Saturday, May 26, 2007

Design On A Dime

Spent some time in Atlanta the past few days ... or "Hotlanta" as it's known here in the South. Watching my daughter give a presentation for The Ohio State University at the Sheraton Downtown Atlanta was thrilling to say the least. She is the Program Manager and Coordinator for the Next Chapter Book Club. The program is part of OSU and she spoke to educators from all over the country on how to set-up and the benefits of New Chapter book clubs in their area for adults with mental disabilities. A wonderful weekly event held in coffee shops, tea rooms, and bookstores that's catching on throughout the U.S. I look for Jillian to appear on the Today Show at some point in time.

The next morning, Michael and I headed a few miles north of Atlanta to Barrow County, the new homestead of my parents ... and wow! What a spread. The new house is really something. Meandering the winding sidewalk up to the veranda reminds me of something you'd see in any southern movie. Mama has got this Georgia-presentation down pat. Twelve-foot ceilings, heart-pine floors, and antiques out the wazoo. The house is spread out on one floor. My parents now in their 70s, finally have the home of their dreams. I hope it doesn't take me that long.

Of course, little sister Kathy lives just five minutes away in a stately spread. We also toured her new house. She moved from just a few miles away to this new house. Beautiful, to say the least. The sprawling grounds are in the process of being replanted and landscaped. But I expect the next time I'm in Atlanta the place will look like something out of Southern Living or House Beautiful.

My family, I swear. If there is one thing we know how to do, it's decorate. We may not know much else, but we sure got the skinny on interior design. It's like an extra gene in our DNA. My mama, my sisters, and I can look at a bare room and in seconds -decorate it in our heads. We can walk into any antique shop, dollar store, or flea market and hone in bargains that will make a room pop. Let me tell you, Martha Stewart does nothing my sisters haven't done better. All of us have our own style, mine being closer to my mama's. We kick-butt when it comes to two things ... cooking and room design. Don't ask us about Finance or Politics. But we know our stuff when it comes to Chicken Pie and Shabby Chic.

And I think it's been passed down to the next generation, as all my 6 nieces and my daughter inherited a great eye for room couture. HGTV is our favorite TV channel. But truthfully, my family has been "designing on a dime" for decades.

Speaking of which, every Friday morning during spring and summer, Michael and I hit the local roads in search of deals. Coffee in hand and road map on our lap, it's the morning we go on the ever-exciting search for "buried" treasures. In garages. It's garage sale time! Yesterday, we found some real steals. A moving sale produced a Christmas quilt, an antique bowl, a copper bird feeder, a great black table, three paintings, a Longenberger basket filled with unique Christmas ornaments, a porcelain tea-pot, and a few other items I can't think of at the moment, all for $40.

They say one man's trash is another man's treasure. It's certainly the case in my family. We'll recycle our garage sale finds in years to come in our own garage sales, but in the meantime, we enjoy the adventure of going to them. The folks are friendly, they usually will deal with you on the price, and you walk away with something for a better price than you'd find in any store! My dad just bought a great flat-screened TV for his study last week for $25 at a garage sale. It's great!

Garage sale etiquette is important. Be friendly, have fun, and realize that not every house sells great stuff. Some garage sales are pure crap meant for the garbage truck. But most have hidden treasures. Develop an eye for them. And not all "rich people" neighborhoods give you the best deals. We stopped at a moving sale in Steeple Gate yesterday. A hoity-toity part of town. Big joke. These folks don't know how to "do a garage sale." Avoid these areas. They pay high prices for their stuff, so when they have a garage sale, they think their stuff is worth a high price. Not so. They need to learn a garage sale is a garage sale, no matter where you live. There are a plethora of them every week. So don't waste your time in hoity-toity neighborhoods.

Go to nicer neighborhoods in middle class America. You walk up to the house, it's clean, the garage is organized, and the people who live there smile and welcome you.

Guaranteed, you'll walk away with something you probably don't absolutely need, but for pennies on the dollar, you've got something you really like. I've seen all kinds of things sold at garage sales. Golf clubs, baby items, puppies, furniture, tires, knick-knacks from A to Z, kitchen items, curtains ... you name it ... we've found it at garage sales.

The end result is "design on a dime." Now we don't buy everything at garage sales. But for fun and flair (and more bang for your buck) ... you've got to think outside the box.

And you can get some great ideas for stories, too! Read my story, Vernell Paskins, Mobile Home Queen.

Blessings to you and yours.

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