Sep 9, 2014

Brimfield Antique Show Review... Sadly, a Bust

Well, friends, I was giddy with anticipation as my hubby and I drove up to the September showing of the Brimfield Antique Show in Brimfield, MA.  As we got out of the car I had butterflies dancing in my stomach because I was so excited to wind in and out of the rows upon rows and acres upon acres of thrifty finds.  And, this time with my partner in crime!

Sadly, that was the pinnacle of my excitement...I only got more disappointed as the day wore on.

Weather was AWESOME!
Company was AWESOME!
Parking was affordable at only $5.

But....absolutely no one was willing to budge on prices.

When you go to an antique fair or thrift fair you can almost always expect to respectfully haggle a little bit and find bargains all over the place.  When I went to Brimfield in May of 2012 - my trip report is here - I got nearly a dozen things for less than $200 total.  This time, not so much...

I had so many things on my list this year, but because of terrible pricing I came away with only three things:

1) Keys for a project I'm planning for Christmas time.  No wiggle room here, folks...they told me $2 per key and wouldn't even give me 6 keys for $10.  Come on people, at least throw the last key in for free!  It's the least you can do, you've got 500 more to sell.  I'm almost doing you a favor by buying these.  No??  Ok, fine, you can break my $50 for $12 worth of keys. (wish I could have said that)

2) My ONLY "steal" of the day at 33% off asking price - this cute old painting ladder that can be used as a magazine rack or blanket rack - which I got for $20.  It was marked at $30 and this guy was actually nice and accommodating about a lower offer because it was smaller than a similar ladder he had that was marked at $20.

3) I can't complain too terribly much about our last purchase - a beautiful handcrafted bench - that we'll use at the dining table, in the foyer, in the mudroom, or even as a coffee table (depending on the home we live in). The bench has a leaf that extends it from 5' to 8' and it's likely the highest quality and most versatile piece of furniture we own.  They had it marked for $245 and we got it for $230 - wow, 7% off.

Honestly, I don't mind paying more for high quality stuff that's new and custom and heavy-duty and handcrafted with love.  This was worth it.

Bottomline, no matter how much leg I showed, how much I used my fading Texas accent, or how severely I played hardball, people weren't willing to wiggle.

Case in point: I wanted a little metal sign with an arrow on it.  My husband asked the guy how much, and he said $15.  My husband said "how about $10?", he said "nope, $15".  (Not even a meet in the middle deal?) We left.  I come back a few hours later, this time without my husband, and ask again..."hello sir, how much for the arrow sign?"  He says, "weren't you here already?".  I say, "well, yes sir, I was.  I was just about to leave but wanted to see what you could do for me on that little arrow sign.  I only have $10.50 left in cash, but I'd like to give it to you for the sign.  Can you work with me?"  He says, "Nope, it's $15".  Well, I hope he never sold it...

Maybe people are pricing things low to sell - which if that's the case, mark 'em up a bit so people think they're getting a deal when they talk you down a mere 10%.  Getting a good deal is what makes shopping at shows like this thrilling - it's what brings people in.  No deals, no shoppers.  There's only so many full-price paying people out there who have $1000 to spend on a leather chair with rips in it.  Or, $75 for a 24"x24" cardboard Red Cross-like plus sign....really!?!?

Unfortunately, I think antiques and vintage items are becoming so popular that even the vendors who hunt and gather things day-in and day-out to bring to shows like this aren't getting things for reasonable prices anymore, so they're not passing any deals on to the customer.  They're likely paying too much for the space they rent at Brimfield too.  Higher booth pricing means higher product pricing.  I also think that vendors make up arbitrary prices without doing much research.  I could have bought most of the stuff I saw on Etsy for half the price.  My rant is over...for now.  (Thanks to those of you who stuck with me!)

Lesson learned: DON'T GO TO BRIMFIELD UNTIL THE LAST DAY (OR TWO) OF THE EVENT, when people have to get rid of things so they don't have to haul them home.  Perhaps then they'll be willing to negotiate a bit. (We went on a Wed of a Tues-Sun show)  The crowds will be terrible, but maybe you'll be a happy camper and score some good loot like I did back in 2012. (oh, so long ago...)

P.S. All that being said, I'm thankful I got to go to Brimfield.  I'm thankful my husband got to take off  from work and go with me.  I'm thankful for amazing friends who watched our little girl so we could make it a hot date. I'm thankful that I found what I did.  I'm thankful I have these first world "problems" to rant about.  And, I'll still go next year (on SUNDAY) in hopes of having better luck.

Sep 8, 2014

Give-away closed. Winner announced!

Well friends, the 3C Cards give-away has now closed and I selected a winner at random thanks to

Here's the screenshot of the winner...drumroll please.
That means Laurie will be receiving her 3D cards in the mail soon.  Thanks to both you ladies for playing and reading Inspired Whims!  Have a happy week.

Sep 5, 2014

Give-away time! 3-D Laser Cut Greeting Cards

Give-away now closed.

These greeting cards are the ultimate in cool, y'all!  They're from 3D Cards based out of Newton, Australia.  Lucky you...they sent me a few to review and then pass on to you.  Who's ready for a give-away?? (details below!)

First up is my favorite - the 3D Ferris Wheel.  The front of the card is simple, allowing you to use it for anything...birthday card, thank you card, shower card, congrats card, etc.

Then, you start to open it up...

And the party begins!

Check out the detail and craftsmanship that goes into these cards...

Beautiful, huh?  

3D Cards also sent me a heart card and a clothes line card to share.  They're super darling as well!

You'll have to check out the 3D Cards website to see all the other cards they offer - they have something for EVERY occasion.  The quality and craftsmanship of the cards are outstanding.  They are heavy duty and would last far longer than the typical greeting card.  Right now, 3D Cards is offering 20% off their cards online if you use the code "TWENTY" at checkout!

Now, for the fun stuff.  One lucky reader will win the 3 featured greeting cards! (sorry, US residents only)

To enter for the win, simply do one or more of the following (you get one entry per comment):

1. Leave a comment below saying which card you like best on the 3D Cards website.  
2. "Like" Inspired Whims on Facebook {here} and leave a comment saying you did.
3. "Follow" Inspired Whims on Twitter {here} and leave a comment saying you did.
4. "Follow" Inspired Whims on Pinterest {here} and leave a comment saying you did.
5. Subscribe to Inspired Whims email posts or RSS feed {here} and leave a comment saying you did.

If you leave an "anonymous" comment, make sure to leave your name and email address so I can contact you.  One comment will be selected at random at 2pm Eastern Standard Time on Monday 8 Sep, so make sure to enter by then.  You can check back to see who the winner was later Monday afternoon.  Best of luck and happy weekend!

(Disclaimer:  I was not reimbursed monetarily for this post; however, I was sent cards free of cost to review and give-away to my readers.  The reviews are completely my own.)

Sep 2, 2014

A Small House Big on Love

Since I'm on a tiny house kick...thought I'd share this Oregon home with you all.  It's not super tiny at 540 square feet but for a growing family I'd say it's very modest and small compared to what most American families live in.

When you skimp on size you don't have to skimp on style.  The "Tiny House", which was designed by homeowner and interior designer Jessica Helgerson, is packed with beautiful features and finishes.  Jessica just happens to be one of my favorite designers, and I think you'll love her too!  Her awesome portfolio can be seen {here}.  All photos of the home below are by Lincoln Barbour and were sourced from Jessica's website:

Here's the front elevation with an inviting porch and an eco-friendly sod roof:

Here's the welcoming front door:

When you walk inside, you see the kitchen area to the left:

(I am smitten with the white shiplap and rustic wood shiplap combo)

And, the living room to the right, which incorporates versatile couches (or beds for guests) with smart storage underneath:

(Aren't the bookshelves beautiful?  They infuse the perfect amount of color into the space)

Accessible by ladder, the master is tucked away in the loft a little love nest:

If you walk down the short hallway, you've got storage/utility space on your left and this completely adequate bath on your right:

Finally, the largest room in the house - the bunk room for the kids - also has a bed across the room for guests (check out that cool pull-out closet and oh, the windows!):

(This house can sleep tons of people when the couches, loft, bunks, and guest bed are taken into account!)

Here's the floor plan for my fellow floor plan junkies...

Simple, smart, clutter-free design can really go a long way, huh?  Mindful organization, careful planning, amazing taste, and lots of love went into this place.  

What's your favorite room or feature?  Could you live in a "tiny" home like this?  Do tell!

Aug 27, 2014

The Notion of Living Small

Has anyone watched this documentary?  If not, you should.

We watched it last weekend on streaming Netflix and both really enjoyed it.  It's a very thought provoking look at living really minimally, in just over 100 square feet.

No, that's not feasible for everyone, especially not for families with children.  But it begs the question, how much living space do you really need?  Does every family really need 4 beds, 3 baths, an office, a playroom, and a formal dining room?  I cringe at the thought of cleaning and maintaining all that.

I think it's good to reflect on what is really necessary in what we think of as "home", about how much extra we think we need, want, and dare I say deserve when it comes to living space.  As with many things, less can often be more.  Less square footage usually means a smaller (or no) mortgage, which leads to less time at work, less house upkeep, fewer homeowner headaches, and ultimately more time with family doing what you love to do.  I like that notion.

The tiny (or at least smaller) house movement is really growing.  Are you in?

Aug 20, 2014

Madrid, Spain with a Toddler

Here goes installment no. 1 of our Spain trip this month...and Madrid is up first!  We only got to spend two nights in Madrid - it was a whirlwind of beauty and splendor that I wish we could have experienced for longer, but I'll take what we got.

This photo of the Plaza de Cibeles sums up Madrid for me - majestic architecture and gorgeous fountains. (There's so much more to it, but those were two of my favorite things!)

I'd say the fountains of Madrid were a trademark unrivaled by any other European city I've been to.  Every plaza seemed to have an extravagant fountain in the center.

Have I made my point??  There were simply too many fountains to name them all, but they were all so lovely and refreshing to look at.

Other than fountain-watching, here are our Top Ten favorite highlights of Madrid.

1.  Our hotel - the Radisson Blu Madrid Prado - was wonderful.  It was located in the perfect spot, within the quaint streets of the old town area, where we could easily walk to museums and so many other attractions.

That's my little poser standing on our tiny balcony with a cute little dwarf orange tree.

Our room looked just like this and we had access to this little gem in the basement...

It was the perfect sized pool for the three of us, with jets and fountains and very cool colored lights.

2. Mercado de San Miguel was the quintessential Madrid market.  We had read about it and seen shows that featured it so we HAD to go and I'm so glad we did.

The styling of the building was almost oriental.

It was nice and cool inside and had misters that came on every minute or so.

We tried some pizza, being the connoisseurs that we are...

And, had our first go at authentic Spanish tapas and white Sangria.

While the tapas weren't the best we had during the trip, the Sangria was the best I've tasted to date.

3. Plaza Mayor is one of the most visited places in Madrid.  We only walked through it a few times, but it's worth seeing, especially at night.

4. Plaza de Toros.  No we didn't get to see a bull fight - would have loved that cultural immersion but maybe next time.  The arena was beautiful with the mosaics and Moorish architecture.

5. Temple de Debod.  This out-of-place Egyptian temple was gifted to and rebuilt in Spain for their engineering help in constructing the Great Dam of Aswan in Egypt.

6. The Royal Palace of Madrid as seen from across the Camp del Moro.  This view of the palace is so beautiful.

The gardens are open to the public and you avoid the typical crowds found at the entrance of the palace.

Sadly, the royal family doesn't live at the palace.  It's only used for state events (a waste if you ask me).

7. Plaza de la Villa.  This was my favorite little square in all of Madrid.  It was delightful since it was uncrowded and quaint and just serene.

Loved it and highly recommend finding it if you go - it was very near the Plaza Mayor and Royal Palace.

8. A Flamenco Show is a must in Spain - we went to Corral de la Moreria near the Royal Place and highly recommend it and so does Trip Advisor (God bless Trip Advisor by the way - we couldn't travel prep without it).  We didn't pay to have dinner (you can elect to do that), but we were seated at a nice table and were all given a complementary beverage.  Sangria for me - Ole!

(I think that may be Christian Bale or Adam Levine, just sayin')

It's hard to capture Flamenco dancing on camera.  Talk about an impressive feat.  The foot work is beyond any other sort of dance technically.  It made Irish dancing look easy.  As best relayed by my husband's words: "They must wear Spanx."

9. The Reina Sofia Art Museum was delightful for a little modern art fix.  It was a museum of manageable size and wasn't too crowded in the morning - we ran through it in an hour.  That's all the time you've got with a toddler, right?

I loved this grand piece in the sculpture garden...

I forget who crafted this one, but it was cute in a bulbous dog sort of way.

A little Salvador Dali is always good for the perplexed soul... (what was he smoking?)

We got to see Picasso's famous and very large "Guernica" painting, which helped bring the terrible Spanish Civil War of the 20th century to the world's attention.  I knew so little of the war until we were exposed to the history of Spain during our trip.

10. Finally (drumroll)...our last highlight: The food!

Mojito gelato simply has to be the best flavor of gelato known to man.

The fresh-squeezed fruit juices in Spain are out of this world phenomenal.  Called "zumos", they could be found everywhere.  Our favorite was the orange juice.

This dish of thick cut fried potatoes toped with crispy pork cutlets, onions, and parmesan sauce was my favorite meal we had in Madrid.  Sign me up for another serving...

Churros con chocolate is one of the best comfort foods I never knew I was missing until I visited Spain.  Why we don't have it here in the states is beyond me.

Overall, we loved Madrid and I highly recommend a visit to what I'd call the "metropolitan city" of Spain.

Adios Madrid!  You were lovely and will be missed but there is more Spain to see...

I'll share some "island Spain" with you in the next travel post - Mallora and Ibiza, baby!
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