Sunday, January 24, 2010

treasure hunting at the thrift store

Today I got to go to the thrift store just with Gamgee, all sturdy and boyish in his camo hoodie.   Adam stayed home (bless him) working on his own project (weighted juggling balls – he wanted juggling balls that were compact but still had heft), and taking care of the girls.

            I love going to thrift stores. I’ve being doing it for years now, and I’m getting better and better at buying things we’ll actually use and love, instead of things I’ll look at and say, “why did I get that again?”

            It’s a treasure hunt, every time. And I always go with an idea in my head of what I want to keep an eye out for. Some are perennial: we always keep an eye out for Legos.

            Also, there are some themes that are perennial: things that are green or blue, especially if combined with white, will always catch my eye. Also anything botanical. Our household items tend to be blue, green, white or wooden, and if they’re decorated, it’s with leaves and flowers, with a definite preference for the edible or the aromatic.

            I like having a big general theme, because then I can move things around from place to place, and they always fit in and look peaceful. (Do other people do this? I think they must. Do you?) 

            I’ve learned – after much trial and error – to adopt a similar stance towards my wardrobe. Again, the base colors are blue and green, with white as my go-to neutral for tops and black for bottoms. I will go for true reds and certain shades of rose, but I try not to do too much of that, because they’re harder to match, and I just don’t want to wear them as often as I want to wear green and blue.

            I generally buy natural fibers, though I appreciate what a small percentage of spandex will do for the fit of a shirt or pair of pants. I’ve learned that if I buy clothes that aren’t mostly cotton or mostly linen or mostly silk, I just won’t wear them, because in SoCal weather, they’re just amazingly uncomfortable.

            I’ve learned too, through years of thrift store shopping, that though it’s fun to experiment, there’s a lot to be said for finding a couple of brands that just always fit well, and wear well. I keep my eyes open for Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft. I’ve had good luck with St. John’s Bay shirts (the ones made from India cotton – so light! so pretty!). I discovered Lucky dungarees, and don’t want to ever go back as long as I can keep finding them at thrift store prices (can’t imagine swallowing the price tag of getting them new!). Banana Republic and Gap tend to fit well too.

            I know some people don’t like thrift store shopping because it takes so long, but I think having an idea of what you’re looking for cuts down a lot on the time. (Not that I couldn’t spend hours. I’m just saying, if you didn’t want to . . .)

            Today though, Gamgee and I spent almost an hour looking at the books. Mostly at the kids’ books. We bought a copy of How Things Work, and an old Arch Bible story book, and a book about knights, and one about the human body, and a prayers and poems book and – because Gamgee was there – one about dinosaurs and trains (yes, in the same book – someone knows little boys well).

            I also found a silver tray (I’ve been wanting a tray for awhile – I didn’t have a one) and a beautiful dark blue and orange silk linen (we also have a minor theme in our home of the international – mostly presents from well-traveled friends and family – and this silk looked very Thai to me). I’m not sure what it was meant for: it could be a shawl or a table cloth or a curtain valance. But it was very cheap (probably because it wasn’t actually labeled as silk – the label was gone) and I don’t think I’ll have trouble finding a place for it. It might end up on the apothecary chest which is currently (I’m not sure why) sporting a (green and blue) yoga mat for a covering.

            I also did find a pair of jeans, and a pair of shorts and a skirt. And I’m all out of Christmas money now. But it was a lot of fun.

            And it was very fun to spend a couple of hours with just my son. It was fun watching clerks and other shoppers talk to him and comment on how cute he was. Usually his little sisters get all of that attention from strangers, and it was fun watching Gamgee be the charmer for a change.

            Because he really is one. He charms me every day.

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