old country: shabby love.

shabby love signI had this Ziggy tee shirt when I was a kid, and I probably wore it 360 days of the year for like three years. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it was one of those shirts that, as soon as Mom washed it, it was back on my body. Now, as a mom myself, I find myself taking certain garments out of rotation at laundry time because I’m so dang sick of seeing that Angry Birds shirt.

But we all have things like the Ziggy tee shirt. Things we cherish and can’t seem to let go of, even when they’re tattered and no longer even fit us. When that happened, Grandma got out the sewing kit and I ended up with a new Ziggy pillow. Shabby as it was, I loved that shirt. It was soft, and it was familiar, and it was Ziggy.

There are other shabby things we love. Brandy’s Dale Earnhardt coffee mug, which belonged to her grandmother. Also her sofa: somehow the torn fabric and stuffing sticking out all over has made it more comfortable and lovable. When your $4000 mattress gives you a backache, where do you end up? That’s right – on the shabby 1973 sofa you pilfered from your childhood home.

A child’s blankie gets pretty shabby. There’s usually one corner of it that spends more time in the kid’s mouth than the rest of it… that part’s extra faded and permanently wrinkly… but those (seemingly disgusting) details are what define the blankie as “MINE!” and no one else’s. Special. And pants. We all have a pair of shabby sweat pants, jeans, yoga pants, pajama bottoms… in fact in my house, it’s not uncommon to hear, “Man, I can’t wait to put on my shabby pants.” We love shabby.

Old people, too, get kinda shabby. Now, I don’t mean that in any derogatory way. I feel I’m allowed to talk about old people because I was raised by an old person. I can also speak freely about nerds and awkward people because I belong to those groups. But when you visit an important old person in your life, and you smell her White Shoulders perfume and you see her shabby easy chair, the dent of the cushion reflecting the shape of her backside perfectly and you see her Desert Rose dishes and the rabbit ears on her Magnavox, admit it: you are tranquilized by nostalgia and you don’t want to leave.

And when you yearn for old things in your not-so-old life, so you can enjoy a feeling of nostalgia before you’re old enough to actually experience it… or if you ARE old but you unfortunately got rid of all your cool nostalgic belongings already, you can capture that feeling… at Shabby Love.

shabby love Leah1 shabby love kitchen tableShabby Love specializes in reclaiming, upcycling, and refurbishing old, otherwise unwanted stuff. And I don’t know about you, but I think things that have been rescued — buildings, pets, furniture, books — have a special kind of beauty. I walked through the store — with its wooden table and blue chest and green china cabinet and red side table and cheese grater light fixture — and I just wanted to take all those beautiful orphans home. To add to the personality of the furniture, each piece that’s been painted has a name. I met “Edna,” “Stan,” and “Maggie,” and they all certainly spoke to me.

shabby love blue dresserWe saw an old typewriter and old suitcases made of wood. WOOD. Who would want to lug around a solid wood suitcase?? Practical or not, those things are gorgeous. And saw beautiful lockets and pendants, necklaces and brooches and bracelets, hanging there… waiting.

shabby love necklace shabby love necklacesIf you’re curious about the paint they use, it’s called Chalk Paint, and you can even attend a workshop at Shabby Love on April 12th. Just sign up and bring a (reasonably sized) piece of (preferably rescued) furniture. They’ll supply the rest! And your life can be a little shabbier. Turns out shabby’s not too shabby after all.

shabby love chalk paint shabby love library shabby love mirrorCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

universal language: ten thousand villages.

store frontWhen I said to the kids, “Let’s go to Ten Thousand Villages today,” Cal’s brain churned behind his glassy blue eyes, and then he said, “I’m not sure we have time for all that.”

haha. I get it. I played along.

“Really? How long do you think it would take to visit ten thousand villages?”

“Oh, probably about twenty years.”

Then Bree-the-math-whiz chimed in: “Cal — that’s five hundred villages a year. That’s more than one a day. Unless the villages are really close together, you’d never visit ten thousand in twenty years.”

“Well, I don’t know how long it will take, but I didn’t pack a suitcase!”

“Me neither!”

Oh, brother. “Kids. Ten Thousand Villages is a store downtown. We’ve been in there before. It’s across from the library. That’s where we’re going. Sheesh!”

We met Brandy, Blake, and Ella there. It’s a little store, but it contains the whole world. I feel rich every time I step in there. Not in an American–capitalist–first-world way, but in an “I’m-connected-to-the-universe” way. That someone on another continent created something by hand that I, halfway around the world in a different culture and social system and economic reality, can also relate to and appreciate is pretty cool. That’s what art does; it transmits humanity. It’s a language everyone understands. Ten Thousand Villages has been cultivating this idea in Harrisonburg for twenty years. Yep — it’s their twentieth anniversary!

inside of gift shopThe brainchild of Wendy Lederach and Cleta Gingerich, what’s now known as Ten Thousand Villages began as International Impressions in September of 1993. It was located in Town Centre behind the mall, some of you might remember. The store moved to the Shenandoah Farmer’s Market and then the Dayton Farmer’s Market before changing its name to Ten Thousand Villages, and it’s been in its downtown location since 2011. Ten Thousand Villages is a global operation with hundreds of retail locations. They’ve been around for more than sixty years and sell fair trade products from about forty countries. It’s a way for the unemployed or under-employed folks in those nations to make a fair living.

teapot setThe Harrisonburg location has one executive director, three part-time employees, and several volunteers who work hard to keep overhead low and more money flowing back to the artisans who produce the merchandise sold in the store. They host Community Shopping days where a portion of their sales go directly to a selected charity. The organization has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute and Forbes Magazine for the sixth consecutive year, and was voted Best Downtown Shop (twice) and Best Shop That Sells Handcrafted Art (three times) by readers of the DNR! And it’s no surprise… it’s the ULTIMATE gift shop. You can find a gift for anyone in that place, and the money you spend is a gift to others. To test this theory, we asked each of the four kids with us to choose something they themselves would love to receive as a gift, and it took a good hour for everyone to decide on something. Here were their choices:

boy with chess setCal : chess set

bird paddle ballElla: birdie paddle ball

upcycled photo frameBlake: picture frame and box made of upcycled computer parts

girl using drumBree: this drum, or any of them, really

Personally, I want the recycled Coke can giraffes. And Brandy’s favorite was this cute birdie keychain!

bird key chain coke can giraffesIn addition to those awesome finds, the store carries coffee, teas, chocolate, olive oil, dried fruits, international sounds through Putumayo music, children’s clothes and toys made of organic cotton and hand knotted Oriental rugs. The handicrafts include ceramic pottery, kitchenware, planters, textiles like tablecloths and sari throws, musical instruments, games, home décor, large selection of jewelry and personal accessories, natural soaps and shea butter, Alpaca winter wear, paper goods and stationery, and lots more. I mean LOTS.

girl listening to music on headphones wall of necklaces girl using flutebags of coffeeSo, if you have someone to buy a gift for soon (including yourself), write yourself a little note to skip the generic stores and indulge in something unique and authentic that will make a lasting impression on the gift recipient AND the artist who made it. You’ll feel a whole lot richer.

business card holdersCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

you wish! : christmas shopping in the burg.

In hindsight we’re not sure if it was a good idea to take four kids downtown last Saturday morning to show us what they want for Christmas.

Them: “You mean we’re not actually buying anything today??”
Us: “No.”
Them: “For real?”
Us: “Yes.”
Them: “Wait, you mean ‘yes, for real’ or ‘yes, we’re buying you something?'” (hopeful expressions)
Us: “We’re not buying anything today.”
Them: “For real?”
Us: “Ugh.”

But, we did take them window shopping. And now we’re going to tell you about it and show you what the kids picked out!! We met at Earth & Tea Cafe at 10ish to get some caffeine in our veins and map out a game plan. Man, that place is so niiiiiiice. The pretty tapestries on the wall… the cute lanterns everywhere… that little “lovers’ lair” in the corner–you know, the big square cushion with a curtain all the way around it? Rowl!

earth&teacup earth&teaWhile the kids argued over where to go first, we gals started yammering about our hair… See, Danielle recently cut her bangs, Brandy’s are growing out, and I have a head full of bangs. Then Danielle showed us how she can’t stop shaking her head because she likes the way her bangs swish-swish against her forehead. She’s a bobble head. On the way to a brain injury.

We finally got our list together and headed to our first destination, the Explore More Children’s Museum, which is just down from Earth & Tea. Not only can you buy someone a year’s membership to the museum for $95, but they have a really great gift shop in the front with rare toys you don’t see at larger chain stores. Here are a few:

explore more 4 explore more 3 explore more 2 explore more 1Next, a quick stop at Ten Thousand Villages. Personally, I wanted everything in there. Cal’s favorite was the giant stack of rugs. Blake’s favorite was this instrument:

ten thousand villagesOf course, everyone was excited to get to Dragonflies Toys. They’re by the parking deck, next to Downtown Books. Pretty much all the kids want all the toys in there. In fact, we should just see about moving in. Here are their Dragonflies wishes:

It's a cell phone eraser (ha ha) and a pencil that smells like cinnamon.

It’s a cell phone eraser (ha ha) and a pencil that smells like cinnamon.

for building thangs.

for building thangs.

dragonflies 3

she’s a family gal.

dragonflies 2

To Cal, from Bree!

To Cal, from Bree!

Danielle saw something she wishes for at Shenandoah Bicycle Company:

note the bangs :)

note the bangs :)

As we walked to Larkin Arts, we couldn’t help but go into James McHone Jewelry. The kids were a little antsy in there, so we couldn’t stay long, but he’s really got a spectacular selection of unique pins and brooches, pendant, bracelet charms, and much more. Danielle and I perused all his beautiful antique jewelry, pausing briefly at a shiny case of rings… and dreaming briefly about fairytale weddings… Well, maybe it was just me. Okay, this is getting awkward.

ornaments for humans.

ornaments for humans.

Onto Larkin Arts. If you haven’t been in there, you have to go. There’s so much to see. I love the way art supplies look on the shelf. Rows and rows of paints. Boxes and boxes of oil pastels. Neatly stacked fresh, white canvases. Then down the hall is a gallery space, and further down is a classroom and several artist studios. Anyway, the kids found lots of cool gift ideas there…

larkin arts 3 larkin arts 2 larkin arts 1… and I found one of my favorite things EVER: wooden boxes! Specifically, cigar boxes. And only $5 each! I don’t know why I have such an affinity for wooden boxes, but I bought four of them without any use in mind at all.

larkin arts 4Our final stop of the day (and believe me, there were many other places we could have gone, but SOMEONE was getting cranky) (okay, it was me) was the always fun, always quirky Glen’s Fair Price Store. You can get your camera repaired there, or you can get a Halloween costume, or you can buy vintage candy or any kind of hat you can imagine or even a bag of rubber worms. They have everything. You can’t come out empty handed.

glens fair price 3

If you see her walking around with this thing, don’t touch it. It shocks your hand! Sorry we terrorized the other customers with it.

glens fair price 4

I mean, nothing beats the snake scepter.

how nice of them to offer a snack and drink!

how nice of them to offer a snack and drink!

well, this is embarrASSing.

well, this is embarrASSing.

And then we were tired and hungry. So we strolled on down to Jess’ Quick Lunch to stuff ourselves with chili dogs. With just ten shopping days left until Christmas, we hope this gives you some gift ideas for the people you love. And you give to everyone when you shop local. See you out and about!

jess quick lunchho ho hatsCopyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

friendly city fashion no. 13: mint.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since Mint opened. I remember it like one remembers every single word of a really terrible song. No, that’s not right. I remember it like I remember the time in third grade that I threw up four times in the school cafeteria but got to stay home the rest of the week.

Hm. That’s not the image I’m going for, either.

Let’s just say that I remember it with mixed emotions. So, so proud of and happy for Anna after working really hard to open that store, yet so, so FREAKING OUT that I was losing my hair dresser. Bittersweet… but mostly sweet. Yes… maybe that’s what I should have said in the first place.

Can we just start this post over?

I’m happy for Anna and my hair misses her.

Her store, Mint, is just awesome and quintessentially her. Brandy and I went there recently to browse. I had my kids with me, but that’s okay because Anna’s equipped: she’s got Legos. That bought us a good twenty minutes to drool over the new arrivals for spring. The variety in the store is fantastic. Not only does she have an array of dresses, skirts, and tops (sizes, styles, colors, and “levels of fanciness”)–which I appreciate because I am so weirdly shaped–but she also sells jewelry, handbags, shoes, and a random collection of bizarre oddities.

Like coin banks that say “Saving for Therapy.” And the always-classic Vinnie’s Tampon Case. Greeting cards. Wine bottle stoppers. And sticky notes that say “Just wanted you to know: something smells/this sucks/check your teeth/you rock.”

At this point those twenty minutes expired and Cal threw an Angry Bird across the store (“but he wanted to fly, Mom!”) and hit the earring display. Ohnoyoudidnot! And I had to put him in time out, which bought us another five minutes.

         During this time, the three of us had an attack of girliness and I was coerced–no, FORCED, to try on some items. So I hunched over in the dressing room, and squeezed and tugged and even laughed out loud… although I really do like that feather dress. (Anna later told me I chose the “short person” dressing room. It was sort of like being in Alice in Wonderland, you know, where she grows really big and gets her head stuck in the ceiling thing.) I tried on these:

On our way out, we saw half-price winter hats! I ended up buying mine…

… and later I doubled back and got the other one for Brandy, along with a pack of “something smells” sticky notes. Just so she knows. And since then, we went back to Mint to see Denise Kanter Allen’s art on First Friday (post forthcoming!) and I picked up that feather dress.

Visit Anna at Mint on West Market Street in the Union Station building. She’s open Monday – Saturday, 11 til 6.