Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Tidbits

A little bit of this and a little bit of that....


I've spent countless hours knee deep in html, lately, because my blog deperately needs a new look.  I have a test blog that I use so I don't have to shut this one down.  Ironically, it hasn't left me much time for new posts, so I guess it wouldn't matter if I closed up shop for a few days.  I'm nearly done, I have one glitch holding me up, but I'm going to try to figure that out this afternoon.  I hope to be unveiling my new look soon!


A big thank you to those of you who answered my request for new recipes. I can't wait to try the fabulous ones I received.  However, even though my birthday is over, I'm still on the hunt for more new recipes to add to our upcoming Saturday night food and drink demos.  I'm especially interested in old family recipes and authentic ethnic dishes.  If you've got a great recipe and a don't mind sharing, I'd love to have it!  You can email them to thisstopwilloughby@yahoo.com.  If there is a story that goes along with the recipe, please let me know.

Hauntingly Beautiful

It was incredibly foggy this morning.  I couldn't help but notice how really pretty it was, though.  I snapped a few pictures from my back porch.

Aren't they haunting, yet beautiful?  I think so, anyway.

I Need To Get Out More

I opened the refrigerator this morning and noticed a really odd coincidence.  Both the gallon of white milk and the gallon of chocolate milk are at nearly the exact same level.  The only way I could have gotten them any closer would have been to measure the amount used.  Yeah, I need to get out more when I find that interesting!

No, the milk is not actually yellow.  Blame the combination of the refrigerator light and the flash on my camera.  

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Thrill Of The Hunt

Here's the scenario.  Someone gives you, let's say $1000, and tells you to go shopping.  You don't have to pay it back, and you can't give it to someone else (if it makes you feel better, we can say they will also make a charitable donation in the same amount to the charity of your choice).  It's just for you.  You can choose any store(s) you want and buy anything that your heart desires.  Where would you go and what would you buy?  Me?  I'd head straight to one of my favorite flea markets or antique/vintage/junk shops.  I'm not sure what I would buy because you never know what you'll find in one of those places.  And, for me, that's what makes it fun. 

I'm crazy about all sorts of antique and vintage things.  I have a particular weakness for candle holders, old books and kitchen items.  They don't have to be rare or especially collectible, either.  I'm not too wrapped up in the monetary value of the things I buy.  I just have to like them.

To be honest, it's just as much about finding the treasures as it is about owning them.  While I'll gladly browse through an upscale antique store, I don't enjoy it nearly as much as picking through a messy junk shop.  The high end stores are always clean, well lit and organized.  If you ask about a particular item, they usually know whether they have it or not.  Where's the sport in that?  For me, it's like shooting fish in a barrel.  My favorite places always look like someone stood at the front door and threw the merchandise in.  Things may be coated in years worth of dust or stored in water stained cardboard boxes.  If there are piles on the floor, all the better.  It's the thrill of the hunt in a place like that.  My own version of a safari, if you will.

We used to have an antique store (junk store may be more appropriate) like that in town.  It was a huge place that was filled to the brim with everything imaginable.  You could find delicate hand painted china at the bottom of a bin of vintage plumbing supplies.  Nothing had price tags and everything was negotiable.  If you were really brave, you could venture into the back room which was about a thousand square feet and lit with only one or two 75 watt bulbs.  Everything back there was lumped into piles, awaiting whatever sorting method they employed, before being moved to the equally unorganized front rooms of the store.  There was always a lot of just plain junk, but every now and then, you'd find something really great.  Talk about an adrenaline rush!  The store went out of business a few years ago and I still miss it.

Yesterday, my husband and I had some errands to run, so we stopped by one of our favorite "treasure hunting" stores.  It's not super messy and unorganized, but it's got some great stuff.  We rarely leave the store empty handed, and yesterday was no exception.

We had been talking about inscriptions in old books while we browsed around.  I told him that, if I'm unsure whether I want a book, finding a personal inscription inside usually seals the deal for me.  I adore the charming, old script they used and I love reading the messages.

Near the front of the store, there was a display of assorted items from other countries.  There were some Asian knick-knacks, some dishes from Mexico and a few things from Germany.  In the same display was my treasure du jour, a book called The Little French Girl (published in the United States, I guess it was there because it had "French" in the title).  I was attracted to it because it looked old and I loved the gold stamping on the cover.  As soon as I opened it, I knew I was going to buy it.  It is inscribed "To Miss Hahn From her Parent Teacher Assoc." and dated Dec. 25, 1924.

It's not a rare book and it wasn't expensive, but I love it!  I don't even know what it's about.  I'll probably read it when I'm done with the book I'm currently reading.  I'm sure that every time I pick it up, I'll look at that inscription.


No one handed me the hypothetical thousand dollars to go shopping yesterday, but, like I said in the beginning, I'd have my spending spree in flea markets and antique/vintage/junk shops.  How about you?  Where would you shop and what would you buy?  

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We Have A Winner!

I hope you haven't been sitting by computer waiting for this announcement because I'm a little tardy today.  My sincere apologies for not posting the results sooner, but we've drawn the winning name in my giveaway.

We did this the old fashioned way.  All names were printed on little slips of paper, put into a bowl and shuffled around. 

My daughter drew the winning name.

Congratulations, Pearl!  You may choose any one item from my Etsy store, The Cabbage Rose,  (I've just added some new tote bags!).  When you've decided what you'd like, drop me an email at thisstopwilloughby@yahoo.com with your choice and your mailing address.  It will be on it's way to you in no time!

Thank you to everyone who participated!!!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I always feel sort of introspective this time of year.  You see, I've got a birthday and an anniversary coming up (42 and 21, respectively) and they always make me feel just a little blue.  I know how odd that sounds, really, I do.  It's not that I'm unhappy with my life or my marriage, just the opposite, in fact.  What gets me down is that birthdays and anniversaries are a reminder of all that's passed.  Over time, my focus seems to have shifted from what is today and what will be tomorrow to all the yesterdays that will never be again.

photo courtesy of Google images

It's pessimistic to think that way, I suppose, even though I don't think of myself as a pessimist.  I see the glass half full, but in the back of my mind, I guess I'm marking the water line on the glass with a sharpie.  Birthdays and anniversaries aren't the issue, anyway. Any day and every day stand to mark the passage of time. I just tend to think more about it around those days.

I know that most of it comes from being a parent. When our kids were both little, I would think; we're raising our children to be responsible and independent so that they will someday be grown up and on their own. That day seemed so far away it was barely worth thinking about. Now that they're getting older the emphasis has changed to; grown up and on their own. Someday doesn't seem so far off now and it makes me sad.
photo courtesy of Google images

I used to have this notion, and maybe I still do, that I could grab onto a piece of time and keep it for a while.  That I could stop time from moving forward, pick a moment, and just live there as long as it suited me.  I could revisit the time, right after we were married, when we spent our Friday and Saturday nights having dinner and drinks with friends who've since moved away.  I could go back to the days when my son was a toddler who was happy to spend an afternoon watching Winnie The Pooh with me.  Or I could relive a family vacation in 2005 when my husband and I made sand sculptures with our daughter on the beach while our son gathered shells.  I could even wind back the clock to the days when I didn't worry about my parents getting older.

There are those singular moments in time whose passing I mourn in some way, too.  Those rare, perfect gems that come along once, never to be experienced again.  Our wedding day was one of those.  I remember so clearly standing with my dad, waiting to walk down the aisle to the man who was about to become my husband.  I was literally and figuratively looking my future in the eye.  It was a moment that changed and shaped my life, our lives, in such a wonderfully profound way.  Almost 21 years later and we're still as crazy about each other as we were on that day.  But, oh, to experience that moment again....

Walking down the aisle with my dad
April 22, 1989

All that being said, I don't hate birthdays and anniversaries and I haven't lost my ability to appreciate today.  I know there will always be wonderful memories waiting to be made.   I just hate the fact that, the older I get, the older everyone I care about gets.  I miss the days when I didn't worry about that.....


Friday, March 12, 2010

Speaking Your Mind, Unedited

*The following post contains mild profanity.

I used to work with a woman named Mary.  I had been working in the department for about a year when one of my coworkers transferred to a new position and Mary was hired.  She was pretentious with a capital P.  From her very first day on the job, I could see that we weren't going to be best buds.

Mary was from out of state and made it clear that Michigan did not suit her.  The weather was not to her liking; it was always too hot or too cold.  She was from a state where snow was uncommon, so she complained endlessly about having to drive on snow covered roads.  Just a dusting would have closed roads and businesses in her home state, she always told us.

The way we talked bothered Mary, too.  She was always questioning our pronunciation of words and the expressions we used.  It's common, around here, to refer to any city north of mid-state as "up north".  If you said you were going "up north" for the weekend, she would say "You live in Michigan, how much farther north can you get?"

She was not beyond blatant insults, either.  She once wondered aloud why anyone would think that pink and red were colors that looked good together.  I was wearing a blouse with pink and red print that day.  Yeah, she was fun like that.

All of the women in the office were in our early twenties, so break time conversation usually centered around dates, boyfriends and plans for the weekend.  Mary, though, talked mainly about her parents.  She wanted to make sure that you knew her parents house was bigger, newer and more expensive than yours.  Her dad had a more important job that yours did.  His car was nicer, newer, bigger, blah, blah, blah.  She would ask you questions just so she could top your answer.  It was, like I said, pretentious.  We often rolled our eyes at one another while she was talking.

I think it would be accurate to say that I'm generally a non-confrontational person.  I'm only human, though, and I have my limits.  One day, during a particularly grandiose breaktime story, I could take it no longer.  She was going on about her father, once again, and I just snapped.  "It must be great to be your dad," I said.  "I'll bet his shit doesn't even smell."  She got up without saying a word and walked out of the office while my coworkers erupted in laughter.

Moments later, my boss called me into her office.  I was pretty sure she had heard my remark and that I was going to get chewed out, written up or fired.  I didn't know if what I had said constituted some sort of harrassment, or if insulting a coworker's father violated company policy.  When I walked in, she told me to shut the door and have a seat.  "That was the funniest thing I ever heard," she said.  "It's about time someone put that girl in her place.  Do you know that on her first day here she told me she wanted my job and would do whatever it took to get it?"

Needless to say, I did not get chewed out or written up and I didn't lose my job.  Mary didn't speak to me for a few days after that (which was fine by me) and eventually toned down her stories.  She worked for the company for another six months or so, and then quit after she got married.  She told us that she had a much better job lined up where she would be making twice as much money.  At her father's company.


It's not often that I speak my mind, unedited.  Have you ever had a similar experience?


Thursday, March 11, 2010

What's Eddie Money Doing Here?

Yesterday, Mr. Willoughby and I went to an auction.  We've been to auctions before, but this one was completely different.  It was a public storage auction.   For those who don't know, storage facilities auction off the contents of units that are in default.  Basically, if you don't pay your rental fee for X amount of months (I think it's three months), you give up your possessions and the facility has the right to auction them off to the highest bidder.  Mr. Willoughby found out about this auction online.  They advertised a car that he has been looking for, so we decided to go.

We got there early and there were only four other people there, so we thought we had a good chance of winning the car.   As it got closer to auction time, though, dozens of other people showed up.  By the time we had signed in, there were at least forty people in attendance.  We considered leaving, but decided to stay if only to see what the car would sell for.

Before we walked back to the units, the auctioneer went over the procedure.  He told us he would open the door of each unit (there were four units being auctioned) and that we would be able to look, but not go inside.  We would not be allowed to touch anything or open any boxes.  The winning bidder would take possession of everything in the unit, items would not be auctioned seperately.   

We seemed to be the only first-timers in the crowd.  I noticed that a lot of the people knew each other.  Apparently this auctioneer has a loyal following.  It was an odd lot of people, too.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  They don't call them strangers for nothing.  Some people are just that; strange.  There was the guy who continuously snorted and spit loogies, the guy who bit his nails and spat the "shrapnel" without regard to those of us standing near him, the lady talking baby talk to the dog tucked into her jacket, and the guy who darted nervously through the crowd making calls on his cell phone.  The last guy, by the way, looked just like Eddie Money.  I'm not saying it was....

photo courtesy of Google Images
So we finally walked back to the first unit and the auctioneer unlocked and opened the door.  Mr. Willoughby and I were standing at the back of the crowd, so we couldn't see much.  We were really only interested in the car, anyway, but I still wanted to take a peak inside.  As we got closer, I could see a big clear plastic tote filled with photographs.  My stomach kind of churned, thinking about how someone's possessions and memories were being sold off to the highest bidder.  I just felt sorry for the person who was losing this stuff.  Obviously, the crowd, in general, was able to put that aside, but it bothered me.

Aside from the tote of photographs, there was a couch, a loveseat, a bunch of cardboard boxes, some lamps and other assorted household goods.  I told Mr. Willoughby that if we could get it for $50 or so, I'd buy it just to return the photographs to their rightful owner.  We overheard a man behind us say that he thought the unit would fetch a thousand dollars.  We thought he was joking.

The bidding started at $550.  I was shocked!  Who would pay $550 for used furniture and boxes with unknown contents?  Hands shot up immediately.  In less than two minutes, the unit was sold with the final bid being $1,100.  I would have liked to return those photographs, but not at that price tag. 

The next two units went for less money.  One had some miscellaneous building materials, and the other had only a tire, a broken home gym and a few odd items.  When Mr. Willoughby wondered aloud why the owner hadn't just thrown the stuff away, a man behind us said, "That is what he did.  He left them behind so he didn't have to deal with them."

Finally, we came to the unit with the car.  Judging by what this crowd was willing to pay for used furniture, I knew we would be outbid on the car.  The auctioneer said they had the title to the car, but there were no known keys.  He said it wasn't unheard of to find a set of keys in the glove compartment or under a floor mat, but there were no guarantees.  Also, there was no way to know if the car would even run.  The bidding started at $700 and ended at $1,800.  We decided not to bid at all.

I don't know that I would say we had a good time, but it was definitely an experience.  I mean, how often to you get to rub elbows with a guy who looks like Eddie Money?


Have you entered my giveway yet?  Click here for more information.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Shhhhhh, Can You Hear It?

If you're really quiet you can actually hear the snow melting today.  You think I'm kidding?  I'm not.  The last few days have been unusually warm and spring-like for March, so the 18 or so inches of snow that piled up after the last storm are disappearing.  You can hear it dripping from rooftops.  On the grass, it makes more of a crunching sound as it falls in on itself.

In shady areas, it's melting more slowly.  The wood pile on the side of my garage, for example, doesn't get much sun until late in the day so it looks like this:

The walkway at the bottom of the porch steps, though, has been getting sun since about 7:30 this morning.  I sat on the steps for a while and actually watched the grass appear.  It was just a little slower than watching time lapse photography.  I took these pictures over the span of about an hour.  Look at the edge of the snow line.  You can see how it has melted from picture to picture.

I don't think the thermometer is entirely accurate because you have to take into account the heat that the pavers absorb from the sun.  They are quite warm to the touch (or to my shoeless feet) and that heat radiates upward.  Even so, I'd say it's definitely in the low 60's this afternoon.

If it gets any warmer, I may be tempted to flop out in a lounge chair and get a tan.

How is the weather in your neck of the woods?


Monday, March 8, 2010

Kids Are Funny

Kids are funny, aren't they?  Every day when I go to pick my daughter up from school, I find one or two kids doing something that makes me laugh.  Today I saw a girl, probably about 8 years old, fixing a wedgie.  Without the slightest hint of self consciousness, she walked through the elementary school lobby pulling on the seat of her pants and wiggling.  The throng of other kids and parents didn't deter her from her mission. 

Years ago, when my son was in the third grade, I volunteered to help out with a classroom holiday art project.  I was supervising the kids as they cut shapes out of craft foam sheets to make decorations.  All of a sudden, in the middle of his project, one little boy got very excited.  "I know this song!" he said.  He closed his eyes and swayed back and forth as if listening to some unusual and exotic melody.  It was Jingle Bells.

It's always fun to volunteer at school during the holidays.  When my daughter was in kindergarten, I helped out with a classroom party.  As each of the kids came to my station, I asked them what they were hoping to get for Christmas.  All but one of had predictable answers; video games, Barbie dolls and the like.  "What did you ask Santa for?" I asked the boy.  With enthusiasm, he said "A muzzle loader!"

Kids have a way of making adults look foolish, too.  I chaperoned a field trip to the Detroit Zoo when my son was in elementary school.  It was a hot day, so, after a few hours of walking, the group of chaperones I was with decided to sit in the shade.  The kids didn't want a break so we let them run around while we rested at a picnic table.  When they asked if they could sit on the wall behind us, we told them they could.  It wasn't very high and looked sturdy, what harm would there be in letting them sit on it?  A few minutes later we heard adults screaming and shouting so we went to investigate.  That wall we let the kids sit on?  It was the back side of the rhino pen.  And the kid hanging down trying to "pet" a rhino.  You guessed it, it was my son.

Yeah, kids are funny.


Have you entered my giveway yet?  I've just added some new items!  Click here for more information.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday Rewind

I'm a little busy today, so I'm doing a "Saturday Rewind".  If you've been a follower for a while, you may have seen this post before (but please feel free to read it again). 

You're Always Welcome

Of course you are, friends and family are always welcome to stop by for a visit, a drink or a meal. If you've never been here before, here are a few things you should know before your drop in.
  1. You will be expected to make yourself at home. We'll be glad to get you something to drink, but don't be shy about going into the refrigerator yourself.
  2. Dinner is almost never on time. If we tell you we'll be eating at 6:00, it will probably be closer to 6:30 or 7:00. I don't know why, it just tends to work out that way.
  3. If you don't like the food that's being served, you won't be expected to eat it. We don't believe in punishing adults or children by making them eat foods they don't like around here. If we know that you're coming for dinner, we'll try to make something you like.
  4. Expect to participate in ridiculous games and conversations during your visit. Last night we enjoyed a lively game of "How much would someone have to pay you to ....." during dinner. Favorite topics included licking a toilet and taking a nap in a drawer at the morgue.
  5. If you don't know where the bathroom is, just ask. If you wander around opening doors, you're likely to find the coat closet and basement before you find the bathroom.
  6. You won't find anything scandalous in the medicine cabinet, but we won't think any less of you if you can't resist the urge to open it up and have a look, anyway. However, there is always the possibility that we've filled it with marbles that will come crashing out when you open the door.
There is one more item to add to the list, but first, I have to tell you the story behind it. Once, when I was a teenager, a friend of mine came over with her boyfriend. We were sitting in the living room talking when he asked where the bathroom was. I pointed it out and he went in and closed the door. He was in there for a loooooooooooooong time, something like 30 or 40 minutes. I went into the kitchen and told my mom about it. She was concerned that she may not have replaced the roll of toilet paper in that bathroom (there was none in the vanity cabinet, either). We debated, should we knock on the door and ask if he needed toilet paper? Before we could decide, he came out of the bathroom. They stayed a little while longer and then left. He never said anything about the toilet paper, so we didn't ask. After they were gone, my mom and I checked the bathroom and found the roll was indeed empty and her fancy fingertip towels were missing. I kid you, not! Which brings us to item number 7. If you find the toilet paper roll in my bathroom is empty, please tell me and I will replace it. I like my towels!

So, please feel free to drop by if you're in the neighborhood. We'd love to have you!


Have you entered my giveway yet?  Click here for more information.


Monday, March 1, 2010

As Promised, A Giveaway!

I've had an Etsy store for quite some time, but I haven't had anything in it.  Now, I'm pleased to say, I finally do!  My husband and I just purchased a new silk screen printing press, and we've put some of our creations in my Etsy store.  In honor or the grand re-opening of "The Cabbage Rose", I'm having a giveaway.

Here's how it works:  the winner of the giveaway will win any one item of their choice from my store.  It is for followers only, so if you're not already a follower, you must become one (and no, you don't have to live in the United States).  To enter, simply leave a comment telling me that you would like to be entered in the giveaway.  You don't need to tell me which item you would like, yet.  The winner will be randomly chosen from all entries received.

If you give a shout out to my giveaway, along with a link, or post my Etsy store button (see it up there in the left hand corner?) on your blog, you'll earn a second entry.  If you do both, I'll give you two more entries.  Be sure to let me know you've done so!  And just to make it a little bit more fun, if I reach 100 followers between now and the end of the giveaway, I'll chose two winners.

The giveaway is open from now until noon Eastern Time on March 20th.  What better way to celebrate the first day of spring than with a giveaway?  The winner or winners will be announced within 24 hours of the end of the giveaway.

We are planning to add more merchandise to the store on a regular basis, so stop in and browse often!