Ella and I go garage saling once a year.  Ok, we may stop at an occasional sale here and there, but we really gear up for one day.  We get $40 out of the bank and see what we can find. 

We have really good luck at garage sales, but we do follow a few rules:

1.  Don't buy anything you won't use, no matter how cheap it is.
2.  Don't buy anything with stains.
3.  No bathing suits or underwear.

We also have a few techniques:

1.   Only go to garage sales in neighborhoods nicer than ours. 
2.   Look on Craig's list and in the paper and then plug them into the Garmin by location.
3.   Never go to perpetual garage sales.

For some reason, we always score majorly at garage sales.  This year was no different.

Here's the booty:
What is all that stuff?

-6 mexican-glass glasses (always wanted them)
-A make-your-own wreaths book
-A NEVER USED leather Wilson purse
-4 meditation shawls (or table cloths, or whatever)
-5 large pieces of fabric for Barbie clothes (you'll see)
-A Barbie jacket
-A Webkinz (WITH THE TAG STILL ON!! (worth $15, purchased for 50 cents)
-4 Shirts for Greg - excellent condition (thanks Lake Mac house)
-1 Sweater for Greg
-A nice tennis racket
-1 Pair of chords for me
-3 Sweaters for me
-1 Shirt
-4 birdhouses (2 have never been used - total $2)
-Long-sleeved V-neck shirt for me
-Dress for Ella
-1 Stout (oops - he's just in the picture checking it out).

Ok, seriously, was that a major score or what? And, I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

We've been living on a budget for a few years now, and moments like this are so rewarding.  It's not all about the money though! Ella and I were very proud of the fact that we are not creating demand for more 'stuff' in the marketplace and that we are re-using items.  How very green of us.

And we walked away with $13.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And, for those keen observers out there (I know you're there somewhere), check out my new kitchen color! Greg painted when Ella and I were away. I LOVE it!! I call it 'Pumpkin', although it's officially called 'Mango'. We have two walls of that and two of chocolate brown.  I love my kitchen!
Going to the town you grew up in is a strange experience, especially when you haven't lived there for 26 years.

When I visit my dad, there are always multiple trips to the town where I was born and spent the first 12 years of my life.  The first time I went back, it was uncomfortable. I couldn't peg it, but it depressed me. 

Now, since we go there a few times a year, I'm finding comfort in it. 

It's still strange to see the house I grew up in:
But, by far, the strongest feeling about being back in Northeastern Michigan is the memory of my grandpa.  Everytime I visit, I try to go to the cemetery.
It happens every time, that, when I step out of the car, I get a lump in my throat and want to cry.  I immediately miss him. 

He was the only grandparent i knew growing up, and he was wonderful to my brother and me. He lived two blocks away, and I'd ride my bike to his house daily in the summer.  Whenever I'd arrive, I knew there would be a Klondike bar waiting for me. Every single time.

If we were going for dinner, something else would be waiting for both me and my brother.  We'd each get a small glass filled with Olympia beer! We thought that was so cool.

I feel him strongly when I'm 'home.'  I think that's why it was so hard to visit before.  But now, it's part of what draws me there.  Feeling close to him is a good thing, even though I miss him terribly.
My Grandpa's House
Part of the sadness for me is that he died when I was 14 years old.  He never met Greg and he never met Ella. He would have loved them both.
It also makes me wonder what Ella's experience will be.  As of now, she has seven grandparents! I had one.  I know she doesn't really understand my emotions on these 'home' trips, but she sees me going through them.

I hope she makes peace with her home as I have when she's an adult. There are a lot of good things there.
This is my kitchen.
I know it's a little cluttered. I'm beyond apologizing for it! I love our kitchen and dining room - they are two of our most lived-in rooms.

Speaking of my dining room, here it is:
Here's a view of both and how they work into my living room:
Here's the quandary - we're due for a paint job... I love changing my house around.  I get sick of things quickly and painting is one way to dramatically (and cheaply) change a room.  It helps that I have my very own journeyman painter in the house (it's true! Before chiropractic school, Greg was a union painter!).

So, we're going to paint our kitchen and dining room - here are some options....

Chocolate brown and lime green:
I LOVE chocolate brown
Sunburst Yellow & Orange...
Terra Cotta and creme...
Chocolate brown and light lime green... (this picture doesn't do the color justice).
I also like the pre-fab brochure from the paint department...
Did you see Greg in the first few pictures? Wonder what he was doing? Making us dinner, of course!  I thought these peppers might be good inspiration for colors too!
Please use the comment option to give me your opinions! You don't have to leave your real name if you don't want to....I'm just looking for suggestions.

I can't believe I'm sharing this....but, this is what my bathroom looks like about a week after cleaning it.
This is under my sink...
But THEN, my true love, my handiest handyman, my guy....built me THESE!!!
I love them. I need them.  My sanity needs them.  I couldn't wait to organize....and, remarkably....I couldn't wait to clean.  Crazy.

Stout was thrilled with the new shelves.
I was thrilled with everything about them.  Finally, my bathroom was organized...
And...the grand finale.
Isn't amazing what three little shelves can do?

And, in case you noticed and were wondering - yes, I do collect meditating animals. I absolutely love them!

Snow Day



We just received the news....Ella has a snow day today.

I'm jealous.

On snowy days, we get to do this:
And I get to be with these folks....
Or, if it's too nasty, we get to do fun inside stuff like paint our faces...
But...not for me.  Today, It will take me twice as long to drive to work and twice as long to drive home....and then I'll get to spend time with them. 

It's hard to be away when you know you're family is at home!  At least Ella's joy (when she wakes up) will be enough for me too.

Happy Snow Day!
This is Mojo. He is going to take a bath.  Mojo isn't crazy about baths.  "Come on, Mojo, it's BATHTIME!!!"
But I have everything ready.....doggy shampoo and lots of big fluffy towels.
"Do I have to? I promise I won't chew on Dad's shoes, Ella's barbies or your scarves anymore!"
OK, Step 1 complete.  Mojo is in the bathroom and his collar is removed.  "No....I haven't changed my mind. You're still taking a bath."
"OK, this isn't so bad....and I'm sure there's a treat coming..."
"There is a treat coming.....right??"
"Of course there is Mojo."
Awe...what a handsome and clean puppy.

As most of you know, animals outnumber humans in our house at this point.  We have a puppy (Mojo), 2 cats (Stout & Belle) and a guinea pig (Her Royal Highness Princess Cinnamon).

So, in order to keep a somewhat clean and functioning house, we need some rules.  One rule we strongly try to enforce is:


Seriously. It really grosses me out to have cats on the counter. 

But, there has been a breach of the system, and I didn't even see it happening.  You see, Stout has to be with me all the time (at least he did, before Mojo came along).  One time of day that Stout can count on to spend time with me is dinner time.  He has always sat on the stool at our island while I prepare dinner. 

Then, slowly....very slowly... I realized that he was bending the rules.  He knows he's not completely allowed to be on the counter, so ......this is what he does now:
He doesn't jump up.  He just stands there visiting with me.

It's automatic now.  As soon as I start pulling ingredients out of the fridge, my cooking buddy is there in that position. 

Who says cats aren't loyal...and smart??
So, we're still trying to understand this puppy Mojo and what drives him.  One day, his training goes very smoothly and it's obvious he's learned everything.  The next day...it's gone! And the next? Miraculously re-learned.

Mojo loves his bed. When we went to the pet store, we put at least 5 beds on the floor.  He immediately went for one.  He got up, tried all of the other ones and came back to the first choice.  I also thought it was the least attractive one, but....it was his bed, so we got it for him.  We put it in the cart, and him in it.  WIthin 1 minute, he was sound asleep...in the bed...in the cart.  Like I said, he loves his bed. 

After Christmas, we moved our furniture around. During dinner, we like him to lay in his bed, so he doesn't learn to beg.  Well, all of the sudden, he wouldn't lay in his bed! We kept bringing his toys to his bed and telling him to lay down. He would, but would immediately get up and come to the table.  We tried treats, chewies, you name it....

Then, the thought occurred to me.  With the new layout, he couldn't see us while he was in his bed.  So I moved it to where he could see us and...
Good Boy!  What a treasure of a puppy we have!
There must be something pretty exciting going on out there...Stout won't look away and his ears and tail are twitching.
Even Belle is intrigued...
Oh, hello Squirrel.  You must be causing this scene.
Or is it the cardinals?
Could be those giant blue jays...
Must be the whole gang...At least our indoor-only cats (except for Stout's escape attempts) are entertained for awhile. 

Summer and Winter, Spring and Autumn...we love our backyard friends.
A sign on I-75 (yes, I took it while driving!)
We were warned...many times.  People could not understand why we would move back to Michigan after living in two of the most thriving areas in the country. 

We lived in Bellingham, Washington (just north of Seattle) for a few years while I completed my undergraduate degree.  Then, we moved to Minneapolis to go to graduate school (where we also had Ella).  We loved both places and miss them a lot.

Since there are only a handful of Chiropractic schools in the country, Greg didn't want to start his career near one - too much competition.  So, when he graduated, it was time to find a place to really start our professional lives.

The conversations began....and everything in my heart led me to one destination: Michigan.  Greg wasn't so sure. We both grew up in Michigan (I in the North, him in the South). We drew a big circle with a 350 mile radius around our Michigan family...we researched every possible city, but still... I was drawn back to Michigan.

Greg was skeptical (probably still is), but I knew that it's the only place I'd feel at home, and it is. I didn't need to be in either of the towns I grew up in, I just needed to be in her borders.

And, he did it...mostly for me. The economy of Michigan has taken its toll on us - with both of us suffering job losses in the first 4 years of being here.  Still, I am so grateful to be here. I am grateful for the great lakes and walking the beaches, I am grateful for the work ethic and friendliness of the people here.  I am grateful for the millions of beautiful places all within a day's drive. I am grateful for my family - most of whom live here.  Moving here has also given Ella a piece of her history, where she learns about her grandparents and her grandparents' grandparents. 

So, yes, today on the radio I heard that Michigan is one of 9 states likely to be a 'financial disaster.'  Am I surprised? No.  Do I have faith in this great state? Yes.  I really do love Michigan. It's in my blood.  I feel at home here - no matter which corner of the state I'm in.

After all, I am and always will be...a Michigan girl.

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    My name is Kristen Porter ~ I am a corporate attorney by day, and a writer/artist/renaissance-woman wanna-be by night. 

    This is my blog...my summary of life and attempt to capture small moments forever while appreciating their impermanence.  Those small moments are what make life so wonderful!

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