Shopping & History

Have you ever been in an America’s Thrift Store? These huge Southeast Salvation-Army-type dig stores benefit Christian charities — and your own sense of adventure. And by “adventure,” I mean “the thrill of hunting through racks of acid-washed mom jeans to find that one pair of perfectly fitting $200 J Brand marked at $3.99.” Wear comfortable shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dusty and be prepared to spend hours. HOURS. And while it definitely is a bargain-shoppers’ paradise, your friendly America’s Thrift Store also houses historical items worthy of an admission price. Such as this collection of vinyl that, I think, is taken directly from my 1960s childhood. The New Christy Minstrels were my parents’ favorite and I still remember how carefully my mother would take the album from its cover and place it on the turntable, which was one of those that closed with a latch that made it look like a square suitcase. And the Firestone Christmas records! Classics! And what about 45s? I was in a multi-age meeting recently when talk turned to records and somebody mentioned 45s and one of the younger guys said, “Oh, you mean those are the little ones without the different bands on them?” We oldsters had to be revived after that. I so remember saving my babysitting money and then walking across the highway from our house to the local record store when the new shipment of 45s came in on Saturdays. Good times, good times …

Empty Bowls

Children go to bed hungry in America. Hard to believe, right? But it’s true. And one way to help is to support your local Empty Bowls meal. The Empty Bowls movement is a loosely connected network of fundraisers that funnel the local money raised back into the local community to help the local hungry. Churches, schools and other groups typically sponsor the meals. You buy your ticket and go eat — usually it’s something simple such as soup, crackers and water — and then as a thank-you and a reminder of the empty bowls so many people face every day, you take home a handmade pottery bowl that volunteers have donated. In my town, the Salvation Army Auxiliary sponsors an Empty Bowls lunch every year, and it’s a must-go big deal. Restaurants and caterers bring their best soups for sampling and judging, there’s a Salvation Army fashion show where the models mingle with the crowd and try to get the most votes — in money — for their thrift-store outfits and there’s one of the best bake sales and silent auctions around. My family has gone to this for years and so far we’ve amassed quite an intriguing collection of bowls. But I think the ones we got this year are the best ever — and we lucked out because they all three coordinated. How cool is that? Learn more about Empty Bowls at


Easter dessertsEaster is one of those easy family holidays that Easter treatsgives you lots of bang for your buck — if Christmas is the stress-inducing standard then Easter falls somewhere above Valentine’s Day but below birthdays. Well, that’s my opinion today anyway, when I’m a few years past midnight hours of frantically finishing Easter dresses for my two daughters and managing the Easter-morning chaos of baskets and eggs before church. At least the food is still easy, with Easter bake sales everywhere. I found these goodies at the Empty Bowl luncheon this past week sponsored by the Salvation Army Auxiliary in Florence, Alabama. From works-of-art cakes worthy of Easter dinner to peanut-butter fudge for munching as you did more shopping, there was something for everybody. Hope everyone has a stress-free and photo-op-filled Easter weekend, with chocolate bunnies for all!

Thrift Store Shopping

carolyns-dress-003My younger daughter loves fashion and putting outfits together. She’s the best carolyns-dress-002thrift-store shopper I know. We go into a Salvation Army dig store and I’m done in  three minutes because there’s nothing there — I think — and she emerges with an armload of cute and stylish pieces. Of course, she’s young and cute and stylish herself, so that helps immensely! Most thrift-store finds would just look sort of sad on me but she wears them with flair. It’s all in the attitude, and she’s got it. The other secret to thrift-store shopping, I think, is combining high and low and new and found. When she was home for the holidays, she brought some of her latest discoveries and had fun putting looks carolyns-dress-0061together. In these pictures she was going to a Christmas party with her dad’s family and was trying to winterize a festive carolyns-dress-0052black sundress with pink embroidery she’d bought in a thrift store for about $4, I think. First she tried a black short-sleeved pullover top over the whole thing. Nice, but no pizazz, although it fit her well. So next she tried a black cardigan with black velvet trim and little black velvet bows on the pockets for an elegant yet casual touch. Adorable! I voted for this look, but I got outvoted — she ended up ditching the dress idea and instead headed to the party in her usual but very chic college-student look of jeans, boots, scarf and sweater. And here’s the thing: These two black tops are mine, and she looks great in them. However, if I wore this sundress, I would only look ridiculous. Why is that? My daughters borrow from me and look fantastic (better than I do in the same clothes, that’s for sure) but the reverse does not hold true at all. If somebody can figure this out and fix it, I’d be so grateful! In the meantime, I continue to be in awe of both my daughters’ creativity and style. I’m in constant hope that some of that gets passed up to me.