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Scrapbook: Animatronic Rex

19 Jan

A few months ago Isobel and I planned a girls’ day on a Saturday morning. We were going to have breakfast and then hit up a dinosaur exhibition that came to town. Thanks to my newborn’s schedule, we were up and at ‘em an hour before the exhibit even opened. Normally we’d use this time to get in some girls’ only thrifting, but the Annual Community Sale was also that weekend, so we made a stop there first. As you can see, Isobel dressed herself to the nines, wearing Wishing Elephant’s gifted Operation Strong Girl dress, a pin from Let’s Die Friends, an orange tutu, thrifted purse, and one of Mama’s vintage scarves.

The community sale was boom but the animatronic dinosaur exhibit was bust. It was exorbitantly expensive an consisted of nothing even remotely related to educating the public. The animatronic dinosaur room may have housed actual dinosaur replicas, but the other room, with all the games and such, was filled with dino-like stuffed animals, dinosaurs that played guitars, and slightly thematically appropriate bounce houses. It was pretty pathetic, but despite this we had such a fantastic time. It wasn’t too crowded and since we paid so much money I felt justified in letting her dig for dinosaur bones as long as she wanted (45 minutes) and play in the bounce houses until she was exhausted and breathless. We had a blast in the photo op areas and although I tried to get her to see the animatronic exhibit, it was “too scary” and more than a little loud. The event was held at our county fairgrounds and the large concrete-floored room caused the roars of the animals to echo in a deafening way. It was dark and filled with uncannily moving monsters. Isobel took one look and said, hell to the no.

This seems to be a lesson I learn over and over again: it’s not so much what you do, but who you do it with. Between breakfast and thrifting and dino-ish exploring we were gone late into the afternoon, and had ourselves a fabulous time.

Scrapbook: Girls’ Day Community Sale

25 Sep

September is a wonderful time of year. For many it means back to school and the hopeful return of cooler weather, but for me it means something even better: community yard sales. Isobel and I had planned on having what she calls a Girls’ Day, which means just the two of us hanging out for a period of time ranging from a weekend to a few hours. Strict observance of Girls’ Day is much harder to come by now that Elias is here, but we sometimes manage to observe them during his nap time. Today we had a whole morning and into the early afternoon to ourselves while Anthony stayed home and observed Dude Time.

Our plan was to start the day by visiting the animatronic dinosaur exhibit that had come to town, but because children like to get up earlier than is humanly healthy even on the weekends, we discovered we had two hours to kill before it opened. Normally, in a situation like this we’d go thrifting, but today we were in luck as it was the day of the annual community yard sale. Held in the enormous parking lot of one of the local churches it houses over two hundred vendor spots and is packed with people and wares. I’ve snagged some great finds there before (such as Isobel’s original infamous Pink Purse!), but last year was tremendously lackluster. Even if we found nothing to take home I know Isobel and I would have a good time of it, so off we went.


We arrived early and the sale was as packed as usual. Last year seemed to be crowded with yard sale junk that people were trying to sell for ten times its value, so I was wary, but almost immediately I could see that this year would be different. Isobel even brought a dollar in change of her own money, which she is immensely proud of spending, to choose her own special treat. As part of my mission to indoctrinate her into the joys of thrifting, I always let her choose something special (within reason). I actually can’t think of a time where she’s chosen a toy; she seems to gravitate toward random household items that become fixtures in her imagination play as soon as we get home. Girlfriend particularly has an attraction to fake flowers, as well as anything Christmas-related, and so it was no surprise that she gravitated immediately to a poinsettia bouquet arrangement in the first stall we visited. She also clutched onto a small plush Christmas stocking, the kind you might buy for a pet, and I negotiated both of them for Isobel’s own dollar.

Our favorite stall this year wasn’t a regular yard sale booth nor was it strictly a vintage vendor. Rather it was a blend of the two, run by two friendly Chinese-American women around my mother’s age. Their mother had passed away some time ago, leaving them the contents of what must have been a spectacularly preserved vintage pad. And her closet, oh my god, her closet, nothing but pristine, drool-worthy pieces from the fifties and sixties. Instead of hosting an estate sale, the two sisters did some vintage sleuthing and were selling the wares at places like this. They were newbies when it came to vintage, and very enthusiastic.  Their prices rivaled that of an antiques store and our budget was slim, so I was allowed only to purchase one two dollar silk scarf from their extensive collection. The clothes were so great though, and fairly (if somewhat steeply) priced. They weren’t in my size, which saved some agony on my part, but a little piece of me did die for not picking up a stack of these plastic vintage cups ($12).


The clothes were all just amazing, and I heard one shopper remark on how great they were “as far as used clothing goes,” which is probably the most derisive back-handed compliment about thrifting I’d ever heard. Practically my entire outfit that day was made up of used clothing, and I was rocking it. You can tell from the photo above all the amazingness that was packed on to one half of a rack, and there were four. The scarves in the photo alone are enough to haunt me with regret.


One of the greatest things for sale at that booth was a 1950s diner waitress-style apron in bumblebee yellow with four pockets on the front labeled Tips, Complaints, Suggestions, and Compliments. I couldn’t stop talking about it until finally one of the sisters pulled it off the rack and stuck it behind her table to take home with her. I didn’t mean to, but I ended up talking her into buying her own apron.

A recent trend at sales like this is to purchase whole storage lockers that have been forfeited by their owners. I always find this exciting because I don’t shy away from getting my hands dirty and doing a little digging. The surprising things you find are generally also a surprise to the people hosting the sale. Best of all, it’s not personal, so no one says, “Oh, I’m asking more for this because it was one of my favorites” (I don’t care, and neither do you, you’re selling it), and because it’s not personal, everyone is free to laugh at the weird stuff without embarrassing anyone or hurting their feelings.


It is inevitable that in a sale of this magnitude that we find some exceptional specimens of thrift store gore. In fact, a seller actually threatened me with one. I was taking a photo of the framed poster below that I have named Clown Horror when the older gentleman who was running the booth started yelling at me for taking pictures. He stopped, though, the moment he saw I was taking a photo of the clowns instead of his precious framed John Wayne posters. I’m still confused as to why, but that’s a mystery that will remain unsolved. The clown poster looked like something that would go for $5 at a county fair, and the vendor told me I wasn’t allowed to take photos of anything at his booth except for the clown poster. Then he offered it to me for $15, saying he normally asks for $20. I told him we were just browsing and then he told me I could have it for $5 when Isobel shouted out I HAVE A DOLLAR. He then tried to sell it to her for a dollar when she shouted I ALREADY BOUGHT THESE FLOWERS FOR CHRISTMAS. He turned and tried to sell it to me for a dollar. I told him we weren’t interested, grabbed Isobel, and made a hasty escape.


It was the first time anyone so aggressively tried to pawn off their wares on us for so cheaply, also the first time someone tried to convince my five year old to buy something.

Bonding over thrifting, or as we often call it, “treasure hunting” is one of our favorite things to do together, and always makes for a perfect Girls’ Day.


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