About Alison (@ Secondhand Fancy)

I blog about fixing up my secondhand finds at www.secondhandfancy.com. Check out my vintage Etsy shop at www..secondhandfancyali.etsy.com & my handmade shop at www.secondhandfancymade.etsy.com

My kids are weird, Exhibit A

Over the years we’ve collected quite the hodge-podge of random silverware, as some gets lost, accidentally thrown away at school, etc., and I replace it with whatever I can find at a thrift store.

I actually quite like the random assortment, but it’s recently come to my attention that these varying flatware patterns may be a source of strife between my 2 older kiddos.

It seems that the girls have named each piece of silverware (mainly the spoons and forks), and there’s a clearly-defined hierarchy of desirability. We sat down to eat the other day, and when I stepped away to get something, I overheard one girl say to the other, “you got honeycomb and I got the bump – bam!” (emphasis on the bam).

Apparently “the bump” is the top dog of the silverware drawer, and I had unknowingly given that spoon to one girl while the other got the middle-of-the-pack “honeycomb.”

This was all explained to me, which then meant that from that point on I was expected to try to distribute equitable silverware at each meal. I can’t/won’t add this to my list of things to concern myself with, so they’ve learned to live with it. Still, I can’t help but notice if I grab “the bump” when setting the table, and it always gives me pause as I don’t want them to think I’m knowingly giving one person “the bump” more often than the other (believe me, they’re keeping track).

Not to mention, their rating system makes no sense to me. For example, here is one of what I would consider our prettiest pieces of silverware (this is named “carved roses” and is towards the bottom in terms of desirability), and also, the coveted “bump.” See what I mean??



In Defense of Crocs

So, Crocs (the lightweight plastic clog-type shoe, not the animal) had their hey-day (quite?) a few years ago, and I’ve always been someone who thought they were ugly and couldn’t imagine wearing them no matter how comfortable they were.

Yea. So this past summer I was huge and pregnant and hot with swollen feet (and an aching back) that desired a little more support than what my beloved flip-flops could provide. And then I saw a pair of light pink Crocs in my size at a favorite thrift store for $1.50 and thought well – maybe I should give them a try…..just while I’m pregnant, of course, because it’s not like I was putting a ton of effort into anything else I wore at that point (or, who am I kidding? ever) and when I slipped them on in the store they were oh so comfy….

And I basically lived in them for….months. Let me tell you, there’s a reason these shoes were/are popular, and I think we can all agree it’s not because they’re stunningly stylish. My feet have never felt so supported yet free!

Fast forward to a month ago. Baby is born (um, she’s 4 months old) and I’m still spending a good portion of time in my light pink Crocs (I’d started wearing socks underneath them. Because it’s winter. Wow, I just realized how ugly/ridiculous this sounds/is).

Then one goes missing. (Only in this house can a shoe just up and go missing).

So when I just HAPPENED to come across a bright pink, Mary-Jane style pair, in my size, at that same thrift shop, well…..


Let’s just pretend I’m wearing them ironically, mmkay?

My kids (ok, we) have almost 300 My Little Ponies

So, my girls (like many others) LOVE My Little Ponies. But they’re not exactly your everyday littlE girl MLP fans…while they do like Friendship is Magic (the show that is on TV now), I would venture to say that they’re more into the toys than the show, and that the older toys are their favorites. We got some surprised looks from dealers at the My Little Pony Fair last summer when my girls would ask if they had any G1 Pegasi or remark that their Kimono had really nice hair!

If I’m being honest, part of the reason MLPs are their favorite is probably because I like them too :) I had some as a little girl, and they’re just fun to collect and learn about. We enjoy browsing the Strawberry Reef website – and there’s nothing better than looking online to find out the name of a new pony you just picked up at the thrift store (or finding a pony in the first place!)

This morning they set up their collection and asked me to take a picture. (These are what they could find – I’m sure there are a few missing.) And these are only their genuine My Little Ponies – they didn’t include any Filly Princesses or other fakies.


After I took the pic they counted them and came up with 298(!)

All we’re missing are some seaponies…. Shoo be doo….ūüé∂

Well, hello

So I’ve been gone for a while! Blogging basically just fell off my to-do list.
Last school year flew by, then I spent the summer hot, busy and pregnant (including taking the girls on a road trip to Nashville for the My Little Pony Fair by myself, 1 month before my due date, when Steve came down with pneumonia), then went into labor (5 days overdue) on the eve of the first day of school :) My little lovely (girl #3) was born some 30 hours later. And since then…well, let me just say that this 3-kid thing is no joke!

I still have my vintage Etsy shop, which has done reasonably well considering the lack of effort I’ve put into it lately. I do still have plenty of inventory and am hoping to get some new things listed soon.

I also recently started a handmade shop! It began when I had trouble finding hair (or head, rather) accessories for my baby girl. Most everything was so made-in-china-ish, with humongous bows and shiny silk flowers and such (no offense if that’s your thing, it’s just not mine). I started playing around with making some hair accessories using vintage and repurposed materials that I had on hand, and before I knew it, I was making more than she’d ever need. So I decided to try out a second Etsy shop selling baby and little girl hair accessories made (largely) from vintage and repurposed materials. I’ve also expanded it to include some other things like magnets, cup sleeves, pins, and even some decoupaged items. So, check it out if you’re so inclined!

I’m not sure how much I’ll continue to post here….blogging has never really been my *thing*. I AM on Instagram and when I get a few more followers, I’m going to do a giveaway and may also try to unload some vintage items at a huge discount. I’d love for you to follow me there!





Starting Kindergarten Early: 6 months later

I posted back in August about our decision to have our 4-year-old daughter start kindergarten “early” this school year (she turned 5 16 days after the deadline), and that post sparked some interesting conversation on my personal Facebook page, and in real life. I thought I’d give a brief update on how it’s going so far.

Overall, K is doing great in kindergarten! ¬†At winter conferences, her teacher told us “I think you made the right decision to start her – she’s certainly ready.”

She fits in perfectly with her class.¬†¬†Imagining her in the preschool class that was our alternative plan just seems weird. Of course, had we chosen that option, I could just as well be saying that imagining her in kindergarten seems weird. But truthfully, I think the kindergarten curriculum is perfect for her at this point. She’s not the best reader or writer, or the highest counter – but she’s also far from the bottom of the class.


K in her 100th day of school crown

K has always been a quiet kid (in public anyway), so we did have concerns about how she’d fit in socially, but that has been a non-issue as well. I really think that she learned a lot about making friends (and gained confidence) being around kids that are slightly older than her, versus kids up to a year younger (like she was in preschool). She’s still not a chatterbox at school (and probably never will be,) but an observer wouldn’t point her out as a shy kid either. When I was volunteering in her class I was struck with how much she’s changed in a year. Last winter, it was like pulling teeth to get her to say “hi” to other kids (her sisters’ classmates and their siblings) at the bus stop. Now – well, I watched as she (of her own accord) explained the picture she’d drawn at “art center” to her table mate (he was sooo interested in hearing about the crystal pony and the rainbow pony, let me tell you…ha). She’s made some real friends so far this year, and even went on her first unaccompanied, straight-from-school playdate a couple of weeks ago.

One rather surprising development is how much she’s grown to not let the little things bother her. For example, on the first day of school it was a bit of a madhouse getting on to the bus in the morning and she got separated from her sister. She ended up having to sit with two “older boys” who she didn’t know. Keep in mind this is a 4-year-old going to her first day of kindergarten on a packed bus full of kids in grades K-6. But she was totally nonplussed. In fact, I didn’t even know about it until her older sis told me she was sad she didn’t sit with K that morning. I asked K and she was like “Oh, it was OK, I just sat there and waited until we got to school.” Her matter-of-fact way of not worrying about things like this has come up again and again since. In a way, it’s so nice to experience, in contrast to her….rather high-maintenance sister.

Last, I have to add that I realize we are only a tiny fraction into K’s school career, and I know that there’s a chance that her young(ish) age compared to her classmates could cause issues or hardships down the road. I don’t mean to sound entirely conclusive here, but all I can go by is how things are right now. And be thankful that so far, our decision has good results.


P after a friend’s birthday party

As for P, she’s doing great in first-grade too. The long day continues to be rough on her (especially because she has a 45 minute bus ride home), but it’s gotten a bit easier as the year’s gone on. Although she was reading on grade level at the beginning of the year, about a month into it, it was like something “clicked” for her (as her teacher said) and her reading skills just took off. She jumped up several levels and is now reading chapter books at almost a 3rd grade level. (they have high expectations for reading now, too. Just deciphering the words doesn’t mean you’re reading at a particular level – you have to be able to comprehend and discuss what you’ve read, making predictions on what might happen next, theorizing why an author wrote what they did, etc.) To be fair, I think the K & 1st grade teachers do a wonderful job teaching reading, because there are several kids in her class reading at, or close to, her level (and a few above her level.) Still, we’re very proud of her!


The girls’ latest progress reports :)


D√©coupage Vases (teacher gifts)

Happy New Year! I hope the first 20 days of 2014 have gone well for everyone :) Like most people, we had a crazy-busy holiday season, and blogging was last on my priority list. ¬†But I hope to post more frequently this year, because I have lots of projects to share and other topics I’d like to write about!


I’m co-room-mom in both girls’ classes this year, and teacher gifts are one of my responsibilities. The norm at their school is to collect money from whoever would like to donate, and then get the teacher a gift card along with some kind of “handmade” project from the kids. Last year, the room mom in my (then) kindergartener’s class had each kid fill out a page titled “my favorite thing about Mrs. H.” and then compiled them into a book for the teacher. It turned out really cute, but I didn’t want to do the same thing again this year. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to come up with an idea, especially for someone like me who likes that crafty kind of stuff, but I literally spent hours searching Pinterest (and the Internet in general) for ideas. I was under certain limitations, mainly that I had to come up with something that the kids could do (for the most part) at home – it’s not like I could go in and command control of the class for an hour to do a project.

I came across a vase that was d√©coupaged¬†with magazine pictures, one chosen by each kid in the class. I liked that idea, but instead of using magazine pictures, I decided to have each kid decorate a small square of paper. I sent home a letter explaining this to parents, along with a pre-cut square of white paper, and an envelope to send it back in (along with any money they’d like to donate). I wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to return their square, in hopes that I would get the majority of the completed squares back by my deadline. (Believe me, I know how much of a pain it is to manage the mountain of paperwork, etc., that comes home from school!)

Most of the kids did return their squares within the next few days, and they were all so unique and cute. There were 5 or 6 kids in each class that didn’t return their square though, so I stopped into class one afternoon (with teacher permission) and pulled aside these kids for 5 minutes to have them decorate one.

Of course, procrastinator me waited until the night before the class parties to start¬†d√©coupaging. My original idea was to use a planter (and put a houseplant in it), but when I went out shopping, I couldn’t find a square or rectangle planter that was the right size (It’s much easier to¬†d√©coupage on flat sides, and I knew it would turn out better this way.) ¬†I ended up buying tall ceramic vases instead.

The découpaging itself was a bit puzzle-like. I knew how many square-inches of artwork I had, and had measured the vases in the store before buying them, so I knew that they were roughly the correct size. But it took some trimming white space to get them all to fit, and that resulted in some small gaps at certain spots around the vase. I ended up using small pieces of colored paper to fill in these gaps Рgoing for a random, kids-artwork kind of look. I also découpaged colored tissue paper around the top edge of the vase, and wrote the class year (in paint marker) on the bottom of the vase. I used several coats of Mod Podge applied with a sponge brush, and sanded lightly in between coats. I finished it off with a layer of waterproof glossy polyurethane sealant. The vases were left to dry overnight, and the next morning I picked up some brightly-colored flowers to put in them.


One thing I wish I had done differently is asked the kids to use colored pencils or crayons, because the squares done in marker smeared slightly when I applied the¬†d√©coupage . (It may have also worked to use a layer of hairspray over these prior to applying the Mod Podge, but I didn’t have any on hand.) Other than that, I was pretty happy with how the d√©coupage vases¬†turned out, and got lots of compliments from the parents who attended the parties where we gave the vases to the teachers (along with a generous Target gift card). Although I came up with the idea, I really can’t take credit though- the kids’ awesome artwork is what really made them great! ¬†The teachers seemed to really like them too – one asked me “how did you do this?” and the other one sent home a note saying how much she would always treasure this as a reminder of her 2013-2014 class.

Now I have a few months to come up with something for their end-of-year gifts :)



Storage Footstool Makeover

footstool collage

Finally getting around to sharing this little furniture makeover!

I got this small storage footstool sometime last year at a secondhand shop. It was only $6 and in great condition! The only problem was it’s completely dated look, with faded floral upholstery and scratched-up wood finish. I knew it would be an easy fix though!

I ended up picking a vintage pillowcase to reupholster it with. I wanted something totally different that you’d probably never see on a footstool in the store, and this was such a pretty print. The paint colors were an easy choice because they accented the fabric perfectly.

So I forgot to take a picture of the inside, but I actually lined it with pages from an old McCall’s magazine. (I just mod podged them to the inside, then coated them in more mod podge and then a poly glaze.)

This ended up being one of my favorite projects – I love how it turned out! But since we have no place in our house for it (we have a tiny living room in which we already have a large storage ottoman) I ended up selling it at my booth at the Florence Antique Mall. It sold within a few days. I hope the new owner loves it!

Saddle Stool

For a little over a year, the girls have taken (somewhat sporadic) riding lessons¬†at the wonderful, family-owned¬†JS Stables. A few months ago, after seeing my blog, one of the owners asked¬†me¬†about converting¬†her daughter’s first saddle into a stool, as it was no longer fit for riding and she thought it would be a nice keepsake. I hadn’t done anything like this before but was up for the challenge!

The hardest part was finding something to use as the base. It had to be very sturdy, and I wanted it to be low enough that the pre-teen recipient could sit on it and have her feet touch the ground. (I don’t know how much time she’ll actually spend sitting on it, but I was pretty sure it would be none if she had to perch atop the saddle.). Last, I wanted the base to have (or be able to get) the appropriate “rustic” look. These requirements ruled out lots of my initial ideas, like attaching the saddle to a traditional metal barstool base.

I ended up using, of all things, an old wooden high chair that I found at a thrift shop. I removed the seat back and arm and foot rests, and trimmed the seat base down a little so the saddle fit nice and snug on it. I attached the saddle using some big wood screws and one of the saddle’s straps. There were a few spots on the legs that needed wood glue and/or wood filler, and I also Restore-a-Finished (that’s a verb, right?) them. The seat base got painted and scuffed up a bit to match the rest of the saddle chair. And last, I painted a personal message to the stool’s recipient (from her¬†mom) on the bottom of the seat.

I wish I could have trimmed away more¬†of the seat base¬†so you didn’t see it sticking out quite so much. But because of the placement of the legs, it would have required some precise cutting, and my secondhand jigsaw bit the dust a while ago. Ah, well. I was pretty happy with how it turned out, and I hope the recipient was too!

Here’s how it turned out.

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Last Day of Summer & Starting Kindergarten Early

girlsdeckSo today is the last day of summer break. It’s truly amazing how fast it’s gone. I wish I could say that we’re spending the day cherishing each other’s company and doing something extra-super-fun, but in truth…. I think we’re all feeling just a little bit done with summer. (A couple of weeks ago Piper threw a coin in a fountain and wished “that school started tomorrow.”) The girls are more interested in trying on their first-day-of-school outfits and packing their backpacks than going on some last summer adventure. They’ve been fighting more than usual, and I think it will be good for them to have some consistent time apart. As for me, I’ll definitely miss having so much time with them (especially Piper, who won’t get home until 4:30) but I’m also looking forward to having my mornings free and being able to get some things done while the girls are in school. Last year their school schedules didn’t overlap so I didn’t have this luxury, but this year we have one in 1st grade and one in AM kindergarten. Which brings me to….

Yes, Kadence will be starting kindergarten tomorrow, at 4 years-old.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds, really. Her birthday is 16 days past the (Sept. 30th) deadline to enroll in kindergarten. I won’t hash out our entire decision process because it involved a LOT of thought, discussion, reading, and testing. But overall, (in no particular order) these were the reasons we decided to send her to kindergarten at 4:

She’s already had 2 years of preschool.

– Academically, she’s (at least) where she should be to enter kindergarten (largely due to having a year-older sister that she’s always trying to keep up with).

– She’s tall for her age and won’t be noticeably smaller than her classmates.

– She REALLY wants to start kindergarten instead of return to preschool.

– She’s very used to interacting with and being around slightly older kids (Again, it comes with having a sister who’s a year older.)

– She has no problems (or, as few as any kindergartener has anyway) with paying attention, following directions, sitting still in class, etc. In fact the school psychologist who interviewed her was stunned that she sat and worked (and it was work) for the entire 3-hour evaluation without taking a single break (despite the interviewer’s offers to get a drink, walk around, etc.)

– I spent a decent amount of time volunteering in Piper’s kindergarten class last year, and by my observations, Kadence fits in much better with those kids (at least as they were then) than she did with her previous preschool class (of whom she was the oldest). I’m NOT saying she’s amazingly advanced or anything like that. In our case, I really do think it has so much to do with birth order. Kadence always wants to do what Piper’s doing, so when Piper practices reading, memorizing sight words, doing addition & subtraction – Kadence is right there with her trying to learn it too. And while she is a step behind Piper, there were (a few) kids in Piper’s kindergarten class who were still learning to identify letters at the beginning of last school year, and others who had major issues sitting through circle time. Assuming her class was a pretty typical kindergarten class, there is no way that Kadence will be behind academically or behaviorally, at least initially (I guess I can’t say what happens after that.)

– And – this is a big one – after putting her through a pretty extensive evaluation process, the school district agreed that she was a good candidate to start kindergarten early. They just transitioned to a more structured and stringent early-admission evaluation this year, and it included not only testing her academic skill level but evaluating her aptitude to learn (including an IQ test) as well as factoring in her social and emotional progress (mainly based on their observations as well as input from her preschool teachers and us.)

There are other things that weren’t really deciding factors but are nice bonuses, like the fact that she’ll be in class with 2 neighborhood girls. (Both are the younger sisters of Piper’s friends from her kindergarten class last year.)¬† And how my life will be a lot easier without having to rush around combining bus drop-offs and pick-ups with driving her to & from preschool (20 minutes each way). And I can’t say I’ll miss writing that preschool tuition check.

Starting your child in kindergarten at 4 isn’t a popular decision, it’s true. The Internet is filled with stories from parents of older kids saying they wish they had waited. (I wonder if the ones who don’t regret it barely think about it anymore, and are less apt to read & comment on articles on the topic.) Some studies have shown that kids who are among the youngest in their class struggle more throughout their school years. (It’s also been pointed out that these studies don’t account for the fact that higher-income families are more apt to wait, because paying for another year of daycare/preschool isn’t an issue. So there are likely many more factors at play in the students’ differences than their age.)

Almost everything I read/everyone I talked to expounded the benefits of waiting – if she starts this year she’ll be one of the very youngest in her class, the last to drive, hit puberty, etc. She’ll graduate at 17, and due to increasingly-popular practice of redshirting kindergarten, she’ll be in class with kids who are 6 1/2 at the beginning of the school year. These are valid points that we did consider. But in the end, none of them concerned us enough to make us decide to wait. Kids all develop at different rates. Somebody’s always going to be the youngest. People have all kinds of advantages & disadvantages, and everyone struggles with something.

In the end, she’s (just over) two weeks past the cut-off date. She’ll likely have classmates who are only a month or so younger than her. Would she be much different if she was born 2 weeks earlier? Doubtful. (And since I’m not a fan of redshirting when there’s no true reason to wait, if she was born 2 weeks earlier, she’d be starting this year.)¬† Since everyone (meaning my husband & I and the school district) agrees that she’s ready, and she’s excited for the challenge and really wants to start kindergarten, is it that critical that we make her go to a 3rd year of preschool? In the end, we just didn’t think so.

It was a tough decision though, and if you would have asked us in May or even early June we would have said “no way should she be starting kindergarten.” But something crazy happened this summer….she changed, almost overnight. The little breakdowns she used to have when she was frustrated have all but stopped. Instead of barely muttering “hi” if they said it first, she’s started chatting up random people like cashiers and waitresses. The kid who used to flip out if she couldn’t find the socks she wanted has become….chill. Some of her favorite phrases are “it’s OK, I can live with it” and “I’m just going to go with the flow.”


Piper giving Kadence a tour of the classroom

So that’s why I ended up contacting the school district in July to arrange for the early-entrance evaluation. By the time they interviewed us, reviewed her paperwork, did the evaluation, and we had the meeting to discuss the outcome, it was early August, which made this all kind of a last-minute thing. It all worked out though – and she ended up getting the teacher that Piper had last year, who is wonderful.

So we’ll see how it goes. Who knows – there’s always the chance I could end up being one of those parents saying I wish we would have waited.¬† If she ends up struggling, we will deal with it at that point. But right now, this really feels like the right decision. She seems like a kindergartener. And she is one!

OK, now I’m off to practice some potential first-day-of-school hair styles :) Good luck to all of the kiddos going back to school this week!

The City Flea

A few months ago I was accepted as a vendor for this summer’s The City Flea¬† – a “curated urban flea market” held at newly-renovated Washington Park. Due to date conflicts in June & September, I was only able to do the July & August events – the former of which was last Saturday.

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The back of one row of booths

The City Flea isn’t your typical flea market – it’s all handmade, vintage & upcycled goods. I heard someone say it’s like “Etsy in real life” and that’s actually a pretty accurate description (but add some food vendors, and beer).

It was packed! We had a ton of traffic in the booth pretty much all day, and sales were also very good. In fact, I was wishing I had brought more merchandise! Last time I did an event like this I was cursing myself for taking along so much stuff (only to pack it up later to bring home), so it was surprising to feel like my tables were kind of bare during the latter part of the day.¬† I’ll definitely¬†pack more next month.

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3 or 4 different people told me that their Grandma still keeps Ritz crackers in a tin just like this (circa 1986) one.

It was HOT, and of course, it’s a ton of work setting up and tearing down an entire 10×10 booth in one day.¬† But overall it went smoothly – my husband actually took the day off work (a rare occurrence) to help, and the girls were about as good as a 4 and 6-year-old can be at something like this. Luckily, Washington Park has a playground and spray fountains where Steve and I could take the kids for breaks.¬† They also spent some time chilling under our tables :)









For those of you in the Cincinnati area, the next City Flea is on August 17th from 10-4. I’ll be there! If you let me know you’ve read my blog or are a Facebook fan, I’ll give you my special family & friends discount :)