It’s been a while since I posted a Reader of the Month.
I had contacted Teckla, a dedicated reader of this blog, back in the fall/winter, and her responses have just been sitting in my Inbox, waiting to be shared with you all!
I spent months working on my master bathroom makeover that sucked all my time (see the BEFORE & AFTER here!!). I’m still buried under tons of work travel and projects coming out the ying-yang.
But finally, I’m surfacing for breath!
And to share with you this amazing woman that has become a part of the Thrift Diving community!
So without further ado, let us get to know more about Teckla, April’s Reader of the Month!
WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
“I live in Dallas, Oregon, a town of around 15K about 15 miles west of Salem, the Capitol city, and about 50 miles south of Portland, the largest city, which is on the northern border between Oregon and Washington. The Pacific ocean is about a 45-minute drive west of us. Dallas is very much a bedroom community. There is minimal shopping of any kind, including thrift stores.”
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN THRIFT DIVING AND LOVING JUNK?
“My love of thrifting and DIY began when I was 9 and we rented an old country farmhouse owned by some pioneer settlers. The house came with some old furniture that I don’t remember much about except that I was quite fascinated by the wavy, curly golden finish.
My family was originally from southern Missouri, down around the Branson area, which is rich in “frugal” and “DIY” culture. Being on that old farm was an opportunity to see that lived out every day. We were taught to take care of what we had, to mend and repair whatever we could, to reuse parts and pieces when something outlived its purpose and to use everything around us to make or supply whatever we needed.
Shortly after we moved my sister and I got cot beds, I think from the Army Surplus Store. The first thing my sister and I did was paint them. Mine was turquoise and hers was lime green if I remember correctly. Later, we got unfinished dressers. We sanded and stained those and used them until after both of us were married. Another thing I remember vividly from that place is helping Mom wash quilts in the summer time. They were “tied” quilts, so we removed the ties and pulled the hand sewn hems. The pieced tops and backing were washed in the machine and the old fashioned cotton batting was laid out in the sunshine to air and bleach. Mom mended any rips or holes, then we sandwiched everything up again and Mom let me “tie” the knots while she pulled the heavy thread. We really needed those quilts in the winter time so it was important to take care of them. That old cotton batting wouldn’t have stood washing in the wringer washer so we had to take them apart first. I also learned to crochet while living there–self-taught from a booklet with much trial and error and some tears as Mom didn’t know how and Gramma lived back in Missouri.
When I was 14 my folks bought a small fixer upper house. During high school Home Ec classes my sister and I chose to paper several rooms in that house for a required project. Mom guided us but let us choose the paper (with some limitations) and do the work. She had to help us with the ceiling in the living room, but hey, lots of adults have to have help with ceilings! Our teacher came out and reviewed our work, of course, and we got an A on that project. Mom mostly just did mending, but she let me start using her sewing machine when I around 12-13. I sewed quite a few of my own clothes as I learned more during high school using a lot of outgrown clothing that my Aunt sent us in addition to fabric I bought using money I earned picking beans.
All of those projects through the years developed my “take care of it, mend it, wear it out, use the parts for something else, recycle/upcycle” lifestyle. Now it’s like breathing; so automatic I don’t really notice it. And I’m still learning new things all of the time!”
WHAT’S THE PROJECT YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF?
“I think the project I’m most proud of is the chest of drawers I refinished in the early 90s. I had gotten the chest from a good friend of mine who had used it for her son’s room. It was painted white, chipped, and beat up, but it was real wood and fairly light. Perfect for my craft supplies. I stripped the paint (yuck!), sanded it down, filled holes and stained it walnut, then rubbed it with Tung Oil. After I put on new knobs it looked like a totally different piece of furniture! I used it until 3-4 years ago when I started downsizing and gave it to a women’s shelter. Unfortunately, I don’t have any digital pictures. My paper pics haven’t been unpacked since this last move in September. Second proudest would be the small unfinished kitchen table I stained and put together. Again, no pics and haven’t had the table for a number of years.
Since I no longer have my bigger projects, I’m including a picture of a bulletin board that I put together and two small refinishing projects that are on my To Do list. I wanted to include a keepsake shadow box of my wedding announcement, but it is still packed and I don’t know which box it’s in.”
“I put this bulletin board together years ago from an old piece of [something that used to be known years ago as] firtex that was laying around, an old picture frame I picked up somewhere and a piece of burlap that I bought. After the frame was stained, I stapled the burlap over the firtex to keep push pins from falling out, then mounted it in the frame and added hangers on the back. I still use this over my sewing machine to hold pattern instructions and other interesting and decorative bits and pieces.”
WHAT’S YOUR MOST PRIZED POSSESSION YOU’VE EVER BOUGHT FROM THE THRIFT STORE?
“My most prized thrift store find? There are very few thrift stores near me so I tend to look more at garage sales unless I’m over in Salem or up in Portland, which only happens a few times a year. This little sewing box is something that I found last summer at a garage sale and I love it. I’m planning to strip and stain it, but haven’t made a final decision. I did see a similar one online that had been stenciled so that might be an option. I’ll use it by my recliner to hold small knitting projects.”
“Most of my thrift store and garage sale finds are small like this because decent furniture items rarely show up at our Goodwill store. I also have very limited space. When I read about Serena’s thrift store finds, I have to keep a towel handy to wipe off the drool! Ha! Ha! I need a desk so maybe I will make a special trip to the Salvation Army Thrift store in Portland. It’s the best thrift store within a 50-75 mile radius and they have half off Wednesdays! I might consider making a desk and will certainly check out garage sales this spring if I haven’t found one before then.”
“I got this little table from my MIL when she moved into a nursing home. It will take a bit of work to clean up the top, and sanding and staining will be tedious because of the fret work and beading. I’ve considered painting it, but am still leaning toward staining it.”
WHY DO YOU LIKE READING THRIFT DIVING, AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A READER?
“I’m not sure how long I’ve been following the blog, but I think two, maybe 3 years now. I really enjoy Thrift Diving for these and many other reasons:
1) It’s always interesting!
2) It’s always informative! Even though a specific project may not be something I would do, I almost always learn something new that can be applied to other projects.
3) Serena is very real in her approach–just like sitting down and talking with a friend. She is interested in her readers and the things they enjoy and takes the time to respond to comments. That takes considerable time and effort and makes her a very special person.
4) She is interested in teaching and sharing her knowledge and experience with others and works hard to keep learning new things. She makes no bones about making mistakes as she learns and is willing to have that happen in order to continue her learning curve. That takes guts! None of us really like to admit we made a mess of something.
5) She has learned when to say enough on most of her projects. There comes a point when striving for perfection can far outweigh the learning and the finished project. Serena knows how to balance these two goals and isn’t afraid to say it’s time to wrap up a project and move on.
6) She teams up with a variety of businesses and manufacturers and shares what she learns about products, where to obtain them, discounts when available, and contests that share goodies with her followers. Another way of saying that ‘she’s generous!'”
WHAT OTHER DIY, THRIFTING, OR CRAFTING BLOGS DO YOU LOVE TO READ?
“I follow way too many knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting, cooking, gardening, DIY and other blogs, Facebook pages, etc. to mention them all. I recently started following Gail on My Repurposed Life and enjoy it very much. I’ve also followed Mavis on One Hundred Dollars a Month for quite a few years, as well as Nancy on Nancy Zieman. Each blog seems to lead to others, at least for a period of time!”
WHAT DIY OR CRAFTING TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS?
“The most important tip I have for any type of DIY, crafting, or any project is JUST TRY. None of us were born knowing everything there is to know about any particular subject. We learn DIY and crafting the same way we learn anything else. Start in pre-school, move to kindergarten, 1-12, junior college, college, grad school, through experience on the job and repetition. Took me a long time to accept that, but it was the most freeing experience once I did. It’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to not have the perfect project. Having something is better than having nothing! The old cliches are true, ‘Practice makes perfect!’ and ‘If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again!’ And I’ll triple guarantee from experience that your friends and family won’t see the imperfections you do. They’ll think it’s wonderful and will be impressed that you did it yourself!
The second thing is DON’T COMPARE yourself to anyone else! Do things your way, using what pleases you. Most patterns are given as a guideline. They aren’t automatically meant to be followed exactly, rigidly, with no deviation whatsoever. If you hate purple and your pattern states purple, you will probably hate the finished project. So make it in yellow, pink or brown if that’s what make you happy. Maybe you like rounded corners instead of square ones. If your mind is open, you can usually make adjustments without freaking out and will love your results if you do it your way. Love what you make and don’t compare it to what anyone else made. It’s yours. It’s beautiful because it’s a part of who you are right now and because you put your best into it using the skills and knowledge you have right now. That makes it special. Trust yourself!”
Awww…thanks for those kind words, Teckla! You’re right, it does take a lot of time to personally respond to blog comments, YouTube comments, social media comments, and more. But I measure the success of a blog by the amount of genuine interaction that takes place between the blog owner and the people that read the blog.
As special thanks for being one of my favorite readers, I’m sending Teckla this awesome pretty pink Thrift Diving shirt! We will be twins because I just ordered the same color. LOL
In May, I’ll be choosing another favorite Reader of the Month!
Thank you, Teckla!