Treasure Hunting

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Alameda Point Antiques FairThere’s nothing quite like the thrill of scoring a deal. I can still remember going to a garage sale with my cousins when I was in second grade. Trolling the aisles between tables, looking for the perfect treasure. I ended up buying a shell necklace for fifty-cents. Mind you, this was in the seventies, so it’s likely I paid what the thing was worth, but I still felt the thrill of finding something special in an unexpected place.

Maybe that explains my love of television shows like Antiques Roadshow and Storage Wars. Honestly, if I were home nursing the flu and stuck on the sofa, I could easily watch four episodes of Storage Wars in a row. At least.

And, it would seem, I’m not the only one watching. Storage Wars is officially the most popular show in A&E’s (the network on which it airs) history. The show follows a group of characters around to storage facilities in California as they bid on unclaimed units in the hope of turning the biggest profit on the units they win. While part of the fun of the show is in the interplay between the characters, what I love best about the show is the excitement over the hunt for “the find”.

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My Crafty Little Valentine

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Valentine supplies

I know it’s only half-way through January, but in our house it’s already time to start prepping for Valentine’s Day. Between the two older kids, I’ve got sixty-five valentines to make, so I like to get an early start. While I realize it would only take a ten-minute trip to Walgreens to buy valentines for our kids’ classes, I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m just not the buy-your-valentines type of mom. I’ve made them each year since preschool and I’m not about to give in now. No offense to those who do buy; this is just how I roll.

This morning’s circus (a.k.a, the getting-to-school-on-time routine) was too crazy to even consider cleaning up breakfast beforehand, so after returning home from dropping everyone off, I started in on clearing up the mess. Just as I was about to drop the empty cereal box into the recycling bin, I had an epiphany: Hey, why not make our valentines out of this? It saves money, time (in driving to the store to buy card stock), and extends the life of something that would have been recycled. Kind of like a valentine for the planet, too.

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Putting a Spin on Dinnertime Disasters

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My first frittata!

Until the seventh month of my pregnancy with my first child, I had been a vegetarian. That means I ate no meat for much of my adult life. It also means that as a thirty-three-year-old woman who hadn’t eaten chicken since she was sixteen, and who had never eaten fish growing up (unless you count frozen fish sticks, and I don’t), I had no clue what to do with either.

While I’m still not keen on preparing birds with bones— I know, I know, if I’m going to eat it I ought to be authentic, but I just can’t go there—I will readily cook the boneless, skinless variety. Over the years I’ve amassed quite a few chicken recipes, but after awhile, one can only eat so much chicken—no matter how it’s prepared.

In an attempt to mix things up a bit, I resolved last year to introduce more fish (sustainable, low mercury varieties) into our weekly meal rotations. The problem is, though, I have even less expertise when it comes to cooking fish than I did when I started eating chicken again. For some reason, fish really intimidates me. It could have something to do with the time my husband and I went to dinner with our friends Guy and Kym to this fancy-pants restaurant in Berkeley,CA. Kym, who is a worldly sort, ordered a fish entree. When her dinner arrived it looked as if it were poised to swim upstream. On the plate was no mere fillet—it was the whole fish, complete with scales and eyes. So, Kym, my well-traveled friend, sent the plate back in horror and ordered something else. The way I see it, if Kym couldn’t handle fish, then I’m really in the deep end. Maybe the key is to not attempt to eat or to cook a fish that’s staring you down.

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The Gift That Keeps On Giving

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craftsy_bombshellI know that to most people, the idea of watching an online tutorial to learn how to do something wouldn’t exactly make their list of ways to spend their free time. But to me, an admitted crafty addict, I consider it pure bliss.

That’s why I’m so excited about one of the gifts I just received for my birthday: a gift card to Craftsy! OMG, there are so many options. I could learn how to make cheese, marmalade, or how to upcycle yardsale furniture. And I just might take ALL of these classes at some point in the future. I mean, how cool would it be to be able to say you make your own cheese? Just imagine your next dinner party, “Oh, this brie? Just something I whipped up myself.”

But after perusing the catalog of potential classes, I’ve decided to tackle Sew Retro Perfect Bombshell Dress. Although I’ve been sewing things like doll clothes and tote bags, I haven’t yet been able to make anything that had to actually fit someone. A few years ago I tried making a dress for my daughter. Although I was proud of the final product (because it was my first time attempting an invisible zipper), it wasn’t without flaws. And it didn’t fit. Soon after, I gave it away at a children’s clothing swap. While I was bummed that my daughter couldn’t wear it, I was so pleased to know that at least someone could.

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Two Out of Three Ain’ t Bad

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Slide the TP on a bat for easy carrying up the stairs!

Slide the TP on a bat for easy carrying up the stairs!

Something I’ve realized about having three children is that your workload definitely increases. More people in a house means more messes to clean up, more laundry to do, more groceries to buy. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely means more joy, too. I wouldn’t trade any member of my household for a clean bathroom. At least not on most days. Right now one of my biggest challenges is how to get what I need done on a daily basis, still have quality FUN time with the family, and take care of myself at the same time.

This predicament reminds me of some wisdom one of my college professors once shared with our class. When you’re trying to churn out [INSERT PROJECT NAME HERE] you need to make some compromises. It’s not possible to get everything done on time, under budget, and have it be of superior quality. At least not for mere mortals. You can get it done fast, you can do it on the cheap, and you can produce high-caliber stuff—but the rub is, you can only pick two of those at a time.  If you want something done quickly, you’re going to pay top dollar for it. If you want to save money and do it on the cheap, your [INSERT PROJECT NAME HERE] probably won’t earn rave reviews.

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