A Crafter Needs to Eat, The Library Stack, Thrift Shop Adventures

Curating a Home Library

I love public libraries and as my series of posts The Library Stack shows, I am always browsing them and borrowing books when I can. A couple of years of ago I studied and embraced Minimalism trying to live a simpler lifestyle and letting go of things that I thought cluttered my life. I decided to stop buying books and just borrow them from the library.

Then in December 2018 my husband suddenly died and things shifted in my life on a large scale. And in early 2020 the pandemic hit and more shifting occurred to include examining how I could redefine a “simpler lifestyle” and have the physical things I enjoy in my life.

Our local libraries closed for what seemed like endless months during the early days of the pandemic and when they reopened it was only for curbside pickup. Currently they have fully reopened but have many strict protocols (beyond mandatory masks) and there are not that many patrons in the library anymore. It feels like something is lost from whole public library experience (and it is strange to see the librarians behind glass).

Pre-pandemic I was really in to audiobooks. Something shifted in me during the pandemic and I began to crave reading physical books rather than listening to them. I also remembered my secret dream of having an extensive home library like the ones I see in the home decorating books I borrow from the public library.

Like this one below:

Image credit: insidehook.com

With all the above things in the background of my mind, a couple of months ago I decided that I wanted to proceed with curating my own home library. Nothing as extensive as the image above but a nice collection with books that I’ve read and loved (and want to read again) and books I want to read (and might read again).

So how to do this and not “break the bank”? Well I used the following sources to find books for my home library:

  • Thrift Stores
  • Garage Sales
  • Thriftbooks.com
  • Independent bookstores selling used books

I was able to buy books from 50 cents to $5.00 from these four sources. Most books I paid between $1.49 and $4.99. 

In addition to amassing a collection of second hand books over the past couple of months, my partner John also added an additional bookcase to the front room beyond the two he already built for me.

So here is the current version of my home library which used to be the front room/sitting room in my house:

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I had so much fun hunting for books at thrift shops (one local thrift shop has 1/2 priced Saturdays).

I’ve loved the books by the authors Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child and I’ve read at least 85% of their entire catalogue of books. So I put together a collection of their books of my very own (previously I had borrowed them from the library):

I do not have their latest books as those are not at thrift stores yet or reasonably priced on Thriftbooks.com but it was so fun finding each book one at a time while hunting at thrift shops.

At the beginning of my home library book curation process I thought about filling part of my home library with classic novels and books that might impress a book collector. But that thought lasted only a couple seconds. I have no need to impress anyone with my home library except myself. It is only filled with the kind of books I will read (and my partner too).

Like lots of Science Fiction and Fantasy (especially Young Adult Fantasy, I love it):

You might wonder what I did with my craft book collection. Well it is on the opposite wall organized by craft or topic (like art quilting):

All those books – got to have a cozy place to read, right? Here is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer sitting in my favorite reading spot:

And here is Mike and I snuggled cozy under a warm blanket on a cold Saturday reading (it was quite a delicious morning with my pot of tea next to me). I rediscovered the joy of reading a while, napping, waking up and reading some more!

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Note these images were taken before my partner put up the third bookcase last week.

In case you are curious, I am still occasionally getting a “Library Stack” from my local public library, though not as big as the ones I was getting (the ridiculously large stacks like in the post The Library Stack Is Back!) when the library first reopened. Here is my current linrary stack:

Speaking of libraries, some of the second hand books I’ve purchased over the past several months are former library books! I’ve gotten pretty good at removing the library’s plastic dust cover with all their library specific stickers so the books sitting on my home library shelves does not look like I stole them from a library – ha!

As I mentioned earlier in this post I used to listen to a lot of audiobooks. Current I am only listening to podcasts now, taking a break from audiobooks. I am currently enjoying holding a book in my hand and reading it. Quite a different experience. I am taking a break from multitasking in life and just enjoying a solitary task of reading a book!


Postscript

Over the past several months of going to thrift stores to find books for my home library, I’ve come across many curious items for sale at thrift shops. 

Here are my top 5 favorite finds that gave me the chuckle (and I promise you I did not buy any of them):

Number 5: If you need a lamp and a place to store your leftover yarn, would this not be the perfect solution?

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Yes it’s – YARN LAMP!

Number 4: Patriotic pants – they defy any further comment (but my apologies to you if you happen own these…)

My partner John is modeling them

Number 3: Donated photo frames with family photos still in them.

I could not believe how many donated photo frames I came across with family pictures still in them at various thrift stores, like the example below. Wouldn’t you perhaps remove your family photos before donating?!?!?

Number 2: An outfit for a very adventurous and crafty person.

Though it was on display way before Halloween, I think this was supposed to be a suggested Halloween outfit (hopefully as you would get a lot of stares should you select it for a cocktail party…)

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And Number 1 is…

Something that you absolutely cannot imagine living without…

A cattle leg (yes real cattle leg) with hoof attached Barometer!

Yes, now you can remember the favorite steer you raised on your farm and know the current barometric pressure!

My regret is I did not buy it and put it away as the ultimate future “White Elephant” Christmas gift! (Could you imagine the look on someone’s face when they opened their gift!)

Thrift Shop Adventures

An Interesting Find…

I currently have “Corona-virus Blues”, what about you? I was scheduled to go next week to a very exciting conference in Nashville, Tennessee with many fun events, but my employer cancelled all business/corporate travel for the next several weeks because of the virus outbreak.

Even though I am bummed, in the big picture this is not such a big issue as there are many people impacted on a greater scale. My heart goes out to those who are currently infected and recovering as well as to the families of those who’ve loss loved ones due to this outbreak.

And now onto lighter topics such as the awesome find I recently made at a local thrift shop.


It’s been quite a while since I posted anything in my category/series of blog posts Thrift Shop Adventures. I have not done as much thrifting as I used to do in Central Oregon since moving to the Denver metro area in April 2019. I do miss the awesome Humane Society of Central Oregon Thrift Store, where I discovered many delights, such as this find such as the one I mention in this November 2018 post – Awesome $2 Thrift Shop Find.

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All these high end designer fabric samples for $2 from the Humane Society Thrift Shop!

Although it does not replace my beloved Humane Society Thrift Shop, I have discovered a fairly wonderful thrift shop in downtown Denver – Goodwill Denver– Broadway.

Last weekend, while browsing, I stumbled upon an amazing find – all this fabric marked at $12, which I got for 30% off $12 because of the tag color sale (Goodwill does a daily tag color discount that varies from day to day):

2020-03-02_17-53-59_481Inside this bag was a large collection of fabrics by a company called Boundless Fabrics which appears to be primarily sold by Bluprint (formerly known as Craftsy).

2020-03-02_17-47-32_363The package included yardage, precuts (charm squares and fat quarters), a panel (a Moda Fabrics panel) and some odd size fabric scraps.

2020-03-02_17-49-32_9772020-03-02_17-50-17_3572020-03-02_17-53-01_991The pictures above do not do the package as there is enough fabric for several quilts (there are at least 10+ yards of fabric among the yardage).

The fabrics could not be used in one quilt (unless you liked an eclectic mix of styles and patterns) but they could be used for several different quilts.

I looked up reviews on Boundless Fabrics and they higher than the quality of fabrics sold at JOANN Fabrics and Craft Store but slightly below the quality of those sold at quilt shops. But for 30% of $12 (oh please do not make me do the math, ha!) they were not a bad deal!

In case you are wondering I have absolutely no idea of what I am going to do with them, but I put them away for now (smile).


Postscript

Continuing with the theme of “interesting finds”…

For those of you who’ve been blogging for a while – do you remember when you were a new blogger? Remember trying to build your audience? I did it by following other blogs and commenting on posts.

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Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

Over the years (I’ve been blogging nearly 7 years) I’ve met a bunch of cool blogging buddies and regularly follow their blogs.

I noticed that many of us, especially those of us who are crafters, follow the same blogs and it fun to see for example Mary @zippyquilts commenting on a post by Chela @chela’s colchas y mas who just commenting on a post by Mariss @fabrications who had a comment from Laura @laurabrunolilly.com who had commented also on  the blogs I just mentioned!

You get a real sense of community. (And there are many more bloggers in our community, like Claudia @claudiamcgillart, but I just listed a few as an example.)

Well I would like to occasionally introduce/suggest a new member to our crafter blogging community – an interesting blog find I discovered through this blogger commented on my posts:

Sleepy Beagle 

(thesleepybeagleword.wordpress.com/blog/)

Check out this interesting crafter blog if you get a chance and perhaps become a follower and make her part of our community. Her crafting and crafter’s life posts are well written, informative and engaging! This blog is an “Interesting Find”!

Thrift Shop Adventures

Awesome $2 Thrift Shop Find

Howdy.

It’s time to return to blogging after taking a week or so off after 31 days straight of posting to celebrate the tierneycreates blog 5th anniversary for the month of October.

I am going to return to sharing more photos/stories from the quilt retreat I attended the near end of October; and I recently returned from a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico and I have photos and stories to share.

But first, I wanted to share another very cool thrift store find! It’s another entry in my series of posts Thrift Shop Adventures. This post is sort of a follow up to my October 22 post, Awesome $3 Thrift Shop Find. However this time it was an awesome $2 thrift shop find!

A Trip to a Local Charity Thrift Shop

Why I ended up on Saturday at a local thrift shop: I was dropping off a donation of yarn skeins after clearing out my excess yarn stash.

In my master bedroom closet I had two tubs of yarn tucked away. Poor forgotten yarn. 

A couple of years ago I made a commitment to only keep the craft items/materials that I loved and used (see my series of posts My Minimalism Journey) except I appeared to have forgotten about my yarn.

I pulled out the two large tubs of yarn, dumping all the skeins onto the floor and discovered I had yarn that I purchased over 15 years ago, never used, and likely would never use (especially the faux fur type of yarn that was popular for making those furry looking scarves 15 years ago!). I was able to put together a large package of yarn skeins to donate to a local charity thrift shop.

After pulling out all the yarn I would never use, I decided to put the yarn I would like to make something with (someday) somewhere besides tucked away in tubs in the back of my master bedroom closet.

So I organized (and I use that term loosely) the yarn skeins in the closet of my studio which I keep open most of the time:

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So with my remaining yarn organized, I headed off to a local thrift shop to donate the yarn I did not need.

A Yummy Find

After dropping off my donation at the donation area in the back of the thrift shop, I figured it would not hurt to just peek inside, quickly (smile), the thrift shop.

Once inside I immediately headed to the crafts section and what did I find – a large bag of beautiful home decorating samples:

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I could barely contain my excitement when I saw the price on the bag – two dollars! So the bag and I headed up to the counter to pay and I gleefully left the thrift shop with my prize!

Inside the $2 Bag

It was difficult not to open the bag and look inside in my car, but I knew I should wait until I got home and could fully enjoy the discovery of what waited inside.

Inside were many beautiful home decor fabric samples, like these ones below that were from New York City:

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And here are photos of a sampling of the other samples, as I was putting them away in the container where I keep home decor samples (which is now full…):

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Included in the package were beautiful swatches of raw silk, gorgeous embroidered fabrics, velvets and other wonderful textures.

Who knows what I will do with these fabrics, for now I am just happy to have them in my recycled fabrics collection and appreciate that someone donated them for someone else to enjoy rather than having them end up in the landfill.

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harmony1.com

A Crafter's Life, My Minimalism Journey, Thrift Shop Adventures

Shameless “Thrifting”

Check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s page SchnauzerSnips for her latest musings. 


MY HISTORY WITH THRIFTING

I titled this post “Shameless ‘Thrifting'” as I used to be ashamed to go into thrift stores. I would avoid them at all costs and despite hearing stories from friends about the cool items they discovered for a very low cost at thrift shops.

My shame did not come from fear that people would think I was poor and needed to shop in a thrift shop, it came from once being quite poor and a thrift shop being the only option for clothes, household items, etc.

I put myself through pre-med and then nursing school (when I decided to become a nurse instead of a physician as I had originally planned) when I was in my late teens to my early 20s and I had no disposable income. At one point I was working 40 hours a week (at night as a Home Health Aide) and going to school full-time. It is a long story (related to why my family did not have resources to help me with school) but I obviously made it through (and met Terry, the future “Quilting Husband” while I was in nursing school).

Although we have likely donated thousands of dollars’ worth of no longer used items to charity thrift stores, I refused to shop at thrift stores. To me they represented the poverty I once experienced (and never wanted to experience again), so I stayed away from them. I was all about being able to buy the new things I wanted to buy, when I wanted to buy them (before embracing the Minimalism movement).

A couple of years ago, my a friend introduced me to the fun of discovering cool cheap high quality fabric and antique fabric finds at thrift shops! My sister, who has an excellent sense of style and is a wonderful dresser, also encouraged me to explore thrift shops (She has discovered many incredible inexpensive clothing finds, including “designer” brands).  Inspired by my friend and my sister, finally I realized that shopping at thrift stores not only makes good financial sense, but it is very “green”. Instead of items going into a landfill they can be reused by someone else (and the purchase benefits charity organizations – it is a “win-win”).

Concurrently with my sister’s and friend’s influence, over the years my consumerism fueled drive to purchase “new shiny things” has ended. I started to choose experiences over things and realizes new shiny things only bring temporary and fleeting joy. Real joy comes from say a quiet walk in nature or cup of tea with a friend. This is one of the reasons why we have donated likely 30 – 50% of our stuff now to charity organizations.


THRIFT STORE SATURDAY!

So this past Saturday I decided I wanted to go wander around our local thrift store and hunt for fun deals. I had a desire for “Retail Therapy” but in an inexpensive and “green” way. Here is what I found during my Saturday adventure visiting Goodwill, Humane Society Thrift Shop, and the Hospice Thrift Shop (benefiting Central Oregon Hospice).

Goodwill

I know there is some controversy about the Goodwill Industries organization but their mission seems on the surface to be pretty darn wonderful. I spent the first part of the my “Shameless Thrifting” Adventure, wandering around Goodwill.

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Shoes! I could not believe how many nice pairs of shoes were at Goodwill at very cheap prices. I am not that into fashion, being a telecommuter and outdoorsy kind of person (I prefer a comfortable outfit and pair of shoes) but if I were I would know where to get lovely designer shoes very cheaply!

After I was done entertaining myself with looking at shoes, I went to visit the fabric section (especially after the find from my last visit – see the post Mysterious Thrift Store Fabric Find).

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I did not find anything interesting in the linens and fabric section. However I did return again to the shoe section just browse it for fun; and to think about how much money women spend on new shoes that they only wear for a short period of time. I bet most of the shoes sitting on the shelves of the Women Shoe Section of Goodwill at one time gave some woman a fleeting sense of happiness and temporary “new purchase high”. And now they were sitting on the shelf for $6.99 a pair (note – this Goodwill store appeared to only sell used shoes which were in very good condition).

Humane Society Thrift Store

I left Goodwill empty handed and ventured onto the Humane Society Thrift Store where I entertained myself browsing their used vinyl record collection. While browsing, I stumbled upon this record which brought back some major memories from my childhood:

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Yes when I was a pre-teen I was a HUGE Barry Manilow fan. I cannot believe I am admitting this (and putting it in writing), but while some pre-teens were crazy for Michael Jackson or Donny Osmond, I was all about Barry Manilow! I remember the joy of getting a new Barry Manilow record as a kid. (Are you so shocked you have to unfollow my blog now?!?! Can I ever regain your respect?!?!)

A young couple who was browsing in the same section, looked at me with curiosity as I was photographing this record. I can only imagine what they were thinking, ha!

Now, I did not buy the Barry Manilow record. However I did leave the Humane Society Thrift Store with 3 used SAQA Journal Magazines (from 2011 and 2012 before I was a SAQA member) and 5 buttons (for future miniature kimonos). A purchase that totaled $1.

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Hospice Thrift Shop

I ended my thrifting adventure at the Hospice Thrift Shop. I did not purchase anything this thrift shop, but I was very entertained looking at their used craft supply section. My favorite item: not only did someone donate their yarn but they must have said “screw it, I am done with this knitting thing” and they donated the piece in progress still on the knitting needles!

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Summarizing My Saturday Shameless Thrifting Adventure:

  • Time spent browsing = 2.5 hours
  • Money spent = $1
  • Fun (the thrill of the hunt), giggles, and insight = priceless!

POSTSCRIPT

I do not regret the time in my life when I had little financial resources. It was during this time that I learned to cook as I could make my own food from scratch (much cheaper than purchasing pre-made food). For example, I learned to bake my own bread from discounted flour I bought at wholesale from a food coop I volunteered at (to get wholesale prices on food).

Also I learned at an early age how to budget and manage resources; and also how to stay away from the pitfalls of credit card debt.  My life could have been easier by taking out a large school loan but I worked my way through school instead (there was no partying or goofing off during my time in college) so I had a minimal student loan to pay when I graduated (yes and sigh, no wild college parties memories but that is okay).

But most important though, is I learned to appreciate everything I have, as everything I have was earned through my effort and hard work.

I do believe through struggle comes growth.

A Crafter's Life, Thrift Shop Adventures

Mysterious Thrift Store Fabric Find

Earlier in the week I went to drop off a donation of no longer needed items to one of our local thrift stores.

There was a long line at the “drive thru” drop off donation area (good to see so many people in town making their lives lighter of stuff!),  so I decided to park at walk in my donation. After dropping off my donation, since I had already parked, I figured it would not hurt to go into the thrift shop and look around…

Naturally I went directly to the donated fabric section of the thrift shop and after a bit of rummaging discovered a yard of a lovely Asian print I thought would make great kimonos.

I am careful on thrift store fabrics of quilting weight material and always check the manufacturer name on the selvage (end/label area) of the fabric. This print had a name I had never heard of – Watex – but it the fabric felt like a high quality Hoffman Fabrics style Asian print, so I bought it (yes my huge $1.99 investment).

Returning home, I tried to google “Watex” and could not find anything of use other than it appears to be a Japanese fabric and several people were selling “Vintage Watex” on eBay and Etsy. The word “Watex” on the selvage was surrounded by Asian language characters, so I guessed the fabric was manufactured somewhere in Asia.

Below are photos of my fabric find, let me know if you have ever heard of Watex fabrics!

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If the fabric’s origins/manufacturer remains a mystery, it will still be great fabric for a future miniature kimono or other project.

Audiobooks and Podcasts, My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life, Sunflowers!

The Space in Which We Live

Sometimes a statement really resonates with you…

I am currently listening to the audiobook of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Kondo, 2014).

The author, Marie Kondo makes a very powerful statement when she discusses letting go of mementos from our past:

The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.

This book is not your average “here is how you organize your stuff type of book”. It takes a very different and profound approach on dealing with clutter, permanently. Getting rid of physical clutter helps free your mental clutter. I have already experienced this through starting to work through this book.

Marie Kondo approaches dealing with “your stuff” in a very beautiful way. In a way that honors your stuff and the happiness or the function it may have brought you in the past.

Her process requires that you physically touch every single thing you own and decide honestly: “does this bring me joy?”

Her process also involves thanking those things that you give up for what role they played in your life and then letting them go. (This all may sound strange but it is not, it feels very right and very peaceful).

Completed “Phase One”

I have made it through the first phase – letting go of clothing I do not need (she has a specific method and order in which you deal with different categories of your stuff). Two big things happened yesterday: 1) I took a huge carload of clothing and other random stuff to the Humane Society Thrift Store; and 2) I got rid of MY DRESSER!

Our bedroom always felt kind of cluttered with two dressers (my dresser and my husband’s dresser). My 25 year-old dresser blocked part of the area I use to get out of bed. My husband was able to make space for my undies and socks in his dresser. Everything else (including old socks and undergarments not in the best condition) was either discarded, donated or folded/hung up in the closet.

I did touch each item, determine if it brought be joy, and thanked those that did not (bring me joy) for their service before discarding them. We placed my dresser outside on the curb and 5 minutes later it was gone (I believe the Universe gave it to the person who needed next)! Suddenly with the dresser gone, the bedroom appeared to have better flow and energy. I now have room next to the bed to put out my yoga mat in the morning!

Unbelievably freeing experience, so far

You must read or listen to this wonderful book for this all to make sense, and it will. I highly recommend this book and the “Eastern Philosophy” influenced perspective of letting go of the stuff that clutters our lives and our minds.

I continue to work on letting the space that I live be for the person I am becoming now, not for the person I was in the past.

Random pretty sunflower which you will have time to enjoy once you declutter your life ;-)
Random pretty sunflower which you will have time to enjoy once you declutter your life 😉