Thank You, RicDaddy. Happy Veteran’s Day.

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Better looking every year compressedIt’s Veteran’s Day. Flags are flying and the words, “Thank you for your service” can be heard all around.

I like Veteran’s Day because it gives me a chance to remember how fortunate I am. You see, I’m the wife of a retired veteran. A rather hot Navy pilot, to be exact. Fortunate doesn’t even begin to cover it, if ya know what I mean. (wink wink)

There are a plethora of blogs out there documenting military life. In all my 25 years as a Navy wife I never wrote one. But I do want to pull back the curtain a bit and offer a glimpse into some of our memorable moments with our very own Navy vet, my dear hub.

**Editorial note: I had to scan some of these pictures, so the pic quality isn’t stellar, but the content is.

First of all, you need to know the hub’s call sign. It’s RicDaddy. And even though he’s retired, I still call him that. Call signs, like nicknames, tend to stick. I’m planning on teaching our grand kids to call him RicDaddy. And, given my side of the family’s propensity to struggle with “Rs”, he’ll forever be known as IckDaddy. It will be hilarious.

So, what’s it been like being married to and raising kids with RicDaddy?

Well, for starters, I got to see my guy in some pretty sweet uniforms. There is the flight suit…

This was taken in the era of Top Gun. Only my guy is legit.

RicDaddy was a member of the enlisted ranks for 10 years as an Aircrewman. I met this young stud on the beach in Pensacola.

This was taken in the era of Top Gun. It’s pretty much what hooked me. I’m not gonna lie.

Then he went to Officer Candidate School.
Cue Officer and a Gentleman music in five…

four…

three…

two…

Yep, that's my guy on the left. Hubba hubba.

That’s my officer, who is a real gentleman, by the way, on the left.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, that uniform affects women exactly the way you think it does.)

Flight school in Enid, Oklahoma

But there’s just something about a flight suit…

Flash forward: Top Gun might be old and a tad cheesy, but I’m pretty sure it’s imprinted into every young man’s DNA, nonetheless.

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RicDaddy’s flight suits getting “worked” on Halloween. Second in the desert digs on the left and Third wearing the at-sea digs on the right. The kid in the middle is their friend/bro in crime.

Now, if your dad’s in the Navy, you might have some pretty suspicious looking dudes hanging around the house once in a while.

Second wanted these guys OFF his trampoline.

Third sizing up the nefarious characters sitting on his trampoline. He wants them to move.

But at least you get to take cool pictures with your dad when he gets his wings.

RicDaddy and First.

RicDaddy and First.

RicDaddy with a very smiley Second.

RicDaddy and Second.

Third scraped his knee running to the plane. Poor Second.

RicDaddy with Third, who scraped  his knee running to the plane.

And those wings? Well, I got the honor of pinning those on RicDaddy. You see, when I met him eleven years prior (see first studly picture at the top of this post) he told me he would be a pilot one day. Those were some pretty bold words coming out of the mouth of an E3 sailor.

But I knew him. I hadn’t known him long, but I already knew what was inside the man we would call RicDaddy. So I went out and bought him his solid gold Aviator wings. They sat in a box in our dresser for eleven years.

And then I got to pin them on.

Never once doubted I'd get to do this.

Never once doubted I’d get to do this.

Turns out, he got me my own set of gold wings on a gold chain.

Yes, he's that kind of guy.

Yes, he’s that kind of guy.

(sniff) It still gets me.

And once your dad’s a pilot you get to go see him at work and play with some pretty cool toys.

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Second holding the center line in the simulator.

First  doing touch and go's

First doing touch and go’s in the Sim.

And, years later, when you’re older and dad’s a big shot, you get to spend a week on an aircraft carrier!

First literally steering the USS Abraham Lincoln.

First literally steering the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Or make yourself comfortable in the captain's chair.

Second made himself comfortable in the captain’s chair on more than one occasion.

Third sleeping in his dad's bunk on the ship.

Third crashing in his dad’s bunk on the ship.

No, it hasn’t always been rainbows and butterflies living this Navy life. I mean, there are deployments and more moves than you can count on two hands, but I know none of us would change a thing.

Back in the day when RicDaddy went through boot camp he was told, “Your family isn’t packed in your sea bag!” which means, the Navy is first, your family is second…if you’re lucky. RicDaddy warned me about this.

I steeled myself.

I was ready.

But it never turned out that way. Sure, RicDaddy packed many sea bags and went on many deployments, but we never felt like he really left us. Maybe that’s because, in the midst of everything the Navy demanded of him, he purposed to inextricably weave us into the very fiber of his being, and he into ours.

Because that’s the kind of man he is.

Because he’s this kind of dad…

RicDaddy and Third working on school together.

Working on schoolwork with Third.

RicDaddy teaching Second how a man navigates in the kitchen.

Teaching Second how a man navigates in the kitchen.

Because his kids were never in the way.

RicDaddy getting some help from First during one of our many moves.

Getting some help from First during one of our many moves.

Because, no matter how arduous his training, RicDaddy wasn’t going to miss any milestones.

RicDaddy during flight school takes a break to teach First how to ride a bike...on the Corpus Christi beach.

During flight school, taking a break from studying to teach First how to ride a bike…on Corpus Christi beach.

Because the biggest events in his life aren’t big events if his family isn’t by his side.

RicDaddy with Third.

Holding Third on the night of his winging.

Second on RicDaddy's arm at his commissioning. (Blurry, but you get the idea.)

Second on his arm at his commissioning.

For 27 years RicDaddy served his country in exemplary fashion, but his greatest accomplishment was how he served, ministered to, and protected our three sons and me. Not just from harm globally and close to home, but from feeling fractured and empty when he was gone. Even when deployed, RicDaddy was the glue that kept us close. And we felt safe because of that.

That kind of thing can only be accomplished by a man who holds his family deep in his heart…and lives it out.

So, Happy Veteran’s Day, RicDaddy. Thank you for your service to our country. And our deepest thank you for your commitment to your family.

Retirement day.

Retirement day. Yes, that uniform still makes me blush.

Turning Failure into Accomplishment: It’s All About Perspective

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I could be this woman (except she has better hair) and feel bad for not succeeding at the 31 Days Challenge, but...

So, for reasons still fuzzy to me, I thought I could actually do the 31 Days Writing Challenge while in the throes of setting up an estate sale.

Silly me.

What was I thinking?

Since I’m not in the habit of beating myself up (OK, I am, but not today), I’m choosing to not feel badly about my little failure. In fact, I feel more like this…

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Even though I didn’t manage to eloquently chronicle the inside baseball of estate sales for the last 20-some-odd days like I had hoped, I can at least share what I have managed to accomplish.

And it’s no small feat.

In fact, it’s a feet-in-the-sand kind of accomplishment.

You see, my #2 and I turned this…

Yep, it's a sty.

Yep, it’s a sty.

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I actually tell clients to leave their houses trashed like this. I’m a special kind of crazy.

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Cabinets are full. The explosion is about to ensue.

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Much of the time was spent not being able to walk through the hallway.

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All kinds of treasures just waiting to be found…and cleaned.

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Yes, this gives me a thrill…and a sense of foreboding. I’m flexible like that.

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To be fair to my clients, they are usually going through Hades. So leaving a mess behind is the least of their problems. I tell them to make the mess my problem. And, like the good clients they are, they comply.

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I’m a pathological bibliophile, but this room full of books nearly broke me.

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Into this…

Staging is what we are known for.

Staging is what we are known for.

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My favorite little spot in the house.

My favorite little spot in the house.

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I don’t yet have full-room shots of the finished product. I take those the day before the sale and send them to the client.

Ours is a sweaty and dirty job, but we kinda like it…for reasons that are still fuzzy to us.

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More than one and the reasons get fuzzier.

Here is the blog that I put out to my email list and other media outlets that I advertise in. (The blog alone takes an entire day!)

Fabulous Heart of Edmond Estate Sale

Congrats to all you gals who met your 31 Days goal! My hat is off to you!

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Watching Your Own Surgery is Not Advised

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If you are in the position of needing to hire an estate sale company there are two key things you must do.

First: Go through the estate and take out everything you want to keep from furniture and knick knacks to pictures and documents. Do a thorough job of this. Call cousins, aunts, uncles, and long-lost relatives. Heck, call your ex if need be. Just make sure to remove from the house everything the family wants to keep.

Second (and most importantly): Hand the keys to the estate sale company and walk away.

Walk away. You have enough to deal with already.

Give yourself this freedom.

Seriously.

Walk.

Away.

If you’ve hired a company worth their salt this will be possible. You are not paying them to just liquidate the estate and get you the most out of it financially, you are paying them for peace of mind and the ability to take the burden of the estate off your plate.

It’s for your own good. Really.

I’ve had estates in which the family didn’t walk away. It’s traumatic for the family and (please don’t be offended) it’s pencil-to-the-eyes frustrating for us. (Think mother-in-law advising you on how to raise your kids level of frustration.)

Why should I walk away? I mean, it’s my family’s stuff, right? Shouldn’t I guide the process, give input, and monitor the goings on?

No.

But…

Nope.

Shouldn’t I…

I said, no.

Why not?

There is no nice way to say this, so I’ll just lay it out there:
You don’t want to see what we are going to do to your loved one’s house and the items in it. Period.

Witnessing the mass chaos that will temporarily ensue is tantamount to watching your own surgery. And have you ever watched, saaay…a knee surgery? Thanks to some ghoulish knuckleheads and the miracle of YouTube (and if you’ve got 30 minutes you don’t mind losing) you can gawk at the carnage that animates most operating rooms.

Knee replacement surgery is one of the many modern medical miracles that I’m probably going to be the beneficiary of one day. But that doesn’t mean I want to watch. Trust me, anesthesia isn’t administered just so you won’t feel pain. They give you the mask of happiness with a narcotic chaser in your IV for the sole purpose of rendering you oblivious to the sawing, pounding, and Guns and Roses screeching in the background. Your knocked unconscious so they can filet you and do their job with unapologetic ferocity (aka, a ball peen hammer). It’s how things like knee surgery get done.

We won't go through your house wielding one of these. Promise.

We won’t go through your house wielding one of these. Promise.

After you’re finished being the unwitting victim of some pretty heinous violence (on your behalf, mind you), the doc will walk into your recovery room all grins while he tells you it went swimmingly. And you giggle and grin back and wax with eloquent gratefulness. (Actually, the drug-on-demand controlled by the button the nurse taped to your hand is really doing the talking for you. After they take it away in a few days you’ll feel vaguely violated, more than a little sore, and wondering why Welcome to the Jungle keeps running through your head.)

My point (yes, I have one) is that we in the estate business are a bit like those over zealous docs in the OR. We’ve got a job to do and, trust me, you don’t want to be there when we do it.

For starters, we are going to filet go through every nook and cranny of the estate as we sort and organize. If there are any secrets left behind, we’ll find them. (Don’t worry, I used to be a bartender so I’m good at keeping things on the down-low.)

The house will, at times, look like it was the location of a week long frat party. The fact of the matter is, we trash houses as we work in order to make them look fabulous for the sale.

Your loved one’s furniture will have impersonal price tags on them. (And you’ll think the price isn’t nearly high enough, but it is.)

There will be things you think are precious that stand a good chance of ending up in the trash bin.

In short, we will rummage, rearrange, and toss the estate unapologetically and unemotionally. Having you walk in and cry over grandpa’s tools in the garage doesn’t help either of us. That is why we stress the importance of walking away. Besides, odds are you’ve probably got more than enough to deal with already. Let us be the heavy on this one.

If I’m coming across as having a less than stellar bedside manner, my apologies. I’m a specialist, and we all know how aloof and impersonal specialists can be, right?

OK, not all specialists are aloof curmudgeons.

OK, not all specialists…

But be assured, the detachment on our part is necessary. Just like the surgeon won’t be doing you any favors if he winces and cringes every time he relentlessly slams the hammer down so that shiny new joint gets securely lodged into your bone, we can’t get emotional over your loved one’s things.

So, now that you’ve been given a glimpse into the equivalent of an estate sale OR, you can trust me when I say you don’t need to watch to be pleased with the outcome. We love what we do, we are very good at doing it, but, like surgery, an audience is not advised.

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Pyrex Love: A Confession

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Today was kitchen day at the estate house. Kitchen day is my favorite because I’m somewhat of a kitchen junkie. Retro kitchen junkie, to be exact. Let’s face it, the 50’s, 60s, and 70s were the hey days for kitchens. They were streamlined, rather fuss-free, and practical. Oh so practical.

And they had Pyrex, the epitome of practical.

 Oh, my giddy aunt. I love this stuff.Oh, my giddy aunt.

I’m totally planning on hoarding this stuff.

And, because God loves me like He loves the Yankees, I have access to loads of Pyrex at my estate houses. There really isn’t much in life more fun than snapping on the ol’ latex gloves and rummaging through kitchen cabinets searching for Pyrex. (I say fun, you say sad, tragic, pathetic…just keep it to yourselves.)

My love for extracting Pyrex from the bowels of retired kitchens started with a house we did in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The whole house was a treasure trove from post-Civil war to mid-century, but, like diamonds in the rough, the Pyrex caught my fancy.

From the attic to kitchen cupboards and even in bathroom cabinets.

From the attic to kitchen cupboards and even in bathroom cabinets. My heart was suddenly full.

And that’s where my obsession healthy respect for Pyrex was birthed.

Since I’m new to collecting Pyrex and I can’t buy every piece at my estates sales (gotta leave something for the customers), my collection is rather inglorious and miniscule…

Baby steps toward Pyrex greatness.

Baby steps toward Pyrex greatness.

…compared to some.

Jealousy doesn't even begin to describe...

Jealousy doesn’t even begin to describe…

But I know that through hard work (seriously, those latex gloves are nes/uh/sair/EE) and determination I, too, can have a wall of colorful beauties that I may or may not ever use to actually prepare meals for my family. I mean, I collect stamps (yes, I really do) but that doesn’t mean I’m mailing letters all the time (or ever).

**Legal disclaimer/conscience clearer: Please note that from here on the beautiful Pyrex babies will not be my own but, rather, pics pilfered from the web. However, I love them like they are my own. And that’s gotta count for somethin’ (as Pat Monahan from Train would say.)

So why Pyrex? What’s so special?

Well, for starters, it’s just plain cute.

The most sought-after colors.

The most sought-after colors.

And colorful.

Pretty sure this is what inspired the making of Skittles.

Pretty sure this is what inspired the making of Skittles.

And Pyrex really is practical. Just look at these bowls.

Note the handles that double as pour spouts. Practical.

Note the handles that double as pour spouts. See? Practical.

And there are bowls sans handles.

Look ma! No handles!

Look ma! No handles!

And there are generously-sized casserole dishes of either oval or rectangular shape.

My mom had mushroom wallpaper in our kitchen to match this dish. No lie.

My mom had mushroom wallpaper in our kitchen to match this dish. No lie.

I'm suddenly feeling cakes and brownies.

I’m suddenly feeling cakes and brownies.

And check out these smaller ones for just two people or leftovers. These colorful marvels are great for microwaving.

Dress up those leftovers.

Dress up those leftovers.

And these mini dishes?? They are darling, right?

I use this size for butter.

I use these tiny square ones for butter.

I haven't figured out a use for this size, yet.

I haven’t figured out a use for this size, yet.

Pyrex just makes the kitchen fun once again.

Like my husband says, you enjoy your job more if you have the right equipment. I couldn't agree more.

Like my husband says, you enjoy your job more if you have the right equipment. I couldn’t agree more.

Bottom line: If it works for Joan…

Pyrex was so practical you could be stunning in the kitchen. Really.

Pyrex is so user-friendly you, too, can be stunning in the kitchen. Really.

…it works for me!

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Myth Busters: The Estate Sale Episode

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imageI’m big into mythology. Not creepy into it like I read it every day and name my cat Atlas or Persephone.

Stash. The name is Stash.

Stash. The name is Stash.

But, you know, myths are just kinda cool. But some myths just need to be dispelled, busted, given the old what-for.

Here are some estate sale myths that qualify for the above treatment.

Myth 1:
“Gosh, I bet you make tons of money doing estate sales!”

Fact: Nope, not the case. There is money to be made, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not big money. In fact, I’m thinking of protesting to have my measly minimum wage bumped up to $15 an hour. But then I wouldn’t be able to afford myself and I’d have to charge even more for those vintage doilies. Dang economics!

Any estate sale worth its salt will have doilies.

Any estate sale worth its salt will have doilies.

Myth 2:
“Wow, you must get some cool free stuff.”

Fact: Again, nope. I do get cool stuff, but I pay for it. And because my first loyalty is to my client, I tend to overcharge myself. I recently paid way too much for this little baby at one of my estate sales.

This is beautiful, right? Solid cherry wood. Oh my.

I’m still not over how much I love this piece.

To which my husband exclaimed, “You paid what!? You could have bought it new for less than that!”

To which I replied, “All new furniture is veneer, glue, and particle board. (For the most part, it is.) It was a steal for the quality and size.” That, by the way, is my standard response and it’s almost always true.

Sure, I could cut myself some deals, but I’m one of those narcissists who thinks the whole world is watching her, so I err on the side of pathologically honest. (Besides, God does see me, and His opinion does matter, so, there is that…) So, no, I don’t wait for my clients to drive down the street and then proceed to load up the back of my car. I’m pretty sure that’s called looting.

Myth 3:
“It’s cool to haggle at estate sales.”

Don't be that guy.

Don’t be that guy.

Fact: No, it really isn’t. Unless the sale is south of the boarder somewhere, haggling is very uncool and you run the risk of getting put on the estate sale community’s equivalent of the milk carton. If haggling was expected it would be called a garage sale and a six-year-old selling lemonade would be taking your money. We’re a bit more upscale than that.

A bit.

And if you simply cannot help yourself, (and, really, let’s be honest, who can?) save the haggling for the last day of the sale. By then we’re fried more open to people offering up their suggested selling prices.

Myth 4:
“I feel bad going to estate sales and pawing through a deceased person’s things.”

Fact: OK, this might be more sentiment than myth, but let me put your mind at ease. First of all, the intrusive pawing has already been done. By me. So let yourself off the hook and enjoy. Secondly, the family, in many cases (especially these days) probably needs the money to defray medical, burial, or legal costs. Don’t feel bad buying their Auntie’s stuff. They want you to.

There! Now you can walk into an estate sale with some savvy and a clean conscience.

Enjoy!

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How I Became an Estate Sale Gig Master

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This business takes a special kind of crazy.

The thing I hear the most when I tell people that I have an estate sale business is, “I think that would be so fun.”

I always want to reply, “Really? You think so? How would you like to throw a huge, messy party then, after it’s over, leave your house for a year (and forget to turn on the A/C. Bugs love that.) then come back to clean it up so you can sell it? Because that’s essentially what I do, only on steroids.” (And I’m not invited to the party.)

But that would be snarky. And, besides, it is sorta fun in an exhausting, continually overwhelmed, occasionally grossed out kind of way.

I got into this gig through a friend of mine, Fran. (Her name has been changed to protect myself from her when she realizes I’m writing about this. It’s called plausible deniability.) Fran, who has been doing estate sales for the better part of 15 years, needed some extra help for an extra big sale she was having. The job entailed sorting, organizing, and staging the house. She may as well have said it involved eating dark chocolate and sipping umbrella drinks poolside while marathoning Gray’s Anatomy on a big screen ensconced between two swaying palm trees. It sounded like amazing kinds of fun.

Now you need to know a little bit about me and why trolling through and organizing the items of strangers held such appeal.  I love to organize and stage rooms. When I was a teenager I rearranged my room countless times. Once I even put my bed in the closet. (It was genius, really. But Mom thought it was just plain weird so I had to haul it from the closet and comply with her more conventional tastes.)

And trolling sorting through other people’s stuff? Seriously, who doesn’t love that? Not to be irreverent (and truly, the estates I am entrusted with are handled with the utmost integrity and reverence), but it is darn interesting.

Anyway, it only took one nanosecond of sorting, organizing, and staging Fran’s estate house before I was hooked. With my homeschooling career quickly fading away (Happy dance! Jazz hands!), I was starting to wonder just how I was supposed to fill my time. Shopping gets expensive at some point and I am convinced daytime TV is the reason so many women are on anti-depressants (that and fake sugar. Seriously, I stand by this.) I consulted God more than a few times about the new season fast approaching me. Estate sale gig master was His answer.

I partnered up with Fran for a while and convinced her we could hit the big time. She’s nuts so she was game for giving it a shot. We got super busy and her family got super ragged out because we were gone super a lot. Her kids, because they are younger than mine, ended up cajoling her back into the land of motherhood (where I hear she is quite happy). First, Second, and Third, who really only want need me for the occasional meal and maid service, were encouraging me to go it alone and make the big bucks. (The big bucks part? That’s one of many estate sale myths I’ll tackle in another post.)

So I took the entrepreneurial leap and that is how The Great Estate was born.

I really do enjoy having my own business. There is something mildly intoxicating about being able to call all the shots. But there are also some extremely long, dusty, dirty hours. And because I’m a very compartmentalized person, it can be hard to have a sale hanging over my head when I’d rather do other things…

My neglected Swoon quilt.

My neglected Swoon quilt.

…like quilting my brains out…poolside with dark chocolate…and palm trees…swaying…

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Trash-out Day and the Philosophy of Life

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The other day was Trash-out day. And, as always happens during my long hours cleaning and organizing an estate, I get philosophical.

Organizing estate sales bears close resemblance to, well, life. When you first enter the house with your client and gaze over the little piles of clutter here and there, glance through their cabinets, look under the beds, and do a split-second appraisal of the furniture you think, “This is manageable. No sweat”. (Your client is thinking the same thing, by the way. Their gratefulness and your willingness to tackle the estate combine to put you on par with the divine.) This level of denial is tantamount to doing the pregnant walk through Toys R Us and saying “This is going to be a breeze. And such fun, too!”

Life won’t be mocked like that.

And, of course, this sale did what they all do, it exploded. But that’s life, right?

Right??

I mean, seriously, just when life seems manageable, God declares a Trash-out day. Oh yea, it’s all fun and games until the cabinets get emptied out.

Like life, progress can be a messy business.

Like life, progress can be a messy business.

The above picture was taken during the throes of a Trash-out day. As the name implies, this is when I troll through each room with a huge, heavy duty contractor’s trash bag (I go through a whole box, sometimes) and throw away everything that doesn’t have a prayer of selling. (The pile in the middle of the floor is waiting to be hauled off by Third with his new, big, beefy truck.)

Trash-out day is liberating.

Trash-out day is when the vision for the layout of the sale starts to emerge.

Trash-out day would be darn near Nirvana if the house didn’t explode in the process.

Welcome to my glamorous world.

Boom.

It seem counterintuitive that getting rid of all the trash would leave such chaos behind, but it does. The house has to be rearranged and reorganized for the sale. This takes work, and lots of it. And most of it isn’t real fun.

God has to do more than a few Trash-out days with me. And, like this estate, when He purges I predictably explode and then wonder, “Where did that come from?”  He knew what was lurking in the cabinets and under the beds. He sees the vision of what things could be. He knows about true liberation.

Me? I just want Nirvana, or something equally easy and user-friendly. Purge me if You have to, but let’s not get all messy about it.

Too often I think God is going to handle my life like a cursory meet-the-client-assess-the-house meeting. Too often I minimize the piles and the overstuffed cabinets all the while thinking, “I can handle this. No sweat”. I am repeatedly (willfully?) unaware of the fact that once He starts purging, it’s going to be a big nasty mess before I get put back together again.

And that is how I repeatedly go into each sale, doe-eyed and oblivious, which borders on pathological since the scenario hasn’t changed…ever. But as I slog though the debris of the explosions and try to put an estate back in order, I reminded myself that God is doing much the same in me. And that, plus copious amounts of caffeine, make Trash-out day better than Nirvana.

Nirvana needs a maid.

Nirvana needs a maid.

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31Days To a Great Estate Sale

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Scroll down to read the post for Day One:

I’ll be adding new links for each day.

Day 2: Trash-out Day and the Philosophy of Life

Day 3: How I Became an Estate Sale Gig Master

Day 4: Myth Busters: The Estate Sale Episode

Day 5: Life Happened.

Day 6: Life Happened again.

Day 7: Pyrex Love

Day 8:

Day 9: Rockin’ the Oldies

Day 10:

Day 11:

Day 12:

Day 13: Watching Your Own Surgery is Not Advised

Days 14-26…ummm…welll…

Day 27: Turning Failure into Accomplishment: It’s All About Perspective

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Day One:

Thirty-one days of writing about…setting up an estate sale. I know, it sounds like a snooze, but, seriously, this is the stuff reality shows are made of.

But, first, a bit about the nut (me) you will be dealing with for the next 31 Days.

I’ve been blogging quasi-irregularly since 2005. My first blog was a political one necessitated by mounting frustration over the goings on in D.C. That blog is still up and running, but it doesn’t get much attention. To keep it going on a regular basis requires large quantities of blood pressure medicine, Xanax, and other various forms of escapism. Political blogging these days isn’t for the faint of heart. I still post some pieces at Redstate.com, but honestly, it just makes me grouchy.

From that blog I branched out and started a theological blog. Because I’m such a theological wizard…not. But I thought I was. Looking back I realize that the best thing about that blog was the amazing header I created on Photoshop. Seriously, some of my best work.

I’ve dabbled around Blogger, Typepad, and WordPress pimping for an audience.

Why?

Because I’m a writer.

At least I think I am. I’ve always thought of myself as one. (I haven’t really decided if it’s writing that I like or being read. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.  So does that make me a reader (pronounced ‘redder’)? But I digress…)

Trouble is, I’m one of those writers who has to shut herself away. And I mean away. Away from all distractions…and people. I need a secluded cabin in upstate New York to hole-up in. People really bug me when I’m writing. This isn’t good when you take into account that for the last 17 years I’ve been homeschooling my kids. Not a lot of room for holing up when you’re the full-time schoolmarm.

Now, I know a lot of homeschool moms manage to churn out Merit Scholars and still have a viable writing life. That’s dandy, but it’s not me. (I have a special stink-eye reserved for those women.) When I’m done writing and I emerge from my writing cave, I have the darndest time assimilating myself back among the living, breathing, functional world. It’s not pretty.

So the writing has been sporadic at best. And when I’ve written regularly, I’ve had to drink my sense of accomplishment with a splash of guilt.

But Third is a senior this year and I have given him over to the world of concurrent classes at the local college. In a nutshell, except for some graduation formalities, I’m D.O.N.E. I’m pretty pumped about that. Third is even more so.

I cannot believe that's my youngest, Number Three!

Yep, that’s Third. We kinda like him.

This blog is called A Graceful Exit, and it’s a journal of sorts of my exit (not always graceful, mind you) from my homeschool season into this new “just who the heck am I, anyway?” season.

I was writing pretty regularly but, as my last post in March clearly shows, I had to take yet another hiatus. This time for my estate sale business, The Great Estate.

But, thanks to the 31Days Challenge, I’m back and ready to give you the “inside baseball” or the behind the scenes of setting up an estate sale. This works out perfectly since our next sale is on October 31!

Enjoy!

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March Quilt Completed for Lovely Year of Finishes

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I am so thankful to Sew Bittersweet Designs and Fiber of All Sorts for hosting A Lovely Year of Finishes.

My March finish is the infamous Happy Day Quilt

Meet Happy Day!

Like all proud moms, I will now barrage you with pictures of this quilt from inception (note that I did not say conception, because that would be weird.) to completion.

It all started with a couple Jelly Rolls and some fabric…er…I mean, some Jelly Roll fabrics.

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Moda’s Bobbins and Bits, to be exact.

Then some brain-wavin’ and strategizing.

The brainwave process calls for a total takeover of the dining room.

The brainwave process calls for a total takeover of the dining room.

Then some sashing.

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Then an inspection

This guy is hard to please.

This guy is hard to please.

And my little quilt top was done!

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Now for some layering. This is not my favorite part. Historically, I’m pretty bad at it. But this time I had a plan.

A ping-pong table, masking tape, and spray adhesive. Call if overkill, but it a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

A ping-pong table, masking tape, and spray adhesive. Call if overkill, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

With each layer quite “adhered”, I was ready to try my hand at quilting this bad boy.

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I went for the full monty stippling technique. It’s quite forgiving, which is what I needed.

After sewing on the binding I knelt in prayer while it had its first washing. There was a lot of potential for those colors to run like the wind all over my pretty Kona White sashing. It was a solomn 35 minutes.

But, alas! My baby handled its first bath beautifully.

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Just look at that scrumptious Minky on the back. Wow! I need a grandkid to snuggle up and nap under this…

All joking aside, I’m in love with this quilt. Not just because I think its dang pretty, but because it is a beautiful bundle of motivation. And that’s just what I need as I start my April project.

Happy Day!

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Anything Goes Monday Goes Vintage

 

Stash cat, my assistant-in-training.

Stash cat, my assistant-in-training.

I am officially in the throes of organizing an estate sale. Well, two, actually. And that means that, as predicted, my quilting time is taking a bit of a hit.

**However, I did manage to pump out two hexagon flowers while watching March Madness last night. I’ve got Louisville taking the whole thing.

 

Yes, those are NCAA March Madness brackets. I have three boys and a husband who live, eat, and breath basketball. I live in a locker room...

Yes, those are NCAA March Madness brackets. I have three boys and a husband who live, eat, and breath basketball. I live in a locker room…

But back to quilting. One of my sales has quite the collection of vintage quilts dating back to the 1920’s. Some of the quilts were made by my client, Geri, who is a lovely lady in her late 80’s; it is her estate that I am organizing. Others were made by her mom when Geri was young.

So, for Anything Goes Monday, I will be working on displaying and marketing these historic quilts. That means photographing them for my estate sale website, The Great Estate.

Soooo, wanna see the quilts??

I knew you did.

First up is this gem made by Geri’s mom:

Circa 1920's Dresden Plate.

Circa 1920’s Dresden Plate.

Such a great vintage quilt, right?

Up close and personal.

Up close and personal.

Closer still.

Closer still.

This quilt was, of course, hand pieced. And, because back then, quilts were made to be used and loved…

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…this one has some gently ‘loved’ spots.

I hope all my quilts look like this some day.

I hope all my quilts look like this some day.

The quilting pattern on the back.

The quilting pattern on the back.

Next is this great quilt.

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This one was done by Geri and it was pieced on a very cool 1960’s White (which is a fabulous, retro aqua color) sewing machine. Still sews like a dream.

Circa 1960's.

This quilt is much lighter than the other quilts. I will be asking Geri today exactly when she made it. The back feels like homespun.

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Going back in time to this baby.

Love the blue.

Love the blue.

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Geri's mom favored quilting in a fan pattern.

Geri’s mom favored quilting in a fan pattern.

Again, this quilt was also well-worn with love.

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These quilts are such a great foray into the basic blocks that most of us learned when we were just starting our quilting journeys.

Case in point:

C'mon, who hasn't made this block a couple dozen times?

C’mon, who hasn’t made this block a couple dozen times?

This is another one made by Geri’s mom. I love, love, love the fabrics. Which got me to thinking and remembering that, in many of the very old vintage quilts, the fabrics weren’t meticulously picked out at a quilt store and carefully coordinated. These fabrics were, often times, pieces of other linens or clothing that they put to practical second use.

Sometimes art springs from function, necessity, and plain old ingenuity. Which makes me wonder if, at times, we (I) make the process more complicated and costly than it really needs to be. Just musing….

A closer look at some of the fabrics in this quilt:

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And the simple hand-quilting pattern as seen on the back. I love how puffy it is.

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This next quilt is really amazing.

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Just in time for the Fourth of July. This is a great quilt that deserves another full-scale view.

Told you so.

Impressive.

Hand-pieced glory.

Hand-pieced glory.

And hand-quilted. Oh my!

And hand-quilted. Oh my!

One thing that I have seen quite often in vintage quilts is the use of this in-your-face pink.

Pink on purpose.

Pink on purpose.

I have to admit, I’m not a fan of this pink. My own grandmother and great grandmother used this pink in their quilts as well. But, pink or not, this quilt is still a great look at another tried and true block: the bear paw.

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And, yes, this quilt is old.

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When I finished photographing all the quilts for the sale I got to fold them. Yes, I said, I “got to fold them”, like it’s a privilege or something…because it is.

Admit it. You know what I’m talking about.

Stack of love.

Stack of folded love.

Before I go, I’d like to finish with the last quilt top made several years ago by my dear client, Geri.

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Geri couldn’t finish this quilt because macular degeneration has left her with only minimal peripheral vision. But even with failing sight, she cut the squares and sewed the seams of this quilt with an accuracy I can only hope to achieve one day.

I call that brave.

I call that determined.

I call that love.

 

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