A little bit about Robin

I was born in raised in Alabama and am proud of my Southern roots. I love to write and share life experiences, thoughts, and crafty ideas about interesting things past and present. Welcome to my neck of the woods. Sit down and swing a while.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer, my time is tickin' away....


“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o'clock naps. And by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There's no hurry, for there's nowhere to go and nothing to buy...and no money to buy it with.”


I love this.  A sign next to some clocks in an antique store.
I have always loved the above quote from To Kill a Mocking Bird, but this summer I have lived by it.  Hard times we have seen in my house, great times we foresee.  The economy and health still controls our lives. I have learned over the years to live the simple life - it works for me. I have had so much adventure in my life already, simple is just where I belong.  I will never feel like I have missed out. I am blessed with friends, family and people who love me.  I have been lucky to travel and to see great sites, stand on tall mountains, and live in big cities. Now I settle in the South, where I finally found my simplicity.

I go back to work in a little over two weeks.  This summer has flown by, my friends.  I am always enormously grateful for the time off that comes with my job.  When I started working for Mountain Brook Schools 7 years ago, it was important and almost a given that I would find a summer job.   But this summer I decided to make it my own. I have been back and forth between Birmingham and Huntsville, helping my mother.  My Dad fell on June 9th and the result was a compound fracture to his ankle.  Dad has been in and out of hospital and rehab and we still have a long road to go.  But he is strong and my time at my childhood home has actually been a good thing for me. 

Home is where the heart is, and the pool for me.  I have made fewer trips to the pool than planned this summer.  On the flip side  have been spending a lot of energy doing garage sales and trying to promote my items on local trading sites to make some extra cash. My time off also affords me more simple moments with friends I do not get to see as much when I am working during the school year.   Just yesterday my friend Marissa and I made the excursion out to Pell City to check out the thrift stores and antique markets they are known for.  That’s right, selling all my designer clothes on Mountain Brook Trading and down sizing to a simpler life of thrift store clothes.  It is my new thing. I have not given up manicures and pedicures, so no worries, just realizing that life is more important than a designer pair of shoes. Finding that one gem in 1000 racks of junk at a thrift store is awesome.  Out with the old and in with the older.
Here you see an Owl mug I bought at Landis, and the rest were
perfect finds at the thrift store.  The dress is a never worn Duck Head
preppy look for $4.99.  That look will always be a staple in my wardrobe.
And check out the vintage fabric on the bottom right.

So on the road we went my old friend and I.  Our first stop was The American Thrift store in Pell City.   We were scavenging for about an hour and came out with some great deals.  I walked out of there with four items for under 11 dollars.  Marissa scored with a cute gingham oversized shirt for lounging and a vintage BAMA shirt.  Not Too Shabby.

While I am talking Shabby how about shabby chic?  That was our next stop at Landis Antiques.  It is three stories and they have everything you need. If you are looking for a voodoo doll, they have it. A 1980 Jane Fonda cookbook, it’s there. A velvet framed image of Luke Skywalker - yep they have it. I walked out of there for under ten dollars with an owl mug and a green decanter for Michael (he collects decanters).  Marissa found the deal of the century.  She collects jadeite and found a little jadeite bowl for a great price.  We were pleased.
My fruit basket form the Flea Market and a green
bottle for Michael that I purchased at Landis.

We were so pleased with our purchases that we decided to make a pit stop at Crackle Barrel to eat lunch.  It was turning into a good old Mayberry kind of day. After our country cooking we made one more stop on the way home.  I can’t remember the name of the place but it is this huge flea market near Leeds.  This was my favorite place.  I only left there with one item, a hanging fruit basket, but it was worth the stop.  Marissa scored and found some Amish Pyrex, also a great find.

It was relaxing day with a great friend.  I have two more weeks to get creative before I go back to work.  This weekend is the highly anticipated Southbound Music Festival put on my husband and his brother David along with  Birmingham Mountain Radio.  Next week we are planning a trip to Huntsville to check in on my dad. 



Time is ticking; I need to get some more pool days in.  So, despite some bumps along the way this summer, so far this has been a productive one.

Some more interesting shots from our day in Pell City....
Blue Willow.  I own so much of this
it would make your
eyes bleed, so I passed.
Southern Living cookbooks.
The exact same ones that sit in my mother 's
kitchen today. PASS.


Two calendar teas towels.  One the year my husband was born 
and the other the year I was born.
Spooky:) 




Tuesday, July 16, 2013

No I am not a Chi O I Just Love Owls


Recent Owl gifted by a dear friend
You are my very close friend if you know I love owls.  I have them everywhere.  On my key chain, in my house, and I have tons of owl jewelry.  The first comments I get when folks noticed my owls are, "Oh you must have been a Chi O."  The owl is one of the symbols for the Chi O sorority. No, not a Chi O, but I seriously considered them during rush at Alabama.  I dropped them before serious night because I knew deep down I was pledging  SDT(the jewish sorority at BAMA) and did not want to hurt my best friend from camps feelings by missing out on her heart felt rendition of Wind Beneath My Wings at the ADPi House. Phi Mu was also a favorite of mine on serious night, I think their mascot is a lion. SDT's symbol is a Torch, not as exciting as an owl, but it burns eternally!!

My obsession with owls is way less cool than college sorority mascots.  My interest in owls started after I read Harry Potter.  There was something magical and mystical about them, and so it began.  Owls can be cute, haunting, serious and sometimes scary.   In some fork lore they represent wisdom and helpfulness, and have powers of prophecy. There was a big owl decor break out in the 70's and it has made a comeback.  I like to think my interest in owls came before the recent trend.

Because my husband is really good at the little things, he has bought me an assortment of owl paraphernalia over the years.  I have come across some of my own finds and sweet friends have gifted me precious owl ornaments and such.  So much so that I wanted to share some of my collection here. 

My most recent finds where yesterday at this antique store next to Golden Rule on Crestwood Blvd. I could have stayed in that place all day, but I found these two little gems below for under ten dollars each.



Pillow 
Wall hanging Basket



Below are some of my favorite gifts from friends and family

Stain Glass from Amano
 By local Artist Liz Defuniack Landgren


Earnings and necklace 


This little pepper shaker lost his salt friend in a kitchen accident.
And Below is my favorite gift from last Christmas, Naked Art in Forest Park.





What is you favorite??

Sunday, July 14, 2013

For the Gleeks of the Week

I was so sadden to hear that Cory Monteith  passed away over the weekend.  I am a Glee fan.  I am confident enough to write this blog now.  But at 14 I would have secretly hidden my sadness over this from my big brother and then made a GLEE mixed tape.  High School kids dancing around giddily in their letter jackets singing cheesy Journey songs would have been a good big brother target at the time.   Now grown with two girls, I am sure he would understand:)

In my house today, GLEE is my little guilty pleasure.  Glee has introduced so many old songs to todays generation and more than that, promoted diversity for all types of teens struggling to find a place in life.   The millennials move a little to fast for me sometimes, but the all American voice and character, Finn, that Monteith played on Glee brought some balance to this fast moving world.

More importantly, for the younger viewer to remember,  his struggle with addiction off screen is a real thing.  The problems teenagers have on Glee get fixed in one or two episodes or one season.  Maybe it will resonate and be a reminder that fame and fortune don't always bring happiness, this is real life.   Although Monteith seemed to work hard and achieve fame with natural talent, I recently read he was openly fighting this battle for some time.  I wish him peace.  Although gone from this earth, he will always be remembered as Finn, who never stopped believing.


R.I.P Cory.  This one is for you...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WxPyUzWSPA

Gleek Out.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Why I Forgive Angelia Jolie for her Past Indiscretions and the Importance of BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genetic Testing



The BRCA1 and BRCA2 Cancer Gene, what is it?  Well, the textbook version is this:
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that belong to a class of genes known as tumor suppressors. Mutation of these genes has been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. A woman's risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits a deleterious (harmful) BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Both men and women who have harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations may be at increased risk of other cancers.

There is s check list of things you go through to see if you need to be tested for the gene. Some cancer is hereditary, some hormonal or environmental. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene is an answer to the question, are your chances higher for ovarian and breast cancer because of your genetic background?  So just because Angelia Jolie waltzed in with Bratt Pitt, her long legs and mohawk babies,  announced she had the gene and a double mastectomy does not mean you need to run out and get your boobs chopped off.  She passed a very specific checklist that pinpointed this gene to her family history of breast and ovarian cancer and was smart to check it out. She is educating us and helping prevent cancer for her daughters  and other people's daughters in the future. This is a good thing.  Thank you Angelina, I can now relate to one of your many causes. For more on BRCA and answers to your questions you can go here: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/InheritedGeneticMutations.html

My Story is this:
The first time I heard of the BRCA gene was from one of my very best friends Dr. Sarah Merritt.  Sarah and I grew up together in Huntsville. She was in my wedding and continues to be a close and dear friend of mine. To get the timing right before I was married or barley knew my husband, Sarah’s sister Mindy found out she had a rare form of Cancer.  Sarah, the book smart and progressive doctor that she was becoming at the time, and now is, started researching breast cancer and such to find clues linking to her sister Mindy.  Sarah ran across an article about the BRCA gene, a discovery that had only been introduced in the early 90’s. What was interesting about this article is that it said this gene is very prevalent in the Ashkenazi Jewish population from Eastern Europe.  Well that is my family tree on my mom's side, and my mother had a breast cancer in her 40’s and a hysterectomy in her late 30's.  Sarah wanted to bring this to my attention, maybe I should consider looking into that one day even though my dad was not Jewish.  It turned out her sister Mindy did not have the gene.  If you know the Merritt’s just by looking at them Easter Europe is not an option at first glance, but about 2.5% of caucasian Non-Ashkenazi Jews have this mutation so it was smart for them to check.  Mindy’s cancer was just another type of Cancer that we still to this day fight, walk and ride bikes to raise money to help find a cure.  Mindy lost her battle with cancer a few years back and there is not a day that goes by that Sarah’s sweet sister, also a mother and wife, does not cross my mind.  It is because of people like her that the fight for a cure continues.  

In saying that I have known many people who have fought and lost the battle and many who have won.  That is in God’s hands and his reasoning will always be an enigma to me. Where my story begins is when my maternal grand mother, Manya, at age 11 came over on the boat from Lithuania to Ellis Island with her family. My maternal Grandfather, Henry, was born in New York City. His family came over way before his birth, but were also from Lithuania. We are in every way Eastern European and Ashkenazi Jews.  There is some cancer in my family and one or two cases of breast cancer on my Papa's side. Sarah’s tip to me never left my mind.  I just put it in that pocket where you stick things and pull them out later.  About a year and a half ago I was seeing my doctor and she suggested at 35 I get a mammogram because of my family history.  I followed directions almost right away.  This was important and relevant personally for me at the time. A week after my first mammogram I got the letter.  Something was not right.  My heart dropped.  Here it is I thought, the dreaded cancer, I put the cancer scare in my pocket and now I was going to have to pull it out.   Long story short I did not have cancer.  I have something called Atypical Hyperplasia. 
You can read about it here:
After two Lumpectomies and a couple pathology reports they cleared me.  I now have a breast MRI once a year along with two mammograms a year. My breast surgeon Dr. April Maddux urged me at that time to get the BRCA gene test because of my ancestry.  KNOWLEDGE IS POWER she said. She questioned, what if you have a daughter one day, educate your nieces, EDUCATE.   The catch is my mom had to take it first.  If she had the gene then there would be a 50/50 chance I had it.  Also the test is expensive.  In some cases it is as much as $3,000.00.  

(But I found out recently that is changing so don’t go freaking out if you are thinking of doing this.  It was covered for us when we finally took the test and for most with insurance it is only 200 or 300 dollars now.)  

When I told my mom about it she said she did not even know we were Ashkenazi Jews.  Which is so my mom.  The where and who and how of the past does not make a difference to her unless it is positive or relevant to the present. She is a free spirit of sorts.  Since we are basically from the south and she grew up in a southern town with a very small Jewish population the question, where do your Jewish people hale from, never came up.  The first time I heard of an Ashkenazi Jew is when I went on the Jewish dating site Jdate when I lived in Atlanta. What kind of Jewish person are you was actually a question when signing up.  There were check boxes and everything.  I had to call a sorority sister to figure out what kind of Jewish person I was.  Obviously I was not Jewish enough for Jdate. That experiment never worked out for me and marrying a Catholic boy proved that I am a free spirit too.   My mom was not quick to jump on the BRCA bandwagon and her family doctor in Huntsville had not even heard of it.   So I tabled it for a minute, put it back in my pocket.  When she had cancer we just dealt, beat it, swiped it under the rug and kept moving.

At the end of this May I went to a Junior League Meeting on “Summer Health for Woman”.  I thought we would be talking about Sunscreen and how to prevent your kids from drowning etc.  I just needed the meeting credit so I went. But what was supposed to be a quick talk about the importance of SPF, turned into a real interesting conversation about the BRCA genetic testing.  Angelia Jolie had just come out with it and every woman in that room wanted to be educated. Typical of Junior League, they are always one step ahead of the problem. I always leave that building with more knowledge than when I walked in. The doctor there, was very educated on the matter because I think she had worked in New York where that gene showed up a lot.  95.69% of the woman in that room probably did not meet the criteria, but you never know. I knew I did, so I raised my hand and told a little bit of my story.  You must get tested the doctor said, you must. On the way home I panicked and called my mother and pleaded, 

“Please please, do this for me.  I want to have babies one day. What if we have the gene, and and I have to get my ovaries taken out?  I am running out of time! I want to prevent and I am 37 I only have a small window.  PLEASE!"

Through my panic and tears, she said in a calm and clear voice that YES OK she would do it (insert smiley face here). My mom is the bomb.com, the next day she called her oncologist in Huntsville and set up the appointment.  We went together.  It felt like doom and gloom but it was also empowering. We met with this precious Genetic Counselor, Amy.  She was so excited to hear we were Jewish.  She said she does not get a lot of people in Huntsville who qualify for this testing and although she hoped we did not have the gene she was glad to be participating in our process.  After many questions about our family tree and meeting with my mom’s dear oncologist from 25 years ago, Dr. Marshall Schreeder, we left feeling more educated and powerful.  If she has the gene, I get tested. If I have it, so what? We watch my breast and ovaries and in my early to mid forties I get it all chopped off.  New Boobs, I'll take it.  If we don’t then well my chances of breast cancer don’t vanish, but the percentage is much lower.  And when and if I have a baby I won't constantly be worrying about my timing as much.

That was one month ago when we saw Amy.  Yesterday my mom called and told me that we do not have the gene.  I was relieved.  After all that, after my family fled from Russian in 1917, after all the Ashkenazi Jews from 1000 years of traveling in tribes that did not marry outside their faith... only to keep waiting for the messiah and fighting to keep their their religion alive... we got a hall pass this time. And just because you are of that background does not mean you have the gene, your chances are just higher for breast cancer if you do.  And if you have it the good news is you can be preventative, as I still am.  I am not in the clear just because I do not have BRCA 1 or 2, I just checked one thing of my things to stress about list.  

Two things you need to know that I learned from Amy the Genetic Couselor:

1.  Just because you are not Jewish does not mean you do not have the gene. Talk to a genetic counselor if you have any questions about your ancestry as it relates to cancer.

2.   Like Dr. Maddux first told me, Knowledge is Power.  Whatever your background, if cancer runs in your family keep tabs on yourself. It is not as simple as taking the BRCA gene test for some.  Get regular check-ups, live your best life and stay informed.

Thank you again Angelia, for opening up a good can of worms. I would like to dedicate this blog to my mom Joni, to Sarah’s sister Mindy, to all my friends and family who are battling and beating the heck out of cancer as I write. To all the friends and family I have lost to cancer and their memory. And to all the doctors that educated me, thank you wherever you are for making me stronger and wiser. And to my husband, thank you for understanding that my life is an open book sometimes, writing and sharing helps me find my voice.  We have both recently learned the importance of preventative health and what it means to our family. 

To learn more about Ashkenazi Ancestry go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jews

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Still Born to Fly

I crossed over this video a today posted on Sara Evans' Facebook page and it brought back some great memories so I immediately started writing this blog.  You can watch herehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xvhutWc67k

A little while ago let's say 2004- 2005 I was living in Atlanta, wishing and hoping planning and dreaming.  Every Thursday night my girlfriends and I would do happy hour with work friends at this Irish Pub McDuffs in Buckhead.  McDuffs had a juke box and to start the night we would play the same 8-10 songs every Thursday.  One of those songs was always Born to Fly by Sara Evans.  We were all young and had dreams of brown eyed boys in our future.   We were wild and free and trying to keep our feet on the ground.  Sara's song was our anthem.

Fast forward a few years later, I was married and living in Birmingham and Sara Evans had just recently married Alabama football star Jay Barker and moved to Birmingham too. My husband is a little league football coach and her son ended up on Michael's team.  I got the chance to meet Sara and her sweet husband Jay.  At first when I saw her I was stand offish because I did not want to be a weird fan and overwhelm her, but as the season went on I realized I was silly to not approach her more.  She is kind and cool and just like everybody else.  I finally got the nerve to talk to her and tell her Born to Fly was a instrumental part of my 20's.  It was also a song I chose to put on our weddng CD.  Michael is not a country music fan so Sara was just another member of our community and sweet mom on his football team. It was cool getting to know her a little bit that year and is always nice to run into Sara or Jay at the ball park and such. 

Watching the video today brought up some sentimental memories.  The kind of memories that make you smile, when you are paying bills, or dealing with the real life everyday stuff like health and family and stuff that boggles your mind.  The song's lyrics takes on a different meaning in my life today.  I lucked out and found my brown eyed boy,  yet there are still things I want in my life that seem out of reach.  I feel like I am running out of time some days.  When I hear that song I am reminded that God's best for me and the people in my life is yet to come, we still have so much time.  I always strive to keep my feet on the ground and I will always be born to fly.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The South Bound Music Festival…and Them

About three or four years ago my husband and his brother David had a brain love child. A radio show recorded in the basement of David’s house and played online like a pod cast once a week. They started off small, had 1000 talking points(ie R.E.M their favorite band) and got some listeners, but not enough to make it seem real. But then Birmingham Mountain Radio came along, an Internet based radio station that played the alternative rock, indie pop, classic sound Birmingham was missing. BMR took them on as a DJ act and Southbound became real. Southbound’s genre was local music/musicians and for the past two years they have been promoting and inviting local bands and acts to play live every Sunday night from 7-9pm. The show works, not only because the music scene in Birmingham is so strong and endless but also because the Seale brothers bring so much more to the table with their unique banter. I may be bias, but they get laughs from strangers just walking down the street together witnessing their brotherly antics. They both have a flavored music backgrounds and that god given talent to entertain. Both Michael and David have a lead singer rock band background and David is practically a one-man band.

The best news today is that BMR is now on 107.3 FM. This is a huge for the station and for all the DJ’s involved. Local celebrities such as, Scott Register and other notable DJs including The Seale Brothers, the Lochamy’s, Dru Cunningham, Kenn McKracken, John D and Lee Shook are all on the airwaves coming to you from your car radio.

I would be lying if I said I am personally part of the music scene here in Birmingham, but my husband is. He is immersed in everything local music, therefore I appreciate and love it too. My dad was a bass player who played back up as a studio musician in Muscle Shoals in the 1960’s, a historic time in music for the state of Alabama. Appreciation for music and the arts is in my blood. Since following Southbound I have been introduced to bands I would have never even considered or heard of. I love Saint Paul and the Broken Bones, The Clay States and my personal favorite Terry Ohms and Them. You won’t see me at Bottletree on any given Saturday night unless Vulture Whale is playing, but I do enjoy live music and always benefit personally from the sounds of the music scene in the Magic City. Some of our very close friends are the most talented local musicians I know. If you have heard the names Les Nuby, Wes McDonald, Jake Waitzman, or Keelan Parrish then you started reading this article to see if I knew what I was talking about. There is a long list of other musicians and including Jessie Payne, Lauren Michael Sellers and Megan Elliott just to name a few.

On Saturday July 20th Michael and David, for the second year in a row, are hosting the SOUTHBOUD MUSIC FESTIVAL. It is at Avondale Brewery from 2pm-midnight. Ten dollars to get in and hear the vocal and acoustic styling’s of up and coming local bands plus some Bham staples. This year, as David and Michael would say, they are pulling a lot of great local music out of their BIG BAG OF AWESOME. So come on out, support you local radio station, support your local musicians and support your local brewery. It is like all good things in Birmingham wrapped up into a nice little Von Trap Family Singers Package. See poster on this blog for line up.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My First Pinterest Project

In my house is this antique side table that belonged to someone in my family. I believe it was my grandmother on my mom's side, but who knows. This table was in my bedroom in High School and went from sorority house, apartment, 13th street in Tuscaloosa and then to Vail, Colorado for two years. The table made the trip when I moved to Atlanta in 2001 and in 2006 made the trip to Birmingham where I settled down with Michael Paul Seale. I would never sell it but was thinking one day I would refinish it. Instead, I found a quick fix on Pinterest.





You can find it here:
http://www.domesticblisssquared.com/2013/06/diy-fix-scratches-in-wood-furniture.html

All you need is vinegar and olive oil. It took me ten minutes tops. I mixed a half a cup vinegar and a half a cup olive oil and this is the result. Not to shabby!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

How Mountain Brook Trading Turned Me Into The Peddler on the Roof

This past winter I was trying to find ways to make an extra buck here and there without having to do some of the small jobs I was growing out of time for like babysitting or tutoring. I thought selling my stuff on Mountain Brook Trading might earn an extra buck or two. I had been on the site before and was overwhelmed by well let’s just say the Mountain Brook-ness of it all. I have lived 7 years in Mountain Brook, but I am not from here. I am from Huntsville and the closest we get to being like Mountain Brook is well, not being like Mountain Brook. Don’t get me wrong, I love my community here it has done well by me so far, but in Huntsville what you see is what you get. We are a different kind of crazy and we like it that way. I think it has something to do with being closer to Appalachia. Well honey let me tell you, when those Mountain Brook ladies started pulling out their heirlooms, and their designer baby clothes and putting them on Facebook, it was like the night the lights went out at the Birmingham Junior League Bargain Carousel. The only two words one needed to know around here were Mountain Brook and Trading. Everybody wanted a piece of the designer, classic, blue blood country club action that MB is known for. While I was trying to post my last season 9.5 size Steve Madden boots I was getting looked over by Coach sunglasses, Louie Vuitton bags, designer onesies and $600.00 newly distressed curio cabinets. Honestly there was some good solid merchandise at great prices for sale too, but I was trying to make money. I felt overwhelmed, overlooked and I just gave up. Then in early May my husband’s doctor told him he needed to take the summer off from umpiring baseball. Michael’s body was overheating too much in the heat due to a recent heart condition. It was so hard for him to give up, not only because he loves it, he loves the extra money he makes for us. That income helped make our summer a little brighter. So I decided to try MBT again. I was posting things left and right and actually had the time to keep up with it all while protecting my already hectic summer. I made it my full time summer job, balancing out my wants and my needs. Not only did MBT bring out the sales person in me, it gave my friend Katy and I the idea to have an impromptu garage sale at her house in Homewood.
We were both selling things here and there online. Keeping up with everything on MBT was time consuming and we both needed to purge our twenties. Well she is in her late 20's, for me it is more like my twenties and my mid to late thirties. But who is counting? We did so well at our sale by advertising on MBT and Homewood Trading that I decided to do it all again in Huntsville. I drove to Huntsville the next week and with the help from my friend Susie got on all their local trading sights and advertised the “H-E- double hockey sticks” out of my sale at my moms house. I worked so hard and purged a ton of my childhood items, my moms junk closet and some furniture we knew we would not miss in 20 years. Even our neighbor threw some stuff in the mix and gave me 50 percent of her sales. I loved it. Meeting all the people is the best. It is funny the things people buy. One lady turned her nose up at 50 cent stainless steel fork. One man left with joy over an antique clock we marked high in price that used to hang in the first jewelry store in Huntsville. It was a good sale.
In saying all that my first annoyance with Mountain Brook Trading has now turned into a little summer business for me. I do not sell everything I post there, and I keep close what is important to me. I have been a pack rat for so many years the opportunities are endless though. Whether it be online or at my next garage sale, THANK YOU Mountain Brook Trading for entertaining me with knock down drag out fights over a lululemon top. Dixie Carter the Designer Woman herself would be proud we have somehow salvaged some class and ease after it all is said and done. THANK YOU for the spark it fired in me to sell my items. I am driving all over Birmingham with shoes, dresses and candle sticks in my trunk. My husband started calling me the Peddler on the Roof. If you know anything about my family, in 1917 my very wealthy for the time Great Grandmother escaped Russia with her children during the Bolshevik Revolution, traveling across Europe selling some of their wares to get to America. They arrived with a few pieces of silver and some jewelry that we hold dear today and would never think of selling. My husband says selling our wares is in my blood. All I am trying to do is pay our cable bill. And he is a true saint for umpiring all these years in the summer heat. After one garage sale I felt dehydrated and so tired I could not eat or move. I can’t imagine how he feels after four games on a Saturday in June. I know my Grandmother Manya is looking down at me proud that I have found a creative way to contribute to my family. Even if it is only for the Summer! Today I made my first purchase ever on Mountain Brook Trading. Kelley Green Linen Drapes from Pottery Barn. Three Panels for $45, WHAT A DEAL! I get the “just got paid and spending money” part from my dad’s side.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Affordable living. Does it exist for the regular folks where I want to be in Birmingham?

I am always trying to keep my finger on the pulse of the rental property in Birmingham City. We live and own a Fox Hall unit in Mountain Brook, we love our community, pay the taxes, paid the $8000.00 assessment for our unit a few years back, pay the condo dues, use the pool, and give one of our full paychecks a month to our mortgage. We did not get out before the market fell. We got stuck for a minute. We remind ourselves all the time we are fortunate to have a roof over our heads in a safe neighborhood, but for a price. We are quickly out growing our neighbors and our 900 square footage. I felt like we can get more than Fox Hall outside of Mountain Brook and maybe for equal or less. This couple is somewhere between just the two of us and the thoughts of starting a family one day. We are looking into renting out our unit in Mountain Brook and renting a house with two bathrooms and a yard. Michael and I have shared a bathroom for 6 years and it is time for moving room. What I am finding is that we cannot afford rent outside of Mountain Brook where we are close to breaking even. It is true the closer you are to Mountain Brook the higher the price, but there is a house in Mountaindale(The neighborhood behind McElwain Baptist) renting for almost $2000 a month that says “perfect for a family.” It is a really nice small house with all the amenities. It made me sad because we cannot afford that. Why not just live or rent in Mountain Brook for $2500? I would assume a young family wanting to live near Mountain Brook would want to be near a good school system and if their kids were not old enough for school close to $2000 in rent for that area is too much in my opinion. Well not reasonable for this family. Something I am also reminded of everyday living in this fortunate area. We live a simple life that we are proud of and do the best we can. We have endured a lot and every Sunday morning we drive the streets of Birmingham from Crestline Park to Crestwood, Avondale then onto Forest Park and back... looking for that $1000- $1200 a month gem. Houses with everything we need are around $1500 in Crestwood, Crestline Park, and Forest Park, even parts of Avondale. Folks like, my brother, who live in Palo Alto would laugh and think these prices are a steal. We are lucky prices are lower in the South, but so our salaries when you are a writer and in education. When I was in Huntsville last week visiting my parents I saw nicer and bigger homes for sale and rent in equal or greater neighborhoods for reasonable living prices, good schools and safe neighborhoods. So what gives Birmingham? I love your Vulcan ways, your magic city, your arts and music, your over the mountain, your pale ale nightlife, your Barons and your sweet southern English inspired streets hanging with jasmine. I love my job and my friends here. Where is my $1200 a month rental so we can stay close in town with three bedrooms, two-baths, a yard and a porch for rent? Preferably one that does not look like the children of the corn might pop out at any moment. I am guessing it does not exist for my limited desired areas. I do not want to complain. I just am asking the question, am I asking too much for too little? Looking on the bright side, hoping to find a compromise one day!