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Saturday, June 30, 2012

"The Auction 411" Part 2: Auction Dos and Donts; Proper Procedure & Etiquette

Welcome to Part 2 of the 3 Part Series:  
The Auction 411

You can find Part 1 of the series HERE.

Today is when we get to the meat.

Get your coffee or tea and a little snack and get comfy.

This is the long part.


Let's get started on the good stuff!

So,  you've done your homework and found a local auction.

Today's the day!  

You're there!


Deep breath.  

What do you do now?


This is something I'm still learning and it's more than knowing what you like.

If selling,  know what's hot and what's not.  Know the difference between antique, vintage, and reproduction.  The worst thing ever is to figure out that you've bought something that is NOT what you thought it was.  I did this the other night with what I thought was hand-tatted handkerchiefs.  Nope.  They weren't.  Total reproductions!  Doh!

Be able to tell the difference between veneer and hardwood.  Know the difference between pine, maple, cherry, oak, etc...  Pine goes cheap here.  For me, it doesn't matter because I'm going to paint it.  But oak and cherry will almost definitely bring a higher price.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to get the piece, just be prepared that you might have to pay for it.

2.  Walk around and check out the items.

 Its a good idea to arrive ahead of time for this purpose, but not a necessity.  You can always look while the bidding is going on, unless there's a rule not to.  Otherwise, that's up to your discretion.  

Before getting a bidder's number, walk around and make sure there's anything you want first.  If there's a lot of things I'm interested in, I also make a list, so I don't forget items that have caught my eye.

I look the items over carefully - especially the furniture.  Make sure you look at the overall condition.  Do drawers slide easily?  Is there any visible damage?  Does it wobble?  Do the doors stick?  Is there any missing hardware?  Does it look like poo, but have good bones?  Look passed what it is and visualize what it could be.  On smalls, make sure what you're buying isn't just a really good reproduction, if you care about that kind of thing.

If you have a question about an item, you can seek out one of the auction workers.  Don't be afraid to ask!  That's what they're there for!

Lastly, write down the top number you're willing pay.  
And stick to it!  
(Pot calling kettle...)

3.  Get your Bidder's Number. 

If you find items that you're interested in bidding on, there will be a table where you can get your auction number.  Generally, you have to show your driver's license and give a phone number to be issued a bidding number.  Sometimes these are on paddles, sometimes the number is written with a Sharpie on a white card with the auction services info on it.

This is YOUR number.  It is how the auction service will keep track of your purchases.  Guard it with your life and DO NOT lay it down anywhere!  This protects you from having to pay for things you didn't buy AND it protects the auction service from you skipping out without paying.  If you leave without paying, you WILL be getting a phone call. 

Okay...  You've got your number clinched in your fist or tucked inside your purse, and you're ready to go.  

What next?

1.  Be prepared to wait.  

Its a long process.  You will have to sit and wait for the item you want to come up for auction.  It takes a while.

Its a good idea to use this time make some connections and just get to know people.  They're fun to talk to (especially the older people), it makes the time go by faster, and you can learn a lot!

Not one to strike up a conversation with a stranger?  

That's okay!  

Walk around some more and take the time to really look over the items you're considering bidding on again.   Or, bring a book to read.  That works too.  :)  Generally, they will have refreshments for sale.  They want to keep you there.  We have awesome homemade pies at the ones we go to.  :)   Or, bring something to eat and drink, if you don't want to pay for food.

I usually spend about 4 hours at each auction.  

That's average.

2.  Unless one of the items you want is up for bid first, sit back and just watch.  

There's two reasons for this...

A)  You can learn the procedure at your particular auction.

B)  You can usually gauge how the prices are going to go by paying attention to the first few items up and what the winning bid amounts are.  Understand that the prices things go for depends on the crowd.  Just because stuff goes cheap one night, doesn't mean it will the next time.  You'll also be surprised at what people will pay for one thing, but not for another.  And don't be surprised if your definition of "cheap" changes the longer you keep going.  ;)

TRUE STORY:  The night I bought this antique dresser, I paid $135 for it (Its already sold, so I can share.  LOL!).  That same night, I watched a dated veneer set go for triple what I thought it was worth (Think upper end 3 digit number that starts with a 3 and it was UGLY!).

That night, the crowd was not there for antiques.  Seriously, its all in what the people want and that might not necessarily be what you think it would be.  For instance,  a month later, I knew FOR SURE I could get this one antique dresser cheap.  It was literally falling apart and needed tons of work.  It went for $110! And the next one that wasn't NEAR the quality of the one above, totally plain jane oak dresser with a mirror, sold for $190.  See?  You never know.  Prices totally depend on the crowd.  Keep that in mind.

3.  The "Furniture Nazi's"  (AKA, Scott's) Auction Rule Numero Uno:  Never be the first bid.  EVER.  

Pay attention.  The auctioneer is fast (like Road Runner fast) and sometimes its hard to tell if someone has bid.  Be ready to bid, but never be THE FIRST to bid.  Again, never ever EVER be the first bidder unless its down to the bottom dollar or you really want something, you know what it's worth, and you don't want to play.  Even then, your goal is to get it at the cheapest price possible, so wait!  Don't be a FALSE STARTER!

  (Or you get stuck paying $10.00 for a round mauve formica table with four pleather chair - Ahem...  Scott!)  

OH!  And be careful to keep your hand DOWN.  Don't raise your hand to gesture, flip your hair, pick your nose, whatever...  The auctioneer has eyes like a hawk.  And he can mistake a raised hand for a bid.  Now is NOT a good time to practice your bend...  and SNAP!

4.  Time to bid!

Your item is up.  

Are you breathing fast yet?  

Hands sweating?  


You're ready to bid!  

The price is at its lowest or someone has already bid.  

Just do it!

Special thanks to Greyson, my hand model!


Get the auctioneer's attention.  I usually raise my bidder's card, not just my hand.  Some people do, some don't.  I don't, unless I'm up in the front.  Honestly, I never sit up front, however, Scott prefers it.  If I'm the one bidding, I generally will pick out a seat that is farthest back in the room, but in direct line of sight from the auctioneer.  That way, I can see how many people are bidding against mewho they are, and where they're located.

Back to placing your bid...  Raise your auction card.  The white of the card will catch the auctioneer's eye.  They also have spotters roaming the crowd when multiple bidders are bidding.

After you've indicated your intention to bid and they've acknowledge you, put your hand down.  For the course of the auctioning of that item, they'll look directly at you.  You can either raise the card again to signal you accept taking the next higher bid, raise your hand, or just nod.  I usually nod.

Did the price go too high?

Okay, then.  Stop bidding.


If I decide I don't want to go on with the bid, I shake my head, "No."  You MUST give some indication that you aren't willing to pay the next bid amount.  You don't just walk off or look away and start talking to someone.  That's rude.  Let the auctioneer know your intentions.  This is elementary, but worth mentioning.

5.  Don't pay ANY attention to the other bidder.  

You might have some people that stare you down to try to get you to back off, especially in more aggressive markets.  I've seen this a few times, but not very often.  People say Scott is intimidating when he's bidding.  LOL!!!  He doesn't stare people down, he just puts on his USMC face. HA HA HA!  Once I see who the other bidders are, I don't look around.  I look at the auctioneer or at Scott.  No one else.  No eye contact with your competitors.  That way you don't get intimidated.  It works better that way.  :)

Sometimes you might be bidding against someone that is your "auction friend" - meaning you hang out with them and talk to them at auctions, but not in "real" life.  You WILL make these, if you go often enough.

The rule of thumb in this situation:

If they really want something and you really don't care about it much, don't bid on it.  Be nice!  Don't bid on it just to one-up them!  HOWEVER, that being said...  If you both REALLY want the same thing...  Its an auction.  May the best person win.  That sounds kind of blunt, but by no means should you back off something you really want - and respect that they shouldn't either.  Its auction business and that's how the game is played.  Just examine your motives and if they're pure, go for it!

TRUE STORY:  I had to learn that lesson the other night.  Its a tough one.  An "auction friend" and I were both interested in the same piece (the piece pictured above.)  She indicated her desire to bid on it, but upfront I told her I would be bidding too.  Honesty is the BEST policy!  Since it was a something that we don't see very often out here, I was compelled to bid (although I did have a friend bid for me, so I wouldn't get all competitive and go over my "set" amount).  If it had been something we see all the time, I absolutely would not have touched it because I know I would be seeing more of the same later.  I ended up winning it because I was prepared to pay more.  She wasn't very happy with me, I think.   Friendship should have NO BEARING in that kind of situation.  Unfortunately, I don't think she saw it that way and proceeded to later bid me up on an item that she previously had no interest in.  :(

The Lesson Here:  Don't be afraid to bid against someone you know just because you know them, but be prepared to be a good sport if you're not the final winning bid.  

Sportsmanship applies here!  
Be nice!

6.  Do NOT bid on an item that you haven't checked out first.

Senario:  All of a sudden they're bidding on something that for some reason you didn't see on your walk through.  It's something you're interested in, but you're not really sure about the condition of the item.  DON'T BID ON IT!  More often than not, it's not what you think it is or it's not in the condition you think it is.  Better safe than sorry later, and having a bad case of buyer's remorse.  Don't bid!

TRUE STORY:  The other night I saw what I thought was hand-tatted/hand embroidered handkerchiefs (that I mentioned and pictured above), I got distracted and didn't thoroughly go through the box.  I ended up buying them, but didn't realize until after the fact that they were reproductions.  Lesson learned!

7.  Do NOT go over your set price.

I know I mentioned it briefly above, but its important enough to mention it again.  Seriously, you can be out of your league really fast.  Don't wind up asking yourself how in the world you paid $145 for an oak hall tree (Ahem...  No one I know...  {insert innocent look here}).

Honestly, I do have a hard time with this.  I'm competitive and I WILL win.  That's why Scott does most of the bidding, unless we've split up between furniture and smalls.  Trust me, if you go over your set price, you'll end up regretting it.  I do, almost every single time.

But... If you're buying to keep, then it might be worth it.  Only you can decide that.  Buying to sell?  Not so much.   Go with your gut instinct on what you initially thought it was worth, so you don't get caught up in the competition of it all.   I can't stress this enough.  Keep in mind what you can pay for it, the labor and materials that needs to go into it, and the price you can sell it for.  Otherwise, you will not make a profit.  And you're not doing this for free!

8.  You have to buy the trash to get the treasure.

On smalls, most auction services will bundle junk with the good stuff because they know people will pay more for it with something good than what it will bring on its own.  Be willing to buy the junk.  Sometimes, you can turn it over before you ever leave the building - or just pitch it later.

TRUE STORY:  At one auction, I was bidding for old milk glass spice jars with screw-on lids and the original metal rack.  Coupled with that, were three Campbell's Soup Mugs and 2 Coleman tin camping mugs - late 1980s.  Remember those?  I had no desire for them, but I wanted the spice jars.  I won the bid.  Sure enough, the other bidder came up and asked me if I was interested in the mugs.  He had been bidding to get the mugs.  Go figure.  Since I wasn't interested in the slightest, I sold him the mugs and recouped a portion of my cost without ever leaving my seat.  NICE!

Most of the time though, it doesn't happen that way.  I had to buy a bunch of clear Ball jars, just to get the Blue Ball Jar I wanted.  Old.  Glass top.  I'm stuck with the clear ones, however, I can use those to store small craft supplies in, so all in all, it wasn't a bad deal.

Be prepared to buy the coal to get the diamond!

9.  P-p-p-p-oker face.

For real.  Keep a poker face.  I get excited when I win, so I've had to learn to keep the grin off my face.  It gets easier with each auction and you'll get it after a few times.  But realize you've won, so someone else has lost...  Don't rub it in by gloating.  ;)  Again, be nice!

10.  You've won the item...  What next?

The auctioneer will announce " SOLD!  [Price of item]... [Item]... [Winning Bidder Number]."

Hold your card/paddle up after you win, so he can clearly see your bidder number.  Each item sold has an individual ticket and your number will then be written on the ticket to be taken to the purchasing desk.  Its how they keep track of who wins what for which price.

It's also a good idea to keep a list of what you've won - and if you're into that kind of thing, keep a list of what you lost and what it went for.  Both are good ideas.


A)  Keeping a list of what you win enables you to know exactly how much you've spent and what items you've bought, just in case there's a discrepancy between what you won and what the purchasing desk has record that you've won.  Mistakes do happen!

B)  Keeping a list of what you lost let's you keep a record of what prices certain things are going for.  If there's a trend in losing a certain type of item repeatedly, then maybe you need to adjust what you're willing to pay.  That particular item may be popular right now.

Depending on the auction, on smalls, the auction worker will bring the items to you at your seat or you can meet them halfway.  On large items, you can just let them sit where they are until you're done for the evening - unless you live in a city with a high crime rate.  Look around and pay attention to what the "old hats" are doing.  Copy them.   

Special Situations:

Bidding for Choice:  Sometimes the auctioneer will group several like items together.  (For the sake of illustration, the four chairs pictured above.)  In this case, you're bidding to pick which item you want or how many of said item you want.  The highest bidder gets to pick which of the items they want or they buy ALL the items for the bid amount times the number of items.  So, when you're bidding for choice, keep in mind that the winning bid gets first dibs AND has the option to buy it ALL.  They're not necessarily going to pick just one.  On the chairs above, I paid the winning bid times 4.  Does that make sense?  They'll let you know if you're bidding for choice or for all.  Just listen carefully.  If you don't understand, ask that the auctioneer clarify.

Also Worth Mentioning:  No backsies.  If you win it, you're stuck with it.  There's no such thing as a return.  All sales are FINAL.

**That being said, if you truly regret your purchase, see if you can seek out who you were bidding against.  You can always offer it to them at the price you paid for it or decide if you want to take a loss just to offload it.  Have them pay in cash, because its still your responsibility to pay the auction company.  Your number was the winning bid. And don't count on being able to do this...  You bid.  You win.  You're committed to the purchase.

Really, auctions are a lot of fun.

It sounds like a lot to learn, but it's not.

I promise!

I'm a people watcher and I get a kick out of watching people.  And you see all types:  Grandma and grandpa that have come for the social aspect of it...  Dealers who walk around looking all important and serious (and intimidating!)...  Young couples furnishing their homes that get excited when they win...  Children grinning because mom and dad bought them some old Matchbox cars, toy tractors, or leggos.

It's a good time!

And once you realize what you can get and what you can pay for it, you'll never stop going!

We've been taking our college-aged nephew with us and he swears when he gets his own place, he's going to furnish it from an auction.  He's already bought a computer chair for $2.00, some storage containers, a few hats, and even a guitar.

Seriously, I love it for the social aspect, as much a I love it for the getting cool pieces at great prices.  

You meet lots of really great people and very few stinkers.  ;)

It's a total win-win!

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 3 of this series:


Part 3:  YAY!  I've won.  Now what?

Hope to see you tomorrow for the final installment!


Disclaimer:  I am by no means an expert.  Auctions vary from state to state, town to town.  I'm posting from a small town perspective, so there may be differing opinions/etiquette depending upon where you live.  It is YOUR job to find out proper procedure and etiquette in your area.  Never go by the word of someone else.  Do your homework!  ;)  

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Auction 411 Part 1: What They Are, What They Aren't, and How To Find Them

I've gotten a lot of questions over the last couple of months about auctions.

How to find them...

How to know when and where 
they're happening....

So, I decided to throw together a little series about auctions.

How to find them and what to do (and what not to do) 
when you're there.

I thought about doing it in one whole shebang, 
but that made for one really long post.  

So, I'm breaking it down in three easy to read parts.  :)

Part 1 :  What auctions are, what they aren't, and how to find them.

Part 2 :  Top Ten Dos and Do Nots in Auction Procedure and Etiquette.

Part 3 :  Yay!  I've won!  Now what?

So....  Without further ado...

Part 1:
What they are, what they aren't, and how to find them.

The great thing about auctions is the deals you're sure to find on furniture and vintage items.

If you're buying vintage or antique items from a store, realize that even though these are used goods, you're paying retail prices.

You're paying the retailer for taking the time to travel to the auction, sit through the auction, transport their items home, clean them up, and whatever other overhead they have.

Let's face it, 
they're doing this to make a profit. 
(Which they absolutely should!) 

By buying at auctions, you're getting items at wholesale prices, without paying the middle man.

If you can get passed the fact that most of the time auctions are a way for the family to divide a deceased family member's life possessions, you'll love it.

Sometimes, like the other night, the family has moved their loved one into a nursing home or into an extended care facility.  Maybe they're downsizing to a smaller home and can't take everything with them.  Or sometimes, an older person realizes that have accumulated too much stuff and would like to cash in on their treasures that they've collected over the years.

Whatever the reason, you have to get over that this is someone else's stuff.  They've loved it.  They've used it.  Its been previously owned - but it will be totally new to you.

I admit, it took me a while to get past that.

I have a heart for the elderly.

But you have to 
look at it this way...

Whether you're buying for yourself or buying to makeover and sell, you're giving life to old things that otherwise might not be appreciated or might wind up thrown into a landfill.  And whether you're keeping it or passing it on, the stuff you buy will be loved and treasured again.

Personally, I'm drawn to the history of the items.  

What they have seen...  

Who's owned them...  

Where they've come from.  

It intrigues me.  

If only inanimate objects could talk!

And let's face it...  Stuff just isn't made like it used to be.  

These items have survived the ages
and will survive the ages to come.  

That in and of itself, makes it worth it.

What are auctions not?

Auctions are NOT like garage sales.

Auctions are NOT like Craigslist.

The long and short of it?

You're not there to haggle.

You're there to win.

You may not get a super cheap price on something, depending upon the interest of the crowd.  And most of the time, you're bidding against people who know their stuff - sometimes, better than you do.

Don't expect to always get the bottom dollar on pieces.  

The cost is totally based on who wants the item more.  

Is it you or is it them?  

What are you willing to pay?

And sometimes, there are family members that aren't too happy that items are being auctioned off.  I've seen police officers at an auction to keep the peace.  Be prepared to tick off a family member or two, if you win.  It doesn't happen most of the time, but you never know.  Most times, we back off of an item if we know its a family member bidding on it.  That though, is completely up to you.  Sometimes you don't realize it.  That's okay.  The whole point is about who is willing to pay more.

Auctions are NOT like Ebay.

At all.

You think you get a thrill from winning an online bid?  There's nothing like actually being able to put your hands on what you're bidding on.  Most of the time there is no reserve.  If there is, the auctioneer will tell you upfront.  And you're totally in the thick of it with other bidders.  There's no anonymity at a live auction!  Be prepared to go head to head with someone that could be standing right next to you.

Good times!

So, you want to go to an auction.  

Well, how do you find one?

How To Find An Auction

1.  Check your local newspaper.

In the classifieds, usually there's an announcement that so and so is having an auction at so and so place, at such and such time.  Usually they will have a list of items that will be up for auction, just to draw a larger crowd.  More advertising means a bigger draw.  You can also find estate sales this way.

(Word of warning:  Estate sales generally have A LOT of family members there who want items for sentimental value.  Items tend to go for a little (or A LOT) higher.  Not all the time, but sometimes.  This can happen at auctions too, but not nearly as often.  I tend to steer clear of estate sales, just because of the family aspect.)

2.  The Internet.

Find out the names of local auction dealers in your area.  You can do this with a Google search.  Sometimes, your local auctioneers will have an internet site that lists dates, times, and locations of auctions.  Sometimes they will list the auction items and some include pictures of the items.  Most of the time, they have a weekly auction night, you just have to figure out when it is.

3.  Flyers.

Sometimes auctioneers will advertise auctions this way too.  Look through the posting boards at gas stations to see if they have any flyers posted or at your local community center.

And that's all there is to it.  

A little bit of research and you will be on your way 
to your very first auction!

The great thing about auctions is, they are available to everyone.  

No special invite needed!

So what are you waiting for?!
Go find out when your next local auction is...

I'll tell you what you do when you get there.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the next part of the series... 

The Auction 411  

Part 2:  

The Top Ten Dos and Do Nots 
in Auction Procedure and Etiquette.


Disclaimer:  I am by no means an expert.  Auctions vary from state to state, town to town.  I'm posting from a small town perspective, so there may be differing opinions/etiquette depending upon where you live.  It is YOUR job to find out proper procedure and etiquette in your area.  Never go by the word of someone else.  Do your homework!  ;)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How I Made It - Scrap Fabric Wreath {Tutorial}

I always like to give credit where credit is due.

Since yesterday's blog didn't allow for it, 
I wanted to take the time to tell you where I got the idea for my 
Patriotic Scrap Fabric Wreath.

Last week, Fox Hollow Cottage hosted a Pool Noodle Link Party and one of my absolute favorite link-ups was this awesome wreath from The House at Bluebird Lane.

I absolutely adore it!

So, when I was trying to figure out a wreath to donate for the 
my mind automatically went back to this one.

I'm not sure if Sharla's wreath is a smaller one or a large one, but holy smokes!  
Mine was a large one and it was a process, that's for sure.

Sharla gives great picture instructions HERE of how she created her wreath.


I'm going to tell you how I did it, 
which wasn't nearly as pretty or as easy as she makes it sound.  
(Of course, my forte is furniture, not crafting.  LOL!)

Keepin' it real peeps!

What you'll need:

- Straw Wreath form
 - 1/2 yard of 5-6 different prints - Calico is GREAT! And Burlap, if you like it.
- Dollar Tree Pool Noodle (I used yellow, so you couldn't see it through the linen.)
- 1 yard of Linen
- Twine
- Mini Glue Gun/Glue Sticks
- Straight Pins


1.  Cut up your pool noodle into 1/2 inch slices.

2.  Take the linen and tear it into long strips, a yard in length, and wrap it around your straw wreath.  You'll pin each strip at its starting point with two straight pins, and at its end.  Overlap the linen, so you cover where you start and end each strip.

2.  Take your calico fabric and tear it into long, wide strips.  You want to be sure that the fabric is wide enough to wrap around the width of the pool noodle and then some.  And then, tear it into squares, again making sure you have plenty to wrap around the pool noodle slices.  (You can always tear a little off to trim it, if you have too much of a poof.)

3.  Fold your fabric square in half and then in half again.  Take your scissors and snip a very small amount at the outside corner.  This will put a hole in the center of your fabric.

4.  Center your pool noodle hole over the hole in the center of your fabric.  Working around the the slice, using your thumb, push the fabric through the hole, turning the slice as you work your way around.

(Optional Steps)

5.  Realize that your fabric isn't wide enough to have a large enough poof, but do 15 more anyway, thinking you can make it work.

6.  Realize after the 15th one, that it isn't going to look right.  Thank God you didn't tear all the squares or use up all the pool noodles.  Feel like smacking yourself upside the head.  DOH!

7.  Realize that the problem is that you cut the noodle too thick.  Be glad that you bought 5 pool noodles, instead of just the one that you needed (Even though the boys are in the living room beating each other to death with the other four).

8.  Snatch pool noodle away from closest son and cut thinner slices.

9.  Get frustrated, watch a movie on TNN, and go to bed.

10.  Wake up the next morning, determined to get it done.  After church, take a nap, and then decide to start on it again.

(Feel free to skip steps 5-10  LOL!!!)

12.  Repeat Steps 2-4 enough times to amply fill your wreath.  You want it to look full.

13.  Using the hot glue gun, glue burlap ones on first, staggering them around the wreath in a uniform pattern.

14.  Fill in areas between the burlap pouf with calico rosettes in a random pattern.  Be sure not to place same patterns near each other.  Be sure to minimize gaps between pouf.

15.  Take the narrow fabric strips, left over from making pouf (or whatever you want to call them) and tie a knot in the center to resemble a bow.

16.  Fill in areas where the linen is visible between poufs by dabbing a small amount of hot glue on the knot and push it in between the them. (If the colors you've chosen are close to the color of the linen, you won't have to do this.  My pattern colors were darker, so it was more noticeable.)

How to make a Burlap Bow:

1.  Cut a piece of burlap and a piece of calico into a rectangle.

2.  Layer the calico over the burlap and pinch in the middle.

3.  Wrap the twine around the area you've pinched a couple of times.  Tie it in a knot and let the ends hang.

4.  Cut two narrow rectangular strips of burlap.  Fold one end into a triangle and glue to back of jute twine.  Repeat with second strip, to form the tails of your ribbon.

Embellish the bottom of the wreath however you choose.  

I chose to hot glue/straight pin a burlap strip across the bottom and frayed the edges.  I then glued rustic iron numbers to the burlap.  Tying small knots of jute through the holes to camouflage them and give them a more prim look.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out...

and I plan on doing another few that are more to my taste, 
within the next couple of weeks to sell at
The Changing Season.

Thanks to Sharla at The House At Bluebird Lane 
for the idea and the inspiration!  

You rock!

If you're local, maybe you'll have a chance to stop in The Changing Season 
during the month of July and check them out!

The Changing Season is located on East Bremer Avenue in downtown Waverly 
and is open the first Saturday of every month, and every Thursday.  

Stop by and say "hi" to Carrie!
(and buy some stuff!  LOL!)


Monday, June 25, 2012

Retrieving Freedom Wreaths

Some of you might know that I come from a long line of veterans.  

My Dad's father was a Marine stationed at Pearl Harbor during that infamous day on December 7th, 1941.  My grandmother, cowering in a bomb shelter, was pregnant with twins.  

She lost them both.  

My Momma's father was at Normandy.  

My uncle, a Chinook pilot in Vietnam.  

My husband served during peace time.  

My brother, a CH-53 Crew Chief during Enduring Freedom, stationed in 
Al Asad, Iraq.  

So many in my family were willing to give the
ultimate sacrifice for their country.

My brother.  So proud of getting his wings!

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by an organization asking if I would be willing to donate a handmade item to benefit disabled veterans.

Not really knowing much about RFI, I looked into it and knew I had to donate something to their benefit auction.

Enter Retrieving Freedom.

Retrieving Freedom is an organization affiliated with
Assistance Dogs International.  

Located in Waverly, Iowa, Retrieving Freedom is filling a need often overlooked.  

Scott and Tara Dewey, owners of Rock River Retrievers, breed and train top quality hunting dogs.  

Now, they're using their training and knowledge to give back.

Over 300,000 veterans suffer from PTSD.  

Of those 300,000, there are currently only 200 service dogs available to them.  

Thousands of our brave soldiers have come home with limited abilities or some kind of impairment directly attributed to their defense of our nation.  

The waiting list for a service dog?  

Two to four years.  

And locally, the need is even higher than the national statistics.

Over 60,000 of our men have been disabled in the 
Iraq and Afghanistan wars alone.

And let's face it, the VA is notorious for being understaffed, underequipped, and even downright negligent in providing the medical and psychological care
that our returning warriors need.

Home from Iraq, safe and sound!
Praise God!

I have watched my brother struggle with issues upon returning from Iraq.  

Coupled with the sudden, tragic death of our father a year and a half after he returned home, it took my brother years to seem like the "old" brother that I love.   

Mood swings, withdrawn, irritable...  

And this was the little brother who was such a riot that he could make me wet my pants with laughter.

I've watched as he fought the Marine Corps, struggling with the effects of flying through massive burn pits of "ordinance", the small particles of sand from sand storms that lodged in his lungs causing breathing difficulties (He stopped breathing over 90x a minute during his sleep study.)  

He struggled with weight gain because he literally could not draw a deep enough breath to exercise and run, to maintain USMC fitness standards.  

His nose would block up and yet, he was not sick.  

He is not the only veteran complaining of these exact symptoms.

My brother had been the perfect specimen of a fit Marine before he left for Iraq.  

He was at the top of his field when he returned home:  

A Crew Chief Instructor at MCAS New River, NC...  Creating a  computer training program that the Marine Corps uses today to train new recruits on the CH-53...  Eventually becoming one of the elite chosen to crew Marine One in Quantico, VA.  

Like I said, the top of his field.  

If you've seen National Geographic's special on Presidential Helicopter,
Marine One,
then you have seen my baby brother in action.

SSGT and CH-53 "Super Stallion" Crew Chief
(My Little Brother)
Press Photo
Al Asad, Iraq

Four years later, after enduring scathing criticism for his weight gain and the unknown reason for his inability to breath or sleep well, being grounded from flight, disgust from his superiors, being put through the rigorous P90X exercise program under threat of an OTH Discharge, and receiving VERY LITTLE help from the VA, while trying to figure out just exactly what was wrong with him, he decided not to re-enlist.  

Thirteen and a half years in.  

Only seven years from retirement.  

His dream. 

And it didn't matter about his exemplary record.  His meritorious awards.
His Navy Cross commendation. 

And once they had used him up and taken everything he had to give, they
tossed him away like a piece of garbage.

Final diagnosis:  Severe Sleep Apnea.  The pain in his knees? The cartilage in both all but gone, due to the constant vibration while standing on the deck of his plane.  The inability to breath normally on occasion?  Cause:  Unknown.  

He's 32.

Yes, I have a heart for our veterans.

My "little brother" and me.
July 2011

Service dogs, through a rigorous two year training program, will go on to provide men like my brother with these services:

  • Orientation to any prosthetic limbs that will need to be retrieved
  • The ability to “brace” and support the weight of their veteran
  • Training on pulling and stopping wheelchairs
  • Reduction of heeling speed to one step at a time, for veterans on crutches
  • Specific complex task chains
    • Open fridge, get water, close fridge
    • Open dryer, get clothes, place in basket
    • Un-tie shoes, take off, place at door, take off socks
    • Get remote
    • Get phone
    • Push elevator buttons
    • Get groceries off shelf, place in cart
    • Open door, wait, shut door
    • Push a panic button in case of an emergency
  • These dogs will be the hands, legs, and friends of these veterans, providing companionship while coping with an emotional overload.

And so, my contribution to the 
Retrieving Freedom Fundraising Auction...

A patriotic wreath composed of a straw wreath wrapped in cream linen cloth, patriotic fabric and burlap scraps, and iron numbers, "1776", the year of the signing of our Declaration of Independence from England.

Patriotic enough for the 4th of July, yet prim enough to hang in the home all year long, for those who believe that patriotism isn't just something we should celebrate twice a year.

I also made a smaller wreath, by using leftover scraps from
dismantling my pool noodle wreath.  

Perfect for lovers of the shabby chic style, who may not want to go
the red, white, and blue route.

Instead of wrapping the burlap, I gathered it around a straw wreath form and secured with straight pins and hot glue to give it a softer, fuller appearance.

Both of these wreaths will be up for auction at the Retrieving Freedom Dinner and Auction located in Waverly, IA at the 4-H Building at the Bremer County Fair Grounds on Saturday, July 7th.

I believe the dinner is between 5:00-7:00 p.m. with the auction taking place afterward.  

I have to check into that and will post further information on my FB page.

I humbly hope that my small contributions will help in garnering some much needed funding for such a worthy cause. 

I encourage anyone in the local area to prayerfully consider making a donation or attending the auction, to help our local veterans as they adjust to life at home, whether that be mentally or physically.

You can go to the Retrieving Freedom website, which supports both the Iowa and Mississippi branches of the organization HERE to learn more about this great organization or to make a donation to this awesome cause.

They were willing to give their life for you, what are you willing to give for them?