The $500 idea

Hello world! Whew, it’s been a while…

When I sit down at this blog after a long hiatus like this (not the first time, mind you), I feel like I’m 12 years old, staring at a blank diary page after I neglected to write for months. I would look down at the diary and feel this huge expectation upon me. The pages saying to me: Well, where have you been? Fill me in on the past three months of your life! Surely you must have something to tell me?

And thus, this blank blog entry feels a lot like that. As though I am expected to recap everything that has happened in our lives since where we left off. Before the changes in our day-to-day lives and this amazing new adventure owning ReThreads really began. Back when I didn’t know what it was like to work 70 hours a week and we still spent the majority of our time together. As though I could just slowly turn the dial through these past few weeks and months, sharing and savoring the funny and beautiful moments, fast forwarding past the difficult ones.

But… (tell me you didn’t see this coming) I’m not going to do that. When I was 12 I picked up the diary out of the blue because I wanted to gush about my latest crush or how my best friend and I weren’t best friends anymore. I didn’t want to take on the task of bringing my diary up to speed from where I last left off. BORing. Then, as now, I had something pressing on my mind, and that’s why I came back. To share this juicy tidbit. This new passion in my life. Perhaps then, as now, I found it more suitable to live in the present rather than dwell on the past?

And so, here it is. The reason I’m back: to share an idea. It’s an idea in infancy right now, not yet a well thought out idea. But it’s still an idea worth sharing from the start. And a joint one at that. (As some of our best ideas tend to be!)

The basic premise is that we are going to spend $500 locally, on things that help grow our community and our selves. And we’re going to blog about it.

Here’s the story that led up to the idea: Due to a strange set of circumstances that nearly left us homeless, Mark and I were forced out of our most recent apartment and we received $500 in compensation for the inconvenience of having to move earlier than expected. At first we thought that the money would go a long way toward helping us furnish this new apartment and make it more homey and comfortable than the previous apartment. The last one always felt temporary to us, and thus we weren’t inspired to really make it feel like home. And even if we had been so inspired, there wasn’t much time: Have I mentioned we’ve been a little busy with a new baby in the family. Now, though I’m still just as busy at ReThreads, we’re more inclined to settle into this apartment and make it feel special, so we’ve been shopping for furnishings that feel like “us”. This would be a great way to spend our newfound moolah, right?

Right, except that home furnishings are things we would have bought eventually anyway. We’re both always keeping our eyes peeled for secondhand items to bring home that serve us functionally or aesthetically. And occasionally we buy new: we covet rare trips to IKEA like the cheap college kids we apparently still are (somewhere deep inside?). Buying furniture and artwork might be on our to-do list, but this new money won’t really be noticed if we just put it in savings and wait until the right pieces come along… That is to say, it’s like every time I receive cash as a holiday or birthday gift. It’s very very appreciated, but I don’t usually spend it on something I really want or will remember into the future. It usually just goes into the bank and ends up paying bills or some other nonmemorable purchase.

So we shifted our thinking, and wondered how else the money could make an impact in our lives, and maybe other peoples’ as well. After all, IKEA doesn’t really need our money. How can we have fun with this $500 and engage with our community at the same time?

Nearly every day it seems we learn of a cool new organization in Charlottesville, or local project that needs support, or fundraiser event that we want to attend. Or someone who could use their day brightened by a bouquet of flowers. So we decided that this is how we’re going to spend our money. Intentionally. On local products and services. Paying forward kindness. Treating ourselves to a class or event we might not have otherwise. Putting 100% of the money into the community, in a recordable way. As in, recording it on this blog as we go. What lessons will come from our $500 adventure? What new experiences will we have? What richness and beauty will we see in this community?

While we work out the groundrules of our little $500 challenge, here’s my question to you: If someone handed you $500 right now, how would you spend it? What would you do to make the world a little happier, your community a little stronger, yourself a little richer?

A little stripe of paint, and a whole lot more

I know “I’ve been too busy” is not a great excuse, but, well, I’ve been a little too busy to post an update recently. Here’s what I/we’ve been up to:

Moving into the shop… 20130129_113459 20130129_123001 20130129_173711 20130129_175417

Putting up craft paper on the windows (to add a little mystery for passersby)…

20130128_175059craft paper artCAM00533

Playing dress up with mannequins…

mannequin

A lot of painting…

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stripe

Not just walls, but furniture too

easelpainted easel

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Putting up clothing racksCAM00557 CAM00558 Transporting a display case… CAM00567 CAM00569

And much, much more!

If you haven’t done so already, check out the store’s website, ReThreadsCville.com, and sign up for our newsletter. We’ll keep newsletter subscribers and Facebook fans updated about our opening date and other store news as it progresses. Thanks!

More photos and updates soon!

Short and Sweet

Another ReThreads update is long overdue. After all, I’ve been hinting that I would show you what the shop will look like in at least two of the last three posts. And given that I just received the keys to the store yesterday, I’m finally closer to the reality of seeing what it will actually look like in real life, not just as a design on the computer. So… may as well share said designs, no?

i got the keys

Well, I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. In between a vacation that turned out to have less winter sports and more family loss than we had hoped for, I’ve now got a bit of a cold. And I will use that as an excuse for my foggy brain and lack of energy to even upload many pics.

Here’s one of the 3D designs of what the store will look like once it’s set up – more to come, including a key to deciphering all the icons, next time, when I’m hopefully back to feeling like myself again.

3D top

We’ll miss you, Cousin Eileen.

family

Where Do I Get My Starting Inventory?

Welcome to the fourth (!) post about my new store ReThreads. To learn more about the store, check out the other recent posts here, here, and here.

Every time someone learns that I am opening a reuse shop they inevitably ask one big question:

Where do you get your starting inventory?

This is by far the most common question people ask, and, in fact, it was one of the first questions I had when I was considering opening this shop. I was afraid of a Catch 22: I can’t advertise Bring me your items to consign when the store is totally empty – can I? I needed a starting inventory that was not entirely consignment-based.

Turns out, it’s not hard to acquire stuff! For me, a near-obsession with saving things from the landfill + a pickup truck = acquiring a whole lot of other people’s stuff.

getting stuff

truck

I probably don’t need to tell you that there are great deals to be found at yard sales, estate sales, flea markets, and thrift stores. All of these sources have formed some of my starting inventory. But here’s an even better one: an amazing place called the Goodwill outlet store. I visited the one in Richmond, VA (they have them all over the country) for the first time a few weeks ago and went home with a nearly full pickup truck for only $77. Why so cheap? At the outlet stores they sell clothing and housewares by the pound. Since I bought more than 20 pounds of clothing (probably closer to 50 pounds) I got the rate of $1.20/lb. Housewares were about $.60/lb and books were $.25 ea. After digging through huge plastic bins of clothing, I bought everything that looked to be in good condition and potentially saleable at my store. This photo is of the huge Goodwill Outlet store – grey bins of household items visible behind one of my two overflowing shopping carts in the front of the picture.

goodwill outlet

Some other starting inventory comes from friends who have graciously offered to pass things along to me for consignment if I’m willing to take it off their hands now (rather than wait until the store opens). Sure! This way I can start the process of labeling/tracking my inventory, and I have something to put on the racks before the store opens! Then there are other people who simply give me stuff because they want to be done with it, not expecting anything in return – a most welcome donation!

There are other sources too: Craigslist for bags of children’s clothing and toys, other consignment shops for items I buy with intention to wear myself but ultimately decide it’s best if I pass it on to someone who will love it more. As of this weekend, I have yet another new source: estate sales that Mark and I are running. But that’s a whole other story – I smell another FAQ question!

No matter where I acquire things, after I bring my loot home, I clean it if it needs cleaning and pack it into a labeled box. You’ll notice that I use banana boxes – I love them for packing! Not only are they super sturdy and fit a good amount of stuff, but Mark can get all he wants I want for free from Trader Joe’s!

boxesAt this point, my best guess is that I have at least 50 boxes (LARGE boxes) full of starting inventory. I’ve filled up a 10×15 storage unit, in addition to our entire second bedroom (what used to be my office) at our apartment. Yeah, I’d say I’m ready to go.

office

Okay, enough about clothing inventory, what about clothing racks and display tables?

Ever since I put the word out that I was starting up this store, the items I needed just started coming my way. Both in terms of inventory to resell and well as store fixtures such as clothing racks, shelving, and display tables. Thanks to the power of Craigslist and right place/right time happenstance, I’ve found businesses in the process of closing down who will gladly sell me the fixtures I need at a deeply discounted price. Thus far I’ve acquired the following items used: round clothing racks, wall shelving, a shoe rack, a display counter, mannequins, fitting room curtains, a cash register, and a credit card machine. The point: My mission is about reuse. Every aspect of ReThreads reflects that.

This is a photo of my storage unit when it was only about half full. It has since become nearly impossible to even open the door without something precariously balanced falling on the unsuspecting victim friend I’ve roped into helping me. And I thought this size storage unit was too big at first!

storage unit

Stay tuned for an upcoming post to explain how I figured out just how many clothing racks and display tables I would need for the store! You won’t want to miss it. It involves 3D design software and lots of images.

This post was made possible by you, supportive friends and family. No, I’m not getting paid to write blog posts these days, but I am gratefully accepting donations (really, advance purchases of store credit) for the marketing campaign for my new shop ReThreads.

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More FAQs About ReThreads

Welcome to the next segment of FAQs about Melissa’s new store, ReThreads. If you missed the first set of FAQs, you can find it here.

What does the store offer the community?

I envision ReThreads being more than just a retail reuse store (I would call it a “thrift shop” but that term has associations that aren’t what I’m going for).

ReThreads will serve the community in various ways. Not only is my mission to help keep things out of the landfill, but I also want it to be a helpful and fun community space offering community message boards, hosting skill shares and workshops on repurposing items, and potentially serving as a collection place for recyclables such as corks (through ReCork Charlottesville) or an educational hub for other environmental news and activism.

Mostly, though, ReThreads will be a fun place where useful things go to find a new home.

Where will the store be located?

I have signed a lease on a storefront in a great section of Charlottesville called McIntire Plaza. It is easily accessible from all directions, just off a major roadway (250 Bypass). Not your typical strip mall, McIntire Plaza’s history as a former industrial park turned mixed-use colorful commercial community fits perfectly with the mission of ReThreads: to reuse what you’ve got. Now home to many successful anchor businesses such as C’ville Coffee, Great Harvest Bread Company, and two reuse-related antique/vintage furniture stores, the Plaza is the perfect place for ReThreads to call home.

I’ve got nearly 30 feet of full window road frontage, a front and rear entrance, ample parking and an unloading zone. I’ve got neighboring businesses that cater to my target demographic (in addition to the businesses mentioned there’s a yoga studio, a donut shop, a rock climbing gym, a framing/art studio and many more). I’ve got affordable rent and a nice property management company. Seriously, it’s perfect…

What about foot traffic in front of your store?

Okay, it’s perfect except for one small detail: there’s not a ton of foot traffic directly in front of my store. To bring people in, I need to do some major marketing campaigns, post signs and sandwich boards near the other businesses in the Plaza, and hire Mark to stand with a billboard on the highway like this guy.

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I know what this letter is all about. You want money, don’t you?

With or without outside funding I am committed to launching this business in early spring 2013. Thanks to my frugal lifestyle and income from various freelance work, I have a bit of savings I’ve been using to translate my idea into brick & mortar reality. Now I am looking to you, friends, to supplement my startup funds and help kick start my new business.

Speaking of kickstarting, you may wonder why I didn’t use an online fundraising tool such as Kickstarter.org or IndieGoGo.com to raise money. The answer is: I nearly did. In fact, I had already created the text behind such a campaign before ultimately deciding against it for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fee they charge for such services: 4-9% of the funds raised. Doing it informally like this allows me to keep more of the money – after all, if you choose to donate, you’d prefer it go to me and not administrative fees, right? (For the record, PayPal only charges 2.9%, and my bank doesn’t charge me anything if you just send me a check!)

But here’s the truth: This really isn’t about the money. I’m just happy you’ve read my note/update/manifesto/FAQs thus far. During this awesome but occasionally overwhelming startup phase I’m in need of emotional support just as much – or even more – than financial. So if all you can afford is a hug from afar or an internet high-five, then I’m grateful.

What will the money be used for?

There are so many business investments and expenses in this startup phase – from rent to store fixtures to beginning inventory to business licenses – but the biggest financial need for me right now is marketing. I have confidence in my store idea, location, and implementation thus far, but now I need to tell people I’m here!

It costs about $200 per week to buy (small) ad space in the either of the most popular newspapers in town. If I want to reach people with underwriting a local radio station, that’s another $100+ per week. Add in other local newsletters and targeted Facebook and Google ad campaigns and we’re talking over $2,000 per month. Of course I don’t have to – and can’t afford to – do it all, but in order to start off with a bang I’d like to dedicate at least $3,000 to advertising over the first six weeks (based on an industry recommendation from this awesome book).

Advertising isn’t the only marketing cost, of course. There are business cards to print, fliers to post around town, and storefront signage to buy. The outside signage alone will be another approximately $2,000.

Thankfully, there is one cost I don’t need to worry about right now: I’m working with a wonderful local artist to design my logo and marketing materials who has offered to work with me entirely for store credit. Meaning: I’m able to reduce my outlay of cash up front, and create a relationship with someone fully engaged in the success of the store. Win/win!

But yeah, back to the thousands of dollars that it will take to get this ship sailing… Might you be able to help?  Perhaps you would consider buying me an ad? If I can get just 25 people to chip in $30, that will buy me a 1/8th page ad in the popular C-ville Weekly for one month. It’s a start to getting the word out, and that’s what I’m in the business of doing these days!

Thank you – for reading this, for being excited for me, and for your support!

Contribute

Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll answer some of your most common questions like: Where do you get your starting inventory?, and What will the floor layout look like?

More about ReThreads, FAQ style

Thank you so much to those of you who have been in touch about supporting ReThreads after yesterday’s post! I’m back to share some more information about this new venture, answering some of your Frequently Asked Questions.

logo

Okay, so what is ReThreads?

ReThreads is an eclectic and affordable reuse shop opening in Charlottesville in early spring 2013. Our goal is to offer affordable, good quality secondhand items: clothing & accessories for men, women, children, and your home. We accept items for consignment during open business hours and there is no fee to consign with us. Spread the word!

What is consignment?

ReThreads accepts items on consignment. This means you can clean out your closets, bring us good quality clean saleable items, and we’ll sell them for you. Once your item sells we’ll give you 50% of the sale price in store credit (half that if you want cash). Thanks to ReThreads, you can make space for the things that you love, and let your gently used items find a great new home! We also work with local artisans to sell reuse-related crafts on consignment.

What makes you the right person to run this shop?

I’ve been on this journey for about three months, or thirty years, depending on how you look at it.

I was raised with a strong “use what you’ve got” ethic and have developed keen resourcefulness and thrifty sensibilities. All my life I’ve loved shopping at reuse stores, and over the years I’ve made a pretty penny by buying cheap and reselling – either through consignment stores or online with Craigslist, Amazon and Ebay. I’ve helped organize “Freemeets” and regifting parties. I love stuff, but I’m not a hoarder! The difference is that I can easily let stuff go on to the next home just as easily as it came into mine. In fact, I believe that is what stuff is naturally meant to: move through the world to find the right place at the right time, and move on when it starts to feel stagnant or incompatible.

My professional background has offered me a variety of interesting work over the years, and along the way I developed business savvy and skills that I am excited to put to good use for this venture. For instance, I’ve helped many small startup businesses with low-cost marketing, event planning, and bookkeeping. I’ve run my own businesses and developed the necessary time management and multitasking skills. I’m a fast learner. I am nothing if not resourceful. And while I’m risk-averse (financially, physically, etc.), I do love a good challenge. Fulfilling my dream to be on the other side of the check-out counter is my newest challenge.

I have worked enough jobs that don’t fulfill an inner passion to know how special it is to love what you do everyday, and make a living doing it. After moving to C’ville last fall, it became obvious that I am passionate about starting a reuse shop. Those of you who know me know that once I get an idea in my mind, I am 110% committed to it. Some might call that stubborn. I prefer the term determined.

And after committing to this idea, the universe has steadily provided for me every step of the way. You say you want to run a reuse shop?, says the universe, Well then, here are some people to give you things for free; here are the keys to a storage unit; here’s a store closing down whose fixtures you can buy. And on, and on. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get back to more questions.

I thought you were a farmer?

I loved farming in Scottsville, VA last season. I will miss growing my own food this season. But now is not the time for Mark and I to give up everything that this small city offers to own farmland far outside of town. And while I may not be tasting my own tomatoes in 2013, there are several ways in which this new business will resemble last year’s farm business:

  1. I won’t have a desk job. I’ll be physically active during the day instead of sedentary and staring at a computer screen.
  2. I’ll manage my own hours/be my own boss. This has been a necessity for me since I left my full time consulting job in Manhattan six years ago. Plus, I think I’m good at running the show!
  3. I will spend a large portion of my days interacting with people. As a farmer, I loved selling at the farmers’ market because of the interactions with customers. I loved getting to know the regulars, chatting with produce buyers at the stores where we sold our items, and just being more social than most of my freelance jobs allowed.
  4. The challenge of being an entrepreneur/figuring things out as you go/holding on for the ride. I’m in!

 harvesting

But do you have any retail experience?

Technically my only retail experience is as an occasional marketing consultant for a friend who ran a shop in Burlington (Hi Tracy!). I may have rung up a customer or two at the cash register when my friend was otherwise occupied, but I’m not sure that qualifies as much (or any) experience. That is to say, I acknowledge that I have a lot to learn about the ins and outs of running a retail store. But, for those of you who didn’t believe me the first time, let me say this again: I’m a fast learner. And I’m ready to approach this new challenge head on and learn everything I need to know to be successful.

Again, my farm experience is helpful here – I’ve run many successful farmers markets. Everything I’ve learned, from how to interact with customers to how to set up a display table, will be helpful in this new venture.

At the Shelburne Farmer's MarketMy first farmers’ market in Burlington in 2007

So there you have it, the answers to five frequently asked questions. More interesting and hopefully entertaining answers coming tomorrow including: What do I need money for? and How will the store help the community?

As always, I am very appreciative of any contribution amount – even $5 will help me buy store supplies!

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Help Fund ReThreads & Get Store Credit!

Dear friends and family,

As you know, I’ve got big plans for 2013. Within the next two months I’ll be opening the doors to an eclectic and affordable reuse shop called ReThreads in my hometown of Charlottesville, VA. It’s a huge and exciting undertaking and I’m thrilled to be throwing my creative energy into it. And I’m also thrilled to tell you more about it. A lot more. Over the next several blog posts I’ll share some of the details you’ve been wanting to know about the store: my location, when it will open, the layout and design, and what inspired me in the first place. Oh, and I’ll even answer the number one question on everyone’s mind: how am I acquiring a starting inventory so that I don’t open the doors on day one with an empty store?

Before I go into all that detail, let me be frank. Starting a retail store, even for a bargain queen like me, takes a bit of money. I appreciate all the moral and emotional support friends and family like you have always provided. Now it’s time for me to do something that makes me uncomfortable: to ask for your financial support. I’ve been chipping away at my savings steadily since I first began planning this store in earnest two months ago. All signs are go for me to open my doors within six weeks, but I need some help with funding a marketing and publicity campaign. What good is an awesome shop if no one knows about it?

You’ll notice I’ve added a PayPal button to the sidebar and in this post below. If you’re in a position to contribute, I would greatly appreciate if you would consider it. I promise an upcoming post will offer more detail about exactly what the store will offer you and the community at large. And why I’m choosing this method of fundraising versus other options. So you can mull it over until I provide more detail if you’d like. But for now just trust me, this is something you want to be a part of.

Here’s the best part: despite the PayPal button label, it’s not a “donation” to me, you’re actually buying yourself store credit! To thank you for being part of the initial community of supporters – I’m offering to give you store credit for the value you contribute. While I appreciate any amount – seriously, even $5 will be helpful – I will gladly extend the store credit offer to anyone who contributes over $20. Those of you who aren’t local, which may be most of you reading this blog, will have to take this as a sign that you need to visit Charlottesville sometime after the store opens, to visit me and use your credit at ReThreads!

Much, much more detail to come in future posts. In the meantime, Thank You!

PS – If you’d like to contribute but don’t want to use PayPal (it’s free to you, but they charge me 2.9%), I’ll gladly email you my address to send a check. Send me an email.

PPS – If you’d like to contribute financially but you can’t for whatever reason, I fully understand. I also accept contribution in the form of internet high fives.

Figuring it Out

2012 was a year of new beginnings. Insert cliches about doors opening, doors closing, etc. But it’s true.

And it isn’t true just for myself, but for all of us. I don’t know anyone whose lives this past year weren’t touched by great change. Heartbreak and loss. Happiness and joy. Burying the dead. Creating new life. Changes of all varieties. “Good or bad no one knows, it just is.” It seems every year, more so than the last, becomes the year of transition.

What strikes me as the most important thing to remember right now as I reflect on the past year and anticipate the next is this: No one has figured it out. That is to say, life isn’t easy, and there certainly isn’t an owner’s manual. Everyone has to sort through it in their own way. And we will, without a doubt, encounter failure and disappointment at times. And at others we will reach the highest ecstasy. As long as we keep moving forward, nurturing the creative spark that is in all of us, there can be no stagnation.

wild and precious

The point is, I think, for us to live our best lives at every given moment. And we don’t have to do it alone. We have friends and family, community all around us, to give us strength and encouragement when we need it. Personally, I am thankful to have such supportive people in my life, and an amazing, loving partner, all of whom have made 2012 a year to remember.

If you haven’t seen it already (I shared it on Facebook a while back), I strongly encourage you to watch this 20 minute talk by Elizabeth Gilbert. She is the author of Eat, Love, Pray and Committed - two memoirs that have had particularly poignant impacts on my life – and an amazing storyteller. She reminds me that we look to others to learn from their failures and successes. To glean something useful and meaningful. Because we are all just stumbling through this little life, trying to do our best. If I may paraphrase:

We all long for somebody who has ‘solved’ life like a puzzle. After solving it, they just glide throughBut that isn’t how this works. Instead, you gather clues from others on the scavenger hunt of life. But in the end the decisions are going to have to be your own.

I can’t figure out how to embed this video, so you’ll just have to click on the link here: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Elizabeth-Gilbert-Talk-from-O-Magazines-10th-Anniversary-Video

Did I mention how strongly I encourage that you watch it? At least for me, her words offer clues on the scavenger hunt. Along with laughter and tears and, well, a desire to share it with others. So here it is again in case you missed the previous paragraph.

Here’s to a new year filled with joy and laughter, abundance of health and wealth, laughter and love. And may we all find the clues we need along our scavenger hunt.

live life love

Consider This Our Holiday Card

Welcome to our first annual holiday/year-end update/post-Mayan-apocalypse/hi-how-are-you letter!

What a year it’s been! Twelve months ago we had recently decided not to buy a 27-acre farm in Virginia, consoled with the idea of starting a new farm business on someone else’s property. We were preparing ourselves for the big move from VT to VA and saying goodbye to a home we had spent over a year pouring ourselves into (leaving it in the responsible hands of trusted tenants). Last year around this time we were celebrating Mark’s birthday at a ski/waterpark resort on the Canadian border, cursing climate change for the lack of snow.

water park

Now, our farm business this spring/summer is quickly becoming a distant memory, Melissa is on the verge of starting an equally ambitious and yet completely different business, and we just celebrated Mark’s birthday with our new BFF Dave Matthews (and band. And 15,000 other fans.)

MarkDave

After our farm experience ended, Melissa spent a little time in Vermont: seeing friends, hiking, biking, and swimming in Lake Champlain. That is, until this summer’s massive outbreak of blue-green algae scared her from stepping foot (or any other body part) in the lake again. She then traveled the northeast to see friends and family in MA & NY, and took a vacation with some awesome ladies in Maine. After a hellish week without power that is best not talked about again, Mark left the farm but stayed in Virginia, finding friends and commonality at an intentional community called Twin Oaks. After many weeks apart, we two came back together to take a wonderful trip in New York’s Hudson Valley. A walk down memory lane for Melissa, it was Mark’s first time to the area, and he nearly moved right in to the cute hippie town of New Paltz.

On Poughkeepsie Bridge

Upon moving back to Charlottesville together, we temporarily lived in one bedroom of a two bedroom apartment. While far from the ideal living situation, it was the perfect short-term solution for our collective indecisiveness about our next steps and Cville’s indecisiveness about whether to make other apartments available to us. Somewhere in there, Melissa took an intensive course on Reiki I & II and we started side gigs as petsitters and (un)professional movers. These days, Mark is working a hobby job at Trader Joe’s, in walking distance from where we live, which he is having fun with. Thanks to TJ’s, and Mark’s enthusiasm for trying Joe’s products, we’re eating and drinking well!

Note: We do not actually eat this. But it is apparently all the rage at TJ’s.

We also have a beautiful new two bedroom apartment. “New” to us at least; it’s actually a bit shabby. Speaking of “shabby” and “apartment”: as a consequence of preparing for Melissa’s new consignment store, our furnishing style seems to be “shabby chic warehouse,” as there are stacks of boxes everywhere you look.  As I write this, there is a mannequin in the living room, dressed in an obnoxiously-ugly Xmas sweater. I’m not even kidding. (Update: someone on ebay paid $25 to buy this thing to win an Ugly Sweater Contest!)

holiday sweater on mannequin

What’s this about Melissa running a store? Yep, it’s official. Within a few months she will open ReThreads – Consignment Clothing in Charlottesville. She would tell you more but she’s too busy obtaining business licenses, store fixtures, and merchandise to sit still at the computer. Stay tuned for more info.

In conclusion, we’ve learned a ton this year – about ourselves and each other and this journey of life. We’ve come through the questions and the doubts and the cramped shared apartment to clarity and peace and abundance. Each day, we’re being our best selves, and we’re choosing where to place our hearts: with each other. We’re excited to see what the future holds!

magnet poetry(Oh and did I mention we also found a love for magnet poetry?)

Cheers and happy holidays!

holiday photo

New Place, New Projects

In typical Mark and Melissa style, we’re doing everything at once. Mark just started a new job. We moved into a new apartment. We’re running some new side businesses (petsitting, editing projects, home organizing). And very soon, I’m planning to share some BIG news about my next new enterprise. The timing this new project couldn’t be better: now that we have a two bedroom apartment, the second bedroom can become the playground for planning, scheming, and accumulating things.

While I could have fun dragging out the suspense and leaving my mom and Mrs. Weber to hold their breath in hopes that I might answer their dreams, I should be forthcoming about the fact that I am not pregnant. Though, there are many similarities: this new idea is incubating and will one day soon be birthed. It will take up space in the second bedroom (at least for a short while until it moves out into the world on its own) and, well, it does involve baby clothes now that you mention it. Thoroughly confused? Good. Stay tuned for more details.

I suggest that if you need a baby fix, follow along with Will and Kate. I, for one, have some planning to get back to.