Fairy Houses

I have an app on my phone called “Home.” Home is a bit like micro-transactions in an online game, only for real life. You spend a few dollars on a cute pillow, a few dollars on a neat bracelet, and soon you’ve spent $450 and you’re still not winning.

And the other day, Home, because it knows me better than I feel comfortable with, suggested a miniature tea set.


This is the face hand of impulse buying.

I’m easily enraptured by pretty girly things. Taking care of three to six boys will do that to you. But this set, especially, reminded me of the miniature tea sets my sister and I used to have when we were little. It also reminded me, in a round about way, of the “fairy houses” we used to make out in the woods.

Fairy houses are easy to make. First, you look around for building materials in nature. Then, you spend an hour carefully setting everything into place. Finally, you step back and cry a little because your creation looks like a dumpster compared to what people on Pinterest put together effortlessly. It’s very rewarding.

So as I looked at this little tea set, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be fun to take these out and build a fairy house in the park somewhere for someone to discover?”

I went to the park today.

I hadn’t made fairy houses in years, but I remembered vaguely that purely working with sticks is the devil and that finding some rocks would help weigh everything down. As it turns out, the east coast has no rocks this time of year.


Seriously, there could be diamonds under that foliage and I’d be none the wiser.

So I begrudgingly started with sticks instead. Not only sticks, mind you. There were, fortunately, quite a few pinecones around as well, and they made lovely insulation.


Pay attention, Pinterest.

I forced a few sticks into the ground, dropped some pinecones on top of each other, and did the same thing to the other side. I laid longer sticks across the roof, covered the whole thing with pine needle tufts (only the ones that were already dying, don’t look at me like that), and put in a few additional sticks for support.


And here we the trailer park home of the Welfare Fairy.

It was decidedly underwhelming, but I was running low on childlike wonder and people on the paths were starting to stare at the grown woman squatting under the tree with a bunch of pinecones in her hands.


It was something. It would be something better with miniature teacups.


The table and tablecloth came next, and I only severely injured myself on the bark once. And then…


All right, now that’s adorable.


I needed to improve my fairy house skills, but a spider moved in while I was working on it so a) it couldn’t have been that bad, and b) I wasn’t going anywhere near it again. It actually did look a little less like a heap of randomly placed sticks in real life, fortunately.


It wasn’t completely easy to spot from the path, but there’s enough foot traffic in a day that I think it won’t take somebody long to find it. Hopefully a little girl gets the tiny china.

I still have some china left over, so I’ll try again another day and maybe my building skills will improve.

Naturally soon all the building materials will be covered in leaves covered in snow, so this might be more of a spring activity.

I’m Not Thrifty

When I lived in Idaho, I lived near dozens of thrift stores full of cheap secondhand clothing of reasonable quality.

(“Near”, of course, meaning “not quite an hour’s drive from”. This is about how close we were to everything in the wilderness.)

Because we were poor as muck, we did almost all of our shopping at thrift stores. Save for a fresh pack of Target underwear now and then, all dresses, jeans, jackets, shoes, and most books were bought at Goodwill, Value Village, and a myriad other smaller thrift stores. Sure, maybe we’d come out of there with clothing baggy enough to make the homeless cringe, but we bought a year’s supply of the terrible clothing for only $20!


Look at all these colors that I, as a redhead with a redheaded complexion, cannot wear!

But when I moved to the east coast, I was horrified to discover there was only one thrift store near me, and it was filled with the sort of people who looked like they might murder you for your drug store earrings, so I avoided it. With my newly-earned riches I bought my clothes at Walmart and Forever 21, but I was still moderately scandalized every time I had to pay $15 for a shirt. A shirt.

(Of course, “near me” in city terms is “less than half an hour from me.” You can go fifty miles in fifty minutes in the country, but it takes the same to go twenty-five miles around here.)

Fortunately, my board game meetup group came to my rescue again in the form of “Jade,” a snazzily-dressed woman whose intelligence is slightly terrifying. “We should go shopping together!” she exclaimed last Wednesday. “I know you’re on a budget and I know all the thrift stores around here. It’ll be fun!”

So we went thrift-storing.


Ah, nothing like that thrift store musk!

I’m going on a year on the east coast now and I had forgotten how great the good thrift stores can be. This was only another Goodwill, but we went during the weekly tag sale where half the items were a dollar, and it was practically heaven in a shopping basket.


Do YOU need a band saw?! Goodwill has you covered!

My idea that I was going to spend only twenty dollars quickly went out the window. Not because of the clothing, mind you, but because as we were going through the household section I looked up and saw a “new” bread machine, still in the box.

Now, I’m living in one room in my employer’s house. I don’t need a bread machine. Basically no one needs a bread machine these days, because you can buy pre-sliced bread for a dollar at the local grocery store. There was no reason at all for me to get this bread machine.


This is what poor decision-making looks like, kids.

I got the bread machine.

That’s the problem with being raised by a mother who always made her own bread in a bread machine. You start thinking you need one too, even though your bread will be easier if it’s from the store and more aesthetically pleasing if you craft it by hand.

Whatever. I have a bread machine now. And I fully intend to use it at least twice before I give it away to a thrift store myself.


Also purchased: A small pile of blues, browns, grays, purples, and greens, the only colors I can wear.


A small Japanese tea set which I washed twice because I’m always afraid the last owner died due to poison.


Books to add to my children’s book library. The Spiderwick book will be kept in my room, they’re close enough to burning me as a witch as it is.