29, Going on 30…

… just like the movie but with sadly less Mark Ruffalo and somehow even more synchronized Michael Jackson dances.

I’m not a big new years resolution person, mostly because I know myself pretty well and this is it, kids. I’m messy, I’m inconsistent with workouts and diets, I don’t have any broken dreams I need to resuscitate… shit is good. Granted, I should check for bed sores because I haven’t moved much from my couch or exceeded a slow amble in the past four days, but let’s save those goals for some douche with a Camelbak backpack and a will to live.

doucheincamelbak

Sorry, sir. I would say you’re probably not a douche, but you are the only thing that came up when I googled “Camelbak douche” so let’s call a spade a spade. Spade. Oh God, do you think people say that to David Spade all the time? Womp womp.

My “resolutions” if you want to call them that, as with most of my life goals, are pretty fucking simple. In fact, let’s call them yearly themes. Two years ago I wanted to try a lot of new fruits. Any fruit that I saw in the grocery store that had not yet graced my luscious lips, I would buy. The winner would have to be passion fruit (mushy sweet tart love). The loser was definitely prickly pears (WHY ARE THERE ROCKS IN THIS FRUIT?!).

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Thy cup overfloeth with delicious goo, and a shitty rock lobster.

Last year was the year of parks. My favorite was probably Zion National Park in Utah for all its majestic rock formations and views. My least favorite was the Valley of Fire because A DESERT IS NOT A PARK, AMERICA. A desert is punishment for criminals, Earth’s ashy elbow, Satan’s Bora Bora, and a great place to find a lot of spiders and snakes, but it is not a park. One does not picnic or aggressively hike in a desert because it’s hot and dry and you can get overheated and throw up in a Hess parking lot 45 minutes before your flight home. Heed my warnings…

 

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Zion refers to Jerusalem, the holy land, and Valley of Fire refers to a place someone named so that no one would go there but then everyone kept going there thinking it would be “fun”. I think.

Alas, friends, this year’s theme is a big one. This is the year of becoming a stupid adult. I’m going to be 30 in July so the theme I keep feeling deep in my soon-to-be-old bones is “maybe grow up a little”. My goals are to save even more money, stop shopping (as much) in the juniors section, learn more about politics and investing, start taking vitamins – Centrum Silvers at this point, and to slowly weed out my frat boy status furniture. That’s where this blog comes in. January 1st, 2016, I decided to start with something that all real adults have… decorative throw pillows and an innate hatred for today’s rap music.

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Before…. After. Transformation complete! To the moon, Cathryn.

You know the reason why I don’t have any throw pillows yet? Because their retail value far exceeds my perceived value of them. Let’s step back a second and talk about the various other things that fall into this category. When I first started living on my own, I was shocked to find the following items were way more expensive than I thought they would be. I’m sure you have some of your own too:

  • vacuums
  • bed sheets
  • car insurance
  • health insurance
  • cable television
  • olive oil
  • throw pillows

In my brain, throw pillows shouldn’t cost more than $10 per piece. I don’t know where that pseudo fact came from, perhaps I was born with it implanted in my brain. They are just a small piece of fabric filled with stuffing and should not cost more than a decent steak. I can, and have, made pillows for less than $5. So suck my nuts, pillow industry. The problem is, throw pillows are never that cheap! Even on sale at TJ Maxx pillows are usually $15-$25 each. Dog beds are cheaper which is not fair because they are way more comfortable and not socially acceptable to decorate one’s couch with, sans a pet dog.

suckmyballsgif

Mmm yes, suck away.

My mom and I took a trip to Bed, Bath, & Beyond on New Years Day to check out their clearance sales. BB&B always has my favorite clearance racks and they did NOT disappoint! Throw pillows were on clearance and then discounted an additional 50% off, so of course I bought 3. Normally $25 each (barf) I got mine for $6 a piece! I also got bed pillows on clearance; one for $18 and one for $8! Even sweet Matthew, our Jimmy Stewart sounding sweet angel of a checkout boy, was impressed with our savings. FUCK YEAH MATTHEW! You best come correct when stepping to an almost adult with a stack of BB&B coupons and a distorted view of a throw pillow’s true value.

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Antes y despues. I kept Diego the cat shaped pillow because if being an adult means throwing away my cat shaped pillows then count me out. You think that’s what got Peter Pan going? Maybe.

Some advice, January is a great time to shop clearance. Stores are always trying to sell off their old stock so they can make room for brand new things to come in. Also, people have returned a lot of unwanted gifts which may be sold again at a lower value since they were touched by strange hands. COOL, I don’t mind! Second is a reminder to be patient and envision what you need to slowly build up your decor. You’ll always find what you need for a great price if you look hard and take your time. Third, if you have an animal in your home don’t spend a lot of money on throw pillows and make sure the covers are removable.

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This happened within one minute of putting these out.

workhardcat

The motto of 2016.

I can’t live a normal life I was raised by the street,

Cat

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Craigslist is not just for creeps…

… but it sure is a great place to find them! I’ve seen many a n’er-do-well on THE CRAIGSLIST before, trying to get people to give up their social security numbers or scam them into sending money to a “prince” in Nigeria or trying to lure them into their scary underground bomb shelter for “hugs”.

craigslist

I mean, it says right there, based on a true story.

I don’t want to become the plot of a Lifetime movie, I’d like to stick to a Cartoon Network kind of life. With all that being said, I’ve also had some lovely experiences on there. I’ve found some decent apartments, begged Anthony for some adorable free kittens (without any success, yet), and even got my first internship from it! But do you know what my favorite thing about Craigslist is? The prostitutes. No not at all. That shit is insane and totally exploits underage GIRLS and perpetuates illegal, pervasive, disgusting, international sex trafficking. But I digress! No no dear reader, I love the FREE section! I think “free” is my favorite word.

mlk free

I believe it was MLK Jr.’s favorite word too, and he was a GREAT guy! Though, I think his version of free is significantly more noble than mine. You win this round, Jr.

Almost every day I’ll hop onto the free section of Craigslist and check out what’s going on in the county I work in and the county I live in since both are fairly accessible to me. A few weeks ago I made a killer score! This guy had just moved into a house about 30 minutes from me and had found some old mid-century furniture in his basement: a low coffee table with drawers, and two side tables with drawers. Like some kind of dingus, he was just giving it away. Having just bought a gently used Honda CR-V I was beyond ready to start loading it up with junk. I brought my mom for backup, in case this guy was the aforementioned CRAIGSLIST KILLER or just a weirdo (turns out, he kind of was), and went to pick it up. One hour drive in the rain with my “mommyguard” and a strange interaction with a middle aged man later, and me and my CRV were homebound with our goods. Well, check me out now! I turned my previously cluttered new living room into a delightful mid-century wonderland for – that’s right – free 99.

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Exhibit A: Coffee table, sans coffee, plus scented pine cones.

Another site I check regularly is FreeCycle.org. You have to sign up but of course, it’s free. You join a group based on your county or general area and can then see what people are giving away or in need of.  It’s like one giant Craigslist free section, with way less creeps. It’s a great way to get rid of things that have some value but that you just don’t have the energy to sell. My mom has given away our super dusty old Nordic Track, I’ve given away old comforters, and we’ve both (strangely) received awesome plants from it! Weird but true. You can also request things for yourself, like “Hey anyone got any broken computers? I love broken computers.” and some fellow weirdo out there will let you know if they have any. IS GREAT.

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Hey nice FREE aloe plant, Chenkus.

peeweesogreat

Oh P.W., you always know what to say : )

Basically what I’m saying is that with patience, creativity, and focus you can totally find a ton of cool free shit online. A few tips from my experience are:

  1. Bring a partner whenever you can. Sometimes things are heavier or more cumbersome than they appear in pictures. Sometimes the giver away-er may offer to throw something else in for free and you will need help. Sometimes people don’t have free furniture at all and just want to make YOU into their furniture, so bring a friend OK?
  2. Check the sites often. People post things at random times throughout the day  – though I see more posts around the holidays and the changes in seasons (cleaning out their old stuff). Write or call as soon as you can to ask if it’s still available! Speaking of which…
  3. Be polite and a little personal in your communication with the giver of free goods. I always throw in that I’ve just moved and am trying to save money to buy a home in the future, blah blah, because then maybe they can relate to me better. If the person that contacted them before me was some gruff, rude, bitch then I may win out! Use your story to help you, or flat out lie with some sob story. I don’t care, that’s on YOUR conscience you psycho.
  4. Try to see the big picture. You know those people that tour houses on HGTV shows and say things like “Ew, I hate this house the walls are orange.” or “That avocado green tile is horrible! I can’t live here.” Listen bitch, yes you can. It’s called paint and imagination… get on it. This shit is free so don’t expect miracles. Imagine what you could do to something and consider any cost you put into it as its “price” since you paid jack for it. Sandpaper, paint, new knobs (tee hee), varnish, decoupage… these are all your friends.
  5. IF YOU EVER NEED A PIANO GO ON A FREE SITE. I don’t know if you knew this, but pianos are free now. I see a piano, harpsichord, or organ a few times a week on these sites. I guess because they’re such a bitch to move and have to be re-tuned after being jostled around so much that they’re hard to sell. Whatever, free pianos!

Oh boy, I wish you all the best of luck because I know you’re going to immediately go do this if you don’t already. If you never have before, let me know what you think! If you are already a fan of the free shit sites, tell me your greatest find!  Get it girl, or boy.

independent-women-o

All my ladies, who truly feel me, throw your hands up at me. Please, and thank you.

Girl I didn’t know you could get down like that,

Cat

Free your mind…

…and the rest will follow. No truer words have ever been harmonized by a group of beautiful, talented, and sassy women in the 90’s on an R&B hit single, but I may be biased.

Right? Preach.

Sure doesn’t! Preach.

Today’s post is all about FREE shit, but with a twist! Over the years I’ve received so many free things from winning contests. A lot of people chalk it up to awesome good luck (I see you OAR former coworkers, and friends) and that may be partially true. My mother and aunt are similarly notorious for winning awesome things. FUN FACT: My first concert was Hootie & The Blowfish because my mom won tickets on the radio and took me as her hot date.

Whoa, who are those HOT babes?! I like knowing that this is my mom's version of "cool". How are we BOTH wearing mom jeans!?

Whoa, who are those HOT babes?! I like knowing that this is my mom’s version of “cool”. Who knew they made mom jeans in child’s sizes? Soak it in. 

But I digress, and need to make a point. I’m a very practical, analytical, purely functional thought process type person the majority of the time (my brain goes to mush when I go grocery shopping and I seem to buy an assorted mish mosh of items that don’t go together, but I’M WORKING ON IT OK) so I don’t believe in “luck”. You know what I do believe in? Hard work and ‘MERICA!tumblr_m345s5VBED1r8kfm2o1_500

I enter every. fucking. contest. I. see. Every one within reason that is, no amateur Hustler contests… yet. The more small/local/creepy the contest, the better your chances are of winning. I have won so many contests by being the only person that entered. For example, when working at Adelphi University (Go Panthers!) I saw that their library’s Facebook page was having a contest to see who could name the most celebrities in this awesome photography book they were giving away. I named like 11 of the 100 celebrities and called it a day. NO ONE ELSE ENTERED so I won! I’ve won books, food, luxury gift cards, handmade items, kitchen items, toys, t-shirts, an i-Pod, and my best win, a weekend trip to Manhattan complete with $1,000 in AmEx gift cards.

Awesome view of the lonely limo I took to my free NYC weekend.

Awesome view of the lonely limo I took to my free NYC weekend.

Recently I won a contest on Instagram held by Skinny Girl, the brand started by Bethenny Frenkel of “The Real Housewives of NYC” fame. I’m a big fan of her alcoholic beverage line and her incredible bone structure. I don’t remember what I had to do to enter, but it was super easy; like their Facebook page, follow this person on Instagram, share this post, tag this person, etc. Easy shmeasy lemon squeezy. Guess what? A few weeks later I won a friggin’ Cuisinart single cup coffee maker and a shit ton of tea, coffee, and cocoa. Because we already owned 2 Keurigs we sold them at our yard sale to make room for this bad boy. Not only did I win something very expensive but I made money off the deal! 1,000 points to Gryffindor!

Box of Skinny Girl FREEEEE SHIIIITTTT

Box of Skinny Girl FREEEEE SHIIIITTTT

Isn't she a beaut?

Isn’t she a beaut?

My tips are simple:

  1. Like a ton of companies on your social media accounts. Big, small, local, international, who cares! They start contests to promote new things and drive business. They are begging you to enter. Accept it.
  2. Be open to whatever they ask of you, within reason. If you’re creative you have even more of a leg up on their contests that require hard work: like creating videos, logos, pictures, etc. Don’t get it twisted though, I don’t go way too out of my way. I have my limits. I’ll like your page or sign up for your mailing list, but I hate those Instagram loop contests where you have to like 25+ new pages that fill your newsfeed with garbage. Get the F outta here with that, capitalist pigs.
  3. Enter raffles. Not necessarily those $150 raffle tickets to win a Corvette, although I did have an uncle win one on those (Go Uncle Karl!), but the raffles at schools, community fairs, charity events, etc. If it costs money to enter the raffle it most likely will go towards a charity, so who cares!
  4. Believe in yourself and be patient. No explanation needed, just do it.
Hey! What a wonderful kind of day!

Believe in yourself… go Arthur go!

What a wonderful kind of day,

Cat

I’m sorrraayy….*sobs* *regrets threatening husband with gun*

This is me right now. I'm... I'm so sorry.

This is me right now. I’m… I’m so sorry.

Guys, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t posted in forever. My most heartfelt apologies, I’ve missed you. But you know what I’ve been so busy doing (besides watching Cheers and working a lot)? FINDING AWESOME THINGS.

What he said.

What he said.

First of all, let me confess something… I don’t miss Diane on “Cheers”. She was totes the worst. Team Rebecca, 100%! And who knew Frasier was so funny?! Friends SHMIENDS, Cheers is the greatest American TV show.

This image came up when searching for Diane vs. Rebecca. The man who made this wrote a blog comparing Diane to George Washington and Rebecca to John Adams. It's not surprisingly spot on and hilarious. Click the picture to read it!

This image came up when searching for Diane vs. Rebecca. The man who made this wrote a blog comparing Diane to George Washington and Rebecca to John Adams. It’s not surprisingly spot on and hilarious. Click the picture to read it!

Back to 2015 (boooooo!). Let’s start with my thrifty and successful Halloween. You guys should know by now that I’m quite the planner. I knew in July that I wanted to be an Ewok (Wicket specifically) for my Star Wars lovin’ boyfriend’s birthday Halloween party. Nordstrom Rack had a huge online clearance sale where I scored 4 hideous brown stuffed animal lookin’ infinity scarves. They were $4 each for a total of $16! I ripped the seams on three of them and made arm bands and leg warmers by sewing elastic into the tops of each piece.

One ripped open infinity scarf. Not so infinity anymore, bitch.

One ripped open infinity scarf. Not so infinity anymore, bitch.

I folded the top down about an inch, sewed it down, and then threaded a piece of elastic through so it would stay snuggly on my arms and legs.

I folded the top down about an inch, sewed it down, and then threaded a piece of elastic through so it would stay snuggly on my arms and legs.

Seeeee?! Snuggly. Strong. Sensual. Sassafras.

Seeeee?! Snuggly. Strong. Sensual. Sassafras.

I was impressed with these leg warmers, so was Bob. I ended up shortening them so they came right up to above the knee instead of right under the hoo ha.

I was impressed with these leg warmers and so was Bob. I ended up shortening them so they came up right above my knee instead of right under my hoo ha.

Then I bought an orange scarf on Amazon and some face paint at CVS – $8 total. I made tiny little Ewok ears out of cardboard and infinity scarf scraps and sewed them quite literally into my hair through the scarf – like a beautiful weave straight outta Endor! I borrowed Anthony’s bad ass walking stick and called it a day (a FRI-day to be exact). Good times were had by all.

Just call me Warwick Davis, cuz I played Wickett like a PRO. Or because you just want to call me Warwick Davis.

Just call me Warwick Davis, cuz I played Wicket like a PRO. Or because you just want to call me Warwick Davis.

Well that’s enough excitement for one month… 2 days later on November 1st I hit up a seemingly boring yard sale a few blocks from our place. I was tricked though, tricked again! I started seeing some really nice clothes on racks in the back of this lady’s driveway – where one normally does not say they found great things. I found a really cool formal sweatshirt – yeaaaaa, thas right – from J. Crew and a great Banana Republic button down shirt. $4. Go team!

No iron? Count me in.

No ironing? Count me in.

That open zipper is the back, the collar is a nice soft crepe.

That open zipper is the back, the collar is a nice soft crepe. I’m a crepe, I’m a sweatshirt. What the hell am I doing here?

Then yesterday I went out for my Quarterly Friends Dinner with the ladies in Astoria. I was an entire hour early, so I hit up a thrift store on Ditmars Boulevard. It’s sort of like Sunset Boulevard but with more Greek people and dollar stores, and less crazy old actresses.

I. STRUCK. GOLD.

Yes, just like this but better.

Yes, just like this but better.

I was looking for a Christmas-y lookin’ plaid shirt and oh boy did I find one! $4. Sold.

Call me Kris Kringle.

Call me Claus, Santa Claus.

Found a really pretty floral print (my favorite) silk sleeveless shirt from J. Crew. Great for work. $4. Deal.

Ooooo Aaaaaah

Oooooh Aaaaaah

Also a gorgeous Lily Pulitzer thin floral sweater. Great colors! They usually retail well over my price range, between about $75 and $150. This puppy was $5! It’s a little big so I may ruche the sides if I’m feeling saucy and get a little pep talk from my sewing spirit guide, and fellow “Cat”.

I feel so tropical!

I feel so tropical!

And finally… the pièce de résistance (slightly inappropriate because my find was Italian, and not French, but the Italians don’t have a good saying for “THE GREATEST FIND EVER”)… a Missoni sweater! Not Missoni for Target, Missoni. Uber expensive Italian designer known for his zig zaggy print, usually rayon, knits. I can’t afford Missoni on the clearance rack with an extra 20% off at Saks, so this was super exciting for me. These puppies retail starting at $300 and go up, way up, from there. I’ll get a nicer picture when wearing this as a real outfit one day, but for now just bask in its glory. BASK!

Praise the lord and pass the ammunition. I'm in love!

Hallelujah, I’m in love!

Guys, what a great few weeks of finds. My advice to you is two-fold: 1. Always check out a yard sale. It may look shitty from the outside but you never know what they’ll have! 2. Comb through enough thrift stores and you’re bound to find your holy grail. If you want to check this place out it’s called something along the lines of “This is a Thrift Store” and it’s at 3120 Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria.

What are you going to find in here?

What are you going to find in here?

What are some of your greatest finds?? Besides my blog of course.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,

Cat

Woodloch Pines *REFASHION*

Wherever you are right now close your eyes keep your eyes open but imagine they are closed. Relax the muscles in your face. Take a nice slow deep breath. Follow the sounds of my words inside your head. You’re in a beautiful forest full of chirping birds and scampering chipmunks. There is a glorious deep blue lake stretched for miles before you. Everywhere you look, activities: archery, water balloon fights, kayaking, karaoke, Scattergories! Really put yourself in a world as if the 1987 film”Dirty Dancing” took place in Heaven and there weren’t any botched abortions or thieving old folks only very friendly middle aged women and old men in pants with lobsters on them. CONGRATULATIONS… you’ve just been to Woodloch Pines in your mind.

Here I am frolicking with the local wildlife!

Here I am frolicking with the local wildlife!

*I am in no way compensated for my fantastic view of Woodloch Pines, though man I wish I was because I tell everyone who will listen.

A few years ago for our annual girls trip my friends Ali and Michelle and I visited Woodloch Pines in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania (just like “Dirty Dancing”, I know!). Surprisingly, it was all Michelle’s idea as she’d heard some great reviews from a bunch of friends and family members. Anywho, we get up there and I am on cloud 9 let me tell you: everyone is super nice, the food was great, I had a schedule of activities before me, life couldn’t be better. My friends, not so excited. In fact, rather terrified. Where I saw Patrick Swayze and Baby they saw themselves as Wendy and Doc, and I was Jack Nicholson. To each his own.

To-may-to, to-mah-to

To-may-to, to-mah-to

Back to business, the point of this story is that I bought a super cool deer head shirt there to commemorate the fantastic times I had. This shirt was pretty cool looking already but it was a little too snug in the neckline. I wanted a shirt that matched my feelings on Woodloch, so I thought I’d refashion this bad boy!

Before. Pretty cool but not amazingly cool. Tepid, perhaps.

Before. Pretty cool but not amazingly cool. Tepid, perhaps.

I’d recently seen a tutorial on how to chop up your old t-shirts and make them awesome again. Mostly, these shirts reminded me of an overambitious cheerleader mom from the south… but those bitches are always ON-POINT so I was ready for that look. I started off by removing the sleeves from the t-shirt and cutting across the chest, right under the neckline, to make a nice little rectangle.

During. So stressful! I couldn't bare to ruin such a fantastic shirt.

During. So stressful! I couldn’t bare to ruin such a fantastic shirt.

Next, I folded over the top of the front flap about 1 inch down and the top of the back flap 1 inch down. Remember in my first blog, avid reader, when I mentioned that I’m super lazy? Yeah well it usually comes into play when sewing is involved. You should TOTALLY pin the flaps down so you can whiz your sewing machine or your nimble hands evenly across the 1 inch line. I didn’t have any pins and my sewing machine is at my mom’s house a whole 3 miles away, so I used my eagle eyes and hawk like talons to sew these bitches down. Then I took some sweet ribbon I found in my grandma’s old sewing kit (thanks Dad and Lois!) and fed it through. You can either tie it in a bow if you’re really digging the southern glam athlete look or sew the ends together like I did.

TA DA

TA DA

Last step? Try it on and impress all your friends and potential lovers. Let me tell ya, works like a charm. I’m so glad I didn’t ruin my favorite t-shirt but in fact made it better!

Look how happy my face is. That's a face that's smelled fresh Poconos air and tasted Woodloch Pines corn bread.

Look how happy my face is. That’s a face that’s smelled fresh Poconos air and tasted Woodloch Pines corn bread.

Oh, what's that? You'd like to see another angle of the shirt AND my sweet guns? No problem.

Oh, what’s that? You’d like to see another angle of the shirt AND my sweet guns? No problem.

There are two lessons today, ladies and gents:

  1. Try that Pinterest/YouTube/whatever tutorial you’ve always wanted to do. If it sucks you can make a fail post about it and everyone will laugh and relate to you. If it is awesome you will feel super crafty and cool for at least a full day.
  2. If you cherish life and adventure, give Woodloch Pines a shot. Take me with you, though technically… I’ve never left.
I'm going to live here forever!

I’m going to live here forever!

Here we have some rules let us lay them down,

Cat

Oh man, if that isn’t the best song from a 2001 film about ogres and inner beauty I don’t know what is.

Goodwill Hunting…

…is what I would scream cry into Matt Damon’s face should I ever run into him at a Goodwill store. He would laugh. I would laugh. He’d say “Good one!” and I’d reply “I KNOW.” Then I’d gently pat him on the back, sigh, and get right back to shopping. A girl can dream.

I of course mean this version of him.

Matt. Damon.

It is also a great title for a post about shopping at Goodwill stores. I should know, I just came up with it. A few weeks ago was my very first time going to an official Goodwill store, if you can believe it. My aunt took me to the one up in Wappingers Falls when I visited her for the Gilligan’s Island tour of the Hudson and flea market debauchery.

Well now you HAVE to believe it. Jerk.

See for yourself!

I don’t know how the one by y’all is, but this one was SO organized! Every piece of clothing was separated by gender, type (short sleeved shirt, long sleeved shirt, collared shirt, sweater, puffy acid wash denim coats from the 80’s, etc.), then color. I found a lot of the usual Forever 21, Old Navy, and Target items that weren’t priced much differently from their initial retail. Listen up, thrift store man, you can’t try to sell me an Old Navy t-shirt for $4 when I can buy it new from the store for $5. It reminds me of the customers I sometimes encounter at my job who think they can resell their engagement ring for the same price they purchased it for. Sadly no, brokenhearted sir.

Bitch please.

HE DID HIS BEST, ok!?

I must have tried on 20 shirts, dresses, and skirts but I couldn’t find anything that I absolutely had to have. I wandered over to the coats just for shits and giggles at first, on account of I wasn’t particularly looking for one, but I struck gold! First find was an army green Levi’s button down seen here on this lovely model:

Oh, me? I'm just casually looking over here. Sweet Kermit shirt, am I right?

Oh, me? I’m just casually looking over here. Sweet Kermit shirt though, am I right?

The shirt is so versatile, it’s my favorite find since starting this blog! I wore it to work the next day, buttoned up with a cream colored J. Crew linen skirt. Then I wore it a few weeks later to Jurassic Park Zion National Park in Utah for some epic (read: intermediate) hiking.

Can you tell the difference? Me neither.

Can you tell the difference? Me neither, other than I clearly need to invest in a bandana and a small boy sidekick.

Next up I found a gorgeous Laundry by Shelli Segal wool coat with a real fur collar! Preachy Note: I do not buy real fur normally because I don’t think it is necessary or in the least bit humanely made. In my opinion, if you can sit through a video (click it if you like crying) of what actually happens to animals when they are skinned for their fur and still feel peachy wearing it? Power to you… Satan. That being said, this coat was already made and purchased by someone else so I didn’t feel as bad buying it for next to nothing secondhand. Similarly (work with me here) I adopted my cat, Bob, from a shelter. He had his front paws declawed by his previous owner. I would never have done this to a cat of mine! But what kind of moral protest am I making by then not adopting him? It’s not dumb old Bob’s fault, and it sure isn’t this cute little coat’s fault!

Great coat but BARF at the buttons! Barf I say!

Great herringbone style, but BARF at the buttons! Barf I say!

Close up. Try not to THROW UP on your computer screen/phone.

Close up. Try not to THROW UP on your computer screen/phone.

You’ll see the full coat below, but I wanted to show you how a small change can make cheap or free items well worth it. Have you ever tried something on in the store or from someone else’s closet or from the trunk of a friend of a friend’s car that “Would be great if…”? Maybe the sleeves are too long, or the color is slightly off, or the buttons look like those shitty wood salad bowls everyone had in the 70’s and 80’s. You know. Paying to alter an item that is already full price is such a turn off but paying to alter a cheap or free item is a minor price for a great deal!

Great with salad. Bad for buttons.

Great for salad. Bad for buttons.

So I did what any normal person would do, I went to the only button store I’ve ever seen in my entire life that is thankfully one town over. This button store in Rockville Centre is so unique and specialized that the New York Times wrote an article about them! A tiny old Asian woman helped me pick out some fabulous gray mother of pearl buttons – and by helped me I mean judged my initial button choices and then ended up picking out something much prettier than I had in mind. “Why you keep looking at that color? That’s a bad color. Pick this color, OK?”. Buttons are REALLY EASY to change out, I promise you. Any sewing novice can do it! Button is also a really fun word to say, I say it all the time. Try calling someone a button some time, it will change your life (satisfaction not guaranteed but highly likely).

Here’s the zinger. That button down Levi’s shirt was $5 and the coat was $15. Bargain central! The buttons? Well that little button saleswoman sure was great at her job – I mean, you’ve got to be to stay in business as long as she has selling only fucking buttons – because they were $7 a piece and I needed 7 of them. BUT THEY WERE SO PRETTY! So in total the coat cost me about $65, fairly expensive but much less than it was at retail and tailored to my exact button needs. Let me tell you, I have very specific button needs.

My, what lovely buttons. I'll post a picture of me wearing this when it isn't 80 degrees outside.

My, what lovely buttons. I’ll post a picture of me wearing this when it isn’t 80 degrees outside.

Button. Sorry, just had to say it one last time.

Baby cuz I’m a thug,

Cat

Vision of Love…

…is my favorite Mariah Carey song. There are TWO breakdowns! Diva please. It is also the theme of today’s blog post alongside flea markets, antiquing, art, living the dream, beheading, and soft pretzels.

This weekend my forever contest winning Aunt Sharon invited me up to Wappingers Falls, NY for a free 2 hour cruise on the Hudson River that she had won on the radio and a trip to the legendary Stormville Flea Market. Stormville is a real place, I didn’t just make up a town name from “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3: Everyone Stop Crying, This is Amazing”.

The cruise was a fantastic mix of strangely limited free food (4 penne for you, 1 small meatball for you), awkward people, drunk housewives, and fresh sea air. Your typical cruise! The local radio station DJ was there plus a live band while everyone just awkwardly sat at their tables (ourselves included) and enjoyed the ride. It was so nice to be out on the deck people/river watching and a great time was had by all. I would say an especially great time was had by the drunk woman who pulled your typical Rose from the Titanic stunt and was promptly yelled at by the captain. This is us leaving….

Why thank you!

Why thank you!

Alright, enough FUN… get back to work Chenkus. I woke up early the next morning and immediately got my game face on to prepare for the massive Stormville Flea Market.

Leftover Pizza Hut is the greatest bad idea at 7:30 a.m.

And by game face I mean sleepy pizza face.

This flea market is HUGE. It takes place in a massive airport field and is half vintage/antique items and half wacky new stuff vendors. Let me show you some examples of what to expect:

Wide open spaces, scores of people, and dusty air in your nostrils.

Wide open spaces, scores of people, and dusty air in your nostrils.

Strange

Strange “new” things, like this umbrella hat and a sea of disembodied heads. This was oddly a prominent theme for the day.

The vintage and antique section was pretty killer as you can see by these cool paintings and statue of yet again, a man holding a disembodied head. Told ya.

The vintage and antique section was pretty killer as you can see by these cool paintings and statue of yet again, another disembodied head. Told ya.

We started out in the “new” vendor section. They sell a lot of strange things like bras, pieces of carpet (you read that right, pieces), gourds painted to look like animals, diabetic socks, etc. I was drawn immediately to the vendor that exhibited only 4 huge plastic bins of makeup for a dollar a piece. You know, that guy.

Hay gurl, thas a lot of makeup.

Makeup definitely not from the back of a truck…

Grabbed a foundation and a liquid eyeliner for $2. Score! I’m pretty sure 1,000+ other hands have touched them so I’ll be sure to wipe them down with alcohol before using. Worst case scenario? I get pink eye and get to miss a day of work. Win win situation! Next stop? Pretzel town.

Pretzels the size of your head! I'm carb loading for my upcoming marathon of season 4 of Cheers.

Pretzels the size of your head! I’m carbo loading for my upcoming marathon… of season 5 of Cheers.

Next we floated over to the rows upon rows of antique goods. This is typically not the place you’re going to find something amazing that someone overlooked which you bought for a dollar and can now re-sell for millions. A flea market like this is filled with pickers, re-sellers who pretty much know the value of their pieces. You’ll usually be able to haggle them down to reasonable prices for good quality things. I wasn’t planning on buying anything but a painting one vendor had quite literally stopped me in my tracks.

Ah ah ah ahhhhhhhh (that's my interpretation of what angels sounds like, try not to hear it in your head as just a lot of little screams).

Ah ah ah ahhhhhhhh (that’s my interpretation of what angels sounds like, try not to hear it in your head as just a lot of little screams).

It may not look like much to the average walker-by, but I have been thinking of this painting for the past two years. I was in the middle of a move – I move A LOT, in fact I’ve moved about once a year since I was 20 years old – and was trying to envision a bedroom that I could decorate once I was settled down somewhere for good. It was fall and I was driving upstate to my father’s. The colors surrounding me on the Taconic were so beautiful; the bright blue sky mixed with the deep reds, browns, and purples of the leaves and the wisps of white and gray in the sky just seemed perfect to me. I thought to myself, one day I’m going to paint that exact scene and make it the focal point of my bedroom. OK WELL NOW I DON’T HAVE TO because someone who is a much better artist than me did it. Thanks dude!

The vendor started at $45 for the thing. I wanted to see if I could haggle him down to $30, but I wasn’t sure if he would go that low. As I was staring, mesmerized by my vision come to life and dreading having to haggle (I suck at it) the seller walked over with an offer for $40. Like a true dingus my Aunt pipes up with “Sir! Money is not an issue, she is not interested!” I politely told her to shut her face and go away, which she did quickly while laughing and realizing what she had just done. Well that threw haggling out the window! I had to have it, so $40 be damned I took the baby home.

My bedspread is currently on my couch, so you can get a little glimpse of the start of my vision:

Before... meh.

Before… meh.

After! This will all make a gorgeous, colorful, calming bedroom one day.

After! This will all make a gorgeous, colorful, calming bedroom one day. For now? A “make do” living room.

My only tip for this long winded adventure? Make a vision for what you want in the future. If you are poor, patient, and persistent you’ll always find a way to make your home look how you want without spending much money.

Sorry, one more tip… check out the Stormville Flea Market! They’re only held on specific weekends, so look at their site here for future dates and details.

Signed, sealed, delivered I’m yours,

Cat

Don’t be a Landfill Larry

Howdy partner(s)! My theme for this post is all about trying to reuse and recycle what’s already out there before buying something new from a store. You know the old saying “They don’t make ’em like they used to!”? Well, it’s for damn sure true. I bought a can opener last year from a big home goods store and before I even moved a year later it was already broken. I’m not an overly aggressive can opener-er so I mean, come on now.

I mean, he's pretty right to be angry with you. Whippersnappers!

He has every right to be angry with you. Whippersnappers!

Knowing that I needed a can opener and a few other kitchen items I set out to find these things. Estate sales, garage sales, and thrift stores always have plenty of kitchen stuffs. I love the old sturdy feel of a heavy, not so pretty, but dang sure resilient kitchen utensil (I love pretty freely). You know that old can opener/ladle/butcher knife/frying pan/whisk/satanic worship altar/teapot your grandparents have? They definitely got it when they first got married and they still use it to this today. Proof. Science.

Anthony being the attentive listener, and lucky fella, he is went to went to work the next day and ran into a friend who was moving and had to get rid of a bunch of stuff. Did he have a can opener? Fuck yes he did. Cost? Free.

Remember

Remember “The Secret”? Oprah loved that shit. It works most of the time, just putting your wants out there to the universe… at least with can openers.

That weekend my mother and I hit up an estate sale in Oceanside. Again, this one was run by an outside company, so the furniture and art was pretty expensive. The coolest thing I saw though was a whole bunch of custom “Made in the U.S.A.” men’s suits. If Ant was with us I would’ve made him awkwardly try them on while some horny old ladies watched, but he wasn’t, so it wasn’t worth it to even pay $5 for them if they wouldn’t fit.

However, focusing back to kitchen items I found a tOTaLLy aWeSOMe (90’s AIM away message font) brass and teak bottle opener from Thailand and a sweet hanging fruit basket. I don’t neeeed a bottle opener since there’s technically one on the can opener, but would you rather have your company open a beer with that or a lovely gold plated elephant head? I thought so. The fruit basket was a great find because our kitchen is TIGHT. Not tight like slang for looking fantastic, like tight as in if two people are in it their butts will inevitably touch (I hope you’re not shy about butt touching in my place).

Hey wow! Pretty sweet, eh? Eh? EH!?

Hey wow! Pretty sweet, eh? Eh? EH!?

I need to buy more fruit, alright? So for now, a hanging vegetable basket!

I need to buy more fruit, alright? So for now, a hanging vegetable basket!

Alright, here’s my quick sermon on buying used and upcycling: Landfills are filled with perfectly fine things that people just didn’t want anymore and didn’t give away. What a damn waste! I’ve mentioned before that many retail stores just throw away returned items or things that don’t sell well. Some clothing/shoe stores will literally slash their own merchandise that doesn’t sell so that no one can go through their garbage and take it. What a bunch o’ jerks! Sites like FreeCycle and Craigslist (both linked) are great for picking up or getting rid of lightly used items. You’ll also save a ton of money! That same hanging fruit basket runs from $10-$30 on Amazon, where as I only paid $5 for both of my items! Winner winner, Kitty Glitter.

Mmm, let's make this baby purr.

Mmm, let’s make this baby purr.

So just remember, the next time your stupid plastic whisk breaks off in your cake batter or your grandma serves a pot roast in a 60 year old pan made of equal parts mercury, asbestos, and lead… they don’t make ’em like they used to. I believe my friend Captain Compost Heap sang it best in a little ditty from the episode Zanzibar of Rocko’s Modern Life (click the lyrics for the song) “R-E-C-Y-C-L-E Recycle, C-O-N-S-E-R-V-E Conserve, don’t you P-O-L-L-U-T-E pollute the rivers, sky, or sea or else you’re going to get what you deserve”.

I've had this song stuck in my head since I was 10 years old. I'm not mad!

I’ve had this song stuck in my head since I was 10 years old. I’m not mad!

Wake me up before you go-go,

Cat

Today I used my accessorEYES… get it?

“Wise people speak when they have something to say, fools speak because they have to say something.” – Cathryn Chenkus

I said that out loud just now, hence the quotes, it’s not like I made that up. But I do sometimes try to live by it! I’ve spent the last two weeks moving into my new digs, unpacking, working, and of course, watching a ton of “Cheers”.

Coach died. It has been a rough couple of weeks.

RIP Nicholas Colasanto, you are top 3 in my favorite TV characters of all time.

RIP Nicholas Colasanto.  Coach, you are top 3 in my favorite TV characters of all time.

 

I wasn’t thrifting or going to estate sales or taking anything out of the garbage, but rather putting things into my own garbage for some fortunate picker to find. You’re welcome!

Now I’m back with a fantastic Friday find. I’ve seen that some estate sales start on Fridays which is bananas because who goes to these? DRIFTERS?! Well, when I get a Friday off from work… turns out, I do. This estate sale was in West Hempstead (West siiiide? No.). It was the kind of estate sale where a company comes in and organizes the sale for the family. These are my least favorite because they can be overpriced, there are SO MANY RULES – one of which was “no fighting or we will call the authorities” – and sometimes you have to wait outside.  I made two friends and one enemy waiting outside this one though, so it was obviously worth the wait.

Very rarely am I looking for a re-sell, that’s Ant’s world. Bless his patient heart. I’m only looking for cool stuff that pops out to me as interesting and that works with my style. I found two awesome bags while rifling through a closet:

IMG_3428

WHAT A WEIRD BAG!!! Are those tiny devils suckling the teat of a giant skeletal cat wolf?  Yes, a thousand times yes.

IMG_3426

The other side of the bag is so much prettier, but definitely not as cool. I love the colors! It seems to be hand woven and has a nice wood handle. San Pietro is a church in Rome, says Google. Bad. Ass.

Some people say I should be a model, some people are drunk. I'm not either of those people.

Some people say I should be a model, some people are drunk. I’m not either of those people.

I also found what I think was a binocular or camera bag. Leather and wool, in great condition, and sturdy as heck! I thought I’d use it was a cross body bag, since I don’t have any binoculars or cameras… yet.

IMG_3423

Up close details of the bag. Nifty, eh?

IMG_6636

Check out this picture of me and my new cross body bag right before we were eaten by giant sunflowers.

That’s what my face looks like 94% of the day. A mix of trying not to laugh and deep concern.

Clearly, an interesting day for bags. Finally, I came across a room with a beautiful collection of silk scarves. I’m conservatively hesitant with scarves because they are so pretty and tempting, but I don’t wear them too often. Just like nipple tassles, you know? I do occasionally rock the “Rosie the Riveter” hair look or throw a scarf over a plain shirt for work, but not every day. This one however, sure did catch my eye:

IMG_3431

What a cool print! I love me some florals, so I knew I could easily incorporate this into an outfit.

IMG_3430

Check this out, it was still in the box with the original Lord & Taylor tag and look at that label. 100% silk! This must have been a hated gift from a birthday in the 1970’s. No disrespect ma’am, but COME ON! You never look a gift scarf in the mouth…

Estate sales run by companies like this really jack up some prices. Usually it’s just on the high end items like furniture or art. There was a dining room table at this house priced at $1,200. Poppycock. If there was something I loved that was way overpriced I would totally go back on the last day and haggle them down, if it was still there. Smaller things they’re just trying to get rid of though? Easy street. My total was $8. Suck it, capitalists.

A successful return from my brief hiatus! Go team go. I hope my two new friends, that nice neighbor lady and the man who reupholsters mid-century furniture, were as successful as I was today. I hope that guy who tried to cut the line and then sassed one of the staff members got a splinter today. Right in the dick.

Carry on my wayward son.

P.S. The dress I wore today was given to me, for free, by my awesome Aunt Sharon. Thanks lady!