3 Ways to Make Your Non-Profit Resonate With Supporters

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I’ve been involved with non-profits in some capacity for practically my whole life–since my aunt and uncle (with whom I’ve very close) started working in Nicaragua in Central America when I was just 4. They founded the Tin Roof Foundation in the mid-1990s, a 501(c)(3) that is dedicated to equipping kids, young people and families with the skills and tools they need to become self-sufficient, productive members of their communities.

Really in the past 5 years, I have become even more involved with Tin Roof through co-running our Facebook page, developing and executing the marketing and social media strategy for our annual fundraiser and working at the event. Here are 3 ways to make the stories your non-profit tells resonate better with your supporters.

#1: Make It Personal

People love personal stories. When it comes to non-profits–especially those that work in other countries–most donors will never meet the beneficiaries. So, telling personal stories and sharing photos is a super effective way to connect donors to beneficiaries.

#2: Make It Relevant

At the end of the day, we are all human and have the same basic needs: food, shelter, security, love. Making the stories personal also helps to make a foundation’s work relevant to donors–since they can more easily connect with a person whose life has aspects that parallels their own. For example, a mother in the U.S. with a baby and a toddler can connect with a Nicaraguan mother with children of similar ages and, therefore, facing similar challenges of raising and caring for multiple children.

#3: Make It Poignant

When you’re sharing stories about individuals your non-profit helps, making those stories personal and relevant will help to also make them poignant. The stories you share should be touching and impactful. Here at the Tin Roof Foundation, we share the following types of stories that seem to resonate well with our supporters:

  • Young people who have been able to attend secondary school, university or trade school thanks to the support of Tin Roof.
  • Individuals who have been able to start a small business, such as basket weaving, jewelry making or chia plant growing, thanks to the support of Tin Roof.
  • Children who have faced and conquered a debilitating medical condition thanks to Tin Roof, that would have otherwise likely have gone untreated.

Welcoming Silas

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May 28th, 2016 was a monumental day in my life, to say the least: we welcomed our son, Silas Daniel Quales. Perfectly healthy and arriving exactly one week before his due date, this little guy (weighing in at 6 lbs, 7 oz) has been such a joy. His timing was impeccable, as my husband was off nursing school for the summer so he was able to stay home to help me with Silas for the first 2.5 months of his life.

I took 6 weeks completely off work, during which time I admittedly got antsy to start back to work. I’m one of those people who is not happy if not productive, which usually means making money 🙂 When I did return to my clients and projects in mid-July, the transition was fairly seamless thanks to Jon also being home with us for another month.

Being a WAHM

Becoming a mom has made me appreciate my self-employed, work-from-home status just about a million times more than I did before. Having an easy going baby certainly helps me continue to be productive during the day at home, and I’ve been able to easily plan meetings and on-site engagements on days when my husband is available or when my family members watch Silas for half days. I plan to keep working diligently to grow my business so I can continue freelancing for years to come, so I can be home with my little boy as he grows up!

With that said, I am currently looking to pick up additional projects in my areas of expertise, including writing, editing, content strategy and qualitative research/analysis. I have about 20 hours a week open at this time for additional work. Just shoot me an email at danielle.quales@gmail.com if you have needs in any of those areas!

The Latest in Vintage Pyrex Collecting

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It’s been a few months since my last vintage Pyrex post, but that certainly doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy locally thrifting and picking, as well as buying and trading pieces online. I’ve even recently made a great new local Pyrex friend–via a trade–who has quickly involved into a good friend beyond just our Pyrex connection. We’ve gone thrifting together all over southern/central Ohio at least once or twice a week over the past month, and have both scored some amazing finds! We have BIG plans for a really fun vintage summer. Here’s a peek at some of my recent acquisitions:

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My current pink and turquoise Pyrex display in my vintage Heywood Wakefield hutch in our kitchen

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My beautiful Flameglo bowl set, pieced together thanks to recent trades and money from selling my extra pieces.

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My current blue, green and black Pyrex display in my other vintage hutch in our living room

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My current display of vintage Pyrex spacesavers on my Heywood Wakefield credenza

I’ve really been enjoying the process of trading Pyrex with fellow collectors on Facebook groups and on Instagram. The size of the collecting community on these social media sites would be surprising to anyone! I plan to continue to grow my vintage Pyrex collection–and to also have fun enjoying the social aspects of local thrifting and the virtual communities in which I’m involved.

Deliciously Dark Dexter

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I’m not a TV watcher; I never have been. These days, we don’t have cable service but just rely on Netflix for the evening entertainment needs around our house. However, one of few series that I consider indispensable viewing is Dexter. The characters are wonderful (particularly Dexter himself), the scenery is lovely and the plot twists are so fun. It’s no surprise that Dexter is one of my all-time favorite TV characters since he fits my standard profile of intelligent, socially-awkward misfit who has trouble connecting with other people.

Sidebar: Other characters on my list of super-favorites include:

  • Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory)
  • Buster Bluth (Arrested Development)
  • Walter Bishop (Fringe)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes (BBC Sherlock)

Okay, okay, Buster is a bit of an oddball, but more about those characters in a later blog post.

Getting Back to Dexter…

Being the major Dexter fan that I am, I’ve been doing some browsing around online to check out fan sites and communities. Doing so has also gotten me really interested in checking out the book series that inspired the TV series. I very rarely make time for fiction reading, but I think this shall be one of those exceptions! Here are some great online Dexter resources I’ve come across lately:

Ready or Not…

February

Here comes February. It’s almost the worst month of the year for me. The holidays are pretty much a distant memory and the novelty of the new year has worn off. Now, it’s just…winter. Which means days and days of gray skies here in Cincinnati. It’s not unusual for us to not see the sun for over a week sometimes. It’s pretty rough. Coupled with this gray darkness is the fact that I always struggle with healthy eating the most in February, which seems to set (or doom) the tone for the next few months. Between the near-constant desire to hibernate and lack of physical activity, it’s always an uphill battle to stay mentally and physically healthy in February.

There are some bright spots in February. All of the Valentine’s Day decorations and miscellany in stores this time of year is fun and cheery. Pink anything is always a good choice, from how I see things. I also married someone with a February birthday, so that’s something for which to plan and look forward.

This February, I plan to keep very busy with my business (already swamped with more projects rolling in!) and spending time with my husband and fur-kids. Spring is just around the corner, right?

Keeping Company While Working from Home

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Working from home is great, particularly in the winter. I love not having to leave my warm house and drive in my frigid truck many miles to an office building somewhere. Even though I’m very much an “early bird” and still wake up most mornings before 6:30 to begin work (and sometimes to even hop on phone calls with fellow early-riser clients!), it’s great that my only foray to the outside world is a 30-second walk with my dog, Cosmo, who’s easily lured back into the cozy house with the promise of his breakfast kibble.

It’s great to not have to worry about packing meals and snacks each evening for the next day, as I always did when I worked on-site most days. It’s nice to have the flexibility to be able to throw in a load of laundry or run up to the bank to deposit a check at lunchtime–or even before or after to beat the lunchtime rush of those who work in an office and aren’t blessed with such a flexible schedule as I am.

Despite all these advantages to working from home, these are my three favorite reasons I get to stay home most days.

Cosmo (shih tzu) and Ezra (orange tabby)

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Ishmael (orange tabby), Age 12 weeks

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My husband and I adopted Cosmo, our large (24 lb.) shih tzu, first in September 2011, from the shelter where we were living in Bloomington, Indiana. He was about 1-1/2 years old; his shelter name was “Chewie,” as in Chewbacca because his fur was such a long, tangled mess. My husband and I have said, time and time again, that was the best $75 we ever spent. We mean it–especially at a time when $75 was a lot more money to us and our tight student budget.

Cosmo’s shelter photo

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After moving back to Cincinnati, Cosmo and I then “found” the tiny ten-week-old ginger kitty who was to become our Ezra in my mom’s garden crying in July 2012. It’s important to note that we didn’t seek out a kitten, and didn’t formerly think of ourselves as “cat people” in the least. My mom had cats when I was growing up, but I mostly ignored them, except when they chewed the fingers off all of my Barbie dolls. So in the case of Ezra, my husband declared that we would only be keeping the kitten if Cosmo wasn’t upset by him. As the most laid back dog ever who gets along with and loves everyone, that was not a problem. The unlikely fuzzy pair soon bonded, and the rest is history. Ezra irrevocably turned us all–Cosmo included–into cat people! Orange tabbies are particularly special to us.

Ezra, Age 10 weeks

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After purchasing our first home in April 2014, my husband and I started seriously considering adopting a second cat. We knew that it must be a kitten to be able to adjust to living with an older, dominant cat, it must be an orange tabby and it preferably should be a “he.” In the first days of May, I began scouring PetFinder.com and the local shelters and rescue agencies for male orange kittens. I was quickly informed that it was early in “kitten season.” I realized that made sense considering our vet approximated Ezra’s birthday to be May 5th, cinco de Mayo. I came to grips with the fact that we may have to wait another 6-8 weeks to find just the right little guy to come home with us.

As is tradition when I get something in my mind that I must have, I didn’t give up. On the second day of searching online and making phone calls, we located a kitten that fit the bill. He was located at the Boone County Animal Shelter in Burlington, Kentucky, about a 40-minute drive from our house. I called the shelter to ensure he was still available for adoption. The shelter employee informed me that this little guy (his shelter name was “Andrew”) was still available, but that his fellow ginger littermate brother was already reserved. Kittens are scooped up quickly in pre-kitten season, it seemed. And I know we aren’t the only people with a special affinity for the orange dudes.

We made the drive to Burlington and were led back to the kitten room. I scooped him up and knew he was ours! We paid the $90 adoption fee and the staff put him into a little cardboard kitten carrier complete with a homemade fleece blanket as a going-home present.

Ishmael, Age 7 weeks

baby-Ishmael

Well, the introduction of Ishmael to Ezra was nowhere near as smooth as Ezra to Cosmo. In fact, we had no idea the ordeal we were getting ourselves into. Ezra was mad. Jon and I did a lot of research online and with friends who have experience in the delicate art of cat introduction. We kept the kitty boys completed separated for about the first week. During this time, Ishmael bonded with Cosmo very well. Ishmael really loves his dog brother so much, it’s difficult to express! We are pretty sure it’s the fact that Cosmo has never been mean to him and he has always felt very safe with him, whereas this has not been the case with his fellow feline.

We then began introducing the cats and letting Ishmael have full run of the house when someone was home and during the day. After Ishmael was a few months old had put on some weight and Ezra seemed to be adjusting to the fact that he would be sharing his kingdom with a pip squeak, Ishmael had full run of the house all the time.

Ezra, Age 2.5 (foreground), and Ishmael, Age 10 months

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Cosmo with his gifts for daddy’s birthday, Age 2 (2012)

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All three boys relaxing together (December 2014)

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Yes, my husband and I are admittedly crazy pet parents, but we wouldn’t trade that for anything!

Remembering Grandma

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My maternal grandmother passed away this past July 1st, at the age of 90. Life has been busy for everyone, and dreary January days in Cincinnati have finally allowed us some time to go through her things. The recent holidays have brought her to our minds even more than day-to-day life, perhaps, in that we always gathered as a family on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and often New Year’s Day. Grandma never turned down a delicious, home-cooked meal made with love.

The items that we took from her house the day after she passed (also my birthday) include photographs (some as old as the early 1900s, many from the 1970s and more recent), many small purses and wallets containing lots of shoppers’ and senior discount cards, jewelry (mostly costume), vintage linens and other odds and ends. All of this fit in three large plastic storage tubs.

A young grandma on the family farm in Corbin, Kentucky

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Yesterday, my mom, aunt and I spent a few hours sorting through these items and laying them out in their respective categories. We will pick out items that we each like and/or have sentimental meaning for ourselves, as well as distribute items to other family members who live out of town.

Most of my time was spent sorting through dozens of photographs. Many of the faces I recognized; some I did not. In this process, I divided photographs up into piles for my cousins, particularly photos of them with grandma and grandpa. My own pile contained images from visiting my grandparents at their home in Seminole, Florida, a trip to Dollywood in Sevierville, Tennessee and other assorted family gatherings.

My Xavier graduation party, May 2008

grad-party

Looking through these photos certainly brought back memories. For most of childhood, my grandparents had two homes, in Cincinnati and in Florida. They were in Cincinnati most of the year, and I saw them fairly often. Their home in Cincinnati has been in our family for several generations; my parents owned the house when I was born.

Many of my memories of my grandma were simple memories…visiting with her after church with my mom, taking her shopping at Kenwood, playing the card game War in her tiny kitchen while she fixed me grilled cheese. I also remembered when she and my grandpa had a small motorhome that they would drive between Cincinnati and Florida, and would park in our driveway of the house in which we lived until I was in 3rd grade. Whenever I see peach gummy candy, I think of sitting on the couch in the back of that motorhome, riding down Beechmont Avenue–which seemed like quite a memorable outing for some reason as a six-year-old.

My wedding shower with my aunt and grandma, August 2010

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We are still in the process of sorting through grandma’s things, and hope to be able to send family members some small tokens by which to remember grandma very soon. Losing a loved one is never easy. I believe it’s most difficult in small moments, those that would seem inconsequential, but somehow seem to make the absence of that person even more stinging.

Feel free to share your experiences below. How do you honor and remember your passed loved ones?

Disney World: Downtime in the Sunshine State

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Last week, I returned from the Most Magical Place on Earth. It was, characteristically…magical! From age 1 to about 14, I traveled to “Mickey’s House” once a year with my aunt and uncle. Since, then I’ve only been a couple times. My husband Jon had only been to Disney World once when he was 6, only went to Magic Kingdom and left after a half-day because it started raining (afternoon showers?–yes, it’s Florida!). The last trip my aunt, uncle and I took was in 2007, so back in August, we all agreed that it’s high time we plan our next trip!

We decided to visit the second week of December, since Jon will be on his holiday break from school and we hoped to beat the major crowds right around Christmas and New Year’s. We were eager to see all the Christmas decorations, as we had never been during this time of year!

Where the magic begins

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Some Learnings from Our Last Trip: Disney Dining Plan & Restaurant Reservations

When we visited in 2007, we had opted to purchase the Disney Dining Plan as part of our vacation package. We quickly learned that we spent much of our days running around trying to use up all of our snacks and make reservations at restaurants. Doing so certainly didn’t ruin that trip by any means, but it did not make for a relaxing trip in that aspect. So, this time we unanimously agreed to just pay for our meals a la carte. (Full disclosure: I am fairly sure that Disney now offers a wider variety of dining plan types that may better meet our needs, but we did not explore those.)

Shortly after we booked our trip, I downloaded the Disney iPhone app to begin making reservations at the most popular restaurants at which we knew we wanted to eat, including:

  • Sci-fi Drive-in (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
  • Planet Hollywood (Downtown Disney)
  • Rainforest Cafe (Downtown Disney)

We didn’t want to be stuck eating at very off times at second-choice restaurants, as happened in 2007 when we waited to make our meal reservations until we arrived at the resort. I continued to use the iPhone app during our trip to book Fastpasses–more about that later.

Shoving Off for Mickey’s House

We departed the Greater Cincinnati airport around 9:30 on the morning of Tuesday, December 9th. Our flight was uneventful and we arrived in Orlando and hustled over to the Disney Magical Express pickup area by just after noon. We were only a 40-minute charter bus ride away from being in our very favorite alternate reality!

Watching a Christmas parade on Mainstreet, USA

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After a drive past sprawling Orlando planned communities–each house with uniform screened-in back porch and swimming pool–we finally sighted the Welcome to Disney World gateway sign. I was so excited I could hardly stand it! Not soon after, our bus dropped us off at our resort, Port Orleans French Quarter. Over the years, we’ve stayed at many of the property resorts, including Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs and the Wilderness Lodge. We’ve decided that Port Orleans FQ is our favorite because of its location on the waterway (Riding the water taxi to Downtown Disney in the evenings is a tradition.) and its smaller size, compared to some of the other resorts.

Our Itinerary

Day One – Tuesday

  • Spent the remainder of the day leisurely strolling around Downtown Disney, shopping and having dinner
  • Decided to not go into a park so we could start fresh on Wednesday

Hands down, the most popular current Disney movie

frozen

Day Two – Wednesday

  • Headed into Magic Kingdom bright and early – always the first park we visit
  • Enjoyed Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, meeting Mickey the Magician on Mainstreet, climbing the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (one of Jon’s only Disney memories), meeting Ariel in her grotto, It’s a Small World, the Tea Cups and much more
  • I was very disappointed that the Haunted Mansion was closed because the spirits were acting up
  • Dinner at Planet Hollywood at Downtown Disney, which wasn’t near as tasty as it used to be

Obligatory front entrance shot

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The Big Cheese himself!

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Everyone’s favorite mermaid

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Day Three – Thursday

  • Visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios–or MGM, as we better know it
  • Had a ton of fun witnessing Jon’s first ride on the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror, riding Star Tours, Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Rollercoaster and Toy Story Mania (the longest wait of our trip)
  • Saw several fun live shows, including Beauty and the Beast, Indiana Jones: Stunt Spectacular (Jon was chosen as an extra!) and Muppet Vision 3D
  • Enjoyed a very tasty lunch at the Sci-fi Drive-in — my Salmon BLT (minus the “B”) was my very favorite meal of the trip
  • At 6pm, we witnessed the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, which was an amazing experience — I doubt I’ll ever see that many Christmas lights in one place again

In line for the Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror

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Action shot from the Tower of Terror

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Action shot from Aerosmith’s Rockin’ Rollercoaster

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Ready to ride Toy Story Mania

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Day Four – Friday

  • Explored EPCOT, my least favorite park which I begrudgingly visit just to say we’ve hit all the parks on our trip
  • Fittingly so, this was also the only dreary, cloudy day of our visit
  • Rode Soarin’ for the first time, which is now one of my favorite Disney rides — a 4D (including smell!) motion ride that carries riders over California on a parasail-like ride that’s basically the OMNIMAX on steroids
  • Strolled around the World Showcase and visited the shops
  • Ended the day with dinner at the House of Blues at Downtown Disney — by far the best restaurant at Downtown Disney in our opinion

Waiting for the gates to open at 9am sharp

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Checking out France

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Posing with Royalty in the pin shop at Downtown Disney

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Day Five – Saturday

  • My roommate from when I lived in Florida and now one of my best friends, Kimberly, came to visit with her little boy, Jackson
  • She and Jon met for the first time and we got to meet Jackson, whom we’ve been stalking on Facebook since he was in the womb!
  • Ended the day with dinner at the Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney

On the Sassagoula Riverboat bound for Downtown

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 Christmas decorations with some of my favorite people

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This kid loves his Auntie Dee!

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Day Six – Sunday

  • Visited our fourth and final park of the visit, Animal Kingdom
  • Enjoyed Kilimanjaro Safari, visiting with Mickey and Minnie (in their adorable holiday garb), Expedition Everest, A Bug’s Life show and more
  • Crowds were building, which made us appreciate the relatively sparse crowds we’d faced most of our trip
  • Departed our resort at 4:40pm via Disney Magical Express to head to the airport–and back to reality

The old crew back together again

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Giraffes on Kilimanjaro Safaris

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Just before leaving our resort…exhausted

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Learnings from This Trip: Disney Fastpass

Admittedly, I was skeptical of the Fastpass service before I really got into using it on the Disney app. I feared that “scheduling” our rides and attractions would make the trip feel too structured and not relaxing. What if our Fastpass came due at 2:30 and it was 2:10–not enough time to visit another attraction, so would we just be standing around, bored and waiting? That didn’t sound like fun to me.

Even still, I decided to give Fastpass reservations a whirl on our second day, while at Magic Kingdom. Tons of people were using the system, and breezing right onto rides while we waited for a half hour or more. I quickly realized that the system was going to work well because using a Fastpass provides you with a window of time (usually an hour) to visit the attraction. This avoided the dreaded standing-around-and-waiting-for-your-Fastpass-window scenario.

I used my Disney iPhone app to make our Fastpass selections, usually a day or two before we visited that park. Before the trip, I had linked all of our MagicBands to my Disney account, so I could make these selections for all four of us. Oh, MagicBands, you are awesome! My only complaint was that the app was often slow to load or wouldn’t load at all. I hope they can get this fixed before our next trip so I don’t encounter as many problems while trying to use the app in the park.

Mainstreet, USA on a perfect December day

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A Great Time Had By All

As always, it was a great trip to Disney World and we undoubtedly made memories to last a lifetime! It was great to relive so many of my favorite childhood memories with my aunt and uncle, while starting new Disney traditions with Jon that we plan to continue for decades to come. Jon became obsessed with scouring the place for “Hidden Mickeys,” so we plan to spend some time on our next trip to continue that search.

I realize that Disney isn’t for everyone. Some people just don’t “get” the magic–or simply don’t want to face the crowds. I’m quite impatient in day-to-day life and don’t generally enjoy crowds in the least, but that somehow all goes out the window when I’m under Mickey’s (Walt’s?) spell! Have you been to Disney World or Disneyland? Are you a convert, or not a big fan? I’d love to hear your thoughts and memories below.

Avoid Early-Onset Wintertime Blues by Decorating for Christmas

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It sure seems like winter comes earlier and earlier each year to the Midwest. I do enjoy the change of seasons. I lived for a short time in a place that didn’t have very distinct seasons to speak of (St. Augustine, FL), and I really didn’t enjoy 90 degrees days in March. Cooler temperatures that usually arrive sometime in October mean busting out the big, cozy blankets, switching closets around and whipping up something sweet and decadent in the oven. These are the fun aspects of fall and winter. Likewise, I don’t mind bundling up in layers of coats and scarves to run to the store, or that our pets become even more cuddly when there’s a chill in the air.

My biggest qualm with winter is the lack of sun. I can handle 5 degrees if the sun is shining. I’d actually rather it be 5 and sunny than 45 and dreary! But, much more often than I’d like, Cincinnati doesn’t see the sun in the winter for weeks on end–or at least so it seems. That’s the tough part. And, dreary winter has arrived early this year; it’s not even Thanksgiving and we’re already seeing stretches of days with temperatures hovering around freezing and flat, gray skies.

So, even though I’m not usually one of those people who really gets into the Christmas spirit, I decided that this year I would make a conscious effort to do so. Part of this newfound seasonal excitement could also be the fact that we just bought our first home this year, and I’ve been looking for excuses to decorate it for practically every holiday this year! One main challenge we have with decorating is the fact that we have two particularly curious (indoor-only) ginger kitties who are very interested in anything that is dangly, jingly, fluffy or pointy. Basically, no indoor decorations would be safe from these two boys–particularly from the kitten, Ishmael. Ezra (two years old) leaves most decor alone, but there’s always the random item (hair ties and bobby pins are his favorite!) that he can’t live without batting around the house for hours on end.

Ishmael (left) and Ezra, July 2014

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Since getting rid of our beloved tabbies certainly isn’t an option (I think my husband would get rid of me first), we are pretty well limited to decorating outdoors for any holiday. This past weekend, I asked my aunt if she would like to make wreaths together, since she’s had years of experience with such crafts and projects and always welcome a fun break from her office work managing their non-profit organization. Well, she said that she would love to!

On Saturday, we took our box and clippers and out we went into their yard to gather greens for our wreaths. My aunt and uncle have a large blue spruce in their back yard, so we took copious clippings from that for our wreaths. The blue spruce would serve as the base for our wreaths, since there was basically an unlimited supply for us to use. Next, we trimmed branches off of a couple other evergreen varieties in their yard. Once we had crammed as many evergreen clippings into our box as would fit (plus bundles in our arms!), we ventured into the basement–our “greens workshop” for the afternoon.

My aunt had already set up the wreath forms, pins and floral wire on a table for us, along with a trash can, red ribbon for bows and scissors. (I told ya she had been crafting for years!) We spent the next hour or so creating our wreaths, based on the careful technique that my aunt demonstrated for me. For a first-timer, I think my wreath turned out pretty well!

Homemade wreaths are a fun project

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Continuing the holiday decorating theme, my husband and I decided to hang up Christmas lights on our house on Sunday afternoon. The whole process wasn’t too bad for our first time hanging lights. That being said, I’m still not aspiring to completely cover the house in lights Griswold-style next year!

Our modest attempt at outdoor decor

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Never did we imagine that the very next day, we would be engulfed in a winter wonderland! It’s not even Thanksgiving, and this is very unusual for Cincinnati.

Lights and snow…a pretty combination indeed! (with cameo appearance by Cosmo in the front window)

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Here’s to making the best of the dreary winter–even if it’s not your favorite season! You won’t catch me complaining when sundress and sunshine season returns. What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? How do you beat the winter blues? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Collector Mania: Pyrex Addition

pyrex-poster

Since my first couple blog posts were a bit more professional, I thought I would take this opportunity to write about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, but a bit more frivolous. That topic is vintage Pyrex. “Pyrex?”, you ask. Well, yes, those old casserole dishes and bakeware that are probably lining the back of your grandma’s cupboards.

Like many people, I’m not really sure how and why I started collecting. But, I can tell you I only started earlier this year and I already have a couple dozen pieces. What’s the old saying about love–it happens slowly at first, then all at once? Yeah, that’s happened for me and Pyrex! I even “had” to buy a second vintage hutch to accommodate my quickly growing collection. (Speaking of that cute little hutch, my Heywood Wakefield obsession is worthy of its own post sometime in the future!)

The first Pyrex pieces I bought were from our favorite Cincinnati-area antique mall, Ohio Valley Antique Mall. My first Pyrex purchase was a pair of glass storage canisters labeled “Cookie Jar” and “Cracker Barrel.” Being the crazy fur-mom that I am, of course I bought them to hold kitty and doggie kibble, respectively. (If you must know, the Cookie Jar holds my dog’s kibble because he’s sweeter than the cats hehe.)

How it all started…

cookie-jar-cracker-barrel

 

After this first purchase, I started keeping my eyes peeled for other Pyrex pieces during our regular rounds at the local antique malls, markets and fairs. I started researching various patterns online. (PyrexLove is a particularly good resource for trivia about and photos of the various patterns.) When I become interested in something, I become…a little obsessed, maybe. I prefer the term “passionate.” I checked out patterns and prices on eBay (there are some deals to be found) and Etsy (all stores are overpriced). I even started swinging by thrift stores–Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army, oh my!–on a quest to score forgotten treasures for a couple bucks. Sadly, I just haven’t had any luck with these impulsive thrift store visits. I’ve come to the conclusion that we must have a fairly sizable community of professional antique resellers in the Cincinnati area who know when these shops put out their newest wares, and are at the doorstep to quickly snatch up the most desirable items!

Humble beginnings of my collection…

pyrex-beginnings

I never thought I would be a “thrifter” myself, but Instagram posts of people bragging about finding pristine #rarepyrex #inthewild (meaning: found at a cheap price at a thrift store, garage sale or flea market) inspired me to check out thrift stores. Who knew that Instagram has such a thriving vintage collector community? Well, it really does, and it’s full of some very nice, very passionate folks. Furthermore, #instasales are a wondrous, and highly dangerous, thing! There are dozens of #instashops that sell vintage collectibles, and a growing number of shops devoted almost solely to Pyrex and related vintage kitchenware. Instagram shops have regularly-scheduled sales as well as #flashsales; the lucky first buyer usually claims the desired item(s) by commenting with a PayPal-enabled email address + ZIP code. Instagram Pyrex/other vintage sales can be a stressful, hectic place when:

  • The seller has done a particularly good job at promoting his/her sale – usually via a giveaway or shop discount offered for users who share a marketing photo on behalf of the shop
  • The seller is offering highly-desired pieces at great prices
  • The seller is offering some of the rarest Pyrex out there – some pieces are known to have sold for thousands of dollars on eBay, so whenever these pieces come up for sale, they’re going to be snatched up

That one weekend I went crazy on #instasales…

instasales

I really only have one real-life friend who shares my Pyrex collecting passion, and she lives in Florida. Even still, we enjoy sharing our finds and latest treasures on Instagram and Facebook. It’s nice to have someone I know and who’s around my age understand my love of this fun, cheerful kitchenware! Also, I have made some “friends” on Instagram through the Pyrex buying and selling community.

My older family members seem to find it a bit amusing that I collect Pyrex. My mom just can’t believe why and how there is such a sizable collector community of items she received as wedding gifts in the ’70s and continued to use in the decades following that. One day, I was over at her house for lunch and asked when I might be inheriting that ’70s Pyrex she had said I could have to add to my collection. Well, I didn’t have to wait any longer because she immediately started rummaging through her deep corner cabinets to unearth the long-buried treasure. “You act like we’re ancient,” she commented in response to my excitement at the vintage casserole dishes, mixing bowls and refrigerator dishes she had just heaved onto her kitchen counter. #freepyrex is one of my favorite patterns!

My aunt has also promised me some (highly collectible and valuable!) early to mid-’60s Pyrex, so I’ll be collecting that as soon as I refinish my Heywood Wakefield hutch.

Pyrex haul from my mom’s cupboard…

moms-pyrex

I even committed to a visit to the “dirt market” (i.e., flea market) over Thanksgiving weekend with a good friend, since I’ve heard rumors that collectors have great luck finding cheap Pyrex there. I STILL refuse to hit up garage sales. I draw the line there! Anyway, I may have an interesting story or two to share from the dirt mall.

(Most of) my Pyrex collection as of today…

pyrex-today

Perhaps by the next time I write a Pyrex post, I’ll have narrowed now my collection to focus on just a few patterns…ha, right! There are just too many to love, and clearly I haven’t done a good job “focusing” my collection so far. I believe that it’s simply impossible to not be happy when surrounded by such lovely bake and cookware that’s been well-loved and used by generations of ladies–and of course, probably some men too!

What do you collect? As a folklorist and researcher, I’m always fascinated by what and why people collect. Feel free to share your thoughts below.