Here at Thrift Diving, it used to be that I’d highlight my favorite readers that makes Thrift Diving a great community. These are the thoughtful, engaged people that take time out of their busy day to leave comments here on the blog, read my posts, and who have spent a lifetime loving thrift stores, too.
For 2018, though, I’ve been so busy that my “Reader of the Month” features fell by the wayside. We can’t let that slip, now can we? It’s one of the features that makes this blog fun!
This month I wanted to spotlight one of my favorite people who has been a part of this blog for years. She was there when I first started my YouTube channel and she was there when I recently celebrated hitting 100,000 channel subscribers.
Her name is Gwen and she is one of the most positive people I have come to know over the years!
Meet Gwen. 🙂
Gwen used to be a teacher until one unfortunate day in 2008 she fell about 9 feet off a ladder, hitting her head, resulting in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Having worked with TBI patients at a Walter Reed Army Medical Center back in the day before I became a full-time DIY blogger, I know very well the challenges that TBI patients can endure after a moderate or severe brain injury.
After that time, Gwen wasn’t able to continue working as a teacher.
She’s got an amazing husband named Curt who had been her caregiver, and who has battled his own health problems, including cancer, stroke, and partial blindness. And although he tires easily, he’s her rock. He’s the one that helps her carry out her DIY projects at times when she needs help. He doesn’t complain. He simply loves her and supports her, wanting her to be happy.
Gwen is always one of the first readers to sign up for my 30-Day Room Makeover Challenges, which is so endearing when I see her name on the Sign-Up list! 🙂
So let’s learn a little more about Gwen.
Where do you live?
“I live at the bottom of the San Joaquin Valley in California–about 100 miles over the mountain to Los Angeles.”
How long have you been thrift diving and loving junk? Share with us your earliest memories of thrift stores and how you learned to love them.
“The first time I ever went to a ‘flea market’ was when I was ten? Nine!? My cousin and I went with our Dads who were cousins up to Yosemite in a Ford Model T. I remember we all got out on a hairpin road and D backed up the mountain curve while we walked! Something about where their gas tank was and needed to lighten the load!! We were going to stop at a ‘flea market’ before getting to Yosemite and I was scared!! I only know All Dogs Have Fleas and I did not want them! I thought it all was junk. I was still a bit overwhelmed with this new found cousin since moving to California. She LOVED all the junk! I bought a red mini old-fashioned oil lantern which I’ve displayed all my life!!
Here I am holding on, leaning out the back. My mom is outside and my Dad’s cousin is driving. My brother and sis are in back with me. We rode in this to go to my first ‘flea market’ outdoors up by Yosemite. I remember being in the mountains and there being JUNK by tall big trees!”
What’s the most prized possession you ever bought from the thrift store?
“Hmmm. A thrift store? Does farm girls vintage finds count?!!! They buy junk and resell (oh yes, Serena…many a time I’ve thought how Sanford & Son would be the ‘in’ place to shop in LA)…for today these are prized possessions but who knows??? Next year it may be something else!! I purchased vintage China plates and goblets as well as silver plates from our local thrift stores for a ‘we are vintage now’ reunion of high school Bible Study Gals that met on Thursdays our Frosh through Senior years. That was a special memory of being on the hunt.”
What’s the most expensive thing you ever bought from the thrift store?
“Haha!! ALL my plates to make all these yard art flowers. I was newly injured and part of that is not knowing when to quit a good thing. I had friends doing the plate projects with me. It was like huge puzzles. What plates to put together?? But then I never was able to ever finish. I needed help to get the pipes and get them cut. I broke many for recycling because no one takes yard art for donations. I gave everyone one as a gift. So I shall photograph them for you and call a friend to pick what she wants and toss the rest! But it was a mental exercise that took months.”
What’s the DIY or craft project of which you’re most proud?
“Oh dear. I think using my Dad’s pile of old undershirts, darned socks, stuff from his darning suitcase and I made chair-back decor for 14 chairs for a dinner party. I made garland for my tree that year. I sat and wept for I saw how my Dad’s darning of his socks went from fine stitches to crude as he became older. I wept for I missed my Dad. Out of rags, I made riches. Kind of a symbol of the reason we have Jesus. He came so we, who are nothing are made truly rich through Him.”
[Gwen also sent me a picture of a coffee table that her husband, who is partially blind, helped her upcycle into a sofa table! I think this is one of my favorite projects that Gwen ever showed me!]
Why do you like reading Thrift Diving and how long have you been reading? What are your favorite types of posts or projects on the blog?
“I have no memory of how long or how I got started reading but it has been quite a while!!! I truly love our [30-day room makeover] challenges. I joined and I’ve memorized Serena’s guidance lists. Her weekly checklists and prods keep us moving on, keep me moving on. I realized I could not do like in the past and do a complete overhaul of a room. But guess what?!! I accomplished, with help, some cleaning out of stuff that I don’t need. I donated, gave away, transported to my daughter and I’d have never done any of this without the challenge. Even if I get all or part of my goals met, I’m better off than I was before. Serena is an upbeat encourager. No shaming. She’s one of my most favorite people I’ve never met!!! Even my hubby knows her name.
I enjoy Serena’s DIY projects at her home. I like how she shows us power tools. I like how she’s so famous but doesn’t forget us–her regular readers!!! Her posts are diverse and relevant to a changing ‘market’. That’s what keeps me reading her blog all these years. I watch her YouTube videos. I’ll stay on as a reader!”
What other DIY blogs do you like to read? Are there other blogs that you love to read outside of the DIY niche?
“I like Stone Gable, Blesser House, Hymns n Verses, Sincerely Sara D., and Bright Green Door, plus a blog in Sweden, Norway and also one in France. I like to see how Scandinavia decorates. I like to see the mountains of France!! I like Bible hand lettering blogs that I usually follow on Instagram.”
What DIY or crafting tips do you have for others?
“Do what YOU want to do. I was severely made fun of by others and constantly questioned why I was doing this or that. Do not listen. Some like to craft. Others do not. Try again. You can’t mess up in art. Hey, do not be so critical of yourself. It is okay to gift your labor of love to someone but it is then theirs to do whatever they want with it. Keep trying new things. Don’t always copy someone. Try to create with what you have sometimes!”
Want More? Check Out the Previous Readers of the Month!