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5 Things You Can Always Find (And Use) at the Thrift Store

Some things are just inevitable in this life, like death, taxes, and finding at least 3 Trivial Pursuit sets at your local Goodwill. I am a lifelong thrifter, and at this point, there are certain things that I know are guaranteed to be at the thrift store at any given time. You will always be able to find a World’s Best Secretary coffee mug and an outdated copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting (honestly, this should be a Bingo game).

Those items, however, are basically useless. Except for the Trivial Pursuit game, but you probably already own one. The good news is, I can tell you 5 things that you can always find (and use) at the thrift store:

1) Stephen King books. The ubiquity of used Stephen King books is not a reflection on his relevance; it’s purely a numbers game. The man has published 61 novels and a ton more short stories and has sold over 300 million books during his career (and he’s still going). If you’re unaware, I’m going to let you in on some vital knowledge: Stephen King is totally boss. There’s a reason why he’s sold over 300 million books. There’s a reason why he reigns at the top of both mine and my (mostly-nonfiction-reading) husband’s lists of living celebs we want to hang with. That’s because he’s a smart, funny, awesome guy and he’s a hell of an engaging writer. I know it’s easy to look at the huge shelf of his books at your local Goodwill and dismiss his work as passe mass market garbage, but listen… a person can only store so many hardcover books. People have to get rid of them eventually. And then people like me purchase them for mere pennies and treasure them. My suggestion? You can’t go wrong with the biggies like It or The Stand, but my other faves are 11/22/63 and Gerald’s Game. You can always start with Carrie for a quick classic to get started, and then you’ll be hooked.

2) Richard Simmons workout videos. The same goes for Richard Simmons; with 20 million videos sold, it’s an inevitability that you will be able to find at least one at your thrift store at any time. He’s one of the highest-selling workout instructors of all time. Unfortunately, most people actually would consider his work to be passe mass market garbage, but that’s just lucky for you. Listen, I know the world has moved on to Crossfit and pilates reformer classes, but you and I are both aware that 80s aerobics has never ceased being bitchin’, fun, and effective. Right? You can’t go wrong with Sweatin’ To The Oldies 1 or 2, but don’t be afraid to try a deep cut like Disco Sweat if you see it.

3) Electric bread machine. There are plenty of kitchen gadgets that are unnecessary, overly-specific junk (quesadilla makers, I’m looking at you), but electric bread machines may not be one of them. I understand that they’re not for everyone, but I’m going to try to make the case for this particular appliance: 1) Bread machines are easy to use. You quite literally dump the ingredients in and turn on a switch and then awhile later, you have fresh, hot, homemade bread. Sure, it’s a bit of a cheat if you’re a bread-making purist, but if you don’t have the time (or desire) to knead and let rise, this will do just fine. 2) There are so many delicious and interesting bread machine recipes out there; you’ll never get bored! 3) Making your own bread also gives you the opportunity to know exactly what’s going into your bread, which some of us want. 4) And finally, electric bread machines are timeless and seemingly indestructible, which is why there are scores of them languishing in thrift stores across the country. I promise you can find one for cheap, and I promise you’ll like it. (And if the instruction manual is missing, you can find it online, or at least one that’s close enough to work for your particular machine.)

There it is, just waiting for you at Goodwill.

4) Vintage slow cooker. Another kitchen tool! Are you on the Crock-Pot train? If you’re not using a Crock-Pot, you are seriously missing out on some easy, yummy eats. There have been times when I have assembled two weeks worth of Crock-Pot meals in a day, frozen them, and then thawed each one the night before it needed to go in the slow cooker. I didn’t have to cook for two weeks! Even adding one Crock-Pot meal to your weekly dinner schedule will free up an evening of kitchen work, and you will be in love with your slow cooker like I clearly am. Thankfully, slow cooker technology has barely advanced from the very beginning. Sure, you can get a fancy digital one with a timer nowadays, but all you really need is the ability to switch it on and set it to High or Low. That’s it. And any Crock-Pot you find at your local thrift store will do that just fine. Like bread machines, slow cookers are a hardy appliance, so they usually function perfectly, even if they’re 30 years old. Bonus: You can find fun retro prints! I unfortunately had to cut back to one (boring, modern) Crock-Pot due to storage concerns, but I’ve had plenty of harvest gold and burnt orange crocks in my day. Pick one up and try out my favorite easy dinner recipe, Maple Dijon Chicken Thighs.

5) Last-minute Golden Girls Halloween costume. I did this two years ago, it took me one hour in Goodwill to find, and I was the best damned Dorothy Zbornak you’ve ever seen. I even won $20 in my work’s costume contest! Thrift stores are stuffed to the gills with potential Golden Girls outfits; you just have to know what you’re looking for.

Rose: Pastel drop-waist dresses, soft sweaters
Blanche: Sequins and bold-colored silk, baby
Dorothy: Layers, popped collars, trousers
Sophia: Sturdy cardigans, straw purse, glasses

All of them will require suntan knee-highs and sensible shoes (imagine what your grandma wore when you were a kid) and if you’re not as lucky as I am to be prematurely gray, you’ll need to find a wig (click the links on each of their names above)- and voila!

Did I mention that an actual old man said I looked “snazzy” that day?

Thank you for being a friend and checking out this post! Do you have any thrift store old reliables? Comment and share them below!

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15 Retro Fonts on Canva

I think that Canva is the greatest online invention since Myspace or Livejournal, because like both of those proto-social media sites, Canva makes it easy for the technologically only-semi-literate to create personalized content.

Canva is a totally free online resource for creating graphics, infographics, book covers, social media banners, invitations, or whatever else you can dream up, and the results are mindblowingly good! They offer tons of templates so you don’t even have to start from scratch; just search for whatever you’re trying to make (i.e. “flyer” or “Twitter graphic”) and you’ll find lots of options to get you started on that very project. It’s unbelievably easy.

I love blogging and creating but I just don’t have the brain for the tough coding and Photoshop-type stuff, so when I discovered that *EVEN I* could use Canva to create graphics, I went wild. And since I’m a retro aficionado, of course I immediately started figuring out how to give my creations a little bit of vintage flair.

If you’re here reading this blog, there’s a chance you’re at least somewhat interested in all things retro, so I’m going to give you some of my vintage Canva tips in this and future blog posts. Because I love you.

Behold! 15 Retro Fonts on Canva!

The secret is to play with the options like letter spacing, bold type, and italics. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment around with combinations. You may choose one font for your main headline that looks unassuming, but then when you try different fonts for the subtitle, it automatically makes the whole thing look more vintage. A good serif typewriter-style font (like Trocchi with wide letter spacing) can make almost anything look more vintage. A brushy script like Engagement, Mr. Dafoe, or Playlist can look very 50s or 60s. A bold serif font with lots of flourishes (Berkshire Swash or Lobster Two) looks 70s, and of course, the 80s are all about that digital look – think dot matrix printing or Atari game print.

I hope this gives you some ideas and inspiration for creating your very own retro-inspired graphics on Canva! Do you have a favorite retro Canva font or other digital font? Do you have a dream font? I’m always looking for a good disco font – think Saturday Night Fever.

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Miss Pamela’s Writing Workshop

Pamela Des Barres is a force of nature, so it only makes sense that her arrival to Tulsa would inevitably result in emergency-level foul weather.


I have been wanting to take a writing workshop with Miss Pamela (as she’s known) for years, so when I finally lived in a city she was visiting and found out that she had a workshop coming up, I absolutely could not pass it up.


Except that first time was scheduled in May of 2019. If you’re a Tulsan, you know that as the month we were inundated by near-constant flooding and tornado watches for weeks (oh, and a couple of earthquakes, too). When I say flooding, I mean catastrophic flooding. That month was spent in a true state of emergency, with the army corps of engineers facing the horrible decision of releasing the nearby dam at higher and higher rates knowing that it would devastate our city, but having no choice otherwise.


So on the night of Pamela’s first workshop in Tulsa, I was huddled in my bathroom with my husband and cats, listening for the tornado sirens and sending her regretful emails that I wouldn’t be able to make it after all. I wanted to attend her class more than almost anything, but I wasn’t willing to put myself in mortal danger for it.

Miss Pamela and me!

 
Fast forward to a couple of months ago: I got an email from Miss Pamela herself letting me know that she was coming back, and my second chance was official!

 
(Of course, it almost didn’t happen again due to flash flooding and snow, but I made it all right.)


If you’re unfamiliar with Pamela Des Barres, let me give you a bit of background: she’s no ordinary writer, for more than one reason. First of all, she’s an extraordinary writer, but on top of that, she’s also a legendary groupie.


Being a 60s and 70s freak, it was inevitable that I would eventually discover her book I’m With The Band, and once I did, I fell in love. This book is a memoir of Miss Pamela’s absolutely fantastical life filled with dozens of the rock artists I idolize: Jim Morrison, Gram Parsons, Jimmy Page, Frank Zappa, Mick Jagger, on and on and on. If I’ve got their record, there’s a good chance that Miss P hung out with them, dated them, or slept with them.


It would be easy to pass off I’m With The Band as a salacious groupie tell-all, but I will die on the hill of insisting that it is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. What Pamela captures so eloquently and heartwrenchingly in her book is the sublime, tortured feeling of being a fan, especially as a young girl. I went through my own preteen and teen years kissing my John Lennon poster goodnight and almost hurting with the force of my yearning, and until I read I’m With The Band, nobody had ever put it into the right words before. It was exactly my experience, just a few decades before I went through it. (Of course, Pamela then moved on to actually being friends and lovers with the rock stars she adored, but I digress!)


I knew that the writing workshop would be fun – how could it not be with Miss P at the helm? – but I was still floored by what a beautiful good time it was. Twelve women were gathered in the host’s living room, drinking wine, eating snacks, and following the writing prompts that we were given. Miss Pamela creates a totally safe space for self-expression. There’s no self-editing, no qualifying, and no criticism; we get a few minutes to pour our words onto the page as unfiltered as possible, and then we go around the room and read our pieces aloud. We all laugh and cry with each other, discuss what we’ve written, and best of all, build each other up.


Miss Pamela always drives home that the most important thing in writing is to get your ego out of the way, and that is completely aligned with my own theory of writing. I’m one of those woo-woo writers like Elizabeth Gilbert or Stephen King who elevate the act of writing to a spiritual experience, a practice of channeling from the ether, and the only method to my madness is to let the muse grab hold and come through me. By repeatedly writing in a short period of time, then reading it out loud, then doing it again and again each evening of the workshop, we’re given the opportunity to develop the ability to get over ourselves and let it flow, first onto the page and then out into the circle of attendees.

Miss Pamela’s Tulsa Dolls!


The other exceptional thing about Miss P’s workshops is the kind of people she attracts to her classes. I mean, think about it; this woman has inspired generations of groupies and music lovin’-ladies with her style, sweetness, smarts, and sass. There’s not a more open-hearted, independent, supportive, rockin’ group of women you’ll ever meet than the ones who aspire to be one of Miss Pamela’s “dolls.” (That’s what we call ourselves once we’ve been to one of the workshops. I am proudly one of Miss P’s dolls now!)

If you’re looking for a low-pressure, super supportive, and highly fun & giggly girl power-infused writing experience, please check out one of Miss Pamela’s writing workshops near you! You will absolutely love it!

You can find I’m With The Band here.

You can find Pamela Des Barres’ other books here.

You can find Miss Pamela’s writing workshop schedule here.