After reading up on the basics of a dslr camera, I was still pretty clueless as to what I was doing, but I had this newfound bout of energy and motivation to get out there and snap some photos, play around with the buttons and settings and snap away until the people around me got weirded out and started whispering.
I was stoked.
My plan was to head out to beautiful Middleburg, Va. Middleburg is quite possibly my favorite place in northern Virginia. Middleburg is a little Main Street town with upscale boutiques, antique stores galore, great little delis, a french restaurant and even a butcher. Oh, and did I mention it has an amazing vintage clothing store? Yeah I know, a dream come true, right? Well anyways, my plan was to head out to Middleburg, surrounded by rolling hills, vast green horse farms and the beautiful blue ride mountains in the background and take some amazing photos that I could blog about and share with the internet why it is such a magical place.
That was the plan.
Have you ever done something that was so brain-numbingly stupid, something that was so painfully ironic because you thought about not doing that exact thing many many times and somehow still managed to do it? Well that's what happened to me today. I packed up my camera, lens, purse, layered up in scarves and hat and sweater and headed off. It was only 3/4 of the way into my drive that I realized, I had left my camera battery at home in the charger.
In the words of Red Foreman, "What a dumbass."
You see, not only was this an incredibly amateur and dumb thing to do, but I had told myself about half a dozen times (after reading up on photography websites) that I would not do that. I would not forget my SD card, I would not leave my battery or extra lens. etc. etc. So here I am, driving out to this beautiful, somewhat remote place and I had done just that. Color me bitter.
Here I am in the car, cursing myself and my stupidity, furiously texting and tweeting at stop lights to share with the world how dumb I am, as if it would somehow lessen the blow. Here I am, raging out and a thrill to watch, I'm sure, for all my vehicular neighbors and I realized, there's always tomorrow.
Now, don't get me wrong, I was still fuming and desperate at this thoughtless action by me. But there is something about driving out into the country, with the sun slowly settling onto the horizon and The Avett Brothers pandora station seranading you through the winding roads that just has this tranquilizing effect. I did manage to snap one shot, through the car window, on my iPhone.
Clearly this is not the work of a professional, and the glare of my reddit case in the window is a little bit obnoxious but you can just see a smidgeon of what I mean about the pure beauty of the area. Even with my poor attempt at an instagram redemption, the beauty of the place sort of overcomes most of the novice obstacles I put in place.
So before you shake your head at me, the reason I couldn't turn around and get my camera was because it was already late in the day, the sun was setting early (as it does this time of year) and the stores were closing in less than an hour. If I had turned around I would have missed most of that glorious afternoon light as well as any chance of stopping in some stores before I came back.
So my revised plan was to do a little thrifting while out in Middleburg. The thing about thrifting is, you're getting whatever leftovers someone donated. So common sense dictates that if you shop in a a thrift store that's in a bad/ghetto area, you'll be getting bad/ghetto results. If you shop in a high end area, such as Middleburg, you're receiving the leftovers of senators wives, wealthy estate owners and fantastic articles of clothing passed down from grandma in her little farm house.
The problem with this, is that most people know what they are doing and therefore they will jack up the prices. I decided to stop into the Humane Society Thrift store that's on Main Street. Surrounded by boutiques and banks and expensive restaurants, it's bound to have some treasures, right?
Well, I had been into the thrift store a bit over a year prior and I had no idea what I was looking for and therefore had no desire to take home anything that was there. This time, though, I was prepared. The place is a tiny little thing. Nestled between a fancy (expensive) boutique and a little ice cream parlor. But the space leaves a bit to be desired. Wherever you go, you have to squeeze in to let someone pass. Nevertheless I found a beautiful green blazer with gold buttons that was in mint condition from Anne Taylor. Better yet, the coat was only $20! A bit more, clearly, than most thrift stores but considering what it was and the condition it was in, I couldn't pass it up. I found a paperback cover of Stephen Hawkings, A Brief History of Time and approached the little old lady who was talking about fancy oyster plates with the customer ahead of me. Unfortunately, as I walked up to the counter, I read on the wall "LOCAL CHECKS AND CASH ONLY-NO DEBIT OR CREDIT CARDS". I lost my bank card and haven't been able to withdraw cash for about 2 months and haven't gotten a new one because I've just used my credit cards, racked up points and paid them off. So I quickly returned the coat and the book and stepped out onto the puddle, sun-setting brick sidewalk.
Turn around and go home now? NEVARR!! I figured I had come all this way, it was at least worth a little attempt at reviving this failed trip. I decided to head down the street to Timmie Jane (the vintage clothing store I was telling you about) and see if I could find some goodies. This place was UH-MAZING. Big leather and fur trimmed coats from the 60s, sweaters and dainty dresses from the 70s, mid-century purses and jewelry, it was like stepping into my dream of a store. The only problem, they are a little bit out of my price range. Ever since I started thrifting, I find it odd and almost impossible to spend any real amount of money on clothes. So I sulked through the racks, appreciating the beauty of every thread. Evesdropping on the clerk telling the girls in the store how the owner goes to auctions in NY and PA to buy all the vintage items she has (must be quite nice) and then I slipped out the front door, back onto the street to the car with a heavy chest and shallow steps. As I got into the car, the sun glaring at me from the point between the trees and the road, I decided I'd stop at anything along the way that would still be open. In Aldie, which is an adjacent, less frilly, equally as adorable town, there was a "thrift" store that was more of an antique store/vintage clothing store called Diamonds and Rust. I stopped in and a friendly lady greeted me at the door. With 20 minutes until they closed, I promised I'd be quick. She assured me she had no plans and was in no sort of a rush. Again the problem here were the prices, less than Timmie Jane but still out of budget. I loved many a thing in that shop, including a perfect mid-century, heart-collard light plaid dress for $55. Again, sadly in love but I couldn't bring myself to do it. (in hindsight I should snatched it up and asked to change there so I could wear it home but I find it best to sleep on impulse decisions). So I browsed the little shop and bid adieu to the lady at the counter who was just as sweet in her goodbye as she was in her hello.
I walked back to the car and decided to call it quits. If nothing else, it was a nice drive out to the country.
On my way back though I became determined again to see if there was at least something I could on the way that resembled a real thrift store. I mean, there has to be something between 3 towns, right?
Well I google mapped again and found something that I had never seen before. A little thrift store actually on my way back home on the right side of the street! Must be a sign, right? Well, reading the yelp reviews, the general consensus was "stuff is piled haphazardly" and "it's like going thru someones attic stuff everywhere".
The crazy thing about this place is you would've missed it if not for searching. It's connected to an old truck stop/service center that may or may not be out of commission. I was concerned that since it was already after 5PM they would be closed like everything else in nearby Middleburg. A broken parking lot beckoned me to the piles of junk that sat outside. I walked to the door and the sign said 8PM on Saturday. What luck! When I walked inside, I realized the yelp reviews couldn't have been more accurate.
Piled along the walls was stuff, Books, cds, dvds, purses, trinkets. Rows upon rows of childrens and mens clothes in the back. An entire wall of purses stacked upon purses. I had to literally dig through them to find hidden gems beneath fake and plastic purses 6 deep Behind a beaded curtain was more clothes. Womens clothes, mens coats, duffel bags and pet carriers in a massive pile in the back. The stench of a dead mouse definitely smacked me in the face when I stepped through the beaded curtain.
Piles and piles and piles of junk. Everywhere. Like a hoarders dream. But this is my favorite type of place. The places where you have to work for what you want to find are always the best. Most of the womens clothes were Gap and Old Navy and most of the purses were the Liz Claiborne "Free when you buy perfume" type of bags. But I did come away with some real gems!
All of these things I got today for under $30! Paying $27 for thrift store finds is a little high in my book but I found some pretty awesome stuff, starting with that mirror. Isn't it gorgeous? Yeah I had a little fun taking myspace-style pictures in it. But in all fairness, I never do that, so...cut me some slack. Next up, I found a gorgeous vintage crop top in excellent condition as well as a cute cut out leather bag and a legit Coach bag! I've found many a knock-off in my thrifting adventures but I can chock this up to the first real "designer" bag that I've found! It is in fairly good condition minus a small smudge on the front that I might be able to clean. Pretty exciting!
My favorite thing of all, is something I almost missed while waiting to be rung up. When I say rung up it was waiting for the guy to stop what he was doing so I could scooch some stuff on a cluttered surface to write him a check. My favorite thing is these unused, like new Madeline activity book and paper doll book. They are in beautiful condition and it appears no one ever used them! The vinyl stickers are amazing and I'm tempted to keep them for myself. I am a sucker for stickers.
So overall, a day that started terrible and continued on hopelessly actually ended on a really good note! I'll sell the crop jacket and maybe the cutout bag on etsy but I don't think I'll be able to let go of those charming little Madeline books.
Shaun might wake up in the middle of the night to find me playing with paper dolls in the living room. It's not the worst hobby I could have, right?