Lessons Learned: Antique versus Stuff

My husband and I had some time to kill time before an event so we strolled through an antique store in the nearby town. I used to love going into antique stores to find unique treasures, but this time I had a different attitude when carousing the numerous shelves and racks full of “stuff.” More and more I’ve seen this happen where antique stores carry any type of collectible imaginable.

This antique store had tons of items for sale. The place was like a museum. I remember the pheasant glasses that we drank from as a kid, the different Barbie dolls, the Life magazines, the hard suitcases, and the stacks of records. But are they really antiques or just collective stuff? My idea of antiques includes those items that were handcrafted and unique. I guess I don’t see items that were produced by the millions and mass marketed as antiques. I don’t have any interest buying the collective stuff today, all though they are fun to look at. Nor do I find the price appealing for those items. For example, this store had a bin full of Golden Books; the children’s books that I used to read when I was little. Each book was priced at $15.00. Are you kidding me? They may have some rare, vintage books on the market, but the ones that I saw in the bin were more of the popular ones. The same books that you can buy today at any book store. I wonder if Generation X or Y feel the same way. Will they go for the vintage stuff or keep buying the best and latest new thing?

Yes, my attitude has suddenly changed on going through those cute little stores. I understand that antique stores need to stay open so whatever they can sell is fair game. But please don’t call your merchandise antiques. I know for a fact that I’m not an antique so neither can most of the “stuff” within the stores be called antiques either.

Lessons Learned: Wedding Experience – Tight Budget and Creativity

A couple of things that I learned from my wedding, back in 1998, is that it you don’t have to spend an enormous amount of money to have a beautiful and memorable wedding. The trick is to be flexible. Don’t be set on how it should look or turn out. Let what you find guide you and make sure that having fun is your top priority. I think the lesson still holds true today, as I learned again with my daughter’s wedding, 16 years and one day after mine.

For Mike and my wedding, we kept it simple. We didn’t want to spend our entire savings on one day’s event. We knew we could have the same amount of fun on a tight budget. A judge married us, the ceremony took place on the Judge’s farm, and our reception and dance were at the county fairgrounds. We had the dinner catered by Divine Swine—no china needed for a pig roast—and the food was awesome. My dress cost $125.00 at Dayton’s Department Store with a small alteration fee. Mike and the groomsmen wore black pants and white shirts. The bridesmaids wore black dresses from JCPenney.

My wedding

My wedding

We were also creative. We made our own wedding invites. Our flowers came from a wholesale shop, a wedding gift from our boss, and we literally had buckets and buckets of roses for under $100 dollars. We made my bouquet, the bridesmaids’ bouquets, the men’s boutonnieres, and part of the table decorations out of those flowers. We also used drinking glasses, found at a restaurant supply store, as candleholders for the rest of the table decorations (and we still use them as our everyday glasses today). My parents did buy us a small wedding cake, but our kids made and decorated three small cakes. They had the best time decorating them.

 My daughter married last weekend. She and Stu kept their wedding simple as well. Their wedding was a little more spendy, as wedding costs have increased over the years. And my daughter wanted a traditional wedding dress for her to wear and formalwear for Stu. They were both beautiful. The rest they kept on a tight budget. They had their wedding, service and all, at a small hotel. They had the dinner catered by a local meat store and they could bring in their own keg and liquor.

 They too were creative. I helped them make their wedding invites. My daughter bought silk flowers—all on sale—and we made her bouquet, the bridesmaid bouquets, and the boutonnieres. Their wedding cake and cupcakes were made by a lady who liked to bake as a hobby (unbelievable how good they were), and the tables was decorated with candles and felt-flowered baby jars filled with candy.

Men's boutonnieres made from bullet shells.

Men’s boutonnieres made from bullet shells.

Weddings don’t have to eat up your entire savings. Make what you can, like the invites or the bouquets. Buy as much as you can when it’s on sale or use coupons. We used Michael’s and Hobby Lobby coupons for regular priced items. And be flexible on color, style, or theme. For example, my daughter wanted real birch wood candleholders for table decorations. When she learned that the decorations wouldn’t work, her new mother-in-law found antique wine glasses at Goodwill. For $25.00, she bought 100 glasses to decorate the tables. The best part is that they looked great and the guests loved them, especially when they could keep their glass if they wanted.

 I remember the fun that I had at my wedding. We had things go wrong. We stayed flexible and made changes as needed. And I wouldn’t have changed any of it – the planning or the day. And seeing the way my daughter smiled on her day, I think she’ll feel the same way about her wedding.

My daughter's wedding

My daughter’s wedding

Lessons Learned: Day of Appreciation

My daughter was married this weekend in her new husband’s hometown, where they now live. Today my husband, my son, and I came back from the whirlwind of activities and events. Do I feel blessed? I do. My daughter has married a great guy, and she’s now a part of his wonderful family as well.

Today I’m appreciating what went into preparing for the wedding, the joy of seeing the many relatives and friends who’ve traveled across the world and from other states to help us celebrate, and how much fun we had with all the events. I’ll also spend the next few days with my son before he flies back to Germany, and then I’ll settle into routine and finish writing my next novel. I’ll be thinking, “All is good.”

Lessons Learned: First Time Traveling Fears

I admit that I was quite nervous traveling to Germany last month. My first time overseas, and it only took me 50+ years to finally venture out! For me, the fear was being out of my comfort zone. I didn’t speak German and I didn’t have a phone to use in case there was an emergency or if we were lost.

My rate of fear varied from when I booked the flight to when we landed back in the States. I wasn’t thrilled about flying over the ocean for 800 hours (yes, I’m exaggerating but it felt like a long, long time) until common sense kicked in. Whether land or sea, a plane crash statistically isn’t good and usually has the same outcome.

Once we landed, my fears surfaced again. Damn the movies for setting off my imagination! How many times have you seen a character sweating bullets as they waited to make it through customs? How the character and you would hold your breaths to see whether or not customs would pull him or her aside for further questioning. The good news is that we were “cattled” around to get through the gates. I had some trouble understanding the passport gatekeeper, but Mike understood him—accent and all. I’m glad we didn’t look suspicious.

The next fear was soon after when we took the airport shuttle to my son’s house. Having never been to his home or having seen any outside pictures of the place, I had no idea whether or not we’d reached our destination. We had no phone to call him. My son had described the place to us, but the outside of this place wasn’t anything like he had described in his email. Or maybe what we pictured.

We had the driver beep his horn, as per instructions from my son. When we didn’t see him after a minute, I was nervous about getting out of the van. That van was my security. What would we do if the driver left us with no son in sight? And by the way, the driver didn’t care. He was busy unloading our luggage.

I’m sure that if we were left in the small village without a phone, without knowing the language, without knowing where in the hell we were, we still would’ve managed. Luckily we were fine. Son showed up. Driver was happy that I removed my grip from the seat cushion.

The odd times when my fear kicked in came when Mike and I took walks around the village. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t understand it either. My only guess is that I didn’t have a phone to call Son if something should happen and because we didn’t speak German. Common theme here?

Another odd time was when we went to K-Town (Kaisertown). The area that we were walking in didn’t feel right. I didn’t get a good vibe. We were probably fine. I had two strong men to protect me. But I wimped. They respected my decision that it was time to head back to the car.

And then there were times when my fear probably should have kicked in. One was after Wine-fest in Bad Durkheim. We took the trains home and almost got off at the wrong stop. We decided to follow an older couple who were heading to the station before our stop. A somewhat drunk American, who has been living in Germany for the last three years, rushed to the open door and told us to get back on. We were getting off at the wrong stop. We believed her. She was part of the group, a family, which we had struck up a conversation with on our way back from the festival. We got back on the train just as the doors were closing. She got us back on track. But really? We took advice from a drunk instead of the older couple who seemed to know where they were going? I had no worries, thank you wine.

I know that next time I travel overseas, I’ll still have those fears. Hopefully they will be a little less now that I’ve been over there once. I’m hoping to go over to Germany again and hopefully soon, before the little bit of comfort that I’ve earned hasn’t left me.