bargains into wares

There’s something I should confess: I am a buyer of books. I glean thrift stores of rare, old, dusty books. You see shelves, I see a deserted island with certain hidden treasure under some lot of ground.

This hobby began a few years ago. I started buying books at thrift stores and reselling them online, namely, on eBay. They may be books on subjects from Indian basket weaving to pipe organ stops – subjects I know little to nothing about. But they are rare finds, small treasures to the discerning eye. I’ve enjoyed finding them, buying them, and turning my bargains into wares.

See some of my recent discoveries:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

the challenge

Start a blog about your bargains into wares. Maybe you buy and sell old cars, books, music, garage sale finds, kitchen appliances, furniture. Whatever your specialty, share your adventures. Maybe this could be a blog that accompanies your eBay or other account and helps potential buyers learn more about your products.

the name of the game: names

There are several conversations that are almost unavoidable when two individuals meet one another for the first time. The name conversation is one of these.

Dear parents, think about the name conversation when picking out that lifelong title for your tot.

Now sometimes, both people have pretty normal names. In this case, the name conversation may not happen, or only to a mild degree, unless one person is for some reason unusually interested in etymology or, to be more exact, the origin of name meanings.

But other times, one person has a less common name and the other person notices and makes the same comments that every person makes about the less common name, but regardless, the person with the less common name decides to humor the common-name holder and pretend like that’s the first time anyone has said that. For example . . .

Howard: Hey, my name is Howard.

Virginia: It’s nice to meet you. I’m Virginia.

Howard: Virginia, that’s a pretty name. Isn’t that the name of a state?

(I’m sure she’s never heard that one before.)

Virginia: Yea, it’s the name of a state.

(She says, pretending she’s just learned something new about her name.)

Howard: I didn’t do that well in school. Where is it exactly?

(Why don’t Americans know geography? I’m guilty, too.)

Virginia: East of West Virginia.

Howard: Oh. That makes sense. (With sort of a chuckle.) So there are really two states named after you?

(“Oh, you’re clever,” Virginia thinks.)

Virginia: Well, I’m pretty sure they were named before me.

the challenge

Start a blog about names. Each day, post about names you’ve heard for the first time recently, your findings on the origins of the name, details, how you think the names describe the people you’ve met, etc. Or blog about your name. Document the things you learn about it. This could even turn into an ancestry project. Maybe you even hope to live up to your name? Blog about that and your efforts.

possible blog names

  • TheNameoftheGame
  • WhatsInAName
  • LivingUpToMyName

a drawer full of unmatched socks and other great mysteries of life

This morning, I decided to wear socks. It is, however, becoming more and more of a decision, especially when summer, disguised as spring, is already here in the South. (I did pass a billboard the other day that read, “Summer is almost here.” Spring started a week ago, people!)

I am a lover of summer, don’t get me wrong, but in all honesty, I prefer socks to bare feet. I wear socks even around the house. I usually wear socks to bed. My mother can attest to the fact that sometimes I even wear socks outside just because I don’t want to take them off. But socks, much like the Grand Canyon’s formation, are one of the great mysteries of life.

Back at home, we have twice as many baskets for unmatched socks as for the matches. Maybe we should opt for a sock display like this one?

I can give the closest attention to getting each sock in the same load of laundry as its coordinating sock, but regardless, when I shuffle through my drawers on days like today, matches are few and far between. I pulled out about seven individual socks this morning before finding one pair, and of course it was a hole-y pair with non-stretch itchiness.

the challenge

Start a blog about the great mysteries of life, those things that baffle you or leave you in awe. Some, to be sure, are mundane, while others are more extraordinary. Include comments and details about why these mysteries are so . . . mysterious.

possible blog names

  • MysteriesOfLife
  • MatchlessSocks
  • MysteriousToDelirious
  • SockStealingElves

chapter titles for all your days

for the love of chapters

When I was in eighth grade, I chose all the titles for the chapters in the novel Johnny Tremain. Granted, Esther Forbes wrote the book in the 40s (I wasn’t born yet. My parents weren’t even born yet.), and she was never informed of these chapter titles. Nevertheless, they were inscribed in my paperback copy beneath each of the large, centered chapter numbers.

It was because of Mr. Perry, our small-Christian-school’s middle school literature/P.E. teacher. Consequently, he wore wind pants most days and the corded whistle around his neck. We didn’t hold it against him. We liked his unconventionalities. He was the easiest to convince to take us out and sit on the grass when it was warm.

After reading a chapter, he would let us name it what we thought it should be named based on the chapter’s content. And we loved it. I still have that copy, and I still remember to this day that I named one of the chapters “Burnt Flesh” (It must have been the chapter where Johnny burns his hand in the silversmith’s shop, which alters his entire destiny.).

Shop in Old Salem

We love chapter titles, if we’re completely honest with ourselves. The titles often foreshadow what is going to happen. They’re sorta like clues dispersed throughout the story, and each clue leads to the next.


Start a blog that is journalistic in nature. For each entry, describe what you would name your day if it were a chapter, and explain why. Include events and memorable details of the day.

possible blog names

  • FortheLoveofChapters
  • BytheChapter
  • DaysTitled
  • ChapterandVerse

hunts and finds: the pirate in all of us

everybody, everybody wants to hunt

Whether you take it in the spiritual/metaphysical purpose-seeking sense or the small, everyday practical sense, we’re always looking for something. We all like to hunt (and by this I mean search for things, not necessarily kill them and put their heads over the living room fireplace, which would be especially unfortunate if you, like Elmer Fudd, prefer to hunt innocent yet humorous rabbits such as Bugs Bunny).

A group of some good friends and I used to go geocaching quite religiously. When I would try to explain the object of geocaching to others – to follow coordinates to a specific location where others have hidden “treasure” (aka, usually a pill bottle with a log in it where you sign your name to prove you found the cache) and then keep an online profile recording all your finds – I always felt a little lame. Usually I would finish my increasingly polished spiel, and the person would squint their eyes a little and ask, “So, what’s the point?” I guess it’s one of those things that sounds stupider than it actually is. But geocaching makes perfect sense if it’s true that we like to look for things and find them, especially when they have some kind of value to us.

Three good friends looking for a cache



Start a blog about what you like to find, what you’re constantly on the hunt for. Some posts could be informative. Think American Pickers: they always share why their picked items are valuable, the history of the items, etc. Other posts could be mostly photographic, showcasing recent finds. The blog could be a documentation of sorts of the things you’ve seen, found, collected, or bought/sold. Maybe you want to go ancestral and start a blog that traces your hunt for family background?

possible blog names

  • _____hunter (Fill in the blank with what you hunt.)
  • PirateseekstreasureArr (For pirates.)
  • Ontheprowlforfowl (For bird hunters? Or Jack Sparrow haters.)
  • Searchinforurchin (Now I’m getting carried away, and I’ve overused parentheses in this section.)

my recent find, or the inspiration for the post

What do I like to find? I like to find abandoned buildings and houses, rundown structures, unkept places. After months of passing this old house, I finally took my photo opp.

famous quotes that somehow pertain to the post

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Jesus

“Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.” – Captain Jack Sparrow

first five minutes, or the morning hypothesis

My Theory, or Hypothesis

I have a theory. No, wait. I have a hypothesis. Okay, I have either a theory or a hypothesis. It’s the very idea behind the old adage about waking up on the wrong side of the bed. If someone were to say, for example, “Peter woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” then we would all know that Peter is in some sort of bad mood and we should avoid him at all costs. Right now, he’s probably treating some nice old ladies with eye-squinting evil acts of incharity or running over squirrels with a tractor. (I get carried away sometimes.) Whatever this grumpy Peter is up to, it isn’t pretty. It’s a bad day for Peter.

(Maybe you never understood the expression “woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” I think this t-shirt graphic explains it all. From TshirtGroove.)

Now I get it.

So the hypothesis – and I do believe it has to be a hypothesis, since there may possibly have been just as many people to have good days after having good mornings as people to have good days after having bad mornings – is that our waking moments determine much about the day to come.


It would be excellent to see a blogger chart the uncharted waters of their first five minutes each day, talking about how they woke up, the first sounds and smells they encountered, their initial thoughts of the day, and then piecing this together with how the rest of the day went consequently.

Possible Blog Names

  • Myfirstfiveminutes
  • Themorninghypothesis
  • Themorningdaysynergy
  • Rightsideofthebed
  • Wakeupandsmell

Personal Note, a P.S. of Sorts to This Blog Entry, Though in the Form of a Letter

Dear readers,

Perhaps you have noticed that I’ve been experimenting with a few things on the blog over the last little while. For example, I’ve strayed a bit from the traditional opening line of, “Someone should start a blog about (insert preposterous idea of my mind’s recent adventures).” I may keep experimenting a bit until the blog reaches the feel I’m going for. Feel free to comment. One feature I’m QUITE excited to introduce is the “Possible Blog Names” section. This should be fun!

I never officially celebrated my three-month anniversary of blogging earlier this month, but it’s true. I’ve been at this for three months! Cheers! So thank you for reading and sticking around. Blog on.



volunteering :: from us, for us

Have you ever stopped to think how many of the places and organizations you frequent or enjoy the benefits of or simply believe in not only accept volunteers, but even depend on them? As in, they wouldn’t be around if it weren’t for people willing to help out, expecting nothing in their pockets afterwards. When you think of the idea of volunteering, maybe you think it’s lame. Maybe you think volunteers walk away empty-handed. But I suppose it all depends on perspective. I think they walk away anything but empty-handed.


Volunteering is giving to someone else while also giving to yourself.


Although it’s over a week in, the new year is still fresh on my mind. As I’ve thought of my post 365 and 52 (project): the numbers of 2012, I’ve wondered what I’d do one on if I did one. I like writing. I like blogging. I like making waterballoons and eating spoonfuls of peanut butter. I like taking photographs of my goofy but loveable friends and attempting to draw obscure flowers like mountain laurel.

But what is one-year-of-my-life worthy? What is one-year-of-my-life blogworthy? It’s strange how thinking on what you blog about inevitably leads you to think on what your life is about. (And for any first-time readers, this is probably the most philosophical I’ve ever waxed in a post. I’ll try to throw in a few jokes or puns before it’s all over.)

Well, here’s what I decided: whatever you blog about, you are promoting in some way. I always blog about blogging, because I, of course, promote readers to begin blogs about the random things I write on. But this year, I want to promote something else, too. I want to promote volunteering, giving back, helping people, putting into those people and places that provide so much for you and your community.

So, here’s the goal: volunteer at one place in my community per week this whole year. I already have a list of possibilities. Along the way, I hope anyone in the area will join me in my ventures. In fact, I hope never to go alone. I’m not sure yet if I’ll blog about this 52 project, but someone should start a blog about it.

Example blog: (Perfect example, might I add! And I thought of the idea before even seeing this blog, but it goes to show I’m not the only one around here with some good ideas.)

The promised joke: A peanut walks into a bar, and then . . . Snickers.

meeting for the first time

Somebody ought to start a blog about meeting for the first time . . .

Meeting people. Being introduced. Introducing yourself. First impressions. Shaking hands.

The old cliche says, “A first impression is a lasting (or important) impression.” Maybe it’s true somehow, but I find myself forgetting most of the ways I met some of my best friends. I have a theory about this!

First impressions are sometimes all that you know about a person. If you really want to know them, however, and get to know them, then you share experiences that overwrite the first impressions. (To the grammar conscious: I realize that because my antecedent is person that my ensuing pronoun should be singular, but I really hate writing “he or she,” so I refuse to do it in informal settings. My apologies.)

Some people get a little nervous when they first meet someone.

It would be cool to see a blog that documents all the first meetings of a person, for say a year or so. It could even follow the development of relationships (Although, that might be a little creepy? What do you think?). It could give examples of good first meetings, and not-so-good ones, and tips of how to improve people-meeting skills.

Today was actually one of the most awkward introductions I’ve ever had. I’ll change names to protect the identities of all involved victims (Well, there were only two victims, and I was one of them. You already know my name, so I’ll keep my name the same.):

Me: Hey, I’m Celeste.

Woman: Charlene. (I didn’t change this name, because it’s not a real person, and thus not a victim.)

Me: (Thinking to myself) I thought her name was Melissa? (Aloud) So, your name is Charlene?

Woman: No, I’m Melissa. I thought you were Charlene?

Me: My name is Celeste.

Woman: Oh.

For me, it was some consolation that at least people are getting a little more original. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve been called Chelsea. On the other hand, I had no idea how to redeem the situation. The world needs some faithful person to blog about how to handle those mysterious first-time meetings.

small victories: accomplished every day

Dear readers, as you know, my last post was about small victories, those little steps we take in overcoming our fears. They may be small (thus the term “small victories”), but they really do help us grow as people and give us a reason to celebrate. Since then, two pretty big small victories have been attained by me and one of my close friends.

This good friend of mine is quite terribly afraid of a certain plant. Of course I cannot explain why this is, any more than I can explain most of the things I’m afraid of (with the exception of getting my hair cut, and spiders). But in the spirit of bravery, he decided to consume a dish containing the plant, and guess what! He actually liked it!

When he shared the news on his facebook status, he received an overwhelming amount of support and congratulations. Comments ranging from “I’m so proud,” to “You’re a legend. I will tell my children of this day,” to “Conquering and victorious!” Isn’t it amazing how much a small victory can mean?

Well I, too – dear readers – decided it was time for a small victory. I’ve been growing my hair out for over a year now, for the sole purpose of donating 10+ inches of it to Locks of Love. I faced the music, and for me it was a huge small victory, because as you remember, I am terrified of getting my hair cut! So, here it is . . .

Here's my hair before the cut. I had a ponytail longer than 12 inches.


This is me just after I got my hair cut. Surprisingly, the lady beside me in the salon flipped out more than me.


Wala! The new hair.

small victories

Someone should start a blog about small victories . . .

Everyone’s afraid of something. It’s an obvious statement, but it’s sometimes a very comical thing to think about. I, for one, have some very strange fears.

I have tonsurephobia = a fear of getting my hair cut. Now, the only reason I hesitate to say that I have said phobia is that phobias are considered “irrational” fears, but I believe I have very logical reasons for having a fear of getting my hair cut.

It’s quite simple, in my mind, why I have a fear of getting my hair cut. It’s because I’ve had one too many ridiculously embarassing and distasteful hair cuts. Some, to be sure, were my own fault (I once cut my hair when I was very young, and when Mom found the hair in the trashcan, I said I’d just done a little experiment with Barbie.). But the large majority resulted from trips to the traditional place of hair cutting: the salon.

I’ve done so much in my power to prevent bad haircuts, I really have. I’ll take pictures of the exact haircut I would like to have. I bribe the hairdressers with money. I hold my head as still as possible and make no sudden movements. I pray to Aphrodite (for beauty, not love). But still!

Now, it was recently brought to my attention that I should try going somewhere a little more upscale, and maybe that will remedy the whole thing. But I’m still afraid. It’s time for a trim, and even trims get me all nervous and anxious.

In my defense, I have gotten a little better about it. The last time I went, I didn’t flip out and yell at the mirror on the way home. I didn’t panic. I remained cool, calm, and collected, repeating my mantra, “It’s just hair. It will grow back.”

It’s these small victories that let me know there’s hope. There’s hope for me to overcome my (okay, yes – sometimes irrational) fears and, in general, grow as a person. Wouldn’t it make a cool blog to celebrate the small victories?

If you have a fear of talking to people, then maybe your small victory is to say hello to the cashier at Food Lion and then quickly run from the premises. If you have a fear of fish, then maybe your small victory is to stick the very tip of your big toe into the ocean. If you have a fear of hot air balloons suddenly combusting and falling upon you as you sunbathe in your lawn, then maybe your small victory is to cross the lawn for once and retreive the day’s mail.

Take a chance. Find your small victories. Blog about them.