Monday, September 30, 2013

House Number One (That Got Away)

Hey all! How is your week going so far? Mine was going pretty well until I discovered a snake in the garage. I'd let our cat Mishka out there to relax (she thinks it's her own personal sweat lodge) and when I went back to get her, I found her batting around a snake which was coiled up and returning the love. At first, I screamed which is totally lame but that said, I'm always glad to see that I can scream in urgent situations as in my nightmares I never can. In my nightmares I always just run around mute, "letting the flies in" as my Grandmother would have said.

I kept yelling for Mishka to come away from the snake but she wouldn't so I had to run over and swoop her up with the snake just inches away. I ran into the house and plopped her down and ran to find boots. I'm a skirt girl and well, I'm not about to go doing snake battle with bare legs. By the time that I actually found boots and got back into the garage, the snake had slithered under something. So there he remains....wherever there is. That said, it's been an excellent excuse for not doing that big pile of laundry as our laundry room is out in the far corner of the garage /cat sweat lodge /snake pit of doom.

I don't mind snakes in general. I mean, I don't bother them if they don't bother me. One time, I was sitting in the grass, languidly weeding under a bush when a large black racer snake slithered right up beside me and just sat there ( snakes sit?) as if to say, "Nice Sssssspring day, isssssssn't it?" I remember jumping up in a way that I never knew that my legs could move. We ended up naming the snake and he'd come through from time to time to sun in the grass. It was an excellent excuse for no more weeding until a neighbor decided to come onto the front lawn and kill him with a big rock while we were gone one day. Rest in peace, Cecil.

As you can probably tell, I'll gladly use visits by snake as fodder for procrastination. I am the worst when it comes to procrastinating. If the life of a human or animal isn't at stake, man alive but I'm so good at putting things off. It's one of my less-than-redeeming qualities. Which brings me to comments! Thank you so much for all of your great comments on my posts. I read each one and never stop getting excited when I see one pop up in my reader. I always take them to heart. I laugh at the funny ones. And furrow my brow at the sad ones. I really, really REALLY love reading your comments! That said, I totally suck at answering comments. I do well when people email me directly from the blog but as for individually answering comments, I am the world's worst and I apologize for that. Just know that I love them and I read them and that I'm stoked to get them! I'm going to try to work on that as soon as I'm out of the weeds of this backlogged life. If you've ever said that I totally suck for not answering comments,'d be right. But do know that I love them and you. (Unless you're one of the people who have left ugly comments and then, I wish you into the snake pit / cat sweat lodge for all eternity! )

Oh! So now on to houses! I had promised that I'd share some of the houses that we considered on the search. The day after we got a call from our agent about the folks wanting to buy our house, we went and saw this home. Well, we couldn't get in but it was vacant so we crawled all over that thing. I wanted this house soooo badly. This was before we realized how urgent the market is here and that it was already being bought out from under us. Anyway, here is house number one which we call "The White House on The Hill".

Sigh, y'all. 

Don't you just love those bushes? It was so gracious looking up there on the top of that hill. I kept screaming "It's my Graceland! It's my Graceland!" as I was running in circles all around it - and trust me, I am not a runner. Mr. Kitsch remained calm and cool which I always hate because if I'm frenzied, I like everyone to be frenzied. He admits now that "everything about that house felt right".

Here is a shot from the front porch.  

And here is the cute little porch. Isn't the ironwork sweet? That's a planter there to the left. 

I just loved the mint trim and how the brick sometimes looked white.. but sometimes pink.

It still had the starburst doorbell which I rang and rang shouting, "It sounds like a mansion!" 

Here you can see the big back patio:

..with Nutone intercom system. 

The house was all original on the inside. Here you can see the kitchen: 

You can just barely see the slate foyer tile there in the background.

Here is the big Den that looked out onto the patio:

I love the big window seat, fireplace and bookshelves. And you can see the intercom system there in the kitchen that connects to the one on the patio. I could just see me out there on the back veranda shrieking "More sweet tea!" to the Mister in the kitchen. And he wouldn't care because the cuteness of our house would make him docile. 

I can also imagine sitting in that big front window and looking over that huge green lawn. And the kitties too. That was one cool thing about the house - all of the major windows looked out across the front lawn, even the kitchen. 

Here is the Dining Room with view to the back yard. 

We couldn't get photos of the bathrooms but it wasn't from lack of trying. The Mister jumped up and down with the camera but couldn't get them. He did say that they were original tile though.  Same thing with the bedrooms but I'm sure they were perfect. This house was totally original. I'm talking never-been-molested-by-the-nineteen-eighties like so many period houses here have been. 

I think we'll always remember the house as "the one that got away". Since we were only on day one of our search, we didn't know it yet but now we really mourn that house. To make matters worse, it only went for $155,000 which would have been a great price. I'm talking waaaay cheap for this town. 

On the flip side, it was pretty close to the interstate retaining wall - not right up against it but close enough to mention. When we were on the back patio, we could hear the traffic. I'd already decided that the noise wouldn't stop us though as when we were in the front yard, we couldn't even hear it, and I know that inside of the house would have been the same. And I'd used my usual "We'll just pretend like it's the ocean that we hear!" that I bring out when a house is near the interstate's roar. To make himself feel better, Mr. Kitsch is still using the "We would have gotten lung cancer from the car emissions" but admittedly, he has pangs of sadness from missing out on this one. 

So, there you have it. The White House On The Hill. My unattained Graceland. Come back next time when I show you the next house that never was. 

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Well, the house hunt is finished. It's been seven weeks of excitement and exhaustion. "Wait...what just happened?" has become the general tone of the search. In the end, we're staying at the ranch. It's not so bad as we really do love our house. Our entire reasoning behind looking for a new house was that:

(a)  We had buyers who showed up out of the blue wanting to buy our house, meaning that we wouldn't have to list or show our house and..

(b) There was the possibility of making good money and having no mortgage - or if nothing else, a much smaller one. I mean, who doesn't dream of having no mortgage? Only the people who already have no mortgage, that's who! 

(c) We want a new neighborhood. 

Those dreams are now defunct as our buyers have just signed a contract on another house. 

So it seems that our house was their "dream house" but in the end, maybe everyone has more than one dream house? Or at least our buyers did. Sigh....

 Oh lord, I'm tired. Not even normal tired but illogically tired. For instance, earlier today I decided that I wanted to make a box of chocolate pudding but then looking at the instructions, decided that it was too much for me. You know...the whole "add pudding mix to milk and stir for three minutes" thing?

Totally too much. 

My plan back on August 1st when this all started was to show you our potential houses as we went along -  but between seeking out houses to view, actually looking at those houses and trying to keep our house in tip-top condition for the inspections, I haven't had enough time for the play-by-play. Even so, I can't wait to show you some of the houses that we've considered and some of the great features in upcoming posts. Like I've said before, I'm not going to slam any of the houses that weren't right but thankfully, we saw enough good things that you all might enjoy seeing. I have a folder full of over seven hundred photos to choose from! 

Before I start those posts though, I'll give you a bit of a run-down of how the final ten days of the search went. I'm going to number the details so that if you need to take a long break in the middle for a swig of whiskey or a nap, it will be easy to come back later and continue.
1. While we were looking for a new house, our buyers got a contract on their house. We were told that they were going to rent month-by-month from a friend and didn't mind waiting on our house as we looked for our next house. Yay!

2. We continued to look at houses and saw one that we were really considering making an offer on. We'll call that house " The Awesome Fireplace House". We wanted to look just a tad more because it had some updating that we'd want to reverse, thus cutting down on the savings.

3. Since the search had been going on for well over a month, our buyers asked us to sign a contract saying that if they found another house that they were interested in, they could abandon our contract within 24 hours. We figured that was fair as it was taking us quite a while in Nashville's frenzied market to find a house. And since the market is so horrible and they were also looking for an all-original Mid-Century house, we felt sure that they wouldn't find anything that would make them move on since we'd already seen what was on the market. And since they'd said that they'd "wait forever" to get our house, we felt secure. 

At the beginning of the search, I decided that I was going to take a photo of myself in the bathroom mirrors of every house that we looked at. This was my final one. I decided that I was looking more and more ragged at every house and documenting that? Torture. 

This bathroom was sort of a "woodsy meets rococo" style and even though it did nothing for my complexion, it intrigued me. 

4. A friend came across a for-sale-by-owner  in our dream target area. Thanks to her, we got the scoop before it even hit the market. We went over and met with the owner, a daughter who was selling her family home. The meeting went great! We loved the house. She liked us. We liked her. She said that if we wanted the house, she would consider our offer first before letting anyone else see the house. Three cheers! It was a pretty little time capsule with a vaulted brick sunroom and a nice yard full of trees - one owner home and very well kept. Oh, and did I mention that it was painted soft aqua and had a hand-built brick barbecue on the patio? 

 When we decided to make an offer the next morning, the owner wouldn't even look at our offer because she didn't think it was enough. She subsequently priced the house about $70,000 over market value for the neighborhood, completely knocking us (and anyone but flippers)  out of the running. We know that she's never going to get that price which makes that one even harder to swallow. And she stopped returning our phone calls. It was obvious that she felt insulted which totally sucks because we liked her. In the end though, you can't price a house on memories. You have to go by market value and what it will appraise for. 

5. The Mister then said that we should call our agent and go see The Awesome Fireplace House for a second time.  We find out that very same day that lo and behold our buyers had just put in an offer on....hello, The Awesome Fireplace House. I'm totally not joking. That was it. Done.

6. Of course, it was then that we found our DREAM HOUSE. I'm talking a day or two later. It was gorgeous and 100% original. Knotty pine kitchen, aqua countertops and original bathrooms. The yard was so pretty. The neighborhood? Super nice and ten minutes from the Mister's office. We called our agent and asked her to show it to us (because it was so amazing that even without our buyers, we were going to find a way to own it) and as luck would have it, she told us that her buyers were second guessing their contract because The Awesome Fireplace House also had an Awesome Water Drainage Issue. Kapow! We might have our buyers back! 

Figuring it must be fate, we made an appointment to see that house later in the day. We drove across town and were five minutes from the showing appointment when our agent called and said that the house was in a flood zone. Now, to put this all into perspective, in 2010 Nashville had what is called a "thousand year flood". Many houses, businesses and lives were lost.  It came out of nowhere and caught residents by surprise and before we all knew it, devastation. People died in their homes, cars and yards. So we all respect the power of something as simple as rain now.  As luck (or lack of luck) would have it, this home had a small stream that snaked close by and on the flood maps, it was marked a bright florescent green which couldn't be a good sign. 

7. Even still, we decided that we wanted to pursue this house and find out from the experts what the odds were and what flood plain designation this house was under. It turned out that the flood insurance alone on the house kicked us out of the running because we can't afford that on top of the mortgage payment.

8. We then found out that our buyers had indeed gone ahead and decided to buy The Awesome Fireplace House so we once again had no buyers - and with no buyers, our bargaining power upon finding a new house would be considerably less. We looked at a couple more houses but knew in the backs of our minds that we no longer had a fighting chance in this market where houses are sold the first day (and sometimes the day before) they hit the market. We looked at our final one last night - a cute little ranch with wagon wheel ceiling light and orange countertops. Even with those perks, we knew that it wasn't the one to fight for...and with that, we realized that we don't have the fight left in us. So we ate a bunch of donuts at bedtime and called the whole house search done. 

So, it's back to the ranch for us. We've decided to stay put unless the most perfect house in the history of the world comes up for sale. Of course, there are caveats: It has to be in our price range AND in our dream neighborhood. In the meantime, we're going to try and keep our house as spiffed-up as we can so that if we have to put it on the market overnight, we'll be able to do so. That means I've got to clean out closets and the garage again and look at our house with the critical eyes of a buyer. There was something very special about having buyers who seemed to love our ranch as much as we maybe someone like that will come along again. Only time will tell. 

And THAT is how we've spent the largest amount of our time lately. In my next few posts, I'll show you some of the houses that we looked at along the way! I mean, something good has to come out of all of this right? And sooner or later, I'll show you the vacation photos from Ireland - a trip that I can't even remember now because my mind is so scattered from this house search. 

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Yaaaaaay! for the first day of Fall!  Thank goodness. It seems like we usually only get three weeks of Fall before the leaves are gone and it's dark, bleak Winter but I always enjoy this season the most. I'm about to make so much soup that it's not even funny. Here are some first day of Fall shots for you.

I hope that you all have a great Sunday! We're going over to visit a friend's chickens and I'm unreasonably excited about it. And the chocolate cake that I'm going to bake with those fresh eggs.

And I'll leave you with this beautiful dog who might love Fall even more than me.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

I want to thank everyone for your kind and very supportive words on my last post about how things go down on the internet. I'm happy to say that your taking time to comment has restored my faith in the internet. Three cheers!  I love y'all. Every one of you. And I'm so happy to see that there are some new folks who've decided to follow Ranch Dressing. That makes me happy too! I should probably use this opportunity (what with new readers and all) to stay classy and try to impress, but today is a special kind of day. It's the day when I clean out a little folder on my desktop that says "Find A Way To Fit This Into A Blog Post". Hell to the yeah. You know what that means. It means that I never found a way to do that so I'll fit them all into one post that will come across as completely bonkers.

Bonkers it is. Let's get ready to rumble!!

I think that it's important that you know that the entire time that I am compiling this post, I will be listening to a little hit from 1996 called "No Diggity" by Blackstreet on repeat. Yep, it's completely throw-back and shows my age about as much as my fallen arches do, but when I do my happiest writing, I always put that song on repeat. And let me tell you, poor Mister Kitsch is down the hall trying to work on a very grownup proposal for work so I know that he wants to come down the hall and rip the speakers out of my computer. Thank God that he's a pacifist.

Cartier wooded frames sported by my shortie
As for me, icy gleaming pinky diamond ring
We be's the baddest clique up on the scene
Ain't you getting bored with these fake ass broads...

I'm pretty sure that it's mortifying to see a woman my age talking about rap lyrics from seventeen years ago, right? So, let's get on with the purge. Kick it off, shorty: 

An old cookbook illustration from my shelf. 
Make up your own jokes about that one.

For those of you who are on Facebook, you know how the super computer spying brain tries to give you ads tailor-made to what it thinks your interests are. This pretty much sums up my ads:

Facebook knows that I'm all about the chicks. 

In related fashion, I get email spam nonstop from this site:

Um, call me back-in-the-day innocent but in my time, sluts were called "sluts" because of how free the access was. I don't need any help. Even if I was interested in finding a whole pack of them. Maybe things have changed since high school but you know.... I doubt it.

Wow, this post is probably getting even more uncomfortable than a forty three year old lady loving antiquated rap. You can probably see why I couldn't make an entire post off of these things, right?

Bump like acne, no doubt
I put it down, never slouch
As long as my credit can vouch. 

In the same vein, I did not get this free-to-first-taker bonanza offered on Craigslist recently:

I was watching this one and you have no idea how fast this free lot was snatched up. There is a joke in there somewhere. See if you can find it. Other things on Craigslist that I didn't go for include:

And they were giving it away for free!  Okay, it wasn't because I didn't want it. I completely did. It was because it was too far away and I'm pretty sure that a mechanical bull won't fit into the trunk of my car. Can you imagine inviting people over for a party and then unveiling the mechanical bull? I'd be the talk of the society page, dagnabit. 

"The hostess may have been a tad too obsessive about the drink coasters but she totally knocked it out of the park with the Gilley's atmosphere in the great room! "

I also didn't purchase these hot little items:

A rusty scaffolding system advertised as a dining table

A baby cage! 

Thanks to Lisa for recommending those both to me. She knows my taste, as you can see. I do have to admit that the kiddie koop interests me a little. We live fairly close to our vet's office and if I were to put some wheels on that thing, I could get all of the cats to the vet at once.

Rollin' with the fatness
You don't even know what the half is
You got to pay to play
Just for shorty bang-bang to look your way. 

I like they way you work it
Trumped tight, all day, ever day
You're blowing my mind, maybe in time
Baby, I can get you in my ride. 

I should really consider that one. I could even take other peoples' cats to the vet as a part-time job. Hmm.....

I'm down with O.P.P.
Yeah, you know me! 

Okay, totally different song but that fit in sooooo good. Finally, I'll leave you with this one:

My man has the good gravel and if you even so much as ask him to bring it to you, someone is going postal. Having dealt with more than my fair share of Craigslist free-stuff seekers (I'm talking to you crazy guy who took our free dog kennel but not before getting all sweaty and bloody and telling us how you like to slaughter turkeys), I have to say that I can't blame gravel guy for laying it down. 

I like the way you work it
No diggity
I got to bag it up. 

One time, the Mister and I posted a rug on Craigslist and two young sorority sisters came to check it out for their dorm room. As they were looking at it, one of the girls lifted it up to her nose and said behind a sneer, "Um....Meghannnnn....It smells like cat spraaaaaaaaay...."  Obviously, they didn't buy the rug. They high-tailed it out of our garage as if cat urine was a communicable disease.  And for the record,  it did not smell like cat pee. Just for that rug snub, I hope that Meghan and her little friend ended up buying another rug - a haunted rug which they placed between their matching twin beds and that haunted them every night until they looked old and tired like me. Yeah, I'll wish that on them. 

Some good came out of it however as whenever the Mister and I are in a thrift store and come across something particular cagey smelling, I can't help but use that quote. Most bad situations are worth it if you get a good joke out of them. 

And that will wrap up this edition. I hope that you all are having a great weekend! I've got so much work to do that I can barely even think straight. However, talking to you all and playing my favorite song at least forty times (or fifty three if you ask the Mister) and being able to clean out that overstuffed folder of madness has made me feel as happy as a lark! Play on, playette. We out. We out. 

Until next time,
x's and o's,

p.s. Congrats to Lisa and her beau, Matthew on getting hitched today! Married people say "yeaaaaah!"

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Internet And The Culture of Mean

If you can't stand the posts where I get on my soapbox and jump around a bit, just let this one pass you by. This has been knocking around in my brain for a while and this last week has made me realize that I should just put it all out there. I can tell even in the midst of paragraph one that this is going to be long.

We've been looking at a lot of houses lately and through that process, I've seen some pretty crazy decor choices. Being a person who documents everything, I have quite the hefty folder on my computer full of those photos. Even though it's killing me not to post them all on the blog, after a long study on these photos, I realized that I just can't do it, because people just like me made these choices - and they liked them. I can't bash other peoples' houses anymore. I might share these photos with close friends and we'll discuss them and their quirks but I'm not going to add to the culture of mean. I have some pretty great material but if it goes anywhere, it's not going on the internet. On the internet, things live forever.

I have a serious love-hate relationship with the internet. Though it obviously helps us reach out to and share ourselves with people all over the world, I think it also makes it too easy to be mean. I'm sure that like me, most of you have read the horrible comments that people hiding behind anonymous monikers make on news and entertainment sites. And I won't let myself go within ten feet of YouTube comments because they make me sad for the way that they make our world look like it's going. Since I'm in animal rescue, I see horrible things every day with no way to escape them. I know what horrors there are in our world and when I retreat to the internet, I try to make sure that I feel better about this world that we're spinning around on once I'm done. There are a lot of people on the other side of this screen that I care about.

Recently, my home was featured on a blog that I like a lot. The response was friendly and kind. Soon after, without permission those photos of my home were featured on another blog. To be fair, they weren't shared in a malicious way. The owner of the blog seemed to like what we have going on over here at the ranch. But of course, there had to be one comment where someone had to pick apart my decor taste and one of the original features in our house. Without submitting myself or my home for anyone's approval on that site, I got it anyway.  I try not to let stuff like that get to me as well, we all have our own personal taste. That said, I think that the internet makes it way too easy to pick apart peoples' personal choices - whether they be decor choices, lifestyle choices,  fashion choices or any range of self expression or thought - and it seems like we all feel like someone has given us the right to openly judge others and that's hard for me to swallow. What gives us the right?

This week, it was brought to my attention that Ranch Dressing has been mentioned on a popular site  where people discuss blogs and bloggers, often times quite cruelly. I won't even mention its name here because yeah, whatever. I'm not about to give it traffic from my site because I'd rather dig my own eyes out with a spoon. I'd known about this site for a while but had only seen it once. That one brief visit quite honestly felt like spending time with the very bullies that I had hid in tears from in junior high and high school.  I had the distinct feeling that the girls who lobbed volleyballs into the back of my permed head back in the day were lurking there somewhere and I got out quick with a very sour burn in my stomach.

On the flip side, there is a section on the site where people can recommend blogs that they actually like (hallelujah for that reprieve) and a reader of Ranch Dressing said this:

This is such a great little blog. She's funny, low-key, and finds the weirdest things (internet things and estate sale things). Vintage without the twee. Her latest post (The Santa Claus Smackdown of 1977) is gold. 

Pretty nice, huh? To whoever wrote this, if you're out there - thanks! Obviously, my blog is still too under the radar for anyone to recognize so nobody was familiar with it enough to comment. Only one other person commented and though they had never seen my blog, upon reading the above review, came over to spend some time:

Thanks for this recommendation. I've just spent the last hour or so going through. I love the crazy stuff she finds and her writing is very entertaining! I love 50s/60s retro style, especially during the holidays, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside because it reminds me of my mom and grandparents. 

Very sweet, right? I like it! But then, this was next:

But theres's something a little weird I can't put my finger on. She obviously has a fondness for the aesthetic, but sometimes it comes across like they're the kind of people who think they were born in the wrong decade, or like they would totally talk to each other in Dick Tracey accents while doing the nasty. Maybe she's just playing it up for the blog though. 

So, well....

Okay, so I'd like to pretend like I'm a better person than this but those statements made me really mad. I swore like a sailor and walked around in tense circles, scaring the cats. Being someone who tries to blog as a reflection of who I actually am in real life, it felt like a personal slam against me. And my husband. I consider myself a very down-to-Earth person and what you see here is what you get. Sure, I might be more shy in real life - many of we bloggers are - but Eartha Kitsch is me. The way I talk on Ranch Dressing? That's me. In. Real. Life. I'll "hee haw heck!" you to death and go absolutely apeshit over a dirty old cookbook. And you see my antiquated blog template? That probably represents me too. Read 'em and openly weep. But that's okay with me. That only means that if you like my blog, you'll probably like me. And pretending to be someone that I'm not takes way more energy than I intend to spend.

And you know what, I DO wish that I was born in a different decade and Mister Kitsch does too. A decade before people believed that it's okay to be mean for the sake of snark. We live in a society of snark and it pisses me off. I've never "played anything up" in my life. This is who I am. And whether my husband and I act out every era from prehistoric man to a mere week ago in the bedroom? Totally nobody's business.  They finished their comment up with "They seem to be over the moon with each other and their life, and they're good to animals so more power to them!" but my friends, the damage was already done in my mind. That last sentence is akin to a little thing that Southerners do where we end gossip about someone with "Bless their heart!" It's the meat that matters. You can smooth over it all that you want.

When sharing the comment with my closest friends, I was told that I should consider myself lucky that I didn't get any worse than that, and I guess that it's true. But I don't feel like I deserve even that. We all just need to shut up and get out of each others' business. While I do realize that blogging is inviting other people into our business, I personally believe that if you don't like a blogger or can't believe in what they're dealing out, just move on. There are about a trillion other blogs out there to choose from.

While we might like to believe in the anonymity of the internet, it's not true. Even if we're not the kind of people who google ourselves constantly, we're still exposed to what other people think of us. In neither of these cases was I looking to read smack talk about anything in my life. In both cases, someone else found the comments and showed them to me. Hear me again when I say this: What you say on the internet does not disappear into the thin air like mist. It stays and it stays forever. After reading that comment about myself, the Mister and my blog (all three that I care a lot about), I couldn't sleep. And what did I do? The worst possible thing that I could do. I spent hours on that very same site looking up every blogger that I know to see if they were safe and well and unmentioned. Many of them were but some were not. I read really ugly comments there about people that I consider myself friends with - but also people who I only know on a surface level from reading their blogs.

On one particular comment thread that was pages long, commenters had blown up a photo that one particular blogger posted and were deeply analyzing whether she had photoshopped space between her legs to make herself look thinner. It went on and on and on....and it got meaner and meaner as the pages passed, not excluding her husband or even her innocent children from the melee. In my mind, I couldn't help but scream "Who the hell cares??!" There are worthy causes out there that could use all of this energy put towards them, y'all. In the time that it took to analyze the thighs of someone that they didn't know, I shudder to think about how much volunteer time could have been put towards helping a family get out of the cycle of poverty or by helping shield a total stranger or defenseless animal in their neck of the woods (or on the other side of the world ) from fear, abuse or death. That right there is time that can't be retrieved.  When I think of how many hours were spent collectively critiquing a close-up photo of another blogger's thighs, I want to throw up.

WHO THE HELL CARES? I read other posts about fashion bloggers whose sites that I read and all of the catty mean girl comments were just too much for me. They even critiqued a blogger who had just had a baby, going on and on about how wrinkled her clothes were and how fat she looked! Don't even get me started. At one point, one of the local Nashville bloggers actually came on to defend herself against the onslaught of commenters. That poor girl also had pages and pages of comments about her. With my husband asleep beside me (worn out from our Dick Tracy roleplaying earlier in the evening), I silently lifted my arm and cheered against the glow of my laptop screen.

The blogger in me as well as the long-tortured school kid really just wants us all to stop being so mean and so judgmental and so well, entitled to share our opinions on everyone else and how they live their lives. As adults, we're quick to support the anti-bullying campaigns aimed towards children and teens, and rightly so. I just don't think that a lot of people realize that leaving mean comments on the internet about people - whether you believe that your target will ever see them or not - is the exact. same. thing. It's bullying. We might not all be jammed into the same humid, stinky locker rooms together anymore but the internet? It's one big locker room that we're forced to share. There are still mean kids and hurt kids, it's just that now, we're bigger and we like to pretend that we know better.

We can not let the supposed anonymity of the internet allow us to be anything other than we'd want others to be towards us. We just can't. I just ask that we all consider if we have a right to say what we're saying and if we'd still say it if our targets were standing right in front of us. And if our answer to that is still "Yes" then consider what that possibly says about where we are headed.

Each generation before us has remarked how our world is going to Hell because of the actions of those within it. That's not new at all. But collectively, each generation is right. With each generation, we lose a tad more kindness and civility and empathy. And you know what? If that makes me want to live in the past, then the person who commented about me, the Mister and my blog is right. Maybe it's a good thing that we appear to some like we'd like to live in another era. Maybe I shouldn't be so pissed about that singling-out but instead, proud. I don't WANT to be included in the current internet culture. Count me out.

I challenge all of us to take the time that we spend critiquing celebrities, strangers and yes, other bloggers and instead use it to help a cause that is important to us. I don't care what it is. Just that there is that something that we care about. I think that it's our kind moments that define us. They are also the only chance at canceling out our cruelness. The internet brings us closer but in an even bigger way, it's forcing us apart.

With this post, I'm not inviting anyone to defend me or Ranch Dressing. I'm not asking for snark towards people who have snarked against me. I don't want things to go there. I'm just asking us all to think before we type. Once it's out there, it's out there and it can't be taken back.

None of us know what's laying heavy on the hearts of others. Those who blog and look like they have their lives unfathomably together? They have pain and sadness and worry. They have self-doubt and financial troubles and struggles just like the rest of us do. Even if they never choose to put that out there in the public forum, they're just like us. And they might read what we write on the internet. And that one sentence that we put out into the world might make their loads so heavy that they can never be the same. Just because we have the forums available to us for cruelty doesn't mean that we have to use them.

Lastly, if the person who said that about my family and blog has decided to stick around and follow Ranch Dressing for the past months since that comment, I hope that you're reading this and that you believe now that I'm just a real person who isn't putting on airs. If you ever want to hang out in person and squeal over old wallpaper at estate sales, look me up. I'm pretty sure that the Mister will drive us and if I ask him nicely, he won't talk like Dick Tracy, at least for the day.

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Shortest Blog Post Ever

Today, I went to the salon to have my hair done. After getting one of those fancy sleek blow-outs that only a stylist can do, I remarked to her "Wow, my hair looks too good for how exhausted I look."

She replied: "Aww! You just need to get your makeup on, that's all!"

Yep, you guessed it. I was already wearing makeup.

Whomp! Whomp!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Remembrance of "Pink"

Thanks to Amber for sharing this amazing obiturary of an an even more amazing woman. I'm going to strive to have an obit like her when I pass one day and I wish that I could have known her. I'm pretty sure that I'd been behind her all of the way. You can read her full obituary here:

You can see a really cool news story about her here as well. I think it's great that this story has inspired that news station to do a running series of stories about people who help others. We have to strive to remember that it's not how rich we are or how much stuff we own when we die (even if that stuff is amazing kitsch and vintage floor wax) that will make people remember us. It's how many lives we touch with our actions. Let's make "Pink" proud. 

Have a great weekend y'all!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Hunt

Well, we're still on the house hunt. We went to two open houses this weekend. The first was at a house that we were pretty excited about but the realtor decided not to show up.  Simply hilarious! We peeked through the windows and the Mister walked through an enormous spider web. Then I tripped in a hole in the backyard. It was perfect.

We also had hopes for the second house as it was moderately priced and in a neighborhood with little ranches and ramblers. Pulling up to the house, we felt encouraged. It was quite cute and the neighbors didn't look sketchy. There were big trees in the front yard and we could hear crickets in the woods behind the house. "It could be the one!" we thought, as we always think. Unfortunately,  once the realtor swept us up the walk and through the front door we knew that it wasn't for us right away.  It's interesting how I never have to look at the Mister but always have a sense that he's also thinking "No way in Hell would I live here." He was walking behind me but I could feel his disappointment.

The realtor was seriously out for commission. She didn't even let us get two steps into the house before she was treating us like we were on a paid home tour. We kept trying to make a break for it but she just kept going and going and going.  No matter how many times we told her that we didn't like it, she just kept encouraging us and trying to sell each part of the house as if we'd suddenly change our minds. It was beyond overkill. Plus, we were the only potential buyers there so all of the attention was on us.

When we got to the kitchen, we saw that it had once been completely knotty pine (you know that's my weakness) however they had ripped out the cabinets and put new dark wood ones up on top of the knotty pine paneling. I was completely ill. I'm just so tired of seeing "ghost houses". And by that I mean little 50's, 60's and 70's houses that you can look at and just see what they used to be. You can tell that if you'd gotten there sooner, you would be running to write out a contract on them. So many beautiful little homes have been completely jacked up in the name of "renovation" when in the end, it just makes these dear little houses seem schizophrenic.

While the agent was bragging about how great it was that it had pantry space,  I was staring forlorn at the homeowner's framed wall photo of a very young and tan Yul Brynner and wishing that I could just run down the street. Since the Mister and I hadn't decided on that escape strategy beforehand, I guessed it might be rude to leave him there and just kept trudging along. We've remedied that now and have since discussed and agreed upon what will be our "Yul Brynner Sprint" if the correct hand signal is given at future open houses.

She overzealously steered us into the two kids' rooms (one blue and one pink of course) even though I told her that I'm as barren as an old log. She made us go inside of each room as if suddenly, just smelling the rooms of children might awaken some kind of maternal urge in me. I think that she hoped that those tiny pastel rooms would make me ask the Mister to impregnate me right on the spot so that we'd actually want the house. Or at least in the car next to the open house sign.

She tried to convince us that the dark little Master bedroom was great,  though the only thing interesting about it was the tiny vintage tiled bath that had somehow been left unscathed during the renovations. It seemed to me like the lone survivor of a mass murder, huddled back there at the end of the house and practically gasping for air...for someone to save it.

Then she made us tour the basement which was a big maze of other peoples' clothes and too-low ceilings before we finally washed out into the back room where her husband was watching football on the owners' big screen TV. We tried to escape through the basement door but as luck would have it, it was locked. We were forced to go back upstairs where strangely enough, she started the tour again! As if we were a totally different couple than the one that she'd seen moments before, descending hunched-shouldered and bored into the basement.

How many ways can you tell a person that you hate a house? We tried them all, trust me. Outside of lighting a match and throwing it on the couch, we did everything that we could to tell her that we would not live there even if someone paid us.

After she finally started to realize that I wasn't hankering to put down roots there (as I was the more vocal of the Kitsch family and kept skittering toward the front door like a house dog that had to go out to pee) , she tried to appeal to the Mister's manly side and in one last gasp, extolled the virtues of the huge parking pad and carport. She actually forced us to go and look. "It will be a great place for your boat!" she said as we stared uninterested at a big slab of concrete.

We don't have a boat nor do we want a boat. Even though I'm a lady person and the husband is a man person, we do not want children OR boats.

In the end, we had to get pretty pushy to get out of there. And still, she kept telling us to have our realtor call her so that we could come back for a second showing. It was really weird. And such a waste of an entire afternoon. Last weekend, we went to an open house that was billed as "a picnic" where all of the signs leading to the house were white styrofoam plates with arrows written on them in sharpie marker. When we got there, the "picnic" was an additional styrofoam plate filled with knock-off Oreo cookies. That was the entire picnic. Sometimes house hunting feels the same way. You get lured in with the hopes of pimento cheese sandwiches and potato salad and once you get inside of a house, it's all stale sandwich cookies.

I have such mixed emotions while looking at houses. It's a very big deal to put your house on the market and have the public traipsing through with all of your personal items and decor taste on display. Every time that I don't like a house, I telepathically sense the disappointment that the owners will have when their agents tell them that we just weren't their buyers. It totally sucks. And it sucks even more when you know that even in this frenzied market with very little inventory, some houses just aren't going to sell. It's interesting to me that I don't get sad feelings from estate sales but I do get them from failed house viewings. Like this one where as we arrived, the little lady who owned the house was driving away with her dog. We felt hopeful. She probably felt hopeful. We absolutely loved the house but in the end, found that her back yard was nothing but power lines and transformers.

"Can you feel it? It's electric... Boogie woogie, woogie."

And the next door neighbors had a rusty above-ground pool with rotting water. I should probably wrap up this post before I compare house hunting to jumping from a tetanus-threatening diving board into a pool of fuzzy water, right?  Right.

I remember while we were standing there we saw a lone brown horse standing under the power lines, munching on grass. The Mister tried to cheer me up by saying, "But look...there's a horse! You'd have a horse as a neighbor! " Bless his heart. He knows that I love horses. All that I could do was wonder aloud if the poor horse was suffering from cancer from living in a field of transformers and power lines. The Mister = glass half full. Me = somebody spilled the damned glass on my nice rug and Mama ain't happy.

Anyhoo, I hope that you all are having a great week so far. Have any interesting house viewing stories? Please share them with me if you do. Sometimes you've got to laugh to keep from crying, right?

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Patsy

Today our patron saint at the ranch  Patsy Cline would have been eighty one years old. As we always do, we'll celebrate her with much enthusiasm!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Our Visit to Deck's Glassware - Part 2

Thanks to everyone for your kind and enthusiastic comments about the post yesterday on Deck's Glassware. Special thanks to Pam with "Retro Renovation" for sharing the word on Facebook as well. It's good to hear that some of you are close enough to visit him and plan on doing so. I'm sure he'll be excited to see you! I promised to share some of the dishes that we brought home with us from our visit there so here goes!

But first, I forgot to mention the number one find while in Chattanooga:

Of course. Because those of you who know me best realize that I can't even leave the house without finding a lot pet. Even in other cities. We found this rascal pants right before we got to Deck's. We stopped at a rest area and saw a couple out front, watering a very exhausted dog. Something didn't seem quite right and I knew right away that he wasn't their dog. I have some kind of radar, much to the chagrin of Mister Kitsch, I'm sure. I met their eyes and of course they said, "You want a dog?" Oh lordy. The rescuer in me knew that offering free dogs to random strangers at rest stops could not end well. We learned that he had been running in and out of heavy interstate traffic and the couple had fortunately caught him before he was a fatality. 

The next thing we knew this guy was riding shotgun in the back of the car with my Mom, who named him "Camper".  Long story short but the next few hours were spent going to the vet for a microchip check and then to the humane society (where we all cried after surrendering him). His owner never did show up for him but fortunately, I was able to drum up some interest in him and before long, they had adopters standing in line to try and make him a family member. We here at the ranch wish him the best in his new life, hopefully never to dodge in and out of interstate traffic again!

Okay, so back to Deck's. We got there reaaaaally late even though we'd meant to be there at his 10:00 opening time. Looking back now, I think that we might have even stayed past the 2:00 closing time. I hadn't realized what his hours were until yesterday when writing my piece about the place. Wow, do I feel like a heel! At least we bought some stuff, I guess. 

Mister Kitsch asked me yesterday if I'd fully gotten across how dirty parts of the back warehouse of the store can be. I think? that I did but just in case:

Super glamorous dishes-in-the-driveway shot! Kapow! 

Now, Mr. Deck cleans up a decent stock of items and brings them to the front of the store, just to be clear. It's not like he expects for everyone to go back and bring up the most buried dishes in the place. There is plenty of nice, economical shopping to be had in the front part of the warehouse. It's just that since we want the oldest and the hardest-to-come-by, we are the people who like to scrounge. And he seemed cool with our doing so.

Here is my personal favorite:

Nobody but me thought that it was going to come clean. Stay tuned to see if it did!

We put a big ole washtub full of boiling water and soap out in the driveway and let them sit in the sun and then Mister Kitsch washed them. We fought over who got to wash them, believe it or not. We loooove bringing things back to their glory. Honestly, that wash in the driveway made them look as good as new. The hot water melted most of the grunge away. We still put them in the dishwasher on the hottest, longest wash possible though just to deep clean them. I haven't counted how many we came up with but we had an entire dishwasher packed full and we paid less than forty bucks for the lot of them. 

Here is the dish, saucer and platter portion of the show. 

We concentrated most of our search on saucers because we have more room for them. 

And of course cups because those are kind of our weakness. I have cup hooks under the kitchen cabinets so it's fun to switch out the different patterns from time to time.

I love that we found some in great colors that we didn't have. 

Here is the very filthy dish from the teaser at the beginning! Good as new! 

The one with the sweet little green bow is marked "Sample" on the bottom. 

This little vase is a "second" but I'd never seen a vase and was stoked to find it! 

This one is Mister Kitsch's favorite set.  Cute! 

I actually dreamed about Deck's last night after posting yesterday. There I was in my sleep, rummaging through piles and piles of dishes with pigeons cooing in the background. That place kind of gets into a person's blood! Once again, if you'd like to visit Decks Glassware, it's located at: 

4118 Dodds Avenue
Chattanooga, TN 37407
(423) 867-9352

And there is a Facebook page though it isn't updated too often. 

He has posted hours but call ahead just to confirm. 

Happy hunting y'all!

Well, I've got to go meet the Mister to look at a house. Wish us luck! We have ten days left before the possible deal with our buyers expires. Will we stay at the ranch? Move on to a new place? It's anybody's guess at this point! 

And be sure and watch "No Pattern Required" for this Sunday's posted house find from Kansas City, Missouri. It's super cute and the bathrooms? To die for. I love a big fancy mid-century modern home but the more modest vintage family homes are what I love best. 

Also thanks to all who visited Thrift Core and for your kind words on my interview with Van! I had a blast doing it and the house enjoyed finally being dusted for the occasion.  

Have a great weekend, y'all! 

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Day That We Went To The Emerald City of China

A couple of months back, the Mister and I made one of our dreams come true. And we dragged my Mom along with us, poor bird. She was in town for a visit and we wanted to take her to Chattanooga to see the aquarium. Since we were going to be in Chattanooga all day, we took the opportunity to finally go to Deck's Glassware.

If you've never heard of it, don't be surprised. We hadn't either until a friend of the Mister laid the secret on him. She does catering and had gone there to get dishes for her catering jobs. We were especially interested because we collect old cafe china (aka "restaurant ware") - you know, the thick, heavy dishes that have been used in cafes and restaurants since forever? We love to collect the different patterns and pieces and use them as our daily dishes. They're beautiful workhorses. Up until now, we'd only been able to pick up a random piece here and there. Trying to find new patterns in thrift stores and yard sales had been pretty hard. When we heard that there was a warehouse of the stuff hidden within Chattanooga, it seemed like the stuff of legends! Could it possibly be true?

It took us a while to find the place, a very unassuming looking warehouse in a mixed-use neighborhood with one small sign and lone window across the front. When we walked in to the front of the store, I have to admit being disappointed because there were a couple of rooms of china, glasses and cute votives. You know.... nicer stuff in a very organized and clean space. Not that nice isn't good. It just wasn't quite the underground tomb of glee that we'd heard it might be and I love to root for treasures! When we found Mr. Deck smiling behind the counter, the Mister and I said at once, "We heard that you might have old cafe china?" and then well....

This happened! 

Yes, oh yes. He did indeed have cafe china. This is just a third of one room  - and the first of many huge rooms. Between the stifling July-in-the-South heat and the revelation that we had just stumbled into our wildest dreams, I almost stroked out. I checked my mouth to see if both sides still moved and thankfully they did so that I could manage to squeal out, "Ohmygoshhhhh DooooYouSeeeeee???"

The Mister was a mile ahead of me, shrieking. I could only find him by following the sound of his shrieks and the worrisome din of dishes being shuffled about way too quickly. From time to time, I could hear him say, "Oh Ho! You have got to see this one!" We darted around like rats who had just been released from a life-long trap into a world where the walls were made of nothing but cheese.  My Mom looked like she'd just seen the boogie man. There were teetering piles of dishes further than the eyes could see. There was dirt and dust and mud and puddles and spiderwebs and pigeons and dangerous, dark corners. It was perfect!

Okay, even after I've prattled on, you folks have no idea how much we were freaking out. The place was so big that honestly, you could stay there all day, every day for a week and never be able to look at every dish. They were stacked so tall and so tight that it was a very precarious act to look through them. We did our best though! It must have been a hundred and ten degrees in there and we had all broken out into rolling sweats but onward we trudged, making a pile of finds in the middle of the floor. My Mom is such a trooper. She doesn't collect cafe china but she knew how happy we were, so she wandered through the rooms, peeking in boxes and chuckling at our glee. She's an old-school collector so thankfully, she understood.

What was in those boxes? I don't even know! It was that kind of place. The kind of place where you feel so frenzied that you forget to look in boxes of unopened, deadstock china.

This was the Fiesta corner. Apparently, he used to have a lot more Fiesta but all that we could manage to see were a lot of white dishes and some newer colored teapots missing lids. Though, who's to say what's in those sealed boxes? Not me, that's for sure. Because I'd done lost my damned mind.

Deck's Glass also has other things besides cafe china. Pretty vintage pieces offered for a steal:

These cool old bird themed glass tumblers were just a buck each. 

We spent quite a bit of time talking to the owner Chester and learned that he had inherited the store and warehouse from his Dad who had passed on. The Senior Mr. Deck had started the business in the 1960's and started out by buying Homer Laughlin pieces from the factory to resell to restaurants, hospitals and pretty much any place that had the need for good, sturdy china. Thus, everything sitting in the warehouse has never been used - much of it is back-stock and has been sitting there for decades. He said that he has done a good deal of business with Mexican restaurants who favor cafe china, but with the plunge in the economy, he's just barely holding on now. And to me, that's not right.

Let me tell you all, he is such a nice man. He must have called me "Ma'am" about a hundred times. And he really knows his china too. Each piece that we bought was delicately wrapped up by him as he told us about each pattern. We left the warehouse feeling super stoked to have found it but at the same time, sad for the possible future of Deck's after such a long history. If you all know anyone who you think might be interested in the treasures that can be found at the store/warehouse, please share this post. We promised him that I'd blog about it and try to drum up more customers. I'd love for the word to get out into the vintage housewares loving community and the cafe china collectors alike.

We could just tell by our conversation with him that he was worried about the finances and the days to come - and though we would love to keep Deck's our little secret, we know that the only way to help it survive is to pass the word.  I also wish that we could have spent more time chatting with him. This is one of those places that we'd hate to see go by the wayside - a family owned business started by an entrepreneural father many decades ago, and now handed down to a son who is unfortunately battling today's economy.

Here is a sneak peek at what we brought home from Deck's. I'll show them to you in greater detail tomorrow!

In the end, none of us got heat stroke and we spent a good couple of hours in the place. We would have loved to have had a full day to carefully sort through the dishes with a flashlight and a cool breeze on us - but the time that we did spend there has now become the stuff of china collecting Kitsch Family legend. Oh! And in the end, even my Mom found a score - a plate that matched the china that her own Mother handed down to her a long time ago. How do you like that? I like it a lot. Thanks Deck's!

Deck's Glassware is located at 4118 Dodds Avenue in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 
The phone number is (423) 867-9352

Please think of them first for your vintage dish and glassware needs. I know that Chester would appreciate it a lot - and we would too! If you love the thrill of a treasure hunt - or just a good deal - this is the place for you!

You can go here to see all of the goodies that we got!

Hello there, beautiful. Where have you been all of my life? 

Until next time,
x's and o's,