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#StreamTeam Gets Down With The Get Down

Netflix Stream Team

I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and will be happily sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. (Okay, that’s an understatement. I should say CONSTANTLY. We use Netflix CONSTANTLY.) This post is sponsored by Netflix, of course!

Okay, let’s talk. If you have not or are not watching Netflix’s “The Get Down”, you need to remedy that now.

As in, right now.

I know it’s weird for me to start off a post like that before even telling you about this phenomenal series, but perhaps because I did that you’ll get a sense of my love for it.

Now that I’ve gotten that action item assigned to you and checked off my list, let me tell you about “The Get Down”. (Working backwards is fun!)

The Get Down

The Baz Luhrmann-created series takes place in the Bronx in the late seventies, just as disco is dying out and hip hop is rising. It focuses mainly on a bunch of teen boys (Zeke, Shaolin, Dizzee, Boo-Boo, and Ra-Ra) who run wild in the streets in between working on their DJ and MC skills and consulting with Grandmaster Flash (yes, THE Grandmaster Flash, portrayed like a Jedi Master by Mamoudou Athie. I need for him to sit with me and tell me stories).

There are girls too, of course. Mylene and her best friends Yolanda and Regina have a story about Mylene’s desire to become a disco star that intertwines with the boys and their passion for hip hop.

I won’t spoil it for you, I won’t. But here are some specific things about this show that I adore:

1. I really like Baz Luhrmann. If you have seen other Luhrmann films (like “Moulin Rouge”, “The Great Gatsby” or “Romeo and Juliet”), you already have an idea of what his style is like. It’s loud, colorful (nearly gaudy at times), and completely fast-paced. I love the visuals. He directed the pilot so that’s the episode that’s the most “Bazzy” (I just made that up). If you don’t like Luhrmann’s work, hang on until episode two when things grow a little more calm, editing- and cinematography-wise.

2. “The Get Down” is fictional but has real pieces of stories sprinkled throughout. In addition, there is real life video footage that has been edited seamlessly into what was shot specifically for the series. Seeing the World Trade Center twin towers was a little emotional for me; they were less than a decade old during the time the series takes place.

3. I love that the only actors I personally recognize in this series are Jimmy Smits (yay! “LA Law” FOREVER and yes I totally know he was also in “NYPD Blue” and “The West Wing” but yay Victor Sifuentes!) and Jaden Smith, whose papa must be so completely proud of this particular gig his son nabbed.

4. The soundtrack is INCREDIBLE. I love disco, I love hip hop. “Hey, you got disco in my hip hop! No, you got hip hop in my disco!” (another 70s reference modified for my own purposes. Get it?) LOVE THE SOUNDTRACK. Someone even created a “The Get Down” playlist on Spotify, and I thank him for doing the work for me. I’m following it now.

There’s more, so much more. I’ll stop now so you can just go watch for yourself. Part one of first season of “The Get Down” is made up of a 93-minute pilot and five 53-minute episodes after that. You can (and will want to) watch it in two days, maybe one if you’re really ambitious and have someone making you snacks. It’s the perfect balance to all that outside time you’ll enjoy this Labor Day weekend. Now go! Enjoy! I need to go make a countdown calendar for Season one, part two.

The Get Down collage

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The Concert of My Lifetime: Billy Joel at Wrigley Field

When I was a kid in the seventies, we had a pretty nice-sized vinyl collection thanks to a friend of my dad’s who owned a record store and shared lots of the albums that he no longer needed. The square covers always had a 1/2-inch notch cut out of the top and a sticker that said “For Promotional Use Only: Not for Resale”. These days I’d have to sit and think about which albums were in our collection in order to talk about them except for two standouts, “The Jacksons” and this one, Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”:

Billy Joel Piano Man

When I was six and seven, that album cover both intrigued and terrified me. To be honest, while I don’t remember listening to it very often–because I favored The Jacksons–the cover image has stuck with me for more than forty years.

We moved to Texas in 1979 and lived at the hotel my dad managed for a while until our house was built and ready to inhabit. I became friends with some of the neighborhood kids and while music had always been in the background of my life, 1980 was when I first connected with peers over it. Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses” was a major player (and was majorly played) during that time.

Billy Joel Glass Houses

“An Innocent Man” was the album that marked my years in high school. I was fascinated with the pairing of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley, and the videos he made during that time are burned in my brain.

Jim and I played “Storm Front” incessantly in the early years of our marriage, and “River of Dreams” was a favorite when our firstborn was a baby.

All of this history between me and Billy Joel, a brilliant musical artist I’ve never met personally, is exactly why, when he opened last night’s concert at Wrigley Field with “Prelude/Angry Young Man”, tears sprang from my eyes at the explosive sound of the first few notes. My reaction caught me completely off-guard in the best way and it was at that moment that while I have never considered myself to be a Billy Joel Superfan, he and I go way back and his music really does hold a special place in my heart.

Billy Joel at Wrigley Field

I noted that the average age of Billy Joel’s audience is about twenty-five years older than that of the audience at the Pitbull concert I attended with the same date (my friend Samantha) last week. Sidenote: Samantha and I were laughing at a guy a few rows down for his miming of the song lyrics and awkward dancing, but when we stood for the encore I realized there’s really no way to dance to Billy Joel’s music without looking (and feeling) incredibly awkward, so I’m sending apologies to that guy, wherever he is.

Billy Joel had no opening act last night and played for approximately two and a half hours: twenty-two songs and THEN a six-song encore. Had time (and his endurance) been unlimited, he could have kept the sold-out crowd entertained for another ten or twelve hours; there were so many of his hits he didn’t and couldn’t perform because none of us had all night, including the Wrigleyville neighborhood who count on Wrigley Field to enforce the 11:00pm curfew on the acts that play there.

Samantha and I met our friends Jen and George for dinner before the concert and Jen asked us to name our favorite concert ever. I gave her two (Foo Fighters and Adam Ant) and after Samantha and I were jogging down the ramps at Wrigley trying to beat the post-show crowds out (we did!), we talked about how the “Favorite concert ever” question is so hard to answer. When you’re like me and enjoy music across most genres, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. For me, Foo Fighters is a favorite because Dave Grohl is a beast and they rocked Wrigley hard last summer in a fun show that seemed personal and interactive even though it was a sold out crowd of more than 40,000. Adam Ant is a favorite because of how I swooned hard over him throughout my impressionable high school years (read about my obsession and concert experience in a post I wrote earlier this year for Midlive Mixtape) and it meant the world to see him thirty years later. And now, Billy Joel is (and will always be) a favorite because his was the concert of my lifetime, a live rendering of the soundtrack of my years on earth.

Sold out Billy Joel concert

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You Don’t Have To Be On A Boat To Enjoy Yacht Rock.

The scene: My car on a recent sunny afternoon.
The players: My twenty-four-year-old son and me.
The music: Yacht Rock.

Dylan: “What the heck IS this?”
Me: “It’s the theme from ‘Cannonball Run’.”
Dylan: “Starring Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise*????”
Me: “Yes! It’s on the Yacht Rock station. I’ve been on a seventies kick lately. I think it’s because it takes me back to my childhood. It’s comforting. Anyway (continuing in the voice of Thurston Howell III), don’t you feel like you could be sailing on a boat on a gorgeous day with not a cloud in the sky, listening to this music?”
Dylan, rolling eyes: “Oh God.”

Fade out.

Yacht Rock

*This movie is a favorite of all three living generations of our family.

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When Pinterest Was Heavy

I’m working diligently on cleaning out the cabinets above my kitchen desk.

Yes, again. They’re the bane of my existence, truly. I even met my friend Natasha at IKEA on Sunday so she could help me pick out some containers that will help me wrangle all the things (and keep them wrangled). Creating a system that works for the long term is hard.

My first step was basically pulling everything out and tossing it onto the desk and the kitchen island haphazardly. That was also probably my first mistake because it might take me a week to slog through the piles, but I digress.

In the middle of all that chaos, I found my old school Pinterest “account”.

Old School Pinterest account

Yes, that’s a plastic envelope with torn catalog pages and swatches inside. That’s how we used to have to do it, kids.

When we were in the early stages of getting ready to look for a house, this house, in the fall of 2000, I started looking around for inspiration. Pottery Barn’s catalog was my favorite and in it I found the poppy rug that I wanted to design my whole living room around, the rug that we called “Bijoux’s rug” and had to replace three years ago with what ended up being “Roxie’s Rug”. Once I found that centerpiece I started collecting ideas for the rest of that room and the others, too. Right there in that envelope, preserved for posterity, are the shade of yellow we applied to our bedroom walls before painting anywhere else, the green swirly velvet that we used to reupholster a chair that belonged to my grandparents, and the Mission-style furniture pieces we purchased for our family room (Jim’s chair) and bedroom (bed and dresser).

Old school Pinterest

There’s something fun about ripping a page out of a catalog or pulling swatches out of your purse when you’re at the store and need to see if something matches. I remember carrying that folder in my car for months during that fall season sixteen years ago. I’d pull the items out of it occasionally, spreading them out on the dining room table and wondering what I still needed.

I even had some old school Pinterest fails, in that I chose these items for the house on paper along with the others but never managed to bring them home:

Old school Pinterest fails

And suddenly we’re closing in on the fall of 2016.

Last week we covered that buttery yellow on our bedroom walls with a cool blue-gray hue. It was definitely bittersweet as I reflected on the passage of time, particularly the last sixteen years in this house. There are some changes on the horizon here; I’m not ready to go into detail just yet but I will when it’s time. For now, as I clean out those stupid cabinets and throw away all kinds of things I don’t need to keep, I’ll tuck my old school Pinterest folder away for old times’ sake and upgrade my inspiration collection method to the online version.

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The Cross

This story actually began in 1999 when I was working at a local health club. I was friendly with the general manager–well, we all were–and whenever I met him in his office he would open his dorm-sized refrigerator and offer me a can of flavored carbonated water. I hadn’t heard of La Croix before I met him and always politely refused the offer because it just didn’t sound very good to me. He drank it like it was going out of style. I mean, he had a refrigerator in his office for the sole purpose of keeping his La Croix cold.

One day, after many days of sticking to my plain, non-sparkling, filtered tap water, I told him I’d try it.

It was disgusting.

I chalked it up to the flavor (I can’t even remember what flavor it was) and went on with my life, never to look at that sparkling water again.

Until this summer.

I had been contemplating giving up Coke Zero (again; this happens every couple of years) and suddenly I started seeing La Croix everywhere. EVERYWHERE. It occurred to me that much like I have become a fan of avocado and salmon as an adult when I never touched them years ago, perhaps I could enjoy La Croix. I’m seventeen years older than I was in that health club manager’s office, after all.

I suggested to Jim that perhaps we should try La Croix because, well, it was better for us than soda/pop/Coke (whichever term you use depending on your geographic location). We picked up a twelve-pack of Berry, because I thought that Berry sounded like the most innocent and the most delicious. We couldn’t miss with Berry, that’s for sure!

Um.

Berry was a miss. A TOTAL MISS.

La Croix La Cross

As it turns out, my friends are totally worked up about La Croix. Many are passionate in their love for it and many are passionate in their hatred for it.

Some of the friends who love La Croix really love it. They asked, “Maybe you just don’t like carbonated water?”
I answered, “I don’t now about THAT; perhaps I just didn’t like that flavor.”
Many of them mix La Croix with other things (especially vodka), and I can get on board with that but if I don’t like La Croix, why would I force myself to drink it by adding vodka when I can just stick with my favorites, Coke with either Jack or Bacardi?

The friends who hate La Croix really hate it. One of my friends commented, “You should reconsider who your friends are….I would never have done such a horrible thing to you…or him!” Others are flavor-specific in their hate. I was told that Berry really is terrible and that I should try Grapefruit. Or Lime. Especially Lime. Apparently Lime is the shiznit.

One day I found myself at Target in the beverage aisle, picking up another flavor. Naturally I had to tell Facebook.

La Croix again

But I didn’t buy Lime that day. My friend Vikki, along with everyone else apparently, loves Lime and sent me multiple reminders that I should buy some Lime before making my final decision about La Croix in general. She saw that Facebook post and texted me immediately (and simply): “Lime,” adding “Maybe you just don’t like carbonated water?”

Vikki La Croix

Spoiler alert: we hated this flavor too.

The fact is, as much as I tried, I couldn’t get away from it. La Croix sponsored a local concert Jim and I attend every summer. COINCIDENCE? (Okay, probably.)

La Croix sponsor

My friend Angie called me out on Instagram.

Angie La Croix

Jen told me she really likes the Pamplemousse (French for Grapefruit) and I asked her to bring me a can to try when we met up one night. Unfortunately she forgot to take it out of her purse and hand it to me so I have yet to pass judgement on Pamplemousse.

Pamplemousse La Croix

Vikki taunted me with her Lime La Croix.

Vikki La Croix

One day while I was off running other errands, Jim did the grocery shopping and I came home to this. Lime.

More La Croix

I have news for you. Lime is terrible, too, in my opinion.

Don’t get me wrong; if you love La Croix, more power to you. I respect the brand. They definitely have a huge fan base of people who love love love love the many flavors that are out there, as well as those who think the flavors make good add-ons for vodka and limoncello.

Me?
Maybe I just don’t like carbonated water.

Besides being a Lime La Croix Booster, Vikki is also a great accountability partner. I nagged her nearly to death to finally write something new for her blog this week, and I think she still likes me. Check out her amazing writing at Up Popped a Fox.
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#StreamTeam Summer Catch-Up

Netflix Stream Team

I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam and will be happily sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. (Okay, that’s an understatement. I should say CONSTANTLY. We use Netflix CONSTANTLY.) This post is sponsored by Netflix, of course!

While you might think that my level of activity would ease up after the curtain comes down on LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER CHICAGO right before Mother’s Day, the season of summer is also conference season, and work actually ramps up in a direction that approaches complete insanity. It’s for that reason that I have to make really good viewing choices, because the time I have to pay attention to what’s on the television is almost non-existent.

Season 2 of “Grace and Frankie” started streaming on Netflix a couple of months ago, and I didn’t get to watch it until last week.

325440id1_GraceAndFrankie_S2_24w_x_26h_4b4p_1200.indd

In case you’re not familiar with the premise, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star as former rivals who become the best of friends after finding out that their long-time husbands (Robert and Sol) had been cheating on them for two decades, with each other. Jane’s vodka-swilling, retired business owner Grace is about as uptight as you can imagine and Lily’s pot-smoking artist Frankie is completely hippie dippie. Of course, they end up perfectly balanced in their friendship. Season 2 sees the twosome continue to deal with Robert and Sol’s marriage, Frankie’s attempts to get her lube produced for the masses, Grace’s reunion with a long-ago boyfriend, and a brief visit from an inspiring old friend. I binged the entire season and, when it was over, became a little angry that I have to wait until next spring to see season 3.

*shakes fist at Netflix*

WHY, NETFLIX, WHYYYYYYY?

It’s so good. The writing on this show is on point, the characters are diverse, and I can’t think of another show that has made being in one’s 70s look like this much fun since “The Golden Girls”.

Other titles I’ll be catching up on this summer:

Jane the Virgin: This is a quirky romantic comedy about a woman who learns she’s pregnant as a result of a medical error. It stars Gina Rodriguez (who won a Golden Globe for the role) and I was literally ordered to watch this by my friend Lisa. With exclamation points. She’s really demanding. I’m glad both seasons are on Netflix right now, and it’s next on my list.

Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru: This Netflix original documentary goes behind the scenes at motivational speaker and powerhouse Tony Robbins’ major annual event. I have always been fascinated by Robbins and so when I saw this pop up I added it to my list immediately.

tonyrobbins

Special Correspondents: Another Netflix original film, this stars Ricky Gervais (so how could I go wrong) and Eric Bana as a radio team that invents phony reports from a combat zone after they lose their passports. I’m intrigued.

The Big Short: This one will be an encore for me, when I sit with it this summer. It’s a film about how a few opportunists saw the housing market crash coming and used that information to make a fortune by battling the banks. This dark comedy is based on truth and stars Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell, and Christian Bale. The story is amazing and scary, and while it’s not a happy movie by any means, the presentation is excellent and completely fascinating. I saw it twice at the theater–once with friends and once with Jim, the first time feeling like I didn’t understand it and the second with so much more clarity–and I’m looking forward to catching it again.

Shameless: Starring Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy, this is a dramedy about a Chicago-based group of siblings and their struggles with their alcoholic father. I saw it in my Facebook newsfeed–another recommendation from a friend–and decided to add it to my list and give it a shot. Netflix is streaming seasons 1 through 4 right now.

Will I get through all of these great shows and films by Labor Day? I’m not sure, but I’m definitely going to give it a shot. Have you see any of these? Do you have other Netflix recs for me? Leave it all in the comments. I’ll have more Stream Team goodness for you next month!

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I Saw The Signs

Sometimes my curiosity is overwhelming.

Take yesterday, for example. I was watching the roll call at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), sobbing my eyes out when Hillary Clinton was officially nominated as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States and then sobbing my eyes out again when Bernie Sanders moved that Hillary be nominated by acclimation, trying to unify the party.

(I’m just setting the stage for you.)

While all of this history was being made, convention attendees were holding up signs. And more signs. And more signs. There was no sign shortage at the Republican National Convention (RNC) either, which I watched last week. Signs are commonplace at every political convention.

dnc signage

ALL THE SIGNS.

DNC signs

But where, I wonder, do they come from? Printers, of course. I know that. That’s not my real question.

My question is WHERE do they come from, within the venue? And that’s not all.

How do they get into the hands of the attendees and where the heck are they stowing those signs when it’s not time to hold one up? How do they know if it’s time to hold up the one that says “Change Maker” or the one that says “I’m With Her”? What happens to the signs after the DNC and RNC? Do they fit in a Chevy for the ride home? Do they end up on eBay? These questions, even in the midst of a crazed BlogHer conference season and a crazed home life at the moment, have been bugging me for a week.

Michelle dnc

I decided to take my curiosity to Twitter, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is the best extended tweet exchange I’ve had in a while:

DNC signs 1

DNC signs 2

DNC signs 3

DNC signs 4

DNC signs 5

DNC Signs 6

Now that I have a glimmer of an answer, I feel better but feel the need to know more. Is there a documentary out there about the people who run these signs over when the cameras are pointed toward the stage? A book? SOMETHING?

I tried to do research this earlier today but didn’t get anywhere, which is totally frustrating for a Type A, curious, control freak whose work title includes the word “RESEARCHER”. I need to know things.

I did find out that the items on the following list are not allowed inside the DNC:

-Aerosols
-Ammunition
-Animals other than service/guide animals
-Backpacks
-Bags exceeding size restriction 18″ x 13″ x 7″
-Banners, Signs, or Placards of any type or size (WAIT. Oh okay, nothing from home. Got it.)
-Bicycles
-Balloons
-Coolers
-Drones and other unmanned aircraft systems
-E-Cigarettes
-Explosives
-Firearms
-Glass, thermal, or metal containers
-Laser pointers
-Mace / Pepper spray
-Noisemakers, such as air horns and bull horns (Pennsylvania Convention Center only)
-Packages
-Pocket knives
-Selfie Sticks
-Structures
-Supports for signs and placards
-Toy guns
-Weapons of any kind
-Any other items determined to be potential safety hazards

I also learned that if you are a delegate using the “home away from home” lounge at the venue, you have certain exceptions and MAY bring:

-Backpacks
-Bags exceeding size restriction 18″ x 13″ x 7″
-Glass containers
-Unopened packages

So I learned some good stuff today. I’m still hungry for more details on those blasted signs, though. Know anything about them? Have your own theories? Lay them on me. Thanks.

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Fruitastic Salad 2.0

Knowing what you know about me regarding my control freak tendencies, it probably doesn’t surprise you that I am tremendously more comfortable following recipes to the letter than I am experimenting with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I’m certain that’s why I enjoy baking more than cooking elaborate meals that leave lots of room for improvisation.

My sister, while definitely knowing what she wants, when and how she wants it, is more laid-back than I. She is not only an excellent baker but also a tremendous cook when it comes to all dishes. A few years ago she brought what she called “Fruitastic Salad” to a get-together, and it was an instant family favorite. What I love about it, besides its deliciousness, is that it’s a recipe that makes it easy to play with a little bit of this and a little bit of that without messing it up.

I posted the recipe previously, but it’s been years. Since I just made it today with some beautiful golden raspberries I bought at my local farmer’s market yesterday and it is completely gorgeous, I thought I’d post it again in time for your Fourth of July celebration. That said, it’s great for any celebration or any day. Enjoy!

Fruit salad

Fruitastic Summer Salad
This fresh and fruity salad recipe can be altered to use whatever is seasonal! The fruits listed are just a guideline!
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint
  2. 5 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute*
  3. juice/pulp of one lime
  4. 1/2 lb seedless green grapes
  5. 2 firm-ripe medium peaches, cut into bite-sized pieces
  6. 1 package strawberries, cut into bite-sized pieces
  7. 1 package blackberries
  8. 1 package blueberries
  9. 1 package raspberries
Instructions
  1. Pulse mint, sugar and lime juice in blender or food processor until mostly liquified. You want the mint to be small.
  2. Put fruit in a large bowl.
  3. Pour mint/sugar/lime juice mix over fruit, lightly toss. Refrigerate until serving time. Excellent with cool whip on top!
  4. *The sugar can be omitted entirely or halved, if you're watching intake!
Suburban Scrawl http://suburbanscrawl.com/
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Garage Sales. Don’t Get Me Started.

Garage sales. Sigh.

I’m not a fan of attending them, and I’m not a fan of hosting them.

When I was a kid, my mom hosted multiple garage sales every year, and I wasn’t enamored with the process at all, to put it lightly. Sure, my sister and I got to be the creative geniuses behind the signs, which took hours thanks to my mom being an evil genius (story here), but we also had to do the work of going through our stuff, helping to price it, and sitting outside watching strangers pick through it all.

Of course I completely get that many people LOVE garage sales as a fun activity. Garage sales can also be great for finding bargains and for making money, especially if you’re in need of finding bargains and/or making money.

Still.

The last time we had our own garage sale had to be a dozen years ago. Since then, we have regularly purged closets and dressers and the crawlspace, donating the discards to Goodwill, Amvets, or other worthy places. It’s easier.

This summer we’ve gone a little deeper with the purging process—finding a bunch of higher-value items we didn’t want or need anymore—and when the Homeowner’s Association announced the Annual Subdivision Garage Sale, we decided to jump in.

So here we sit, and traffic is less than ideal.

Some random thoughts for you while I wait for customers:

Contrary to popular (my) belief, enjoying a #PinkDrink from the Starbucks secret menu at the start of a garage sale doesn’t do much (or anything) to help increase sales.

Starbucks' pink drink

I started out by saying that the only way I’d do a garage sale is if I could make $500, and now, halfway through the second day, I’m just thrilled for every little dollar sale because that’s less I have to pack up and donate when we’re done. Perspective.

Though I know we haven’t reached the $500 goal at this point, I’m not sure how close or far we are because one of my mom’s cardinal rules on garage sales, one that I enforce with vigor as if she is taking over my mind and body, is that you don’t EVER COUNT THE MONEY until you’re finished. It’s bad luck. You might as well wish that you end up with a negative balance when you’re packing it in. Jim tried to count money mid-morning yesterday and I sprang to my feet, shouting “NO YOU CANNOT COUNT THE MONEY YET!” It’s Sylvia’s Law. Truth.

Another garage sale tradition is that Jim always has to call out some ridiculous item as something that will never sell. Back in the early 90s when we did garage sales as adults with my mom, he had three consecutive years where he would pick up a television remote first thing in the morning and say, “Nobody’s going to buy this!” Each of those remotes was gone within two hours, always purchased by men and I have no idea why.

It always helps when Jim says something like, “We’re NEVER going to sell all this crap,” even if it’s not crap. (It’s not.) Typically after he makes that declaration, business swells for a while. This, I believe, is completely related to how he’ll say “We’re NEVER going to get out of here.” when we’re trying to make a left turn without the benefit of a traffic light and then, like magic, the cars part and we do indeed get out of there. Never say never, unless you’re Jim in which case you should say it early and often.

I will totally go down on price (to a reasonable level) for people who are kind and don’t act like jerks. I’m getting rid of the stuff anyway and unless it’s an item whose value indicates I should try to sell it on eBay or Craigslist instead, I’m happy to adjust my pricing. Take it. Bye.

If you are a total jerk and act amazed and put off that I won’t give you a 90% discount on the armload of stuff you have picked up, bye.

An older woman just bought my “Brüno” movie backpack. It was a great backpack, blue with dark gray trim, with “Brüno” embroidered on it in yellow. I somehow doubt that she knows anything about “Brüno”, which is one of Sasha Baron Cohen’s more offensive movies (second to “Borat”, in my opinion). That’s why, when she smiled and asked if I’d take one dollar for it instead of two, I said “Sure!”

Every other time we’ve had a garage sale, people come by and ask if we were selling tools (we weren’t). This weekend, we ARE selling tools and naturally nobody is interested. The world works in mysterious ways.

I had a great conversation about DJ mixes with a guy who was looking through my old CDs that I used for spinning classes. We reminisced together about the good old days of Chicago’s DJ Markski. Conversation is one of the best things about garage sales. We have chatted with total strangers, some who are actually neighbors and some who aren’t. An old friend whose daughter and son are the same age as my older son and younger son (each pair went to school from kindergarten through high school together) stopped by yesterday. She lives two streets over and we haven’t had a conversation in years. YEARS.

When traffic came to a standstill yesterday, Jim started talking to the birds.

Garage sales and birds

They didn’t.

I have found that I get a little on edge when people pick up something from the table, inspect it, and say “This is…interesting.”

I adore watching little kids shop at garage sales with their little wallets. The following things found great new homes with the under-nine set today:
1. Two Discovery Channel DVDs, one about sharks and the other about tigers.
2. A Harry Potter cake pan
3. A camera lens coffee mug
4. A sun-shaped paper punch
5. Four cookie cutters

Someone bought my Crunch Fitness Boot Camp Training DVD for a dollar this morning and her selection made me almost as happy as doing the workout myself, back in the day. She’s going to love it.

I still can’t stand garage sales. Four hours left. Maybe I need another #PinkDrink.

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New Food Swap Book! (Get it.)

Local food swaps have become a thing. What are they? Well, they’re all a little different but the basic idea is that a bunch of people from one community come together to trade homegrown or homemade items. After everyone arrives, time is spent walking around, checking out what everyone brought (and sometimes sampling), and then when it’s time to swap there’s a negotiating frenzy. Typically everyone goes home with a bag (or box) full of goodies, extremely happy about trying some new things.

My friends Emily Paster and Vanessa Druckman created the Chicago Food Swap a few years ago; the first one was held in December 2011. I was able to attend the second one in March 2012, and fell in love with the process. The subsequent times I’ve been able to be a part of the swap, I’ve watched it grow, I’ve seen many of the same swappers along with lots of newbies each time, and most importantly to my family, I’ve brought home some amazing things (salsas, jellies, cupcakes, produce, lemon curd, dressings, the list goes on!) that we probably wouldn’t have sampled otherwise.

Emily, who is now running the swap on her own, has just published the most beautiful book: Food Swap: Specialty Recipes for Bartering, Sharing & Giving.

food-swap-cover

The book is full of recipes, instructions on how to join a local food swap (or create your own!), and resources like gift tags and the swap cards that are so important for negotiations. One of my favorite parts of the book starts on page twelve: it’s the history of the Chicago Food Swap. It was exciting for me to read about something I’ve been a part of since the very beginning, and I’m just so proud of what Emily and Vanessa started, and now what Emily has accomplished.

If you’re local, you can catch Emily on her book tour TODAY at Sugar Beet Co-Op in Oak Park from 1-3 pm. She’ll be there signing books and being generally charming as usual. Go see her and pick up a book for yourself and maybe an extra one for a friend. As for me, I’ll be making a shopping list for some of my favorite recipes from the book because I need to bring some of that into my life.

Many thanks to Emily for sending me a book, and congratulations too: I’m so proud of (and happy for) you!!!

My other Chicago Food Swap posts:
March 2012
June 2012
November 2014

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