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Tablecloths – Cracked Ice and Chrome

School’s out . . . forever.

I have spent the past month cleaning out my classroom and sorting through 23 years’ worth of stuff.

Teachers tend to be hoarders for the same reason children will grab a handful of candy instead of taking just one piece; in the world of education, resources (especially free ones) are fleeting, so we tend to keep things that we think might be useful in the future. Sometimes that makes us a little greedy when it comes to keeping stuff for ourselves.

Case in point: see that storage cabinet in the right corner? I had about 25 textbooks in there. Different textbooks. They were all samples given to us by publishers over the year back when textbooks were the only resource teachers had. Once the internet became mainstream, teachers realized that we were no longer beholden to the big publishing companies and that we could craft our own units. However, the teacher brain in me thought it would be smart to hold onto the textbooks – y’know, just in case.

I’m fairly certain that the custodians at my school currently hate me for all the crap I piled by the garbage cans.

In addition to the clutter, though, I ran across some things that made me very melancholy. I found senior pictures from past graduates, thank-you notes from students and parents, and some relics from when my own children were little and I used to bring them to the school on a Saturday so I could work.

That last sentence is exactly what is driving me to get out of the field and transition into something else. How many weekends did I spend doing “school things” instead of taking my kids to the park? How many hours did I spend grading at the kitchen table instead of taking the time to make a nice meal for my family? Running across some of the drawings in notebooks made me feel a twinge of nostalgic pain. My kids are grown now, and I am now a grandma to my oldest boy’s daughter, and it just reminds me how quickly the time goes. Even though my kids are grown now and I could spend all of Saturday grading essays, I no longer want to.

Now I am slogging through the job hunting adventure and praying for someone to notice me and give me an interview. I have sent out about 50+ applications and so far have only gotten rejection letters. On August 31, I no longer am under contract at my school and that means I lose my health insurance. To say that I am panicking a bit is a major understatement. The stress of looking for another job haunts me day and night, yet I feel like this is something I am meant to do. I gave 23 years to education, but over the past several years, my values no longer aligned with the job, and that made for some stressful work conditions. I could only bite my tongue so many times before I felt like I wanted to explode, so I wanted to hit the reset button and start over with a field that was more results-oriented and that made me feel good about going to work every day and giving 100%. I am sad about what is happening to public education, but it’s also not a problem I can fix. So onward I go, into the very unfamiliar territory of LinkedIn and trying to get my foot in the door somewhere.

It’s taken me a couple weeks to write this post because of my conflicting feelings regarding this move. I feel like it’s the right thing to do, but at the same time, I have no safety net and I am petrified. A couple of weeks later, I have sent out 75 or so applications – possibly more – and have had zero responses aside from rejection letters. Transitioning into a different career is hard, y’all – and even harder when the field is being flooded by teachers fleeing the school system.

I hope my next blog post is about landing a new job.

In vintage news, my husband and I visited our local antique shop the other day. I have been going there for years and the owner, Polly, is an absolute gem. She remembers everyone who comes in her store and what they like, and she is a joy to talk to. Her store had become rather cluttered over the years, and she had someone come in and get rid of the excess stuff. I had fun browsing the aisles and seeing treasures that were probably buried under boxes for several years. Her tablecloths had been pretty stagnant for the past few years, but she had some new ones this time, including one that has my favorite colors – a jadeite green and red.

I snagged this tablecloth (no tag) and an interesting lime green Simtex. I couldn’t get the color accurate; the background color is very much lime green and not yellow.

I know I’ve written about Kitchen-Klatter before, and when I saw these cookbooks, I had to have them. There’s a good bit of childhood nostalgia connected to watching my mom listening to Kitchen-Klatter on the radio. She would have pen in hand as she wrote down various recipes, and I found the ladies’ voices comforting.

Well, that is about all I have to share from my neck of Iowa — soon to be the western suburbs of Chicago, I hope. I hope everyone is having a fantastic start to summer (in 9 days)!


Eternally annoyed by fake spring

I am sure I have said it a few thousand times on this blog, but I really, really loathe March in the Midwest. The snow takes forever to melt – IF it melts – and when it does, everything is a muddy freaking mess. I dread letting the dog outside because it means the inevitable muddly dog prints all over the kitchen when she comes prancing back in. Sometimes winter forgets that it’s supposed to leave quickly and quietly and instead hangs around like a drunk party guest, making messes in the form of winter storm after winter storm.

I feel like the den mother for a riotous frat party who, while cleaning up the chaos of the latest party, picks up a blanket to find a sleeping Old Man Winter. After a couple weeks of having above-average temperatures and quickly melting snow, we are now under a Winter Storm Watch for Monday.

<sigh> Whatevs. It goes with the territory of living here, I guess. I should know that once that glimmer of hope sparks that maybe — just maybe — I could get my pond up and going in record time that it awakens the Snow Giant. So we’ll hunker back in for the storm, look forward with dreary eyes for the Big Melt, and then repeat the process all over again.

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The Covid blues . . .

I’m not going to lie; I’m so freaking tired of events being canceled. Everything that my hubby and I have gotten tickets to and have looked forward to has been canceled; all of his band gigs have been canceled or postponed to a later date. We keep setting our sights on the next thing to look forward to, and then it just vanishes.

It’s my pity party and I’ll cry if I want to. Please do not lecture me about how selfish this sounds because I have news for you: I KNOW. Back in March, when my husband and I returned from a band gig in Georgia, the Covid thing was just starting to get serious; my school ended up going online the week that I returned. I remember thinking at the time that we’d have a few months of this and then be back to normal.

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Tick . . . tock . . . tick . . . tock

Such is the sound of August – every year. School will be starting back up in a week and a half, and for the first time since I started teaching, I am mentally prepared to go back to school, probably because, well, I’ve been out of school since mid-March. While I always need a mental break after a hectic school year, this was a little too long. The school year ended with an abrupt karate chop, and it’s just not normal. I’m used to ending the year frazzled and exhausted, and while I was getting there in mid-March, I hadn’t yet hit the true craziness of the year.

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A boom in the tablecloth market

I apologize for writing about tablecloths AGAIN. By now you’re probably thinking I have a bit of an issue. Well, perhaps I do. Back when I was selling tablecloths pretty regularly from my Etsy store, I so enjoyed the process of finding cloths, cleaning them to look like new, and then either keeping them or selling them.

For awhile, I had no luck finding them in antique stores, so I really didn’t buy any.

When I met my husband, we had a mutual love of all things retro, although our retro eras were a little bit apart; I loved stuff from the 40-60s and he loved things from the 80s – mainly 80s vinyl. But we do enjoy browsing through antique stores and seeing what treasures we can find.

Suddenly, I am finding great tablecloths left and right and I can feel that excitement that I used to feel whenever I ran across one with a great label or one with the original tags still attached. I went from not being able to find it anywhere to having to be selective about which tablecloths I do get because I’m finding them everywhere. Here are a few that I picked up on our last trip:

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Antique store scores!

Yesterday my husband and I ventured out to Okoboji, Iowa, which is about 1.5 hours away from where we live. We had visited an antique store there a couple weeks ago, but because we had gotten there so late in the day, we did not get to visit all the antique stores that we saw. There is one store in particular that my husband fell in love with because of one simple reason: vinyl. Lots of vinyl. Even better, there was lots of mint-condition vinyl.

Actually, we both discovered stores that fed our little addictions because I discovered a honeypot of tablecloths in one of the stores. Even better, they were fairly priced. I had about 30 of them to look through, and I made off with 5 of them, including a Wilendur. It is has some faint yellow stains, but I am determined to get this baby looking like new by soaking and scrubbing until it gleams again. Once I saw the tag on this beauty (plus it was 50% off), I knew I had to have it.

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Going on a bender – with tablecloths

I started collecting tablecloths about ten years ago after I decided to sell some that were just sitting in storage; they were not the right size for my table and were colors that I really didn’t like. I know now that I sold them way too cheaply, but I had no idea then that tablecloths were as collectible as they were. The swift sale of those cloths intrigued me, and I began looking for them when I went to antique stores and hunting for them online. I learned the good brands, what made a tablecloth particularly collectible, and how to remove stains.

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Crazy about tablecloths

A year ago I made the decision to “de-clutter” my house by selling some tablecloths that had been sitting in my basement for years.  They were a gift from my sister, who purchased them at auctions and estate sales, and many of them were in great condition.  The only problem was that few of the cloths actually fit my table, and several were not colors that complimented my kitchen. So they sat there and collected dust until I decided to allow someone else to enjoy them.  I kept a few of them that I really loved and put the rest up for sale on Etsy.

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