A typical week for me includes many activities and errands run with two small children in-tow. My 3-year old is in preschool 3 mornings a week, and I work in his class about once every two weeks. My 16-month old is home with me 24/7. I realize that this scenario, in the grand scheme of things, just isn’t that bad. But I manage to do my fair share of complaining about the emotional and physical exhaustion that can plague an introvert like me after being “on” — even with my own ridiculously adorable children — for a large percentage of my waking time.
One of the things that tends to kill me is running errands with both of them. Moms know the drill: take however long you think it should take to get everyone ready, and add half an hour. Then get them in the car, buckling two carseats. Get to the grocery or Target and unbuckle two carseats, carrying one and holding the other’s hand as you traipse through snow to get to the entrance. Shop, all the while saying things like, “No, we’re not buying that today,” and “I know this is taking a long time, we’ll be done soon,” and “Please don’t smash the bananas.” You go back to the car, loading children (buckling two carseats) and groceries, drive home, curse under your breath at random drivers (road rage? what road rage?), get home, unbuckle two carseats, unload two crying children, unload groceries, destroy the kitchen while hurriedly making a healthy lunch for the two starving children, and figure out you forgot something on your list. That thing that you needed to make tonight’s dinner.
All that to say — I do enjoy those rare mornings when I only have one child to take with me. Truly, it makes all the difference in the world. Especially when this particular child is the one who can’t yet talk.
So. Those mornings. The blessed, rare, one-child mornings when I don’t need to make a trip to the grocery or Target. What do I do? What could I possibly do with that time — the world is my oyster — I am primed for efficiency, ready to accomplish big things. I do what any sensible woman with limited time and a perpetually-growing to-do list would do: go to thrift stores.
I might have mentioned this new compulsion. I really don’t know how to explain it; although I know I come by the gene honestly — my sister runs a blog in Mississippi that’s completely devoted to thrift, salvage, consignment, and discount stores. In the time I’ve spent analyzing this new habit, I’ve figured out that it has something to do with being in Indiana, and having a few good thrift stores. To define that for you: a good thrift store is one where you can still actually find good things, for a good deal. With the rise of eBay, and now Goodwill’s online auction site, many thriftstores have gone downhill in quality — high-demand items are either sold at auction by the company itself, or the stores are swept by eBay-selling vultures who know what they’re looking for (I say this with a mixture of disdain and respect… I would probably be one of those vultures if I had the time). But — for some reason — in Indianapolis, there are a few thrift stores that don’t auction, and somehow are still flying under the radar of resellers (and no, I’m not naming them for you).
So, I go, walking straight to the section of kitchen goods, and search for hidden gems. Some of my recent finds include:
- 2 Cuisinart ice cream makers, in perfect condition, for less than $5 each
- A beautiful enameled cast-iron frying pan (my new cookware-of-choice)
- a gallon-sized glass jar, perfect for a batch of kombucha
- The Original West Bend Poppery: an old popcorn popper that can be rigged for use as a coffee roaster (if you ever find one of these, BUY IT, because it will sell on eBay for around $50), in perfect condition, for $2
- A small Dansk enameled iron pot, perfect for melting butter
- a vintage glass nut chopper (this, admittedly, was an eBay risk that won’t pay off — and no, it doesn’t chop nuts evenly)
As I’ve mentioned before, my ultimate goal is to find a good-quality food dehydrator on the cheap. But that’s just plain unrealistic, and is really a thinly-veiled excuse to walk in the doors. The days that I go and find something exciting, I get an adrenaline rush similar to the one I used to get in college when I actually made efforts to hit the after-Christmas sales; but even on the days I walk out with nothing, it doesn’t feel like I’ve wasted my time.
I suppose there are worse addictions. I could be addicted to a different kind of shopping: the kind where I’d rack up thousands of dollars in credit card bills, buying designer clothes and as-seen-on-tv gadgets. This one feels safe for now. I did have an inkling of a potentially hazardous future though, the other day, when I was going through my loot and realized that we’d be keeping it all (as opposed to selling some online, in pre-vulture for-profit activity). Where to put it? I have tons of space right now, but if we buy a smaller house (and we most likely will), what then? How many enameled cast-iron pans do I need before I begin to look like an episode of Hoarders? When I die, will my grandchildren be forced to sift through mountains of vintage kitchenwares that no one wanted for a reason?
Ah, tomorrow. I’ll save those worries for then. Meantime, I’ve got to price clothes for that kid’s consignment sale next month. They have such good deals there…