, but it weighs a gazillion pounds.

Life is beautiful because the vendor wanted $75 and we talked him down to $50.

Life is beautiful because my friend carried the dirty top part of the fountain a great distance to my car for me.

Life is beautiful because there is ibuprofen to ease the pain and stupidity of carrying the lower section of the fountain by myself.  Day four and I am still achy breaky.

Life is beautiful because we had a very pleasant lunch at Bono’s Long Beach with the best creme brulee I have ever tasted in my life.  The portion was HUGE and my friend didn’t want any.  🙂  Thank you, silly friend.

Life is beautiful because I also found a book for my brother, a liquid timer for my son, and some Bit-O-Honey candy at Powell’s (best old timey candy store ever) for my husband.

I got these guys for me:

Their bodies are hinged so you can sway their little legs back and forth if you want to.  I know you want to.  🙂

Life is life.

Happy Wednesday!

♥♥