Moving West!

*This post is probably best read as a drinking game ~ line up the shot glasses and knock one back every time we use the words excited and explore, or anything similar. What can we say, we’re excited (ding ding!).*

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Cash & Calder on Independence Pass, Dec. 2011

We have (ahem) exciting news ~ half of the Seasoned crew is moving west! To Boulder, CO, specifically, and we are jumping at the guns to explore our new digs.

We knew that sooner or later our current posts would be up and it would be time to move. For the longest time we didn’t know where to go, batting around east and west coast ideas, and just dabbling at the thought of planting ourselves in the majestic scenery that is the Rockies. Then, as luck would have it, an opportunity came up for Calder, and we jumped! We’re moving in shifts this summer, with a little bit of back and forth because there’s east-coast-beach-fun that has to happen before we settle out west.

Needless to say, I’ve been researching all things Boulder, trying to learn more about the new place we’re going to call home. I thought it would be fun to share a bit of what I’ve discovered, and if you any suggestions, please share!

  • Perhaps one of the most surprising things to me is that we can expect to have better weather than we’ve experienced living in central PA. The Boulder area folks are quick to point out that they average about 300 sunny days per year. Calder’s first reaction was “that’s excessively sunny,” which still has me laughing; we are so used to the cloudy and overcast days here.
  • In the interest of research, we’ve been looking for movies filmed in Boulder, so far all we have is Catch and Release. The reviews are average, but C and I loved it! Have any other recommendations?
  • Bon Appetit named Boulder America’s #1 Foodiest Town. The sheer quantity of restaurant mentions and food-based blogs that have come up in my online searches for Boulder, suggest there’s something to this. It’s obvious that there’s a lot to explore, and I can’t wait to get out there to start sampling and sharing my experiences. And of course there are a million and one CSAs ~ which to choose?
  • Likewise, there’s  a healthy brewery, distillery, and winery scene. Is there any question that I’m beyond excited to report back?
  • So of course, with sunshine, good eating, good drinking, and good mountains, it’s no surprise that Boulder has won a slew of “happiest/healthiest city” awards in all variations of the phrase.
  • Hiking is going to be a whole new adventure as I learn about Boulder’s grassland ecosystem and the ponderosa pine forests, which are both so different from the humid forests of PA.  Along the same lines, I’ve been researching native plants with the hopes that we’ll eventually have a yard that needs tending.
  • And then there’s the biking. I think this sums it up: they don’t just have bike lanes, they have “bike  routes”, “sharrows”, “multi-use paths”, and underpasses so you don’t have to even intersect with cars. Everything will be done by bike (until we get cold)! When Alex was born, my mom bought a Taga, and I think we’re going to clock a lot of miles on it as we explore.
  • I love a good city guide, especially written by a local, and find myself heading straight for Design Sponge’s guides whenever I’m going to a new place. So of course, I immediately opened their Boulder guide, and am excited to visit their recommendations.
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Snowshoeing near Ashcroft, January 2014

We’ve visited Colorado quite a bit (thus the Colorado photos in this post), and Calder even lived out there for a year in high school, but neither of us have spent much time in the Boulder area. As I said above, we would love recommendations ~ if you’ve been there or live there, give us some tips! 

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From our road trip in 2008. Can’t wait to go on more photo-taking adventures!

But ugh, as exciting as this is, I still find a lump in my throat when I think about moving so far away from my east coast home and family. My head is a whirlwind of “you only live once” excitement mixed with the homesick blues. {Sarah here: I have that same lump! I also have excessively tapping feet because I can’t wait to plan my visit!} I hope that if anything, our lives will be richer because we already know the east coast up and down, so now we’ll get to explore the big mountains and skies of the west.

Cloud cover map from here.

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In Season: April Fools

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April Fool’s day is next week! We like to keep things light hearted and fun ~ an “out of order” sign on the bathroom mirror or a pile of fake puke that fooled everyone when Charlie the cat still lived with us (it’s not as convincing now that she’s spending her time taking cat naps at the beach house). We gathered a few links that will leave you laughing and hopefully inspire a bit of fun when Tuesday rolls around.

This takes a bit of planning, but it’s such a cute prank!

Here’s a list of some seriously easy, yet creative pranks to play.  Lots of these are office appropriate, how funny is #38 and #34?! Some of these are enough to drive a person crazy – #26 and #16.  Save #12 for any day of the year, it’s shocking and harmless and makes me fall over laughing every time.

Watch this extremely elaborate beer-in-the-pipes prank.

We can’t wait until Alex is a few years older to surprise him at dinner and then again for dessert!

If you need a little laugh on the daily, check out The Onion, a satirical news source. The Onion’s comedy writers were featured on This American Life way back when too. Give it a listen to get a feel for their creative process.

Remember that old MTV show High School Stories: Scandals, Pranks and Controversies? It has a surprisingly high rating on IMDb.

Here’s the full story of Jimmy Kimmel’s Sochi Wolf prank.

Remember to be wary of pranks played by corporations next week! Here’s a roundup of last year’s.

Have a great weekend!

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Yarn Tassel Garland

I’m loving these sweet and simple yarn tassels.  Knowing that I needed a cute backdrop, I decided to hop on the yarn train to garland town.  Once I got started, I quickly decided that one can never have enough fun fluff to string about the house.  I’m not sure my live-in boyfriend agrees, but if he says anything I’ll just shove a tassel in his yap trap.  These little tassels are really easy to make and their design is easily customizable to suit your tassel taste.

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Early Spring Camping

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Surprise! We had to come back with a one-two punch, because what goes better with a maple syrup festival than camping?!

If you haven’t tried it yet, early spring camping can be a lot of fun. During our week-long road trip in early March, we spent almost as much time camping as we did sleeping indoors. Albeit our camping isn’t necessarily roughing it; the back seat of our van folds down into a bed big enough for the three of us (four when Cash curls up for a snooze). These were taken on the first morning in George Washington National Forest, just outside of Warm Springs, VA. 

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As you can tell, the morning air was freezing crisp and refreshing, with a beautiful layer of frost and ice crystals covering every surface. So first things, first, Calder made some coffee in the french press while I wandered off to check out the scenery. Soon I was back at the van, grabbing my coffee, and encouraging everyone to get out and watch the rising sun sparkle on the ice.

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Tap that Maple.

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Last weekend we finally (finally! I whisper/shout under my breath because I’ve been wanting to go for the past three years.) made it to our local environmental center for their maple harvest festival. As we mentioned in our Welcome March post, this month is prime maple tapping time in PA as the warm weather creeps north. You’re laughing because we started this week with temps in the teens, aren’t you? Well, while everyone agrees that it’s time for winter to throw in the towel, below freezing overnight temps are necessary for a good tapping season.

Why do we tap trees in the spring? When maple trees are growing throughout the summer, they produce starches that are stored in tree’s sapwood. During the fall and spring some of these starches are converted to sugar molecules (mostly sucrose) and stored in the sap allowing it to flow throughout the tree as the temperatures warm. A healthy supply of sap requires water, which is plentiful at this time of year from snowmelt and rain showers.  And lastly, the season’s combination of cold nights with temps below freezing and warm days with temps above freezing creates a pressure in the sapwood. When we drill into the tree, that pressure pushes the sap out of the hole and into our buckets!

I was surprised to learn that you can tap more than just Sugar Maples! Black, red, and silver maples can all be tapped, but as you may have guessed, sugar maples have the highest sugar content. The sugar content ranges from 1-6% in sap, and can be measured using a refractometer. On average 40 gallons of sap are required to produce 1 gallon of syrup, which will have a final sugar content of 66-67%. Now for the sad news, on average a single taphole will only produce 15 gallons of sap in a season, but under ideal conditions it is possible to collect 40-80 gallons from that tap!

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Savory Rosemary Scones

Rosemary is our ingredient of the season. We think you’ll love the rosemary aroma that’s left on your fingers after mixing these scones, only to by topped by the aroma that fills your house as they are baking!

These are your grandmother’s scones.  Rosemary, butter and heavy cream are the main flavor players in this mix.  Crumbly, but not dry, these scones are perfect with a cup of tea or in place of a biscuit at lunch or dinner.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbs. cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks

Glaze (optional)

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbs. milk
  • sea salt for sprinkling

*makes 8 large scones

Instructions:

  • Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400ºF.  Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, rosemary, baking powder and salt.  I like to give the ingredients a light whisk to ensure everything is mixed evenly.
  • Slice cold butter and add it to the dry ingredients.  Now it’s time to play Edward-butter-knife-hands, if you have a pastry cutter-use that now.  Hold a butter knife in each hand and begin chopping the slices of butter even smaller until all the pieces are no larger than a tic-tac.  That little lump you see on the butter knife is an example of what your largest butter ball should look like.
  • In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the two egg yolks and stir in the cup of cream until it’s blended together.  If you’re new to the egg-separating game, don’t fret it’s easy.  Just give your egg a good whack on the side of a small bowl, right about in the center of the shell.  Then pour the yolk into one side of the shell and back into the other.  Continue to do that little egg dance until all of the egg whites fall out of the shell and into the small bowl.  You should be left with a perfect little yolk.  After the egg yolks and cream are blended, combine it with the dry ingredients.
  • Gently mix the batter with a wooden spoon.
  • Dust your hands and a clean surface with flour.  Lightly knead the batter.  I like to push the ball forwards over and into itself, backwards, left and right.  You don’t want to over mix the dough or it will become gummy.  Lumps and bumps are characteristics of a great scone.
  • Form the dough into a disk about an inch thick.  Cut the disk in half and then cut each half into four triangles.  Place the triangles on your prepared baking sheet.

The glaze is optional, but it adds a nice golden sheen to the scones, so if you’d like to pretty ‘em up a bit then glaze on.

  • Lightly whisk two eggs and a tablespoon of milk and brush it onto your wedges.  If you’re like me and your kitchen isn’t fully stocked with gadgets, gizmos and mainly a pastry brush, no worries!  Wash your hands and grab a spoon.  Spoon a little bit of glaze onto each triangle and gently brush two fingers over it to evenly coat the scone. You’ll have a good amount of glaze left over. Martha is probably shaking her head, but that’s how we do it over in Sarah’s kitchen.
  • Sprinkle each scone with a bit of course salt and before popping them in the oven for 15-18 minutes.

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While the scones were baking I mixed the extra glaze with the two egg whites and scrambled up a healthy little snack.  It was just enough to tide me over until the buzzer rang.  The scones should have a golden brown crust when they’re finished.  To ensure they are fully baked, insert a toothpick, chopstick or butter knife into the center of a scone and make sure it comes out squeaky clean. Serve warm or at room temperature and be sure to enjoy!

*I slightly tweaked this recipe from one found in Fine Cooking.
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The Meaning of the Moon

Moon Cycles Calendar

Moon Cycles Calendar

Month after month we gaze up at the full moon in appreciation.  It’s a captivating sight and made even more special by it’s relatively rare occurrence (only 12 or 13 each year).  Personally full moons inspire me to write poems (that aren’t very good) and create cosmic artwork.  I also like to plan goals around the moon cycle, like mini new moon resolutions instead of one big New Year’s resolution.  Each month I stare at that pale disk and fall madly in love.  I feel inspired and giddy with feeling.  We are so small, the galaxy is so big, I love you moon!  Imagine how amazing it would be if we lived on Jupiter? Sixty moons, yes please!  Although maybe if we had sixty moons we wouldn’t appreciate our one full beauty as much.  Sixty moons would also make this post really, really, really long, so thank the solar system for our position while I describe the reasons for our full moon names.

Were you aware that each moon has a different name?  I’ve heard of a few, like the harvest moon (the moon that occurs closets to the autumnal equinox) and the snow moon, but until a few months ago I had no idea each month’s moon was assigned a name. Full moons occur about every 29.5 days as the moon is directly opposite the sun from an earth perspective.  The moon reflects the sun’s rays and appears as a perfectly round disk.  For millennia humans have used the moon cycle to keep track of seasons and to set schedules for planting, hunting and harvesting.  The same is true with the Algonquin Native American tribes that spanned from New England to west of Lake Superior.  These are the names I’ll mainly be describing here and the ones that are most commonly referred to in the United States.  If you’re reading this from the Southern Hemisphere (welcome!) the months and names are listed at the end of the post.

  • January-Wolf Moon is named after angry howling wolves.  During deep snows and cold winters, wolf packs would howl hungrily near the perimeters of Native American villages.  It’s sometimes referred to as the Old Moon, the Ice Moon or the Moon after Yule.
  • February- Snow Moon is named for, you guessed it, the ridiculous amount of snow that falls each February.  Usually this month has the highest recorded snowfall so it’s no wonder why it was deemed the snow moon.  February’s full moon is also known as the Hunger Moon since temperatures were so low, hunting was difficult and food was scarce.
  • March-Worm Moon got its name because worm castings (poop) would appear as the ground thawed.  This also signaled the return of the robins who love to chow down on worms.  March is also referred to as the Crow Moon because of their incessant cawing.  I love crow cawing (am I the only one?) so I tend to refer to this moon as the Crow Moon.  It’s also known as the Crust Moon because the ground thaws during the day, but freezes again at night forming a crust.  Lastly, it can also be referred to as the Sap Moon because trees are prime-tappin’-time during March.
  • April-Pink Moon is named for a species of early blooming wildflower known as wild moss pink or ground phlox.  Coastal tribes refer to April’s moon as the Fish Moon.  Other names include Egg Moon and Grass Moon.
  • May-Flower Moon is a given for the month of May. April showers bring May flowers, ya dig?  Some tribes also referred to May’s moon as Corn Planting Moon and Milk Moon.
  • June-Strawberry Moon is apparently the only name that is universal to all Algonquin tribes.  It was deemed Strawberry Moon because strawberries are in their peak picking season during June each year.  European settlers named it the Rose Moon, but I think Strawberry Moon sounds way cooler. *I’m obsessed with Strawberries*
  • July-Buck Moon is named because male deer begin to grow new antlers each year during July.  Bucks shed their antlers at some point during the year, which means if you scour the woods you may find some! Take a dog with you to increase your odds.  July is also known as Thunder Moon because of the frequent storms during this month.
  • August-Sturgeon Moon was named by Native American fishing tribes.  Sturgeons were caught in abundance every August. It can also be called the Red Moon, the Grain Moon or the Green Corn Moon.
  • September-Corn Moon signifies when corn and other crops are to be harvested.  It’s often called the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox (2 out of 3 years it falls in September).  At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night with the help of the light from the Corn Moon.  Another fun fact, usually the full moon rises an average of fifty minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest moon it rises only 25-30 minutes later across the U.S. and only 10-20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe.  I always imagine the Harvest Moon to be the happiest of the year for the Native Americans.
  • October-Hunter’s Moon signifies the perfect time to hunt deer and other animals.  Deer are fattened up from summer and easily spotted in the bare forest.  Fox, squirrels and smaller game are also more easily seen now that the fields are bare.  October’s moon is also referred to as the Travel Moon and the Dying Grass Moon.
  • November-Beaver Moon is named for beavers, but it’s not clear why.  It’s either because beavers are highly active preparing winter dams or because it’s time to set beaver traps to stock up on warm winter furs.  The animal lover in me hopes it’s because of the busy beavers.  It’s also known as the Frost Moon.
  • December-Cold Moon because it’s darn cold during December.  It’s also known as the Long Night Moon, which I prefer because I dislike the cold so much that I’d rather it be left out of my vocabulary and because it describes December’s moon so well.  In December, nights are the longest and the moon has a high (above the horizon) trajectory across the sky because it’s opposite a low sun so long nights, long moon.
  • Blue Moon-Full Moons are roughly 29.5 days apart, which leaves 11 days before the Earth finishes its orbit around the sun (one year).  Roughly every 2.5 years there’s an ‘extra’ full moon during a season (usually it’s three full moons per season), which is where the Blue Moon comes in.  It was a common mistake that the Blue Moon referred to the second full moon of the year, but it is actually the name given to the third full moon during a season that has four full moons.  Apparently the big mix-up came about way back in 1946 when Sky and Telescope magazine claimed the Blue Moon fell on the second full moon of the calendar month.  This error caused widespread misunderstanding until it was corrected more than fifty years later in 1999.

Southern Hemisphere Full Moon Names:

  • January-Buck Moon
  • February-Sturgeon Moon
  • March-Corn Moon also usually the Harvest Moon
  • April-Hunter’s Moon
  • May-Beaver Moon
  • June-Cold Moon
  • July-Wolf Moon
  • August-Snow Moon
  • September-Worm Moon
  • October-Pink Moon
  • November-Flower Moon
  • December-Strawberry Moon

 

Did you learn a little something here?  We’re all about educatin’ [insert your best hillbilly accent here] over here at Live Seasoned.  Do these names still ring true for you or do you label your moons differently?  Since I learned all the names, I’ve been trying to decide which I like best and also adopting some new names for fun.  I love living my life by the lunar cycle.  It’s a fun way to set goals mainly because you can’t do too much procrastinating in only 29 days. Do you find the moon shaping your life in any way?  Tell us about it, we’re all ears.

 

*Image via Little Lark
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In Season: Spring Cleaning

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What can we really say about spring cleaning? On the one hand it’s a chore, especially during those first few days of perfect spring weather. On the other hand, giving your space a good, deep clean, letting the fresh air in, and even rearranging the furniture may leave you smiling when you’re stuck inside during the inevitable April showers. However you look at it, we’ve found a few fun supplies and useful resources to put a spring in your cleaning.

Do you have a whole closet dedicated to cleaning supplies? Me neither, but check out this amazing cleaning closet overhaul by Little Green Notebook.

You can always count on Kaufmann Mercantile for quality products, including this wool duster.

Perhaps this tells you something about my cleaning tendencies: I bought this scrub brush because I loved the Japanese packaging… and four years later it’s still in that cute paper bag.

Spring is a great time to clean your wool sweaters and coats before packing them away for summer. Be sure to look for any signs of wool moths and pack them with some cedar or lavender as a repellant.

We have a glass shower door with a million nooks and crannies, I kind of want this power scrubber to give it a good clean. Does anyone have one? Does it work well?

I want to make this homemade sage cleaning spray this year. Sarah made a cleaning spray with oranges that she’s going to share soon!

Cleaning with a bit of elbow grease and without harsh chemicals is important to me, especially with a kiddo and pup in the house. This post provides a great overview of the essential ingredients to have on hand and how to use them.

I always find a good list helpful. This one overwhelms me, but I like the “bonus point” encouragement of this one.

Ahhhhhh, and then there’s this dustpan.

Need justification for the dustpan or a bit of encouragement to pare down as you clean? 

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be 
useful, or believe to be beautiful. William Morris

Happy Friday, friends!

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Keeping an Orchid

We mentioned that benefits of having flowers around the house a few weeks ago. Well those mental benefits extend to houseplants too! Today we’re doubling the benefits (we hope!) by talking about a flowering houseplant.

First a little tangent ~ if Calder didn’t have a say, I’d be a plant lady, filling every window with plants of all shapes and sizes in pots of every color and design. I would have airplants in the bathrooms, forced bulbs in the guest bedroom, cactuses next to African violets, and on and on, but I reign in my desires, and go for the plants that I hope will keep the peace. These are the plants that I can keep relatively well-manicured and aren’t too finicky during our week+ adventures away from home. I finally gave away the fern with its perennially falling tiny leaves; it was replaced by a split-leaf philodendron that took up too much space and was then sent off to live out its days in my office (where co-workers, starved for some green and life under the flourescent lights, love it). But the remaining ponytail palm and spider plants have stood the test of time in this houseplant war zone.

liveseasoned_spring2014_orchid-0b_wmNow on to the orchid ~ I was given a Phalaenopsis orchid (the kind that you find at most grocery stores) two Christmases ago. I was embarrassingly giddy to say the least. A new plant to take home, and there could be no naysaying because it was a gift! Best of all, it was something that I would never buy myself. Sure they looked beautiful in the grocery stores, but they also looked like they would be too hard to care for, and I didn’t want to put my neck out in the aforementioned war for something that would shrivel and break my heart a few weeks later.That was over a year ago, and the orchid is still as beautiful as the day it was gifted (except for a week of neglect last spring that taught me a few things).

What are my tricks? A brighter window than you might think, consistent watering, and slight modifications specific to its placement in our house. I keep the orchid in front of our sliding glass door, the brightest window in our house, where it receives afternoon through evening sun. I know the care labels recommend filtered or indirect light, which may lead you to put an orchid in a window with less direct light or with blinds, but if you’re having trouble, try increasing the light. As for the watering, I use the ice cube method I’ve seen recommended on some care tags, just put two to three ice cubes on the soil every two to three days. That is more watering than is recommended (I think once per week is often suggested), but as always, it’s important to adjust care to your specific conditions. That location in front of our sliding door also happens to be above a heating vent, so to compensate for drier conditions, I’ve increased the watering schedule, and it’s been working. We just came back from visiting family in the Rockies where their house is dry, dry dry, and I would definitely do the same thing there, heating vent or not.

That week of neglect last spring lead to a complete flower loss, encouraging me to figure out how to care for the orchid during our weeks away. My orchid pot does not have holes on the bottom, so sitting it directly into a bowl of water alone wouldn’t do. Instead, I sat it in the bowl of water, and then used a strip cut off the end of a cloth diaper (one day we’ll do a post on the many uses for cloth diapers other than actually diapering) to act as a wick, drawing water up out of the bowl and into the plant at a steady and slow pace while we’re away. So far it’s worked like a charm and we come home to an orchid that’s just as healthy as when we left.

When the flowers fell off last spring, I cut off the horizontal shoot that held the flowers, but didn’t cut back the large stems, or spikes, growing from the base of the plant. A few weeks later, new horizontal shoots started to grow near the tops of those spikes (if you look closely, you can see little buds/segments along the spikes – this is where the new growth occurred), and we were off and running blooming again!

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After a year, this plant has been granted a permanent spot in our home (and my plant-loving heart). A compliment from Calder last week sealed the deal…. now that I’ve mastered basic orchid care, we’ve entered a new phase of defending its life against the willful spirit of little Alex the crawler and climber.

Anyone have suggestions for toddler-proofing the plants? The hanging planter had to be the genius invention of a parent.

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$17 Saturday: Raleigh Flea Market

This is the first post of our $17 Saturday series.  From time to time we’ll suggest some weekend activities where we challenge ourselves to only spend $17.

If you’ve never experienced the magic of flea markets I’m begging you to drop everything and just go! Get up right now, grab your shopping bags and a fist full of cash and scoot! Oh wait, read this post and get a taste of the magic and a few tips before heading out the door.  First off, it’s not a barn full of fleas like I previously thought.  It’s actually an eclectic mix of old, used and new treasures waiting to be taken home and loved.  Be prepared for a day of searching, sifting and scouting out the best finds at the market.  Also prepare yourself for a few heartbreaks.  You’re bound to come across the most wonderful treasures and obscure finds that cannot be afforded, but don’t mope too long, move on and find something meant for you!  Read on to learn a few tricks before heading to the market.

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I knew I wanted to hit up a flea market or thrift store for an installment of $17 Saturday so this past weekend I decided to check out the flea market in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It has been around since 1971 and it definitely shows.  The grounds were huge!  There were vendors both inside and out selling all kinds of stuff. It’s kind of like a thrift store on steroids with a bunch of individual sellers.  Some sellers price high and others price unbelievably low.  Some stands are organized and have a clear flow of merchandise while others are just piles on the ground.  The sellers inside tended to have new merchandise for sale while the people in the outer lot tended to sell antiques and older items.  While the records, kitchen supply store and handmade furniture inside the building peaked my interests the real treasures were to be found outside.  I knew I wanted the flea market to be a $17 Saturday feature, but all bets were off once I saw the goods to be had.

Hundreds of vendors displayed their items on tables, in booths and overflowing out of the back of their vehicles.  There were rows and rows of furniture, antique kitchen gadgets, old license plates, wooden cigar boxes, books, plates, crystal stemware, jewelry and toys.  Some vendors specialized in particular items.  One man had tables and tables of arrowheads that he found throughout North Carolina.  Another man had hundreds of old cigar boxes and yet another had tables of colorful glassware.  You could tell some vendors cleaned out houses for a living while others meticulously picked the collections displayed on their tables.  Once outside I started skipping and prancing from table to table.  It’s hard to contain your excitement when you’re basically standing in the middle of a treasure chest.  At one point I even yelled, “CANDLESTICKS!” and started running in the opposite direction, away from my boyfriend, and towards the shiny objects.  It was a glorious day.  Being led around by my eyes like a dog is by his nose from one pretty item to the next.

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I didn’t go to the market with one particular item in mind.  Since it was my first time at this flea market I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t want to get my hopes up.  I wandered around for a while before getting in the grove and seeking out special items.  Sometimes it takes a bit of time before you can see individual gems among the piles of stuff.  At first glance some stands look like one big heap of junk, but among those mounds you might find an old dictionary or a seasoned cast iron skillet or an antique film camera.  Once you spot something you like there are a few questions you should ask yourself: How much do I want to pay? How much am I willing to pay?  Is it likely I’ll find this item at another stand?  Do I really need this or is it enough knowing that it’s out there and someone else will enjoy it if I don’t?  I’m pretty thrifty so I always run through those questions before I attempt to buy something.  I also don’t like to get attached to things because I like to move a lot and we all know moving with less stuff is a heck of a lot easier than towing a sixteen-wheel U-Haul.  After I decide how much I’d like to pay, I ask the seller the price of the item.  He or she will either quote a price or ask how much I think it should cost.  If the seller asks me to price it then I’ll knock a couple bucks off the price I’d like to pay.  Usually they’ll ask for a few dollars more and it all works out.  If they tell you a set price and it’s too high you can usually talk them down a few dollars, but if you’re not comfortable haggling, kindly put the item back and skip on over to the next table.  Don’t be discouraged by the prices or lack there of.  Sellers have different ways of pricing their items and you may be surprised by how high and low each will go.

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I was reluctant to ask about the price of a vintage Webster’s Dictionary, but it was the second one I saw that day.  When I opened the cover and noticed that it was owned by a man from Centralia, Pennsylvania, I knew I had to at least ask.  Centralia was a tiny little town near the one I grew up in.  In the sixties a vein of coal underneath the town caught fire and it still smolders to this day.  Because of the mine fire most of the residents have relocated and the houses have been torn down.  Less than a dozen houses remain.  It has always been a little fascination of mine, which is why I wanted this dictionary so badly.  I told myself I would only pay $5 for it and to my surprise it was only a dollar!  When the vendor saw the look on my face he said, “Well, now it’s $2.” I smiled, scurried away and tucked my little treasure into my bag.  From that point on I was floating around the market finding one prized piece after another.  I picked up the set of juice glasses for $5 and the little bowl for $4.  I also picked up a small spoon for puddings, sauces and taste testing recipes mid-cook for $3. Lastly, I picked up a black and white bracelet for $1.  It’s rare that I can resist black, white or gold jewelry.  There were a few items I swooned over, but couldn’t justify buying.  I saw a beautiful crystal bottle that would be perfect for alcohol or olive oil and I was extremely tempted to buy an antique lamp, but there was no shade.  I currently have three beautiful lamps that I need shades for, I couldn’t forgive myself if I acquired yet another.  I’m happy just knowing that those items are out there and when I’m ready to buy them I’ll be able to find them.  I finished my day with a huge piece of pizza for the hefty price of $3.  After three hours at the market I was pretty tired.  Sifting and searching takes a lot out of you.  For me it’s mostly mental.  It’s three hours of arguing with myself and talking myself out of purchases, but seeing tables of beautiful old goods makes it all worth it.  I ran through my purchases in my head and couldn’t believe it when they totaled exactly $17!  I hadn’t even kept track of my spending all day until I walking back to the car.  It’s funny how things work out like that.  I almost talked myself out of the pizza because I had delicious leftovers at home, but I must have sniffed it out for the sake of $17 Saturday.

A few market tips:

  • Start your day with an energizing breakfast and a coffee or tea.  That way by the time you’re at the market you’ll have energy to browse and stamina to walk up and down the rows of goodies.
  • Take a bottle of water and a snack along too.
  • Remember to wear comfy shoes and take an empty shopping bag for your future treasures.
  • Credit cards won’t do you much good at a flea market.  Some vendors accept them, but most only accept cash.  It’s best to take a bunch of small bills unless you plan on buying higher priced items.  After haggling down a price it would feel like a slap in the face if you asked the vendor to break a $50.
  • Above all, remember that it takes time to find treasures.  You can’t go into a flea market expecting gems to fall into your purse.  You need to put the time in.  Sift through tables, talk to vendors, hear their stories and get intrigued.  Who knows maybe you’ll find something worth a lot of money or meaning to you.

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Here’s a final rundown of how I spent my dollars:

  • mini spoon $3
  • Webster’s Dictionary $1
  • little bowl $4
  • set of 4 juice cups $5
  • black and white bracelet $1
  • enormous piece of pizza $3
  • Grand Total: $17

Did you ever score something amazing at a flea market?  Do you have a favorite flea market? Tell us about it or show us your treasures on Instagram. Use the hashtags #liveseasoned #fleamarketfinds so we can see your scores.

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