To haggle or not to haggle,

Thursday, February 26, 2009

that is the question...

(I'm reprising this post for Friday thrift store finds July 2015 as I'm often asked about this subject!)

By the time I was 9 years old, I think I had been to every antique shop in the greater Portland/Vancouver area. Not to mention abandoned properties to study heirloom plants or to old dump sites where my mom would take us to enjoy her bottle digging expeditions.

These experiences gave me a good idea about what to look for when it comes to antiques or vintage items. While I am not a collector of high priced antiques or artwork, I do enjoy them and I'm always up for a trip to the flea market or local antique store. Not only is it fun to dig around and find a cool item for your home, but saving a buck or two is even more fun.

So, if you are planning on going to the flea market this weekend, or any time in the future, I thought I'd share some key money saving "haggling" tips that work for me. These could apply to antique shops/malls as well.

I always scoop up a few keys 
First - Mind your manners.
Be polite. Don't insult the seller by offering too low of a price. For many, this is their income. If you see something you like, ask "Are your prices firm?" or "Is this your best price?" (Personally, I like the first question and use that one because no one wants to come across as non-negotiable.) Nine times out of 10 they will ask,"What are you interested in?" so you show them the item and they'll quote you a price. If you don't like the price, you can counter (with a smile of course) and they'll either accept or reject. If they reject, say "Aww, worth a try!" (still smiling) Any discount is better than no discount. I had to ask some ladies to leave my mother's estate sale because they didn't understand this. Also, be engaging, chat with the seller! Not because you want a better deal but because they have great stories to tell and you're probably like minded people. Yes, a better deal may come of it but that's secondary to a good experience where you both walk away with a win-win. I'm serious on that point. Imparting any bit of goodness makes this world better.

Second - Show me the money
Have a budget in mind and stick to it. 40 dollars can go a long way and always bring cash. Most outdoor fleas are cash anyway, At antique shops, they are more willing to give discounts when you have cash because they're saving on the credit card fees. Also, have an idea of what you are looking for. This will save you time and keep your wallet more full because you have a goal in mind. Of course there is the unexpected find but at that point you have to decide what you want more. When I get to this point, I have to think about which item I am more likely to run into again and then choose the more rare item.

Third - Be cool as a cucumber.
Don't appear too excited about an item and give away your bargaining power. Although the best items are out in the morning, sellers aren't going to haggle just yet. If you really want those vintage locker bins (I would) you may have to pay full price (I would again!) or else the next person will snag them. You have to decide if you want to take that chance. If it's something I have been looking for forever and finally come across it, I'm absolutely going to throw myself onto it. I've lost out a few times on the gamble.

Fourth - Hate the game, not the playah.
Don't worry that you are being cheap. Haggling is part of the fun and most sellers are expecting the game to be played that way. When I had a boutique inside an antique mall, the lowest price I would accept on an item was put into the computer so the salesclerk knew how much to discount when asked. Unless the tag has a ND (no discount) written on it everything is negotiable. Thrift stores usually don't haggle though as most of them are working for charities and already have pre-set prices. They are also getting into the silent bid game on more of the vintage items I've noticed.

Fifth - Know when to fold 'em. 
Be prepared to walk away. If an item is priced just too high or the condition is too poor, you probably don't need it anyway. You can always refinish or reupholster something but are you going to get to it in a reasonable time? I always think I am and end up keeping stuff for too long. I have to really ask myself that question on the bigger pieces of furniture. Remember, one man's trash is another man's treasure and sometimes one man's trash is just one man's trash. Chances are, you'll come across something you like better. And then the game begins again...
I'll see you at the market on Saturday! Play on!


Linking to A Shabby Nest | The New Mrs Adventures

Restaurant Review - The Black Gryphon

Monday, February 16, 2009

On Valentine's Day, Jon took me to our favorite restaurant,
The Black Gryphon.

It turned out to be a cold, blustery, winter's evening but as soon as we stepped into the restaurant, the warmth of our greeting melted away the chill which we just escaped.

A nice, soft Beatles tune was being played by the band, The Reese Project. They were on set specifically for this night and the restaurant was full.

One of the reasons we love this restaurant so much is its atmosphere. It has been modeled to look like a Welsh pub with rich colors and dark woods. The lighting is soft and instantly you feel comfortable. The owners and wait staff are always friendly and quick to acknowledge you. It is relaxed and casual.

Once seated, delicious, fresh, baked bread is brought to you on a platter, waiting to be buttered.

They pride themselves on offering local, fresh meats and produce. They use these ingredients in traditional recipes extracted from the Welsh countryside. But to satisfy all palettes, they also serve American and Italian fare. They have a wonderful Tuscan Lasagna made with prime rib. The side vegetable is "melt-in-your-mouth" good.

The salads are crisp and Lindsay knows that Jon likes the Bleu Cheese and I like the 5 herb Vinaigrette - homemade by the way. I once bought a little tub of it to take home.

They do have a children's menu and our kids are always asking to go there. We have taken them and they love it. The staff is really good with kids and they are very welcomed. However, Jon and I tend to think of it as "our place" so that is where we like to go for uninterrupted time without having to corral 5 kids. But when we do take them, they swear by the homemade Mac N' Cheese, French fries, and real, plump, chicken tenders.

There is also a nice bar with a variety of wines, beers and spirits.

In our opinion, it is the best restaurant in Elizabethtown.

Besides the food being fresh and delicious, the people are genuinely friendly. It truly feels like a neighborhood gathering spot where everyone is welcome. I have seen the owners walk around and talk with people about the high school sports games and the artwork on the walls or the menu items. They really want you to have a good dining experience and it's important to them that you enjoy their place. No reservations are required and it is also a non-smoking restaurant.

A general rule in customer service is that those who provide it well are confident in the product they sell.

The Black Gryphon staff is confident and their product is excellent so go check them out!

For a full menu, price list and hours, go to today.

Bon Appetit!
or as they say in Wales, "Mwynhewch eich bwyd"

Celebrity Morph by MyHeritage

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Now if I could just morph my paycheck to look like hers!

MyHeritage: Celebrity Morph - Genealogy searches - Family name origins

5110 days old

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dear Belen,

Happy Birthday!
Fourteen years ago today, you tried to kill me.
You just wanted to stay inside my tummy a little longer so you wrapped yourself tightly around the cord. I have always thought that you chose to give me heck then, instead of when you get older. I thank you for that. You have made raising you very easy on your old mom and dad.
You were never a difficult baby, toddler or teen-ager. Remember that! Especially when we tell you someday that you can't have the car...

You were always a sweet baby. I remember when you were 6 months old and Uncle Blair was playing with you. He was laying on his stomach on the floor trying to get you to come to him. You came toward him and gently & slowly rested your forehead on his. It brought tears to his eyes - you were so cute.

I love thinking back to when I was a new mom and daddy was overseas so we just had each other. You were my little buddy and we'd just sit together all day or go over to Becky's house to visit Timmy and she and I would play with our real life baby dolls. I would take you everwhere and you were always happy. Thanks for letting me practice on you how to be a mom. It wasn't too traumatic, was it?

You have been such a good and patient sister and they love you for that. I'm thankful that you have sought out good friends. I'm even more glad that those friends include your brothers and sisters. I love that you have big dreams for yourself. I love that you have a hearty laugh and that you are understanding and forgive me when I'm a dork.
I still laugh at the story of how you learned a lesson in lying when you were 4 yrs. old which resulted in a needless tetanus shot. All because you wanted a piece of Tillamook Cheddar.
At least you're good with shots for a few extra years!

I'm sorry that we can't give you everything you'd like. You would deserve it all.
I guess you are just stuck with our love. If it had monetary value, you would be worth billions.



The hills have eyes...or bushes!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blair on the hill in simpler times.

I've embraced the fact that I am a slacker mom. But sometimes that fact hits me in the face and I have to pause and wonder if it's not too late to change. Today was one of those days.

We have a hill in our backyard and the last remnants of a snow day are still evident. Today as Mother Nature was giving us a Spring teaser, 2 of my kids thought they would take advantage of the hill and its steep slope. I was told, "Mom, we're going outside." No mention of the word 'sledding.' One of those kids was little Blair and the other remains nameless as to protect the innocent. Blair was having a try at tackling the run and was told to turn away from the bushes, turn awaaay. Not sure why she was going it alone but again, that sledding word was not mentioned...
I'm sure she had full faith in her navigational abilities...
The kids came in the house to where Jon and I were working and I was told that Blair had hit the bushes. I was a bit confused. What? Bushes? Where? What were you doing?? I asked these probing questions as Blair lifted up her shirt and showed me her scraped tummy and then I noticed scrapes on her cheek and neck.

She was crying saying, "Poor Blair Bear." and "I don't love sledding."

I jumped up and carried her to the bathroom to doctor her all up and as I was putting her in the shower, she was sad and said, "momma, I don't want to sled ever, ever again. I hurt myself and when I go sled, I just screwve myself."

"What??" I say, "you'll just what?"

"Screwve myself."

That's what I thought she had said, "screwve" yourself. (at least she put in the "v"!)

I held my laughter until she was in the shower. Then I went and promptly shared with Jon what came out of the mouth of our babe.

*sigh* Such good parents we are...

I'm a little bit country but I like rock n' roll

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I took a little quiz that I saw on a design blog today and it confirmed what I already knew...

I am 'country urban' in what I like as a design style. Although I have always called it "Modern Country" or "Urban Cottage." I guess because the term "country" conjures up images of kitschy items that I have never collected.
I enjoy the juxtaposition of seeing vintage items next to something with modern lines. Give me a weathered tool box carrier to hold my spices rather than a store bought spice rack any day or an old chair with a pop of modern fabrics.

Looove it! It's fresh, fun, and there's always a story in there somewhere. Don't you love stories?

Take the quiz and see your style. You'll be given a series of images from which to choose like colors, fabrics and furniture pieces. Of course, being an Ikea quiz, they are heavy on the Scandinavian influence.,en_US;findyourstyle
Mine was 20% Scandinavian,(see the Ikea angle working?)20% Modern and 60% country.

Trae in a vintage rocking horse.
I love children's toys
and maybe have a few too many.
Oh well...

I'm in love with a Reese.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Today Reese is 7 years old.

Our newborn boy

Playing peek-a-boo with momma.

Charley and Belen loved having a baby brother.

Reese is happy he got his wish of a brother (me too! whew!)
Blair loves to hug on Reese.
Is it me or does time seem to move more quickly each year??
We were living in Salt Lake City when Reese was born. My mom was living in Logan and she pleasantly surprised me the morning of Feb 2, when she called from the airport. I picked her up and we had a full day of shopping and walking around Salt Lake. I think all that walking was the catalyst which sent me in to labor.

Just as I was about to drift off to sleep at 11 that evening,
I said to Jon the familiar phrase, "It's time."
I knew I was going to be tired but was excited to get this baby here.

We had decided on the name Reese no matter the sex of the baby, but (of course) we were secretly hoping for a boy. (We chose to name the baby after Jon's best friend in high school, not for my love of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.) My college roommate and I used to wallpaper our dining area with Reese's wrappers but I digress...
I got to the hospital around midnight and was ready to get this show on the road! The nurse-midwife said he thought this baby would weigh in around 7 lbs. But at 5 am Reese came roaring into the world weighing 8 lbs. 8 oz.
My Dr. and nurse said they were way off the mark on his weight...uh, yeah...

Jon and I were thrilled and I instantly fell in love with a boy for the second time.
How appropriate I thought, that he was born on Super Bowl Sunday. Jon enjoyed holding him and watching the game. Their first father/son event!
Reese likes to read. He reads very well and likes chapter books, especially about dinosaurs. He likes to build and draw. He drew the most amazing picture of his invention he wants to make someday. It even had cogs that fit perfectly together and they were all going the right direction.
I love that he's missing his two front teeth and how he talks without them. It reminds me of when he was really little.
He loves animals, even insects...He likes to play chess and baseball and loves his Ben 10 Alien Force stuff. Reese is our budding artist. Anything he can cut, saw, glue, paint, staple, string together, or just plain create seems to make him the happiest.

He makes us the happiest.