Hey, I’m a girl and I like to play dress up… and I make everyone I know participate!

Ladies of Rotary dancing the Copacabana on the stage of the historic Marion Palace Theatre
Yep, that’s me with the big green feather and fruit on my head.

“HER NAME WAS LOLA, SHE WAS A SHOWGIRL…”  I WILL NEVER HEAR THOSE BARRY MANILOW LYRICS without having flashbacks to THAT night.  It was a night of a thousand stars type event at the historic Marion Palace Theatre and the ladies of the local Rotary service club were moving and shaking at  our own Copacabana  …  or at least we thought so!  

I crossed so many things off my “bucket list” that night that I just had to start a new one…  I’m not sure that wearing fruit on my head was on the list, but it should have been.  Not only did I dance on stage with an audience, I danced ON A TABLE IN GOLD GLITTER SHOES!  Hopefully no video exists of that night, but you can watch Barry sing it here.

Today is August 31st and you have two months to get ready for Halloween.  That’s 60 days.  Ready.  Set.  Go.

In the past, I had been one of those parents who barely got my kid’s costume ready.  The Boy always wanted me to dress up and so I told him I was dressed as “a business woman”, “an executive director of a nonprofit agency”…  and then there was that one year I had to go as a “disaster relief worker”…  but I was there.  This year, I’m bumping it up and my costume is coming together quite nicely.  I’ll unveil it to you closer to THE day.

In the meantime, I’ll walk  you down memory lane through some of the more memorable costumes produced by “T and The Boy” for all sorts of reasons…  Every one is powered by Marion Goodwill purchases.  Why not?

Top left — 70’s days at Heritage Elementary; Top right — Flat Stanley goes to visit Aunt Erma in NM; Bottom left — army guy does surveillance on Daddy; Bottom right — kitty cat for Halloween

We show horses with our friends and one of the 4-H  kids I help decided a couple of years ago that he wanted to make a statement in the Marion County Junior Fair costume class.  I am not sure what he meant by that, but he IS noticeable.  I am embarrassed to say that in some years, we have spent longer planning our costume than we have on his project book!  Here’s four years of costume class with Hayden and his horse Duke (yes, named after John Wayne)…

Top left — Killer Bee; Top right — “Two ugly dudes taking a bath”; Bottom left — Funky Chicken; Bottom right — Hula Girl (recognize that hat?)

And then there was this unfortunate incident…

That one makes me giggle every time I see it.  That’s Hayden’s older brother.  ROFL!

I hope that we’ve given you some ideas.  Whatever you are dressing up for just remember to be creative and consider thrift store purchases for things you will only wear once.  If I wasn’t enough inspiration, head on over to the Pinterest boards.  Costume supplies are IN STORES NOW and there are plenty to choose from!

Trick or treat?

T and The Boy

PINTEREST — It’s like fantasy football for women…


My “Cowboy Collection” picnic basket with vintage table cloth — the basket was $5 at Goodwill. I downloaded a picture I liked and reworked it a bit and then used mod podge.

FOR THE LONGEST TIME, I WAS ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE…  it really was total fantasy for me.  Then I tried to move a few of my “pins” over to reality…  but didn’t quite “nail” it.  Check out CraftFail for a few good laughs — including the “spray painted shoes” fail.  Sound familiar?  The “Hairless Chewbacca Pancake” on Pinterest is pretty comical in it’s own right — no, wait…  that’s an understatement — stop what you are doing and go look RIGHT NOW.  I laughed so hard I think I just peed my pants.  (I wonder if I’m allowed to say that.  I guess we’ll find out.)

If you aren’t familiar with Pinterest boards, get ready to meet your maker.  According to my favorite “official” source of all things, Wikipedia — “Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more.”  It’s the freakin’ mother load!  It replaces your “look book”,  your “vision board”, and that pile of recipes you’ve got cut out and stuck in a drawer.  My advice — Try it, you’ll like it.  But be forewarned.  If you have even a slightly addictive personality, you have found your new drug.


Upcycled sundae dish and saucer — total cost of supplies — $2.00; Amish handmade soap — $2.75

This past summer, we took our pins on Pinterest seriously and started a board called “Summer 2012 Projects” with the description “Ninety projects, ninety days… Start your engines!   Most Pinterest boards are not real life… Look out, this one is.”  We’ll let you know when we’ve got the board done.


Duck Dynasty inspired tent, Summer 2012

As I look over the board and reminisce about a quality summer vacation spent at home with “The Boy”, I realize that we did pretty good.  Most of our projects are presentable… if you ignore the Duck Dynasty tent.  None of them cost much, in fact, most were under $5 or free with salvaged materials.  With very few exceptions, almost every project included a piece of inspiration from a summer of shopping at our local Goodwill stores.

If you aren’t on Pinterest and would like to be, comment here or on the Facebook page and I’ll send you a personal invitation.

Where do you find your inspiration?

T and The Boy

Spray paint — It’s not just for graffiti any more!


CONVERSATION AT MY HOUSE…  DH (Dear Husband):  “What are you doing in there?”

Me:  “I’m watching a video about how to paint the bottom of my shoes like those fancy French shoes — you know, Christian Loboutins.”

DH:  “I can’t believe I’m asking this.  Why?”

Me:  “I might have to go some place important and I want to look nice.  What if this blog really takes off and Katie Couric calls me and wants me to come on the Today Show?”

DH:  “Even I know that Katie isn’t on the Today Show anymore.”

Me:  “Well, what if Matt Lauer calls?  You know, he made Vanity Fair’s best dressed list?  He was in England for the Olympics.  That means he’s probably been to France and knows what these shoes are supposed to look like.”

DH:  “Let’s just suppose he calls.  Painting the bottom of your old-lady shoes red is like…  painting racing stripes or flames on the side of your old Volvo station wagon.”

Me:  “Your point is?”

DH:  “Never mind.”

Me:  “So does that mean that you want me to call Clayton and cancel my appointment for the car?”

The point of this story…  There are probably several, but let’s just focus on my vote for Mrs. Versatility — the common can of spray paint.  Spray paint and thrifting go hand in hand and these days you can paint just about ANY thing ANY color you choose, including giving it the chalk board effect.  How do you say it?  “You’ve come a long way baby!”

Next time you are at the store, check out the spray paint aisle.  Then check out Better Homes and Gardens site for more ideas on how to use spray paint effectively.  When you go thrifting next, apply what you’ve learned.  It opens up a whole new set of options (I’ll be brief, I’m worn out from the conversation with my DH) —

  • Simple bread box? I think not… hit it with chalk board paint and you’ve got a message center.
  • Does your kid need boots to show at the fair but these are the wrong color?  Never fear, black is the new black and I can tell you from first hand experience that you can hit up a pair of cowboy boots with spray paint and it will last you the entire show season!
  • Want to organize your office, but all you can find is mismatched office supplies?  What color do you want them to be — poof!  Coordinating items.
  • Old plastic patio furniture looks to worn out to buy?  They have spray paint specifically for that.  Krylon even has an instructional video.  Hint:  you can even use it on plastic kids toys.

Don’t even get me started on Mod Podge.

“… and there was that time I spray painted a school bus… and a demolition derby car…”

Stay tuned.  I’m sure we’ll be on the Today Show soon…  Anytime…  Waiting…

T and The Boy

In case you are interested, “Redo My Shoe” Video is here.    I may try these next — maybe more my speed.

No, I don’t really work here… I just like to sell people stuff… and talk.

Antique Hide A Bed Couch Re-upholstery (I know, I really should have taken a “before” picture)

THE BOY AND I WERE THRIFTING LAST WEEK AND CAME UPON A YOUNG COUPLE WHO WAS FURNITURE SHOPPING.  The guy was sitting on a couch with the recliner flipped back, one hand gripped around an imaginary remote…  the other holding an imaginary liquid refreshment.  

I looked at him and said:  “Man cave?”

“Nope,” he looked up at his better half who was standing there with a disapproving look on her face.  “We just got an apartment.”

“Oh, congratulations,” I said.  “That’s an awesome couch.  Heck of a deal.”  She still didn’t look impressed.

He looked at her again and said, “I could re-cover it.”  She shook her head.

I piped up, “No, you probably couldn’t.  It would be way too difficult.”  She looked at me, relieved.

He said, “How much would it cost to have it re-upholstered?”

I said, “Too much — it’s a pretty complicated piece.  You would be better off to keep looking if it’s not right.  That is a pretty nice couch.  I’m sure someone will buy it today.”

So, then he started asking me about the price.  “Oh, I don’t work here.  I just thought that was a good buy.”   His other half led him away and suggested that they go look at bed frames…  and get the heck away from me.  The Boy tried to sell them a kitchen table and then we never saw them again.

That in itself is a good story, but it gets better…  The following weekend  ( I can hear you all — “what happens next?)…  you know you live in a small town when this happens to you…  I go into a small local business to pick up an item that needed a repair.  The owner knew I wrote this blog and she asked me if they “do anything” to the furniture you buy at Marion Goodwill.

I explained the policy — essentially that the State of Ohio has certain procedures that must be followed when selling second-hand bedding, upholstered furniture, stuffed toys and filling materials.  Shoppers should look for the red tag that says “This item has been sanitized.”  Personally, I carefully inspect the item, wash/dry items at high heat (when possible) and vacuum items thoroughly.  I recover or re-upholster many items and usually leave the item outside my home until that is done.  Tearing things apart gives me a good opportunity to check things over.

She thanked me and told me that the guy at the other end of the counter just got an apartment and was looking for furniture.  I got really excited and started to tell them about the deals we saw the previous week…

Then…  I…  looked…  up…  You guessed it…  It was him!  ~~~~~Apparently, I was a good salesperson.  He bought the couch!

That’s her — Mabel, before she had the couch. She must have had really long legs!

The picture above is a couch I inherited (inheriting meets my definition of thrifting), basically because I was the only one in my family with enough room for the huge thing.  It is a 1910ish hide-a-bed that was originally my Great Grandma Mabel’s (actually, her full name was Mabel Esther Hinamon Firstenberger Ruth — say that 5 times real fast.)  The couch used to be the center piece of her big front parlor opposite an upright piano.  Back in the day, they would have the gang over, play music, sing and dance.  If you weren’t old enough to do that, you were confined to the couch.  I’ve heard stories about JUST how many kids could perch on each arm.

In my case — the hide-a-bed feature and two helpful parents made it a perfect re-upholstery project for a beginner.  Want to give it a whirl?  The folks over at “Apartment Therapy” have a comprehensive collection of DIY links for beginners — check it out here.  Hint — start with a foot stool.

See you in the stores — What do you want me to sell to you?

T and The Boy

Shut the front door! — You spent how much for back-to-school?

I WILL NEVER FORGET THE DAY I RAN INTO THE MOTHER COMING OUT OF WAL-MART.  SHE HAD JUST MADE AN EXTREMELY LARGE PURCHASE OF SCHOOL SUPPLIES TO DONATE TO A GIVE-AWAY PROGRAM AND SHE  WAS LAMENTING THE COST OF HER OWN BACK-TO-SCHOOL ITEMS.  While there  certainly are costs, I could not fathom the amount of money she had spent on supplies, fees, and clothing for that school year for her two elementary school-age children.

When I sat down and thought about it, I realized why my bill was a little different.  Between raising my own child and working with other families, here are some principles we put into place to try to keep our costs down:

  1. Start at home — The school supply list says you need x, y, and z.  Guess what?  We already have those things — especially the basics!  We made a game of how many sets of crayons and colored pencils we could make out of what we already had at our house.  Sometimes I just clean things up and he thinks they are new.
  2. Hand me downs — Hand me downs work!  Within your family, your neighborhood, or your church.  The Boy (age 8) has no siblings at home, so he hands down to himself — last summer’s every day tennis shoes become his gym shoes to star the year.
  3. Make it a game — The Boy has had one back pack — since preschool.  He’s going for the record and wants to use it at  least his entire elementary school career.  It looks pretty good and it just might make it.  We use a sharpie to write the year inside of it to mark his progress.
  4. Make an inventory — It really helps to know what you have (supplies, clothes) before you buy.
  5. Thrift it — ALL YEAR LONG  — Whether you go to traditional thrift stores, garage sales, or even the clearance bin — think ahead and remember to “get it while the getting’s good!”  Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for school supplies, required books, and shirts with your school logo on them.
  6. Let your kids help — Help them to understand the budget.  The Boy likes the shopping game and understands that he can get A LOT more if he uses his money wisely.  He also likes to be able to pick out clothes that he likes.
  7. Shop the catalogs and make a “look book” — I get catalogs from the major brands that we like.  Every year, The Boy goes through and picks the items and outfits that he would like to try to find.
  8. Work ahead — If you can get the school supply list at the end of the school year, do it.  When my pocket-book allows it, I buy classic pieces even if they are five sizes to big.  I’m lucky with a boy.  He can always wear nice button down shirts, quality jeans, classic sweaters, khakis and the like.
  9. Don’t make yourself feel deprived — Brands are important to kids and it is important for them to fit in.  There are plenty of brand named items on the shelves of thrift stores, if you look.  Also, thrifty doesn’t mean that everyone has to know it.  Make sure that you make a good judgement — an inexpensive brand named item in poor shape is NOT a good deal.
  10. Talk to instructors — Last year’s uniforms in a tech program may be appropriate this year too!

Above all else, be aware of programs that may reduce your costs — Some schools offer the opportunity for kids or parents to volunteer in exchange for waiving a fee.   If you’ve had a sudden change in income, you might not realize that you are eligible for Free and Reduced School Lunches did you know a family of 4 can make up to $42,643 and be eligible?  Some schools and communities also have programs available that reduce your costs for after school care, school supplies, shoes, clothing and tutoring.  Take advantage of it — in many cases it helps assure continued funding!

So while it can be very expensive to go back to to school, make it your choice to decide how, when and how much you will spend.  How do you save money on back to school?

T and The Boy

Because THAT is how we roll…

The Boy — ready to take on the world… or so he thinks!

LAST WEEK, WE FOUND THAT OUR ENTIRE “FLEET” OF BIKES WAS OUT OF COMMISSION.  Every one of them needed something done to them and so off to the local bike shop  we went.  The intake was something like establishing yourself as a new patient with a doctor and I was ashamed of how little I knew about our bikes and their “medical” history…

So how old is this bike,” asked the repairman.  My response, “I don’t know.”  The Boy pipes up, “Mommy, you bought it at Marion Goodwill.”  I looked at him like I had suddenly been hit with Alzheimer’s…  “I did???”  Although it took awhile for that particular purchase to come back to me, I did remember the others — one came from a garage sale.  Another was purchased at the Marion City Police Auction.  (And let me add — that bike is a beaut — I swear it is the bike that Dorothy rode in The Wizard of Oz.  In fact, my dear husband sings the witch’s song every time I ride it.)  Anyway, at the end of the intake process, I think they may have grown tired of what became my standard response, “Adopted…  unknown medical history.”

You see, beyond our dog pound dogs, our stray cats and unwanted ponies, this Mom is adopted.  My parents always said that made me special.  They picked me, just like we picked every other thing since, including these bikes that I didn’t know anything about.  I had a whole new perspective!

We picked them up today.  Thanks to Rockys Cyclery and Fitness they are ready to roll and glad to be back with their family!

Goodwill is good for local business — what do you have that needs some good old-fashioned maintenance?  Sometimes, that’s all it takes!

~T and The Boy~

Want to learn more about adoption and foster parenting?  Click here.

Oh Sweet Summer Time!

LESS THAN TWO WEEKS AND THE BOY IS BACK IN SCHOOL.  It’s hard to believe.  It’s even harder to believe that we’ve managed to keep him busy this summer.  He said this particular idea was “lame” (and made the loser sign with this hand), until he tried it and found it much harder to do than it looked!

Part of the festivities for my “back to school bash” is my version of the old carnival ring toss game.  I’ve actually had this in mind for a while, but was lacking the rings.  It all came together this week when I walked into the thrift store and found a bag of small embroidery rings.  Here are my basic ingredients:  6 recycled wine bottles (I have a friend at Marion County Recycling and Litter Prevention and I just love the blue bottles) — free, we had the wooden box, stones from the driveway — free, blue glass stones thrifted — $2.00, partial bag of embroidery rings — $1.00.  It will keep him busy…  for a little bit.

Watch for more from my “back to school bash” and what to do with the rest of those embroidery rings?  I have an idea.  Do you?

See you in the stores,

T and The Boy

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