5 Tips for Going to the Brimfield Antiques and Collectibles Show

About two weeks ago, I crossed another item off my bucket list: I went to the Brimfield Antiques and Collectibles Show.

When I was kid, my family occasionally went to a flea market near our home, and I remember those trips with fondness. The challenge of finding a parking space, the discovery of just the perfect item, and the people-watching all made the experience memorable. I knew that Brimfield—which is so much more than a flea market—would be quite a trip.

With thousands of dealers selling everything from pristine (and expensive) antiques to items you probably saw in your Grandma’s kitchen to, well, even some junk, Brimfield is a popular destination to collectors who love to hunt and seek. I managed to talk my husband into a weekend away at a bed and breakfast as the hook to get us to Brimfield, so our adventure could be combined with some long overdue couple time. I’ll be honest that Brimfield was not his first choice of activities, but he was an incredibly good sport about—even when the heat of the day reached the high 80s with significant humidity.

The mix of items for sale was fascinating. We stumbled upon a vendor selling tables, chairs, and umbrellas from German biergartens, which would have been perfect for a small porch. We saw more Pyrex than I ever thought existed. We spied relics of carousels, ocean buoys, and vintage clothes. We saw classic toys, art prints, and Bakelite. Furniture, light fixtures, and even bicycles. The list really is endless!

The scale of Brimfield can be overwhelming; the dealers are spread along a mile of Route 20, positioned in show venues that are commonly called “fields.” (The show started, literally, in a farmer’s field in 1959.) There is also a food court, numerous (addictive) lemonade stands, and other food stalls, ensuring that you can eat while you shop.

While my husband and I went with a list in hand to help us stay focused (which I recommend), we instead brought home a mix of things we uncovered as we walked up and down the crowded aisles. The most we spent on any one piece was $40.

Here’s what came home in our car:

crazy_daisy_redshuttersPlates – Who remembers the crazy daisy Corelle pattern? Nostalgia wins at Brimfield, and I stocked up on this set. Those Corelle plates are pretty indestructible so they come in handy in my house. (On a related note, I found, unsurprisingly, a Pinterest board dedicated to just this pattern!)

brimfield_red_shuttersGlasses – Likely one of our favorite stops was a vendor whose booth was filled with glasses from the 1950s and 1960s. Each glass was in pristine condition, and we got a good deal on these lovelies (1). It didn’t hurt that we were there on one of the last days of Brimfield, and the dealer was open to negotiating (a good point to consider when planning your trip).

Art – My husband and I joked that we found a Picasso, but really it was this print (3), which I got for $12.50! I also snatched up this painting (2), titled “On the Rocks,” from the 1960s by a Massachusetts-based painter. The frame needs some TLC, but I have my fingers crossed it will find a place in my home.

Globe – The fifth in my collection of globes, this one (4) caught my eye with the writing across the Northern Hemisphere: “All who wander are not lost.”

Missing from these photos are a beautiful Dansk decanter, two 1970s glass Sanka/Maxwell House containers that I will use for cereal and snack storage (additions to a growing and unplanned collection), a pretty little cake knife, and books we found for the kids (they are already in reading circulation and would not be given up even for Red Shutters).

We also took away tips for our my next time at Brimfield, including:

  1. Park near the center of the action. Most of the fields charge for parking. You may be able to get a cheaper deal if you park outside of the main area, but then, you’ll be walking the extra distance, a disadvantage if you’re a successful shopper and want to put your purchases in your car. Parking in a center lot will also be helpful if you want to take a break, grab some snacks, or need to take cover during a rainstorm.
  2. Bring cash. Cash, as they say, is king. You’ll be more successful negotiating with dealers if you’re saving them credit card fees. That said, several dealers do take credit cards, so you do have the option, if needed.
  3. Take care of yourself. In other words, wear comfortable shoes; there is so much walking at Brimfield. Drink lots of water. Bring snacks or even lunch (think: cooler in your car). Of course, many food options abound at Brimfield, though selections for vegetarians/vegans/gluten-free are limited.
  4. Be patient and organized. Finding the good stuff can take awhile, and you may have to go through dozens of booths before you find something that catches your eye. Keep track of where you are (each field has a name, and each booth a number) and establish a system of moving from booth to booth so you don’t miss anything. My husband and I also brought a large bag with wheels (sort of like something you’d bring to the beach for a picnic) for our purchases. This saved us from having to return to the car multiple times (we went just once in our eight hours of exploring).
  5. Be polite. Most of the dealers we encountered were friendly and welcomed shoppers. A few, however, were rude or (worse) condescending. As with everything in life, you “get more flies with honey than with vinegar,” so if someone isn’t treating with respect, just walk away.

Overall, our first trip to Brimfield was a fun adventure. So much so, that I have the 2015 Brimfield dates on my calendar already! In case you’re thinking about going, mark down May 12-17, July 14-19, and September 8-13, and I hope to see you there!

Noodles and Company Giveaway!

noodlesandcompanygiveawayLast month, I had the pleasure of attending a special tasting at Noodles & Company, a new entrant to the food business in the Boston area. This “bloggers only” event, held at the new Noodles & Company in Burlington, featured a chance to try a number of the restaurant chain’s delicious dishes, including Bangkok Curry, seasonal soups, and a so-yummy-I-wanted-to-hide-it-in-my-purse-and-take-it-home Pesto Cavatappi.

Noodles & Company’s menu offers an extensive number of—you guessed it!—noodle dishes from pasta with butter (for the toddler set) to the aforementioned (gluten free!) Bangkok Curry. They also feature flatbreads, sandwiches, and salads, with a menu that changes seasonally. I am planning to take my kids to Noodles & Company soon, and I suspect my daughter will love their Wisconsin Mac & Cheese. My son will go for their Spaghetti & Meatballs, while I’ll try the Japanese Pan Noodles.

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I’m on Wayfair.com today!

Where am I today, dear readers?

clever toy storage

I’m over on the Wayfair.com Idea Lounge! Check out my post, “Clever Toy Storage Idea,” where I share tips on organizing those pesky kid’s toys. It’s my first post for Wayfair as part of its Homemakers program so please give me some love!

An Unexpected Wedding Anniversary

The traditional gifts for a ninth wedding anniversary are pottery and willow. This week, when my husband and I celebrated our ninth anniversary, we went a different route: stitches and an emergency room visit.

Our anniversary started off like any other day: kisses goodbye to the kids, hectic commutes, and busy hours at work. We were supposed to meet up in the evening for a delicious dinner at the famed Hamersley’s Bistro, a terrific Boston restaurant that’s long been on my bucket list. The reservation was especially important because Hamersley’s is closing next month. We really wanted to get there before its lights went off for good and anniversary celebration was a perfect reason to trek its location in the South End.

There I was, at the office, trying to get a few things done before my husband arrived when the following text came in:

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4 Things I’m Doing Differently This School Year

4thingsEarlier this week, my kids started at their after school program. They attend four days a week from the end of the school day at 3:15 PM to 6:00 PM when my husband or I pick them up. It’s a long day for the two of them but they love it.  When I arrived home from work the other night, they were already in their pajamas, bubbling over about their adventures of their day, playing soccer with friends and getting used to the new routine of after school.

I was happy to see them so joyful about school and after school, and it got me thinking about how I could make those good feelings last throughout the school year. I came up with four ideas:

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Three Tips to Rock the Lunchbox and a Giveaway!

School has been underway for a week, and already I’ve heard one of the more dreaded sentences in the English language: “Mom, I didn’t like what you packed for lunch today.”

My children, R and G, are good eaters, but lunchtime can be challenge. They don’t have long to eat lunch during the school day (only about 20 minutes), and their friends distract them with chances to talk and be silly. Therefore, what I pack in their lunchboxes has to grab their attention—while also being healthy.

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The Paint Bar

Last week, I was fortunate to spend an evening at The Paint Bar, along fellow blogger, Cheryl of Busy Since Birth. We were invited to attend one of The Paint Bar’s fun three-hour, instructor-led painting sessions, and it was a terrific way to spend an evening with a friend.

red_shutters_ThePaintBar

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First Day of School!

We did it! Today was the first day of school, and we welcomed the start of the new academic year with big smiles.

first_day_red_shutters

R, now a first grader, was excited, though apprehensive at the prospect of homework (it’s really happening) and uncooperative about his clothing choices (who knew boys cared so much about what they wear?). G, with her two missing bottom teeth and fancy shoes, skipped off to kindergarten with two thumbs up and calls for “no more pictures, Mom.”

I held it together, worrying about supplies, lockers, and after school pickup. It was only at the end of getting the kids settled in their new classrooms, as I was leaving for the PTA breakfast (sign up for this committee! be a room parent!) that I struggled with the “how-did-we-get-here” feeling. Sometimes, these transitions are hardest on the parents for we see clearly the distance we’ve traveled and know what’s yet to come. More and more, I wish my secret superhero parent power was to slow down time. I’d make days like today last forever.

Wishing you and yours a successful school year!

Checking in on our Summer Bucket List

We have one (!!) weekend left before school starts, so I thought I’d check in on how we’ve done with our Summer Bucket List. Perhaps you remember back in June when I put together a list of adventures for my family to do this summer? Of the 15 adventures on our list, we’ve done 10, with three more scheduled. That leaves with two still to do. Here’s our list:

  1. Take a bicycle trip
  2. Explore the Boston Harbor Islands | Done! 
  3. Go paddle boarding | Done!
  4. Go kayaking
  5. Try out the new roller coaster at Storyland | Scheduled!
  6. Hike and eat a picnic lunch | Scheduled!
  7. Spend a day at the beach | Done!
  8. Play miniature golf | Done! 
  9. Host a water slide in our backyard | Done! 
  10. Enjoy the outdoor sculptures at the Decordova | Done!
  11. Participate in nature classes at Drumlin Farm | Done! 
  12. Go to Tanglewood | Done!
  13. Cheer on the Red Sox at Fenway Park | Scheduled!
  14. Attend a Lowell Spinners game | Done! 
  15. Go to an outdoor water park | Done! 

Redshutters-summer-bucket-list

Looking back at the past three months makes me realize we’ve done much more than just this list. A trip to Maine. A visit to Lookout Farm. Lots of swimming. The first jumps off the diving board. A first (and second) lost tooth. Tennis lessons. Dance camp. New books from the library. Plenty of time outdoors. Visits with family and friends. So many vegetables from our CSA. Birthdays. Countless tubes of sunblock.

Fortunately, the calendar tells me we have until September 22 to enjoy this fleeting season. I’m thankful for that; after all, we have to get through our Summer Bucket List!

How about you? Did you have a Summer Bucket List? Did you get to everything on your list? 

Two Conversations about Ferguson, Missouri

Since I wrote this post last week, I’ve had two conversations about Ferguson, Missouri and the death of Michael Brown that keep repeating over and over in my head. When that happens, it’s a sign to me that I should write about them.

Conversation #1 – My son, full of pride that he has mastered our cable’s On Demand system, turned on our television the other day, eager to click over to the kids shows. Instead, he and his little sister caught a news report about Michael Brown’s death, specifically how many times and where he was shot. R changed the channel quickly, but it was enough for them both to know that someone died. Thankfully, my kids don’t shy away from asking questions.

“Mommy, there was a man who was shot. He was shot in the head,” said R. He was pointing at the television, a concerned look on his face.

“Why was he shot, Mommy?” G inquired. She sat on our couch, holding a pink stuffed bear.

I sat down. This was a sitting down conversation.

“Yes, there was a man who was shot,” I confirmed.

“Is he ok?” asked G.

“No, honey. He died.”

“Was he a bad man?” asked G.

“No, he was not a bad man.”

“Good,” said G. “I’m glad he wasn’t a bad man.”

“But why was he shot?” R asked. “The television said a police officer shot him.”

“We don’t know why exactly the police officer shot him. People are very upset that he died. They are concerned that the police officer shot him because his skin was a different color. The police officer was white. The man was black.”

I could practically see the wheels spinning round and round inside their heads as they tried to understand what I was saying.

“Maybe the police officer forgot the rule!” G called out, sticking her hand up in the air, as if she had the answer.

“What rule?” I asked.

“The rule that says you’re not supposed to shoot someone just because their skin is a different color. Maybe he forgot it,” she explained.

“It’s wrong to do that,” R agreed. “You shouldn’t hurt people.”

You shouldn’t hurt people. My kids got it. What happens to the rest of us that we forget this guiding principle?

Conversation #2 – One of my family members works in law enforcement, a tough job every day and one that is even harder in the wake of the Ferguson. He reached out after he read my post, wanting to respond to my description of Michael Brown’s death as a murder.

He said that murder and homicide – which is what the medical examiner has ruled Michael Brown’s death – are not the same thing. His points were well reasoned, so I did a bit of research.  The following explanation from Lawyers.com gets at it directly:

“The terms murder and homicide are frequently interchanged; however, there is a difference between the two.  Homicide is the killing of one person by another.  Murder is a form of criminal homicide, where the perpetrator intended to kill the other person, sometimes with premeditation (a plan to kill).  Manslaughter is another type of criminal homicide.”

Since the facts in Michael Brown’s death are so unclear, my use of the word murder may be incorrect. Shooting or killing may have been more accurate. The emotional response to his death, however, is akin to what I imagine is felt in the case of a murder. The pain and loss are the same no matter how you define the circumstances of his death.

Speaking with my family member reminded me how quick people are to judge a situation. What does it feel like to be in law enforcement at this time in the United States? Does Michael Brown’s death make a police officer uncertain how to react in a crisis? Will an officer be less inclined engage if s/he is worried about being arrested or doing the wrong thing? For every officer who choses to brutalize a suspect, there are thousands of others who would never do so. How do we make sure those people continue to have the support they need to keep us safe?

I’m left with more questions than ever before, and from what I read online and from other conversations I’ve had, other people feel the same way. More questions, more frustration, more fear that we, as a country, are further apart than ever before. How do we solve this divide? How do we respond to the legacy of racism? How do spread respect, not hate?

My kids’ word – You shouldn’t hurt people – is one place.

Reading other writings about Ferguson is another way. Here are three to check out:

My prayers and thoughts are with the people of Ferguson and the family of Michael Brown.

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails,
and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy
to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
-Frederick Douglass