Yard Sale Hopping: Look What I Bought

Two weekends ago, a Catholic church here in Charlottesville had their annual yard sale fundraiser. I saw the announcement on Craigslist and decided to go take a look. I’m glad I did! Here’s what I found.

First up, the books (because apparently I’ve been on a secondhand book buying kick lately)…

The Taste of Summer cookbook (which I figured would be pretty just to display, in the event that I never get around to cooking anything in it…):

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Some light reading:

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And a handy reference book, in case I ever get around to purchasing my first home:

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Then I headed to the housewares room, where I found these…

Another silver platter (which attracted Elephant‘s attention while I was snapping these photos):

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A small glass baking dish (perfect for banana bread!):

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And a mini cupcake tin!:

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All of this for only $5!

Since I was on a roll, I headed to the Schoolhouse Thrift Shop, which I’ve driven past a million times in my life, but had never been inside. I learned that their profits support several charities, including Habitat for Humanity, Ministry With the Aging, The Alliance for Interfaith Ministries, and the Gertrude Mitchell House, and that they’re staffed by volunteers. I had no idea!

Their inventory is mostly clothes (and a surprising number of shoes), but I wound up with another book. I’d seen this one for sale several times before and always thought “I know nothing about either of them; I should really read that!” So for 50 cents, I figured it was worth the investment:

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The next morning, I set out with a list of yard sales around town, but was disappointed with what I found. One promised blue Mason jars, one promised antique trunks, and one offered lots of furniture, but I didn’t see anything I liked besides–you guessed it–another book. This one should help me get my life on track:

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For another 50 cents, I couldn’t pass it up. I’ll let you know if I wind up reading it and figuring things out.

All in all, not too bad for $6, right?

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Goodwill Hunting: Look What I Bought

It turns out I’ve been doing a lot of Goodwill shopping lately. And finding lots of good stuff!

A few weeks ago, I found this silver dish at the Goodwill location on Pantops.

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I really loved the rainbow effect of the patina on it, so for $1.95, I bought it!

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Another day, I headed across town to the Goodwill on 29, where I found tons of books. I’m normally kind of snooty about the books I buy, because some secondhand books can feel really dirty. But I took a look, and found some that seemed to be in really good condition.

I was excited about this one, because I know nothing about British royal history. Maybe one day I’ll actually get around to reading it and learn a little something!

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Speaking of British history, the English major in me geeked out quite a bit when I saw this one on the shelf:

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Next up was another novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, since I read Middlesex a few months ago and LOVED it. (Book review hopefully coming soon!)

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Then I grabbed this hardcover novel, because the plot sounded interesting, and I was on a roll:

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I was quite happy with my haul, but then I saw this cute little gold tea light dish:

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So I grabbed it, too! Since all paperbacks are $1 and hardbacks are $2, along with the gold dish, my total for this stop was $5.95 plus tax.

For less than $8.50 total, I’m pretty happy with my recent Goodwill runs. Has anyone else found anything awesome in a Goodwill lately?

Book Review: The Incredible Journey

I started writing this post on January 14, and never finished or published it! It’s been a while since I’ve written a book review post, so I figured: better late than never, right? 

The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford

The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford

I read this book in one day, while visiting P’s family back in January! I think I had just finished The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam, and I was on a reading kick. We stopped by his parents’ house and I asked him to lend me a book (knowing full well that none of his books would interest me–he was a Classics and Government major, and has held on to many of his college textbooks and almost none of his childhood books). Surprisingly, he headed upstairs to his childhood room and came back downstairs with this one. 

I started reading it at their house, kept reading it in the car on the drive home, and then stayed up late finishing it once we had gotten back to P’s house that night! It was that good. It’s been over 6 months now since I read it, so I’m fuzzy on some of the plot details, but I’ll do my best to write a review.

The movie Homeward Bound is based on this book, which is why I was interested in it in the first place. There were a few changes made between the movie and the book, but the basic premise is that 2 dogs and a cat who are separated from their owners set out on a truly incredible journey through the Canadian wilderness in order to find their beloved masters.

The journeyers are a young Labrador named Luath, a Siamese Cat named Tao, and an aging Bull Terrier named Bodger. What makes this book so good is the relationships between the animals, and the trials they suffer together while stuck out in the wilderness with a Canadian winter approaching. The animals don’t talk to each other in the same way they do in the movie, as their portrayal is straightforward and realistic, but their relationships are apparent through their behavior. The old dog begins to slow down and starve during the journey, and the cat goes hunting for him and brings him food. The Labrador is a hunting dog and fiercely independent, and takes charge of tracking and leading the pack home. Each time they run in with humans, they are met with care, offered help, and strengthened enough to return to their journey. Their goal of reuniting with their family never seems to leave the animals’ minds.

This book is a heartwarming must-read for anyone who has pets or loves animals. The devotion showed by all three pets is pure and their journey is harrowing, and it will make anyone thankful for their own pets.

I cried at the end. And then went home and hugged my cats.

My overall rating: 5/5

High Five For Friday!

H54Fbutton-1_zpsa7aaa665I’m linking up with Lauren for High Five For Friday for my first time ever, because this has been a pretty fantastic week!

1. P came to visit over the weekend, and on Saturday we visited Wisdom Oak Winery for the first time.

2. On Sunday, we went to the driving range with my dad and my sister, and P taught me how to hit a golf ball. As I progressed, I went from consistently hitting it about 20 yards to consistently hitting it about 60! Augusta, here I come. (Later on Sunday, I ran a sub-9:00 mile!)

3. I’ve been working on putting in an offer on a house all week. I thought I would officially make an offer today, but it’s on hold (just for now). I hope to be able to post in more detail on that soon!

4. I started reading a new book (finally!), and I’m really enjoying it so far. (It’s Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and if I stay on track, you should see a book review here in about, oh, 5 months?)

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5. My sister is pet-sitting for her BFF’s parents’ dogs, and tonight I got to accomplish a bucket list item: I took their Great Dane for a walk!!!

2013-06-28 19.45.50Is Sadie not the coolest girl ever?

2013-06-28 19.51.44We solidified our relationship with a BFF Selfie.

So that’s my 5 highlights from the past week! And tomorrow, I head to Blacksburg for the wedding of my very first friend in college. We met at freshman orientation, and now she’s getting married. Time flies…

Universal Orlando: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Today’s A to Z post brings us to the letter U. I’ve been looking forward to this one for the whole alphabet.

Um, duh! Universal Orlando: the real most magical place on earth!!

Seriously…whoever designed this theme park was a GENIUS. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is every bookworm’s dream come true. All the reviews say that it’s the best recreation of the books out there.

Where else could I possibly see the magical inside of Hogwarts and stroll the streets of Hogsmeade? I could buy chocolate frogs in Honeydukes, some school robes in Dervish and Banges, try out wands at Ollivanders, and then send a letter from The Owl Post and finish off by drinking some butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks…

All while being surrounded by other awesome Harry Potter fans? When can I visit??

I’m nerding out. I want to go to Florida! (But only as my pathway to England…)

Has anyone been to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Was it freaking awesome?

All-or-nothing Reading

I have loved to read for my entire life. My dad likes to tell the story about how I was about two years old and was delighted to “read” The Cat in the Hat to anyone who would lend a lap and an ear. The twist is: I wasn’t actually reading it–I had the whole thing memorized after countless prior read-alouds by my parents.

Most of my early- to mid-childhood memories involve books and reading. I was always the kid who was happy to read and play alone in my room, quietly entertaining myself, while my sister required lots of companions and accessories to keep her busy. I took books on car rides and vacations, I saved my pocket money and used it to buy new books, and I was always in the advanced reading group in school.

The thing about the way I read is this: it comes and goes in spurts. Sometimes (as in the past couple of weeks), I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve read a good book (or read anything at all for pleasure), and I’ll pick one up. Normally, though, once I’ve started, I can’t stop. I don’t know how to read a book at a normal, leisurely pace; once I start, I don’t know how to put it down. (Reading is one of the few things in life that I’m willing to stay up late for, which says a lot about my passion for it.)

I tear through books as fast as I can, not wanting to miss out or fall behind: I forget that the plot only progresses as fast as I read it–that I’m actually in control of the speed of the events unfolding. I read obsessively, letting my current book absorb nearly all of my free time, to the point that I start to fall behind on other areas of my day-to-day life. Laundry doesn’t get done, errands aren’t run, I go a week without getting one good night’s sleep.

Then, after a frenzied period of reading, I quit cold-turkey, abandoning the habit for weeks, months, or–during bad times–even years.

My approach to reading is akin to that of a mostly-recovered addict who allows herself lapses every now and again, with internal promises like “I can control it; it’s not that bad.” Or, “There are worse habits to have.” I know there will always be some sweet comfort in returning to my habit. The pleasure of an escape from my everyday life sits right there, waiting for me, on my bookshelf.

I can’t be the only person who approaches reading like this. Right?

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I started seeing Gone Girl being mentioned here and there across the internet the past few weeks, and was mildly interested by teasers I read online. The deal was sealed, though, when I visited my grandma and found that she had just finished reading it, at her brother and sister-in-law’s suggestions.

This is one of those books where almost any discussion of the plot might give something away, and I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll try to be deliberate but vague.

The novel is divided into three sections. I started reading it last Sunday night, and tore through most of Part 1 in the next few evenings. (Okay, very late evenings. This book kept me awake late into the night.) I was fascinated by the dynamic between Nick and Amy, the married couple who the plot revolves around. But it wasn’t even the plot of this book that really hooked me–it was the psychology of the characters. It was a terrifying insight into the power of a marriage and just how dangerous it can be when you’re that close to another person. Nick and Amy could read (and predict, and manipulate) each other’s thoughts even when hundreds of miles apart; and not in a good way.

Mostly, this book creeped me out. I found myself relating to both of the main characters at different points, and then after the next twist, I’d be worried about what that might mean about me.

The story started on Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary, when Amy went missing from their house, apparently after a violent struggle. Nick became the prime suspect, and it was interesting to follow the proceedings of the case as each piece of evidence was revealed. It was a very intricate story, cleverly thought-out and built upon, and the mental aspects that intertwined with the cold, hard facts were even better.

Overall, I’d highly recommend it, especially if you’re in a relationship. It’ll definitely make you stop and think about how close you are with your partner, and how fine the line is between healthy and cripplingly toxic.

My overall rating: 4/5