Monday, August 14, 2017

Accidental retro weekend

Half of our family went on an out of town trip this weekend, while half of us stayed behind. I was in the stay behind group, and as I scrolled through my phone yesterday, reviewing the weekend, I realized it was full of awesome retro things.

I took two of the kids to our favorite candy shop, where they were well stocked with both Bleeps and Tart N Tinys. Here's all I've got left:

Apparently in 1996 they made a Tart N Tinys mini connect four game! 

Down the street from the candy shop was a gift shop. Even though I had two little boys with me, I was able to pop in and spend a few minutes browsing. Luckily the shop had quirky and irreverent things with Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, and the like to keep them interested. Here's what I loved, pincushions made with old teacups and other vintage goodies:

We went to Target, where I spotted this unbelievable unicorn lamp:

On Saturday we completed this 1000 piece puzzle full of retro games:

And finally, another heartbreaker to add to the "things I desperately wanted to buy at a thrift shop" list:
Whoa. Those are the gold lamé ruffles of my Jem fever dreams.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The ones that got away

Here are a few things that I have had to pass by as I've been shopping at thrift and antique stores, things I wanted to buy but couldn't.

First up, this pinball machine, not because I particularly love pinball, but because the machine is just gorgeous.

This claw machine was in the back yard of an antique store in a small Texas town. I couldn't help but think how awesome it would be for my kids to have their own claw machine to lose on over and over again, but then actually get to keep their wasted money.

I'm a total sucker for needlework framed as wall art.
Too expensive.

Beautiful but kinda moldy.

Curse you, Goodwill auction! This was out of town, and I wasn't there on auction day.

An overhead projector! I found it at a thrift shop when I was visiting home last fall, and sadly, it wouldn't fit in my suitcase. But how fun would it be to pretend to be my 7th grade math teacher (though perhaps without her tendency to stick the cap end of the marker into her eye socket whenever she was getting a migraine)?

And finally, here's my great white whale, the one that broke my heart:
It's a display cabinet with shelves and glass doors and lighting inside. This was also at a Goodwill near my parents' house, and if I couldn't get the overhead projector back to Austin, I sure couldn't get this thing either.
But it was priced at ten dollars. TEN DOLLARS, you guys. For the mid-century cabinet of my dreams. (I say mid-century, though there was not date on it. I suppose it could be '70s or even '80s, but my definition of mid-century is pretty broad.)
I hovered near it and made big puppy dog eyes at my mom, hoping that she would say, "Well, just go ahead and buy it and you can keep it in the garage until you can figure out how to get it to Texas." Her reaction was more like, "Yep, that's a cabinet. Ready to go?" She's a heartless woman.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Day 31: Snapshot

Today's the last day of our 31 day journaling challenge! The assignment for today is another snapshot. I suggested on day 1 that you write about what you are currently doing. Ideally, I'd like to write one of these snapshots about once a month, but in practice it's more like a couple times a year.

Choose one of the following angles, or come up with your own:

-A gratitude list. Write about the things you are thankful for right now.

-Kid profiles. Write about what each kid is into at the moment, funny phrases they use, favorite books, shows, foods, activities, etc.

-Best and worst: what things are making you happy right now, and what is making you unhappy?

-Day in the life: what an average day looks like right now.

-Slices of joy: even if you are in a rough spot right now, what are the small things that lift your spirits?
Public art is always a slice of joy for me.
I saw this mosaic at Deep Eddy pool a couple weeks ago. Can you spot the little dinosaur?

It was a 106 degree weekend here in Austin, and I have a kid with an injury that prevents us from going to the pool. The atmosphere in my house is reflecting that restless, sweaty, grumpy, trapped-in-the-house, late summer feeling. I'm going to rely on slices of joy to make it through the week, for example, those few moments in the evening when teeth have been (finally, probably inadequately) brushed and we sit down together to read a few pages of Harry Potter.

I hope you've had fun reading along and writing some of your own entries. I can absolutely promise you that a year from now, or ten years from now, when you or your kids are reading your journal, you will be so glad you took the time to write down your thoughts and memories.

Day 30: Parents

For day 30, let's write about our parents. You could:

-describe the ways in which you are similar to and different from each of them
-write about their best qualities
-interview them about their childhood experiences
-write about how the world has changed in their lifetimes
-record your favorite things to do with your parents
-tell about obstacles they have overcome in their lives
I am fortunate to have great parents who love and support me, and I recognize that this is not the case for everyone. If this is a difficult topic for you, feel free to write about your pet or your best friend or someone else who has been a supportive figure in your life. But you might find some catharsis in writing about your difficult experiences and complex emotions. Journals don't always have to be about the good stuff.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Day 29: Expectation vs reality

At book club the other night, my friend mentioned that she has known what she wanted her life to be like since her late teens, and so far it has all gone according to the plan. Her marriage (to the guy she fell for at age 15!), college, kids, etc. have all played out as she anticipated.

I replied that I have had the opposite of that. If I had written out a detailed life plan as a young adult, it would bear almost no resemblance to what my reality has been these past couple decades.
My college experience, career path, marriage, kids, the place I live...all those and more are quite different, in good ways and bad, from what I expected them to be.

What about you? When you graduated high school and headed into adult life, what did you think was ahead of you? How many of your predictions came true? Are there things that haven't happened yet that you are still working toward? Are there things that you wanted or expected that you are glad you didn't get?

You could also use this topic to tell a detailed story about a specific experience. When I agreed to a cross-country ride share to get myself home from college one summer, I had no idea what a ridiculous saga it would turn into. Late in the afternoon, hours later than we'd planned, I loaded my stuff into a suburban packed with several other people and their stuff and thought, "Well, this probably won't be the most fun ride ever, but at least tomorrow I'll be home!" Five minutes later the driver pulled into another apartment complex and informed us that we would be towing a junker car behind us (which was itself packed with junk) so that his brother could fix it up and sell it back in Illinois. So, we've got an old suburban, full of twenty year olds and their luggage, towing another car through the mountains, setting out just as night is about to fall. That journey was exactly as fun as you might expect it to be.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Day 28: Food, part 2

Today let's write about food that you eat away from home.

-What are your current favorite restaurants for eating in and taking to-go? What were they when you were younger?

-Are there places that you always visit when you are in particular cities or regions?

When I go home to the Chicago suburbs, I always plan for a Giordano's pizza and a couple cheeseburgers at Portillo's. Once in a while I am lucky enough to get someone who knows that "extra pickles" doesn't mean "three pickles instead of two". It means "as many pickles as you can pile on".
Yes please.

-Do you have specific foods that you eat on road trips?

When I was a kid, road trips meant Life cereal eaten from a Solo cup for breakfast, a cooler full of pop and bagel sandwich ingredients, Pringles and Bugles to snack on, and maybe a stop for Frostys at Wendy's.

-You could make a "best in class" list, detailing where you get your favorite hamburger, salad, taco, doughnut, etc. I have a friend doing an extensive survey of Austin doughnut shops, which sounds pretty amazing. I'll bet my kids would like to contribute to that research project.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Day 27: Food, part 1

Today we're writing about food, with a focus on what you eat at home. We will cover food eaten away form home in tomorrow's post.

 Take your pick:

-What does a typical day of eating look like for you? (List breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks/treats.)

-What recipes are on heavy rotation at your house right now?

-Talk about your favorite recipes and tell where you got them.

-List your favorite foods, and ask your family members to do the same.

-List the foods your parents made when you were kid, and write about how your tastes have changed.

-Do you prefer to cook or to bake? Or both? Or neither?

-Record some of your food-related memories, for example Thanksgiving dinner, Saturday morning pancake breakfasts, or foods your mom or dad gave you when you were sick.
Easy summer salad: cucumbers, watermelon, and strawberries with feta and balsamic vinaigrette.