Monday, June 2, 2014

_The Hancock News_ Column--May 21, 2014

Signs of Spring

Redbud blossoms, greening trees, lawns dotted with golden dandelions, and cars covered with the yellow-green haze of pollen. The signs are all around. Yes, you know what season has just arrived--yard sale season!
On yard sale day, I prefer waking up with the sun, sitting down with my mug of Earl Grey tea, and reading the classifieds, red pen in hand. It gives me a chance to wake up, figure out which yard sales I need to hit, and map out my route to optimize gas mileage--all before the little ones rise and need momma.
Of course, four of my six children are early birds, so this ideal scenario never, ever happens for me. Nowadays, by the time I change diapers, feed the baby, make breakfast, help find matching socks, change diapers again, brush teeth and get dressed, I sometimes don’t even make it out the door. 
When I do get my act together, I absolutely love the yard sale subculture. There’s just something about the thrill of the hunt and bargaining for a good deal. Where else can you find such a variety of merchandise for such a low price? A glittery Christmas tree topper, the missing piece to your china set, a plastic piggy bank, a brand-new-in-the-box-as-seen-on-tv gadget, vintage greeting cards, and a set of sturdy screwdrivers can all be found within mere feet of each other and each for less than three bucks. I challenge you to find a store that has such an eclectic mix for such low prices. I’ve easily saved hundred of dollars on clothes for the kids and books for school by buying at yard sales.
But it’s not just about the stuff. So many different people go salin’. There are professionals looking for antiques, thrifty folks searching for useful things, collectors scoring a big find-- all ages, all walks of life. You never know who you’ll bump elbows with at any given spread.
Even better than the people you meet are the stories they tell. Now, I don’t mean gossip, although there’s sometimes plenty of that common stuff floating around. What I mean are the stories they share about themselves. You see, yard sales are large-scale show-and-tell times. Both seller and buyer alike have a chance to reminisce over objects, things that remind them of other times, other places, and other people. All of the accumulated stuff is stuffed with memories, memories that spill out into stories. It doesn’t matter whether they are funny, bizarre, or sad stories; all the stories matter and hold meaning for somebody. 
So, by all means, take advantage of the great deals you will find on just about anything at yard sales. Allow yourself to feel good because you’re saving the environment by giving old things new life or because you’re helping raise money for a good cause at a benefit sale. Just don’t forget to take the time to connect with the people around you when you’re out on a Saturday (or Friday or Thursday) morning cruising the yard sale circuit. That, my friend, is where you will find the real treasure.

This recipe is a treasure of spring ingredients--spinach and fresh strawberries.  It’s healthy and so yummy that even reluctant Popeyes will go back for seconds. Just don’t skimp on the strawberries. 

Strawberry-Spinach Salad

1 package (6 ounces) fresh baby spinach, rinsed and well-drained
1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced
10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup chopped or thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (toasted, if you like)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar (red or white wine vinegar will do)

In a salad bowl, toss together the spinach, strawberries, bacon, onion, and walnuts. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar. Serve with the salad. This makes enough for about 6 people.


  1. I rarely go to garage sales, prefer thrift stores. Sat. I went to one. I had been looking for something to contain all the baseball mitts, footballs, etc. An old laundry basket wasn't working. I wasn't sure what would work. I found a cheap cloth hamper that works perfectly. I washed it and the boys loaded it up. That's an example of finding the perfect item that I wouldn't have thought of in the store.
    That recipe sounds delicious!

  2. The recipe really is good. I like thrift stores, too, but I like yard sales better. Maybe because when I was younger, I used to go with my mom and aunt. It was a social thing. It's a sentimental thing now. :)