Thursday, September 30, 2010

Junk 101

Black cabinet filled with Ironstone and Transferware.
 How does one "JUNK?" a friend recently asked me. I sat in awe. Mouth hanging open. Eyes glazed over, trying to process her question. Frankly, the frightening thought that there are people who don't know how to JUNK -- where to JUNK -- or just what "Junkin'" actually means shocked me. Even in the crisp Pacific Northwest air, I actually broke out in perspiration -- (after all, Southern girls don't sweat! Ha!)
My friend's wonderful question led me to consider the basics of Junk -- Junk 101, if you will.
Junkin' begins with the "WHAT." Every good Junker needs something to look for. I have a mental list. Stuff I love and collect. Stuff I love and sell at antique shows. Stuff I repurpose and reuse in our household.  And all the stuff I just don't know I love because we haven't met each other yet. For most of my adult life I've lovingly taken on vintage furniture cast-offs, old textile orphans, and stacks of forgotten antique postcards and magazines. 
A glorious mix of Crazy Quilt color.
My junking life began innocently enough. One Sunday afternoon a 50 percent off estate sale sign caught my eye. Sweet Hubby and I were recently back from an overseas tour of military duty and going to university full time. We were low on cash, but that didn't dissuade me from wanting to make our recently purchased little house off-campus a home.
Nothing Wasted

 "Let's go," I told him. Always the Sweet Hubby, he turned the car and followed the signs. Minutes later, my love affair with old stuff began. My heart skipped a beat when I saw this Crazy Quilt. I loved its autumnal silk fabrics and little embroidered hand prints. Then I saw the backing -- a fabric garden of roses -- even patched together when the quilter ran out of the green material and used blue. Some one's love stitched into each silken patch. It was $75 at half off. Too much. I must have looked broken-hearted as the woman conducting the estate sale looked at her watch and said, "How 'bout $50?" It meant a menu of beans and rice and Mac & Cheese for a few weeks, but I convinced Sweet Hubby it was well worth it. He knew there was no chance for conversation and we went home with our new old Crazy Quilt. Twenty-two years, two children, numerous pets, and cross-country moves later, this sweet old quilt still steals a beat from my heart when I pull it out each autumn. Well worth the endless Mac & Cheese dinners.
Rooster and Hen S&P just like grandma's.

Many other collections have evolved at our house since. Many years ago, there was the search for the perfect rooster and hen salt and pepper shakers. Now presiding in the cupboard, the pair still remind me of Sunday family dinners at my paternal grandmother's house when I was a child. I can almost smell the fried chicken, cream corn, fresh green beans, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and gravy. 
Western items from my TX grandparents' estate.
There are my maternal grandfather's spurs from his teenage days of riding horses on his family's farm in southeast Texas, which led to another collection of tooled leather coin purses and western postcards.

Old stuff inspires me.
 There's my endless fascination with handmade goods, hand-written letters, autograph books, and costume jewelry. Bits and pieces tucked in around our home.
Collecting bits of nostalgia that takes me to other times and places, if only for one or two quick moments. Good memories. Collecting the past and respectfully holding it close. Sharing it with others who share this quirky desire to collect and display old stuff that's what keeps me on the road still looking for more treasures -- yes, junkin'.

Bits and pieces I use in my necklaces and garlands.
I'd love to hear how other Junkers got started collecting. Do you remember your first find? Where was it? What was it? Please comment and share your thoughts.

Collected Treasures

Today's Good Stuff:
1) Red maple leaves
2) Autumn Antique Shows
3) Front Porch Wicker Rocking Chairs
4) Buttermilk Biscuits and Apple Butter
5) Open House at School

Thanks for coming along for the ride! Next time I'll have a few thoughts about WHERE to go Junkin'.

Peace, love and all the good stuff, y'all!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The New Road . . .

Snohomish Pass on I-90

There’s the familiar blacktops of our lives. They’re the ones we’ve traveled on many times. There’s a certain happy anticipation as we turn the key, push the accelerator, and make our way to that place we know so well.

Rossow's U-Tote-Em Burgers in Ellensberg, WA
 Then there’s the NEW road. It’s unknown. The one we look up the old-fashioned way on a real paper map or the high-tech way on a GPS. It’s a concrete twisting adventure waiting to be followed. It offers excited anticipation for what lies ahead. It can be scary or it can be the impetus to discovering new places and making new friends.

Bugaboo Vintage Design and The Garden Cat at Clayson Farm
 Recently, my own journey has led me down many new roads.

Following my friend, Pam Ridenour of Bugaboo Vintage Design in her "mom-van," Sweet Girl and I traveled across Washington, crossing the majestic Cascades to the rolling hills and open prairie toward Yakima where the American Primitives Antique Show at Clayson Farm was held.

Leslee's back porch welcomes everyone to Clayson Farm

For one special summer day, Leslee, who has hosted the show for eight years, invites antique dealers to literally set up in her family’s front, side, and back yards surrounded by their well-tended apple orchards. Like her farm, Leslee is the essence of Americana; simple, honest farm life; and the sweet kindness of country living. Many thanks go to Leslee, her family, and her many friends who help make Clayson Farm Primitives Show so successful and fun.

Victorian Photos and Adorable Bugaboo Designs
Pam and I shared a booth at Clayson Farm. Her adorable Bugaboo Vintage Design creations were a bright compliment to my collection of vintage farmhouse and garden items. Pam, being born and raised in Yakima, kindly introduced us to her family and friends. Thanks to Pam for inviting me to set up with her at Clayson Farm. Sweet Girl and I had a fantastic time at the show.

Cranberry Cottage's French Flea Market at Country Village

The following weekend, we took The Garden Cat, on the road again. This time a little closer to home. Hosted by Kelly and Theresa, the great team at Cranberry Cottage at Country Village in Bothell, The French Flea Market, offered everything from decorative items to repurposed rusty containers flowing with flowers and herbs. Despite it being a smaller show, we had several shoppers stop by. Happily we also made some new dealer friends. Thanks to Kelly and Theresa for hosting this petite, but scrumptious flea market at Country Village.

Now that we’re deep into September and autumn is officially knocking at the door, we’ve got all kinds of great shows on the schedule.
Yes, many new roads to new opportunities and new friends.

Here’s The Garden Cat Vintage Show schedule:

Funky Junk Sisters present Junk Salvation Vintage Flea Market!
--Friday, October 15, 20 10 from 6-9 p.m. -- $15 per person includes the “Pink” Friday Girls’ Night Out Breast Cancer Benefit – Shopping and Martinis!
--Saturday, October 16, 2010 from 10 a.m. –4 p.m. -- $5 per person entrance fee.
More than 80 Antique and Artisan vendors at the FJS Junk Salvation Show, located at South Hill Mall at The Competitive Edge bldg. , 3600 9th Street SW, Puyallup, WA. For more info,

2nd Saturdayz – A Saturday Market of Fine Tastes & Curious Treasures
at Warren G. Magnuson Park, 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115
-- Saturday, November 13 and Saturday, December 11, 2010
Early Buying $10 per person from 8-10 a.m. General Admission $5 from 10 a.m. –4 p.m. For more info,
I’m also trying to get two more shows for The Garden Cat in November so stay tuned to this groove of the blacktop for more info.

I’m not setting up The Garden Cat, but this looks like a JUNKING QUEEN’s delight of a show, Come Junk With Us presents Ruffles & Rust – A Vintage Market to Inspire October 22 and 23 at Evergreen State Fairgrounds, Monroe, WA. For more info,

Today’s Good Stuff:
1. Autumn Leaves
2. Soft shawls
3. MoonPies
4. Football games
5. A tin full of vintage buttons

Peace, love, and all the good stuff, y'all!

So much cool stuff at Clayson Farm Primitive Show

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Roadside: Breakin' Down & Soulful Rejuvenation

Sometimes life's journey isn't always a smooth ride. Everyone else is on the freeway moving and grooving along while you're off on the side of the road with a break down. Whether major or minor, physical, spiritual, or mental, your body refuses to keep going and you find yourself broken down. Roadside.

I know about this part of the journey well since it's where I found myself almost eight years ago.  I watched other people continue their daily routines while I waited  to hear my latest test results or when my next surgery would be.

I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer March 6, 2003.  I was 39 at the time and honestly, didn't have a clue what it meant.  It seemed it would be a fairly easy, uncomplicated surgery and treatment. But my life's road-map lead me a down a different path -- really to an under-used dirt farm road!  It all got a little complicated and the end result has been four rounds of chemo and  eight surgeries to date. Good riddance cancer!

But this isn't about the cancer or how my life was on hold for a couple of years. This is about how that experience led me to an even more incredible journey I never expected. An opportunity to slow down and discover a whole new world and in the process, a whole lot about myself. Abundant blessings in disguise.

You see, on the verge of mid-life, turning 40, I was blessed with the realization that life is short and I'd better get on with all those goals, dreams, and travels I'd been putting off. What was I waiting for?

My protagonist, Jimmie Rae Murphy, was conceived and born as I recuperated from the umpteenth reconstructive surgery.  At first she was shy and venerable -- and yeah, plenty boring.  I began to write and study and rewrite.  I joined writers' groups including Writers' League of Texas and (the amazing) Sisters in Crime Guppy Chapter. I entered writing contests, exchanged manuscripts with critique partners, and read incessantly both other novels and books on writing. 

Before I knew it, Jimmie Rae emerged as a strong, independent, boot-wearing, butt- kickin', karma believin' Texas woman that wasn't going to take any garbage from anyone.
In the process of creating Jimmie Rae and plotting FIRST MONDAY MURDER I made a personal journey and discovered my seventh generation Texas roots run deep. 

I discovered a complete fascination and thrill with wearing cowboy boots, embroidered jeans, and sassy t-shirts. I fell in love with old time Texas swing bands like Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys and Asleep at the Wheel.  I listened more intently to my grandparents' stories of how they grew up in southeast Texas and managed to make a life together for more than 60 years despite all the obstacles in their journey together.

Music filled our Victorian house as I wrote and revised and wrote some more. Not the music of my pre-cancer life, but the raw, deep tones of Texas blues musicians like Lightnin' Hopkins, Leadbelly, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Susan Tedeschi. 

I also found out I really like Thai food while I was undergoing chemo treatment. Its spicy and exotic flavor combinations beat out the other toxic tastes the treatment left behind. 

My point is that if it hadn't been for this roadside break down seven years ago, I might never have had the courage to try anything daring like writing a mystery novel, wearing cowboy boots, or eating Thai food.  Having cancer somehow gave me permission and the brutal push I needed to try.  I figured at this point in my life's journey what do I have to lose?

Today, I'm stronger, healthier, and much more creative than I was in my thirties.  As I race toward 50, I look forward to meeting more new friends, writing more stories, buying and selling more antiques, and traveling down that always exciting blacktop road of life.

I'll never forget not what cancer took from me, but what it gave me.  I'm very thankful.

Have you had a roadside difficulty in your life's journey that pushed you to try something new? If so, what was it?  If not, don't  wait for one! What's keeping you from reaching for your dreams?

Peace, love, and all the good stuff y'all.

1. Cowboy Boots
2. Toasted Croissants with Nutella
3. Patty Griffin's "Heavenly Day"
4. Amateur Bluebonnet Paintings
5. Sitting at the dinner table with my family

What's YOUR good life stuff?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Road Trippin'

Hey, y'all!
I've put over 8,000 miles on my truck in the past two months on an epic mom-kids-and-dog road trip from the Pacific NW to the Texas gulf coast.  Before I embarked on such an epic journey I had many moments of doubt and concern. After all, it was a BIG trip and the furthest I've ever traveled the blacktops without my hubby.  However, my doubts were overshadowed by my greater desire to head out on a mega-adventure, knowing it would be one of the last road trips with my teenage kids -- especially since one is already looking ahead to college next year. I planned our route, said many prayers, loaded up, and we headed south. Along the way, I stopped for antique malls, great road food, and good times with family and friends.
We caught up with my parents in Santa Fe, NM and discovered Harry's Roadhouse (96 Old Las Vegas Hwy, Santa Fe) and the charming community of El Dorado outside of Santa Fe. There is a fabulous Friday evening Farmer's Market in El Dorado featuring organic produce, baked items, incredible artists, and Blue Ribbon honey. Also, a fun consignment shop called 4 Sisters is located there. It is full of primitives, antique crosses and religious relics, and other collectibles at reasonable prices.

No matter the distance or amount of time away, McKinney, TX always pulls us back. Since we lived there for 15 years, we easily give into the gravitational force pulling us toward it. On this trip we enjoyed visiting many old friends and making new ones.
My dear friend and fellow-junker, Tracey Collins, had a wonderful karmalicious vision for the old Greyhound Bus depot on Tennessee Street. After many hours of hard work her labour of love, Diggin' It, (507 North Tennessee, McKinney, TX) officially opened last month. It is a groovy mix of garden antiques and art along with some incredible funky finds only Tracey could come up with. In addition, Diggin' It has a great selection of plants, herbs, and shrubs. Be sure to check out her inventory which she's always adding to. I'm sure Diggin' It!!

I also spent some fun times at Antique Company Mall located at 213 East Virginia in McKinney, TX. It was so nice to see Bill and Diane Haight and friends who are dealers at the mall. My antique business, The Garden Cat, began at ACM when my daughter (who started ninth grade this week) was three months old. She basically grew up at ACM "helping" me set up my booth for so many years. Bill and Diane and so many of the great dealers there are like family to me. I'm happy to say, that despite all the changes on the McKinney Square, ACM just gets better and better. 

McKinney, TX is constantly changing and growing. There are many great new shops and eateries on the downtown square. One of my long-time favorites is Cafe' Ma'laga, a fantastic Mediterranean Tapas Bar located at 107 South Church Street. The new location offers more seating inside as well as beautiful garden and patio seating outside. An evening in the Cafe' Ma'laga garden area with an ice cold Sangria, live guitar music, and incredible food is hard to beat.

My hubby caught up with us in Dallas and we proceeded to spend a week on Galveston Island. We ate at our favorite Galveston restaurants including Shrimp & Stuff and Sunflower Bakery (they make the BEST chocolate cream pie ever!) We also managed to consume an impressive amount of Blue Bell Banana Pudding ice cream. On the way back we spent a few days in Austin where we ate at one of our favorite places, Matt's Ranchero (2613 South Lamar, Austin, TX) and toured the Bob Bullock Museum and Elisabet Ney Studio/Home. I also sweet-talked my family into a quick jaunt to Uncommon Objects  located at 1512 South Congress Avenue. It was nearly a religious experience for me. A true junk-to-art mecca. Their motto is "raw materials for creative living." Awesome! We also visited the Baylor University's Armstrong Browning Library in Waco (a favorite place of mine and also--not so coincidentally-- where Jimmie Rae Murphy works in my unpublished manuscript FIRST MONDAY MURDER.) We also made it to
the Dublin Dr. Pepper plant in Dublin, TX (where Dr. Pepper is still bottled the old fashioned way with Imperial pure cane sugar.) Before we headed north again, we were able to go to a Texas Rangers baseball game with my daddy. (GO RANGERS!!)
In between we enjoyed a lot of family and friend time and of course, a whole lot of Texas sunshine, music, food, beer, and culture.

Peace, love, and happy road trippin' y'all!