Monday, March 26, 2012

Thrifty Finds

I am linking up with Magpie Monday over at Me and My Shadow and Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl (ATG's post isn't up yet.  i'll link to it when it is.)

Well, there wasn't a lot thrifting at thrift stores this week, but yard sales are officially in full swing!  I love to spend a warm morning sifting through other people's jun..., umm, treasure, looking for things I didn't know I needed.  Here are a few of the goodies that I got for a song.

Oh, just look at that gorgeous vintage Dover purse.  The clasp works well, and the handle might be celluloid.  I need to research it a bit.  The darling Nancy Drew tweed skirt is for Rachel for next fall, the books are for Joshua, and the little leather purse with the flowers was just irresistible.

My mom joined me and the kids for a trip to a lovely little flea market that was closing its doors.  The prices were crazy low, and I got all of this:

If you're like me, you are laser focused on that capiz light fixture on the left.  Please click here to read more about it, and to help me identify its age.  Included in the pic above are a darling metal magazine rack, a heavy solid wood urn, an antique drying rack, and a Boy Scout belt and buckle for Joshua.

In other news, I've opened an Etsy shop to resell some of the items I thrift.  I love rescuing vintage goodies from the depths of a dusty shelf or box, cleaning them up, maybe making minor repairs, and then putting them back into the flow of useful and lovely things.  I could not possibly keep everything I buy, so I decided to give Etsy a try.  Click here to see what I've got.  I will be adding to the inventory as I sort through the items in my cabinets and cupboards.

What did you find this week?

ETA: I just discovered Flea Market Finds at Her Library Adventures, so I'm linking there, too.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Homeschooling: Truth 101

Today I heard a clip of HBO host Bill Maher spouting the most vile and ridiculous lies about homeschooling.  I was taken aback, even though I know Maher is just a bigoted blowhard.  The lies he was perpetuating about homeschooling should have died 30 years ago, but apparently they are alive and well in some ignorant circles.

In the US there are approximately 1.5-2 million homeschoolers, but some of you might be completely unfamiliar with homeschooling.  Maybe you've never actually known someone who homeschooled, or maybe you know of a family who is doing it, and they do seem odd.  I know I have some readers from the UK and at least one in the Ukraine.  Stats I've found put the number of homeschoolers in the UK at 20,000-100,000.  That's quite a range.  I'd be interested to know why the real number is so elusive.  The number for Ukraine is less than 100 families.  Wow, we have that many in our little cooperative group in the northwest corner of Arkansas, a state with only 3 million people.  If you are a citizen of another country, and homeschool outside of the US, I'd be interested to hear from you in the comments.  If you are just unfamiliar with homeschooling in general, I'd be happy to answer any questions in the comments.

Ok, here is the less than brilliant Bill Maher's statement:

"... the Adam and Eve story is taken literally by half the country and it's no coincidence that the type of tree which god forbade Adam and Eve eating from was the Tree of Knowledge. Rick Santorum homeschools his children because he does not want them eating that f--king apple. He wants them locked up in the Christian madrassa that is the family living room not out in public where they could be infected by the virus of reason. If you're a kid and the only adults you've ever met are mom and dad, and then they're also the smartest adults you've met, why not keep it that way? Why mess up paradise with a lot knowledge? After all, a mind is a terrible thing to open."

(it should be noted that Maher is apparently ignorant of even the most basic of Biblical information.  it was not the "Tree of Knowledge", it was the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil".  this error alone should cause thinking people to discount what follows from his venomous lips.)

Ok, let's take this ridiculous statement one piece at a time.  Maher says "Rick Santorum homeschools his children because he does not want them eating that f--king apple.", meaning Santorum, and by logical extension other homeschooling parents, don't want their children to acquire knowledge.  This flies in the face of mountains of evidence that homeschool kids beat the national norms in almost every subject, every year.  They score about 2 points higher than the average on the ACT, and in the 84th to 89th percentile on several other standardized test.  The average, of course, is the 50th percentile.  Only 11-16% of all students taking those tests scored higher then the average for homeschoolers.

Next, Maher says, "He wants them locked up in the Christian madrassa that is the family living room not out in public where they could be infected by the virus of reason."  This statement itself shows Maher's ignorance.  A madrassa is, literally, a place of learning and study.  When used by English speaking people it almost always refers to an Islamic school.  Either way, Maher's attempt to have it mean a place where learning is stifled by Christian religious zealots falls short.  The whole purpose of a madrassa, in either usage, is to educate.  Maybe my 8 year old could teach him how to look up words and their origins in her little dictionary.

Moving on, Maher says, "If you're a kid and the only adults you've ever met are mom and dad, and then they're also the smartest adults you've met, why not keep it that way?"  This is the most laughable old stereotype that Maher employs.  Homeschoolers are not isolated.  One of the wonderful advantages of homeschooling is the opportunity to engage in activities outside the classroom.  We participate in Scouting and similar groups, 4H, church activities, art classes, music lessons, sports, cooperative classes, field trips, and a myriad of other activities that bring us and our children into contact with "the outside world" throughout the week.  In fact, almost every homeschool mom I know, and I know well over 100, wishes she and the kids could spend a little more time at home.  My older kids spend 2 hours every Tuesday in a high school level chemistry class, taught by a very capable instructor.  All of my children have accompanied Husband to our state Capitol on numerous occasions to spend one day or several seeing how our state government functions.  Rachel served as a page for the Arkansas House of Representatives during their last regular session.  I guarantee that you could ask any Arkansas legislator, and he or she would say Rachel is the opposite of sheltered!  (at least in that regard.  we do closely monitor television, movies, etc.)

And finally, the petty and uninformed Maher says, "Why mess up paradise with a lot knowledge? After all, a mind is a terrible thing to open."  Again, I could point to the statistics that show that homeschoolers in general score significantly higher on standardized tests than public and even private school students.  We could discuss the fact that as a percentage, homeschoolers far outpace non-homeschoolers in state and national contests like spelling bees, geography bees, and science competitions.  I could point to the increasing trend among colleges to recruit homeschoolers.  Schools like Stanford have seen that many of the brightest kids are coming from a homeschool background, and they want those kids at their school.

When I began this post about 20 minutes ago I was filled with anger at Bill Maher and his stupid, uninformed rantings.  Now I've vented a bit, and I feel much better.  I'll end with this:  Hey Bill, my 13 and 11 year old kids study algebra, chemistry, ancient Greek, Latin, grammar, history, and literature.  They travel to museums and aquariums and science centers on a regular basis.  They are extremely well versed in the inner workings of state government, and more than competent with national government.  They are more informed about current events than most adults, and can discuss them intelligently.  I know of a dozen families just like us within a 20 mile radius.  You just keep your ignorant little misconceptions.  When the generation we are raising takes the reigns, you can rest easy, knowing that they have also been taught compassion and civility.  You will be able to live out your golden years in a nice retirement home, not the razor wire enclosed camp you would like to put us in right now.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Calling All Retro Fans: Can You Identify This?

I recently bought a light fixture that I am in love with.  (yes, i ended that sentence with a preposition.  i could have said, "with which i am in love", but that's awkward.  judge me if you must.)  Anyway, this lamp is so funky and cool.  I would really like to narrow down the age and perhaps the value, since much of the vintage stuff I buy goes in my Etsy shop to feed my addiction.  Oh, and help out the seekers of vintage goodies who are not willing or able to dig through other people's crap at 7:00 on Friday morning.

I digress.  Here is a pic of the aforementioned funky, gorgeous light fixture.

I KNOW!!  It is so lovely.

So back to the task at hand, identifying its age.  It is a hanging lamp, with three globes that have a sort of leaf shape.  When I bought it I thought it was plastic made to look like capiz shell, but after I got it home I determined it was not plastic.  I think it is actual capiz, though it might be glass.  Does anyone know how to tell?

Here's a close up.

Husband has a lot of experience with electrical things (a politician with a skill.  go figure.), so I showed him the sockets that hold the bulbs.  He said they could be anywhere from 1940's to 1980's, just based on what he could see in the picture (the actual lamp is upstairs.  i am downstairs.  again with the judging?)  The sockets appear to be ceramic.

Here's what the guts look like.


Each globe/leaf has a little door that opens, and you can pull the socket out to change the bulb.  Sometime in the next few days I plan to have Husband look at the actual piece and see if he can date it based on the wiring, etc.  I would love to hear from any of you who have a thought, and if you see something like it somewhere, please let me know.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thrifty Finds

I didn't participate in the thrifting parties last Monday.  I let Sunday night creep up on me, and I was too tired to take pictures.  I'm sure we did something very important last weekend.  What could it have been....

Nope, I got nothin'.  I know I lost an hour of sleep to Daylight Savings Time, so I'll blame that.  (i like dst.  i like the extra daylight in the evenings.  the kids and i take walks, or work in the yard.  it's worth losing the hour in the spring.)

Anyway, I wanted to participate with Thrift Share Monday over at Apron Thrift Girl and Magpie Monday with Me and My Shadow this week.  The problem was the the bulk of my thrifting and yard saling (yea!  the first yard sales of the year are popping up) this week were things that are not very interesting.  A belt for Joshua, flip flops for Bekah, etc.  And while I'm sure there are some who would love to look at pictures of those items, I'm not in the mood to photograph and describe them.  Even I have standards, people.  The most interesting thing I thrifted recently is a gift for Joshua's birthday, and that's not until next month, so it can't appear here before then.

Instead I'm going to show you just how varied the finds can be at thrift stores.  Everyone knows that you can get dishes (yippee), housewares, clothes, books, and furniture, but there is so much more out there.  Things you didn't know you wanted until you saw them!  Things you knew you wanted but never dreamed you'd get for just a couple of bucks!  Are you excited yet?  You should be.  Here are just a few of the out of the ordinary things that I've gotten at thrift stores or yard sales in the past couple of months.

This little prairie dress was hanging with the regular dresses.  It was probably meant as a costume, but maybe not.  The area where I live has a large population of conservative homeschoolers, ourselves among them, and while most of us dress much like anyone else, it is not unusual to see little girls dressed like this in stores.  My children would think nothing of having a girl wearing this in line in front of them at Walmart, and a girl behind them wearing a bikini.  Ok, they actually would ask about the bikini once we got to the car.  Regardless, this is a lovely dress, and Bekah really likes to play dress up from this era.  In addition, there is a Civil War battlefield less than half a mile from us, and they do reenactments there.  Many of the visitors wear costumes, so if it's not too cold, Bekah or a friend could wear this.  Its beautiful blue/green color is probably not very authentically mid-1800's, but we'll allow some poetic license.

This is a double dose of vintage goodness.  The clock is a reproduction, maybe from Pottery Barn or some similar retailer.  It looks like the headlight off a vintage car.  Rachel spotted it at the thrift store and bought it for me for my birthday.  It is heavy, and has a great retro look.  The book is a delightful vintage children's book called "Treat Shop".  It was printed in 1954, and is in fantastic condition.  The illustrations are so cute and vibrant.  Sometime soon I will do a post about vintage children's books and include some shots of the illustrations.

And finally, just to make sure I demonstrate the eclectic nature of thrifting/yard saling, here is a wooden duck call that Joshua bought for himself.  It has a great sound, and is in very good condition.  He's very happy to have it, and has been practicing a variety of calls.

** I'll be linking up early Monday morning, so hop on over and check out what others found this week.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Night Retro

Sometimes you look back at something from your youth and wonder how you could have missed just how weird and confusing it was.  Such is the case of Suzi Quatro.

Suzi Quatro
Suzi Quatro was the first female bass player to hit the big time.  Granted, she only hit the big time in Europe and Australia, but she was undeniably a pioneer in the field of female rockers.  Joan Jett patterned her style and early stage persona on Quatro.

Suzi had a lot of success across the pond in the early 1970's with hits like these

48 Crash

Can the Can

Being born in 1968, I knew nothing of Suzi Quatro during her heyday.  No, my first awareness of Suzi Quatro was more like this

Leather Tuscadero

That's right, Leather Tuscadero.  Younger sister of Pinky Tuscadero, Fonzi's one true love.  Pinky appeared on Happy Days in 1976.  Her character didn't return, but the next year we met her younger sister, Leather.  Leather showed up in Milwaukee straight from reform school.  She fronted an all girl band, Leather and the Suedes.  In one of television's most painful moments, Joanie Cunningham steps in when one of the Suedes gets cold feet and runs off.

Concurrent with her stint as Leather, Suzi had her biggest hit in the US

I was in my teens, in the mid 80's before I encountered Suzi Quatro, the rocker chick.  I was a big fan of heavy metal and the music that inspired the bands I listened to at that time.  I listened to Suzi the bass player for several years before I made the connection and realized it was Leather Tuscadero.  There was no Google at that time, so information like that wasn't readily available.  It struck me as weird, but since there was no way to watch those old Happy Days episodes on demand at that time, I wasn't able to get the full effect.

Husband and I watched the clips with Leather and the ones with Pinky, and I have to say, bad TV today has nothing on bad TV in the late 1970's!

(slap, slap) POW!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Next Generation

Husband and I recently introduced our next generation to Star Trek: The Next Generation.  We all watched Encounter at Farpoint for our family movie night.  The older kids enjoyed it a lot.  I'm not sure Bekah cared much one way or the other.  There was popcorn, and we were all together, so she was happy.

Cliche, I know, but Husband the engineer loves Star Trek.  I'm not sure if I had watched it prior to watching it with him many years ago.  I became hooked, and now we are hooking the junior geeks.  We are always on the lookout for family friendly movies or tv shows that we can all enjoy.  If you are very familiar with TNG, you know that not all of the episodes fall into that category.  Fortunately, Husband and I have most of them memorized, and know which ones to avoid ;)

When we were newly married in the early 1990's, the show ran in reruns every night after the 10:00 news.  Husband was in the Navy, in nuclear power school, and he didn't get home in time to watch it.  I would watch, VCR running, remote in hand, and take out all of the commercials.  For years we had dozens of VHS tapes, all carefully labeled, with the episodes in order.  TNG is responsible for me being able to properly use the word "conundrum".  Yes, I was married and more than half way to a college degree, and had never encountered the word until I saw it as an episode title.  Then I had to break out the dictionary.  Because I'm old, and when I was in college we didn't have the internet.

                                 co·nun·drum     /kəˈnəndrəm/
                                 Noun:  A confusing and difficult problem or question.
                                            A question asked for amusement, typically one
                                            with a pun in its answer; a riddle.

We agree on most aspects of the show.  Namely, that Picard is awesome, Troi incredibly annoying, and Data and LaForge the ones we'd most like to hang out with (at least that's what we thought in 1992 when we weren't old enough to be their parents).  Also, Riker with the beard looked enough like my Dad to freak me out a little initially.

I look forward to more family movie nights with the crew of NCC-1701-D.  Datalore is a classic, and Time Squared and Timescape should freak the kids out enough to amuse me.

Are you a TNG fan?  What about the original and all of the later permutations?  What's your favorite TNG episode?  Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Night Retro

Ahhhhh, it's been a beautiful day  here in northwest Arkansas, and Joshua and I got a lot of yard work done.  C'mon Spring!  We're ready for you.

Tonight I can add a little physical exhaustion to my normal Saturday night mental exhaustion.  Definitely time to mellow.  How about this...

And this...

A little different than the usual Saturday Night Retro.  Be sure and come back next week for a fun look at the road from cool rocker chick to "are you kidding me??" TV role.  Any guesses?

I'll leave you with a game from my youth that was middle of the road for fun, but had the best name EVER!

That's right folks, I'm bringing Gnip Gnop into play here.  What other blog will give you that?  (be sure to click the pic to watch the commercial)

Homeschool Lessons

We  have homeschooled since Rachel officially entered kindergarten in 2004.  (btw, spellcheck doesn't like "homeschool"  it wants "home school", but i refuse to comply)  We've had our ups and down.  Our downs were frequently my fault.  I pushed Rachel too hard with reading.  "E doesn't say "ih", it's "eh"!!!"  I'm very grateful that my own failings have not significantly affected my kids.

I would estimate that 80+% of the problems and concerns that I read about from other homeschool moms revolve around reading.  Kids who can't or don't want to read seem to lead to almost all of the posts on the subject.  I have been blessed with three extremely good readers.  Both of my girls read everything they can get their hands on.

Rachel, at 13, is currently reading and loving Pride and Prejudice. I have never been a big Jane Austin fan, and found her work boring when I was in college (i knew nothing of her in high school).  However, I was aware that she was the go to gal for female readers of "old stuff", so I decided to introduce Rachel to her this year.  I am more of a Bronte gal, but I didn't want to introduce the darker elements of Jane Eyre to Rachel at 13.  I bought two copies of P&P so we could each make our own notes.  I wanted Rachel to indicate where she was having trouble understanding, as well as where she was amused.  I also wanted to keep track of any passages that I wanted her to pay special attention to.  I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I've enjoyed reading P&P "with" her.

Bekah, who just turned 8, has recently finished a slightly abridged version of Anne of Green Gables.  She did not express a deep love for Anne, so I will be questioning her in the coming days, to see if too much was abridged in this version.  Every girl worth her salt loves Anne!  Regardless, I am grateful that she is a strong reader, and loves to read.

Joshua, who will be 12 soon, has been more of a challenge to me.  He doesn't like fiction.  He reads extremely well, and can read anything when asked, but he favors technical books and even the users' manuals that come with new gadgets and appliances!  That is fine, and his dad is the same way.  Joshua's favorite things to read are his Boys Life magazines and a book I got him about gunsmithing.  However, as a homeschool mom who deeply values the education of the whole person, I require him to read some fiction.  He lists My Side of the Mountain as his favorite book.  Fair enough, it's awesome.  But, I need to extract more from him.  In the coming months he will be reading White Fang and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  He might not like that.  I feel bad that he doesn't enjoy the fantasy world that fiction can take him to, but I know from being married to his dad for 21+ years that reading non fiction doesn't mean you lack imagination.  For Josh, fiction might be like grammar: You have to do it even if it's not fun!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Valentines Week

This post is way overdue, but since this blog serves as a scrapbook for myself and my family, I want to get this up.

The week of Valentines Day is usually somewhat crazy for us.  Husband does a big Valentines production after the kids go to bed on the 13th.  He decorates and puts out gifts for them.  That means someone needs to be ready with the camera when they come downstairs on the 14th.  Then Bekah's birthday is the 15th, so there is a friend party and a family party somewhere in there.  Our homeschool group does a Valentines party with cards, food, and ice skating.  And finally, Husband's birthday is the 18th.  Shwew.  A busy week.

This year was a bit backwards, because Husband was out of town all week, so he waited until the 19th to do his thing.

There are little gifts hidden under the balloons.  The kids really look forward to this every year, and I love having someone else in charge of a holiday occasionally.

Valentines Day itself was uneventful.  Rachel was doing all of the planning and cooking for Bekah's party, so that took much of the day.  She planned a Victorian tea party.  Here is Rebekah with her guests.

And your hostess for this afternoon's tea is the lovely Miss Rachel.

The decorations included some tea sets that Husband and I received in Turkey and Taiwan.

Joshua agreed to serve as butler.  A few of the girls really liked that idea.  I think they have what it takes to be royalty.

 Rachel took care of the food and the cake.  We used some of my vintage snack sets.  Note the Federal Glass sets with the pink and turquoise, and the Anchor Hocking sets with the bubble edges.  Rachel did a fantastic job on the cake!  She made homemade marshmallow fondant.

Our homeschool group includes several dozen families, and each year we have a Valentines Day party.  The kids decorate boxes or bags, and everyone brings Valentines to put in them.  We have snacks and games, then we all go ice skating.  My kids love this.

And these are the Valentines my kids gave out this year.  They turned out really cute!

So that was our week.

Leap Day Party!

My kids and I hosted a Leap Day Party for some of our friends.  It was so much fun!  Because we all homeschool, we were able to have the party in the early afternoon.  We have a large fenced backyard, and the kids spent an hour or so playing while the moms relaxed.

Rachel and I had a number of activities planned, such as bubbles and an RC car racetrack, but since it was 70+ degrees in February, the warm sunshine was all anyone needed.  I think fun was had by all.

There  were snacks, including frog cupcakes by Rachel.

We had questionnaires printed for the kids to fill out.  These were things like how tall are you, what's your favorite movie, etc.  The plan is to put them in a time capsule (really just a box at our house) along with a group picture from today, and in four years when we have the next party we can compare.

A couple of the families stayed later, and the oldest girls cooked dinner for all of us, then the boys and younger girls cleaned up.  I think everyone who came had a good time

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Toys of My Youth

I recently came across this on Pinterest.

Fashion Plates

Oh my goodness!  I had these when I was a kid.  I think I was 12 or 13.  I had a lot of fun with this.  In fact, the three plates shown in the center were my favorites.  I know that my girls would love this, and if I find one at a thrift store or yard sale I will grab it.

That got me thinking about some of my other favorites from the 1970's.  My sister, brother, and I played with Fisher Price Little People all the time.  We had the farm and the school, but I remember how over the moon I was when I got this for Christmas.

Fisher Price A Frame

The best part about that one is that my mom kept it, and my kids have played with it, too.

I think I got this doll when I was 6 or 7.

Pedal Pretty
Pedal Pretty accessories

I guess she must be pretty rare, because those two images and one other were all I could find.  I liked her a lot, and was very excited to receive her for Christmas.  I think the Velcro that held her feet to the wagon came off early on, though.

Probably my favorite and most played with toy was the Honey Hill Bunch.

Honey Hill Bunch Clubhouse

I got the clubhouse and a bunch of the dolls in about 3rd or 4th grade, and I loved them.  I was able to add a few more dolls over the years.

Honey Hill Bunch Hayseed
Honey Hill Bunch dog

Again, my mom kept quite a few of them, and my girls have played with them.

Researching this post led me to several other toys that I loved, so look for a part two at some point!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thrifty Finds

Today's title is a bit of a misnomer.  I have a new camera, which I think I'm going to love, but I used the new 4gb stick that came with it, and my computer doesn't want to play nice with it.  Husband, king of all things computer related, will be home tomorrow, so I'll wait and let him work with it.  In the mean time, this seemed like a good opportunity to share some thrift store items that I did NOT buy.  These are things that I saw that either intrigued or amused me, but were not purchased for various reasons.  I take pics like this with my phone, since I don't usually take my camera into stores (i might need to change that policy), so I was able to email them to myself.  Here we go.

This first pic is of something so gorgeous and simultaneously so awful, that I almost brought it home.

That's right.  Those are aqua blue plastic coasters with excessive plastic lace trim!  They look like Tupperware.  I'm not gonna lie, these babies almost came home with me.

Next we have a pair of lovely finds that I had to pass up for two reasons: 1) they were huge, 2) my house is a 105 year old folk Victorian, and most of my mid-century treasures are in the kitchen.  Nevertheless, they were a find for someone.

I assume those came out of the same home.  They were on the floor at our local Salvation Army at the same time.  Ponder for a moment what else was probably in that home.  The mind reels.

And lastly, a pretty little serving dish that almost went into my cart, but it was not a pattern or color I collect, and in an effort to have room for my family to move about in our home I am trying to limit myself to true midcentury items in pinks and turquoises, or with atomic patterns.

Can anyone identify this pattern for me?  I haven't tried to put a name on it yet.  Someone out there is shrieking, "IT WAS A DOLLAR AND SEVENTY FIVE CENTS!  IS SHE CRAZY??"  Maybe.

So is there anything here that you would have taken home with you?

That's it for today.  I'm linking up to Thrift Share Monday with Apron Thrift Girl and Magpie Monday with Me and My Shadow.