Cheryl and I hear this a lot! But you know the old saying how the painter's house insn't painted, or the car mechanic's car has the engine light on? Well, after experiencing a very busy October and November at the store, getting the store ready for Christmas, hosting a few parties, and taking advantage of 50 degree days in November...in the driveway...
we both came home to...
candy corn in jars! I think I put up all these decorations at the end of SEPTEMBER! Even the book that I display never got changed to November...and it's almost over! It's re-grouping time, definitely!
Unfortunately, when you have a store or do any type of seasonal work, your own house usually comes last! I used to decorate client's homes for Christmas and do outdoor pots. I was sooo busy for a few weeks, my house never got decorated until all my "jobs" were done! Well, this is the week! Fall is coming down, the scary spiderwebs are being sucked up, and Christmas will be arriving soon! Stay tuned...we will have enough holiday inspiration to share with you, I'm sure!
This spring junking season was strange and unusual in so many ways...
First of all, I didn't have my trusty sidekick, Cheryl, with me! Gas prices just seemed too high for her to make the trek. So, I told Mr. Fix-it to hook up the trailer, and I would head out solo!
Some of the inherent obstacles of this venture include the concept that I do not posess the skills to back the trailer, and if I also find something of utter coolness, that happens to be heavy and large...I am only 1 female!
In order to optimize my damsel-in-distress potential, I added make-up and some curls to my normal jeans-and-boots junking attire!
I really wasn't excited about venturing out alone, and actually prayed about it. Yep...I prayed about junking and that my efforts would be worthwhile!
My first roadside stop let me know that God was listening!
Then I got a call from the Junk Pimp himself! He said he was a few blocks away and was standing guard over a dresser that I would want! I high-tailed it his way, just to get there in time as he was telling another junker," Sorry, it's already spoken for!"
I love Bakelite handles, and he had already found another dresser for me! His van was already full, so we jumped into my vehicle with the trailer to find more treasures! This is when my finds got more strange and unusual...
Sitting next to a church, is their foyer welcome center! I have no idea what I will EVER do with this item, but luckily the Junk Pimp was with me, so we could load it up! Any ideas??
Once the Junk Pimp had found quite a few treasures for me, and quite a bit of scrap metal for himself, we parted ways.
Just then, Mr. Fix-it decided it was too nice of a day to sit at work, and came and joined me. What a nice date we had! The sights and sounds of the day were very colorful! Along with the Santa-decorated trailer that you saw above, we also ran into some other creative junkers!
Have you ever seen such a beautiful sewing machine? It's as pretty as a classic car! Again, I have no idea what I will do with this, but it makes me think of a certain pink-loving blogger/ PG shopper/ treasure hunter that I know!
Along with the beautiful, pink sewing machine, and the lovely pink stuffed animal, we enjoyed the early spring gardens in the neighborhoods!
Along with the bright and beautiful, I kept finding the strange and unusual. Mr. Fix-it and I were loading up a classic-looking chest of drawers, when we realized the drawers were completely filled with shotgun shells! A couple drawers of yellow, a couple drawers of red, and a target as a bonus! We couldn't figure out where to dump them without making a huge mess (kind of a rule when junking), so some of them came home! Again...any ideas?
I had a couple hours by myself, and found the most unusual find of the day! I don't normally get out and dig through the cardboard boxes, unless some cool, vintage item catches my eye. For some reason, as I was digging, I spotted some vintage labels on old bottles!
Luckily Cheryl wasn't with me, because she would have screamed at what was inside!
Big Boy said there were scorpions, black widow spiders, and scarabs, amongst others! Who would have thought? Once again...have no idea what I will do with these!
Well, my strange and unusual day ended with my Mom joining me! Think she thought it was my birthday! Remember my Very Junky Birthday last year? Well, she has never experienced curb-side clean-up, and was thinking that she would hardly recognize me, for fear I'd have a dirt-smudged face! Lucky I went to the trouble of make-up and curls! She was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was to drive up and down neighborhood streets, and how many piles there were to look through! I had to stop her from engaging in conversation with the homeowners!
All in all, junking 2012 was a successful season, and I learned, once again, that I am Never Alone! Maybe next year we will have a drawing for a Guest Junker to ride along with me! Wouldn't it be fun to post about our experience?
Yeah! Are we all excited that tax season is over? I know that there are people in the world that really enjoy working with numbers, but I am definitely not one of them! As a small business owner, though, I have to keep track of numbers, and luckily Cheryl and I can divy up this not-my-favorite-part-of-business area. So, to add a post to our "mom-prenuers" category, I thought I'd go over how we cover this side of the business. This is also for you wanna-be shop owners, that think it would be fun to find junk and sell it somewhere! There are soooo many sides to small business ownership!
After our occasional sale weekend, Cheryl takes a big envelope home full of tags. She separates them all out and finds out how much each of our contributor's sold and how much we sold. She then sends checks out to all of them, and then we decide if we can pay ourselves! Cheryl is the main book-keeper, and keeps track of all of our bills. Thank goodness! She and Mr. Fix-it know that I should not be a part of that! She is also the go-to person for most "business" related conversations: insurance, credit card machines, ordering supplies, etc. She was a business major; I was only a business minor, and dropped out after I almost flunked basic economics. This is one of the God-ordained reasons why our partnership works!!
Once Cheryl gets done with her end of the tags, they get sent my way. I am the keeper of the inventory. This way, we are both always in touch with what is selling. I would much rather spend my screen time blogging, but excel spreadsheets, and pie charts can be kind of fun, when you've done a lot of work acquiring and fixing up all those finds! I begin my part by dividing all the tags into 20 different categories. I love using my Grandma's "Hall" custard cups, all arranged on a vintage metal tray. I use handwritten shipping tags with the category names.
If any of you have done the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University program, you'll understand that I am definitely the "free spirit". Seventeen minutes is the time frame that I can spend on anything numbers related! Luckily, typeing in all the fun items we've sold at the store, is like walking down memory lane!
Mr. Fix-it is our I.T. guru and has set up the customized spreadsheets, and even made pie charts!
The numbers that need to be dealt with in small business are never-ending. Even when all the statements for taxes have been turned in, there is still mileage to be kept track of, receipts from stores where we purchased materials, and sales tax to be paid! Cheryl and I have been doing this together for a looong time, and have developed a system that works with both our giftings. I wouldn't recommend partnership to many people, because there are so many places where disagreements could arise. But somehow, Cheryl and I have grown up in this business together, and have a lot of trust for each other, and can give one another a lot of grace, when needed! We like to think it was a match made in heaven!
Can you think of a caption for this photo? Maybe it could be on the front of a greeting card..."Still climbing, and never getting anywhere..." Or how about, "You look like you could use a lift!" Can you think of any?
I had just told a "picker" friend that we are always looking for ladders. Ezra likes to call himself our "junk pimp". That's a little racey for us, but he is kind of our "personal picker". He was garage saleing the other morning, always on the hunt for some great finds. He called me, reporting he had just found a bunch of ladders! Tis the season to use ladders inside and out-vertical, holding bath towels or linens, or horizontal for a pot rack or herb drier. I told Ezra to grab the whole lot of them. Hence, the line of ladders drying in the sun in the driveway, after my scrubbing session.
After a good scrubbing, and some sunshine, I got to work with my brush and polyurethane. A couple of coats really brings out the beauty, in these meant-for-function, utilitarian pieces. After spending quite some time brushing, I got to know some of the personalities of these ladders, or whomever owned them.
First of all, I realized these ladders all came from the same home. Hmmm-must have been a fairly handy gentlemen. Secondly, I realized he had painted a lot of colors over the years-there were many colors of paint drips on the ladders. I kind of liked his or her taste: soft yellows, sage greens, aqua blues.
These initials caught my eye. Mr. FHM must have needed to identify his ladder, somewhere other than in his own yard! Church work day, at a work site? These initials made me chuckle, because in my husband's family, we are all known by our initials! He comes from a family of 5 boys whose names all begin with H! Their dad's name also began with H! To add to the creativity, the 5 boys middle names began with A, B, C, D, and E. As a result, each family is known as the HAB's, HBB's...all the way to us at the end of the family, the HEB's. Now you know why these initials struck my funny bone!
Each of the ladders were different. Some had round rungs, some had square rungs. This light colored ladder, even had a date on it! It's coloring and square rungs looked more mid-century modern, and this date stamp confirmed it's heritage! Mr FHM must have had one of his kids helping on a project, because someone got carried away with the stamp!
I just have fun making up stories, as I'm spending time re-freshing junky treasures! I'll be on the hunt for more ladders, and hope all of you that took these beauties home will have fun decorating with them!
Let me introduce you to some of my friends: the detail sander, the palm sander (my BFF), and the orbital sander. They hang out with me in the driveway on nice weather days. They help me turn ho-hum into beautiful, but they tend to turn me into...a sawdust snow-woman.
Quite a few items that make it into the store need attention from my special friends. Before we take furniture to George, our painter, we use the orbital sander, with some 100-250 grit sandpaper to get that shiny finish off. Mr. Orbital is a speedy fella, and quite heavy. He can make a big gouge in a piece of furniture, if I don't control him. George tells me I am a little too eager with Mr. Orbital sometimes. Once I see that finish coming off, I tend to want to take it all off, even though I only need to scratch it up a little bit.
My BFF is my palm sander. I do love furniture that already has a long history of paint layers. When I can get my palm sander buzzing with a nice 100 grit paper, and reveal all those beautiful colors, it's a downright adventure for me! See that cutie cupboard in the front? Got it at a church sale for cheap in it's nun-like brown paint. I guessed it was a spice cupboard. Little did I know it was a spice-y cupboard! As I was sanding to show a little of the white around the edges, I started seeing a leg! My interest was peaked...what was that ho-hum brown paint covering? I kept sanding away, chuckling as I went. There was a whole bevy of beauties hiding on this spice-y cupboard: a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead! I thought, "Oh, if only the pin-up girls in our age were as prudent as these!"
Isn't she cute? I had so much fun sanding this one. I just have fun sanding...call me crazy. The different color paints on a piece of furniture are like different stages in it's life. Some were better than others...
Kind of like our lives. Relationships, experiences, traumas. They all impact our lives. Some stages aren't that great, but seen later, through the hues of better times, the beauty can be seen. The bad details, in retrospect, bring wholeness.
My last little friend is my detail sander. A cute little triangle...it can get where the big guys just can't go. Around those irritating spindles on chairs (that I really love, except when I'm trying to sand them), in those tight corners, or reaching into something that no one else will fit in. It makes a buzzing sound like fillings at the dentist. I don't use it that often, but when I need it, I'm glad to have it in the arsenal.
How do I know when a piece is done? Definitely by looking at it and seeing if the right balance of colors is portrayed, but lastly by the "touch" test. A piece of furniture can look good "from the road", but I like it as smooth as a baby's bottom! I run my hands over the edges and the corners to test for splinters or scratches. Potters use their hands to perfect their creations in much the same way. Only the Creator knows when His Creation is ready to be used for His purposes. ;)
We have had the most unusual winter of my entire life, here in Minnesota! Santa gave my kids snowshoes for Christmas, and they haven't even been able to use them! It was soooo warm yesterday...
"How warm was it yesterday" you ask?
It was sooo warm, I was stripping in the driveway!
Um, let me rephrase that and relieve your horrible visual image!
I was using my Heat Gun to strip a terrible paint job off a perfectly good piece of furniture. The heat gun is one of the tools of the trade in our arsenol of refreshing furniture. In times gone past, everyone "refinished" furniture, which involved applying gooey chemicals, waiting, and then taking the goo off with a putty knife. Cheryl and I have both been lucky enough to do this fun experience in the past, but choose not to partake in it anymore. We would rather find a piece of furniture that many people have chosen to paint through the years, and simply sand away to show the beautiful layers. I will tell you more about that in a future "tools of the trade" post.
That being said, every once in awhile, we pick up a piece that just didn't get the right prepwork before it's paint job, and therefore is hopelessly peeling off. No amount of shabbying will make it look good, because it will just keep peeling! Case in point, this cute dresser:
It's diminuative size and art deco legs attracted my eye, and I liked it in white, but do you see the tell-tale signs on the side? The shiny finish underneath never got scratched up enough for the paint to adhere. Warning=Lots of Work involved!
I also loved the square knobs. It would be a perfect baby clothes dresser with it's shallow drawers.
As you can see, I started to just shabby the edges of the drawers, and then realized this was going to take a lot more work. That shiny finish needed to come off before I could ever paint it. Enter the heat gun a.k.a. the bubbler. I usually set this thing for about 1000 degrees, holding it in my left hand and a putty knife in my right. Mr. Fix-it took these pictures, since I don't have three hands.
Because of the heat, you don't want to hold in it a spot too long, or get your leg, etc. near it. The trick is, you have to hold it in one place long enough for the paint to bubble, and then you can whisk it off with the putty knife. The thicker the layers, the easier it is to get it off. I think the whole process is kind of addicting-watching those bubbles appear and then seeing how big of a sheet of paint I can get off at a time.
The heat gun also works great to get off that horribly sticky vintage contact paper, and also peels up veneer. It will also take off a shiny laquer finish, but you will need a damp cloth to wipe off your putty knife every so often.
After getting most of the paint and laquer off, I began sanding to smooth it all out, and then primed and painted a couple of coats. A lot of work for probably an $85 dresser, but I can't let a perfectly good, cute dresser go to waste!
While the men were hunting this weekend...the women were definitely gathering! We themed the November occasional, "Gatherings", and we sure did have a big gathering of customers this weekend! Thanks for making it a successful and very fun couple of days! All those groups of friends having fun together and inspiring each other was like a big slumber party! One group of ladies even had fleece scarves that were camouflage and bright orange!
Our husbands thought we had gone over the top with how full the store was in preparation for the weekend, but seriously...it looks quite empty now! We are getting right back to work reordering some of your favorites (Divine Twine and Mrs. Meyers) and making sure the store will be in full holiday spirit by the Friday after Thanksgiving!
Keeping in the spirit of "girls just want to have fun" and hunting and gathering, I thought I'd share some of Cheryl and my adventures, while treasure hunting this fall. People always ask us, "Where do you find all this stuff?" and "Are you going to garage sales all the time?" Well, we used to go to garage sales more often, but now that we have the store, we need VOLUME!! We still love church sales and estate sales, and people call us up when they are cleaning out, but our best adventures come when we can hit the neighborhood streets for municipal clean-up days. So here's what we did together for 3 Fridays in a row in September, at an undisclosed location. Nine hours each day! And that didn't include Cheryl's hour drive back and forth!
Two minivans and 2 trailers for hauling. We park one and ride around together in the other. We usually are armed with plenty of caffine:
Tools of the junking trade are gloves, screwdriver, wrench, bungee cords, and ratcheting tie down straps (we've gotten quite good at them, having had repeated lessons from our husbands). Sorry, didn't get them in the photo. Flashlights come in handy, and you never know when you may need duct tape, a scissors or a wire cutter. Better to be prepared out on the open road!
As for what we find...anything and everything! Including the kitchen sink!
We giggle and laugh the entire time! After years of perfecting our junking skills and plenty of deliberation, we have learned what are diamonds in the rough, and what to pass up. The items we picked up, have of course been scrubbed, painted, cannibalized, etc. and are either in the store or waiting in our garages (that's a whole other blog post). But thought you'd appreciate what we passed up (so you can giggle along with us)!
Sofas in horrible fabric never enter our trailers, but this orange, button tufted chair may have future possibilities in my house, once it gets cleaned and gets some new fabric. Seriously, upholstered furniture is too much of a gamble, so we like to stick to items that can be scrubbed and thrown in the laundry machine!
"There's a story, of a man named Brady...who was bringing up 3 very..." Can you say The Brady Bunch? Honestly, I thought the faux paneling was kind of hip in a retro way, but I agreed with Cheryl that it would take up a lot of space in the trailer! We left it to the scrappers. Which brings up a good point. We are competing for vintage metal items with the scrap metal hunters. They are out in throngs and are picking up the very crib bedsprings, metal toolboxes, lockers, lawn chairs, and wire baskets that we love! Many of the metal items we found we were taking out of the homeowners hands! A nice conversation always ensues..."are you girls the picker sisters?", "finding good stuff today?", "do you girls have a store somewhere?" Homeowners are very friendly, and sometimes go into their garages and bring us more treasures! We get a kick out of some of the homeowners communication, regarding their garbage...
Our most unusual find of the season was big and heavy and fully functioning. The homeowner was apologizing for putting such a beautiful piece out, but just couldn't have it taking up space, and couldn't bear to see it get wrecked in her porch:
Three Fridays, 27 hours, 6 trailer and van loads later, and we have a stockpile to pick from for these long winter months. Here's to good friendship, good junk, and not wanting regular jobs!