Collected Life

photo by Matt Cornelius
photo by Matt Cornelius

Confessions of a Compulsive Collector

I love walking into a minimalist house with neutral tones. It calms my mind and puts me at ease. This is the person I strive to be. Those kinds of homes look like the mom really has her act together. If I could only achieve this status.

Well, when stepping foot into MY house, one quickly realizes…THAT AIN’T ME! I remember someone walking into my mom’s house and saying, “Well, she’s not afraid to hang anything on the walls.” Since genetics plays the role we know it does, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree; the apple has taken it to a whole new level. I’ll hang a picture, plate, musical instrument, or gallery wall faster than you can find me a hammer. And if you don’t get there fast enough with the hammer, I’ll hammer it with a high heel or any object I find first.

Instead of the calm, white, neutral tones I admire, one could say the vibe of my house is “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Whenever I have kids and friends over, my husband always says, “Don’t worry about messing anything up. Everything in this house Ali has gotten at Goodwill or an antique store. Even some of the dogs were free.” It’s true. I love junkin’, thriftin’, antiquin’… whatever you want to call it. If it was an Olympic sport, let’s just say I’ve earned a gold medal.

Nothing makes my heart beat faster than the patterns of old vintage Pyrex. I would tattoo my body with them if I could. Dishes, funky metal platters, bowls, and trays… I can’t get enough of them! An entire wall in my kitchen is filled with different 60s and 70s floral plates. I have also collected so many paintings of random things and people. My husband and I sleep below a painting featuring an old, tired farm couple. They look absolutely pitiful. It makes me laugh, and I bought it for five dollars at a garage sale. My daughter’s bedside table is bright yellow, and I made a U-turn to load it up off of the side of the road. (Always have your eyes peeled when driving!) It makes life interesting to have these conversation pieces hidden around my house. When one sets out for a day of thrifting, you never know what you might find, and that’s the exciting part. Some days, I just wake up with the feeling, “There’s something out there, I’ve got to go hunt!” This might be equivalent to what most men feel during deer season.

At an early age, when I stayed at my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s homes, I had mental lists of everything I hoped to get from their houses one day when they (cough, cough) passed away. Call it crazy or insensitive, but I just adored all of their houses. One of my grandmothers saw my love for all of her funky stuff, and she let me have it all while she was alive. It made her happy to see me use it in my house, and I was thrilled to get it.

Before I raided the family members’ homes, I started “junkin’” at an early age. I started frequenting The Pantry in downtown Texarkana in late middle school. This was a treasure trove and probably the origin of the COVID-19 virus (the dirty places have the best stuff). These were the days before everyone discovered chalk paint and painted over all the great wood that antiques have to offer. Thrift stores were busting at the seams back then without a lot of shoppers. What a time to be alive.

By the time I went to college, I had collected enough treasures to fill a dorm room. I loved my eclectic, temporary home. Thankfully, my roommate loved it, too, and she joined in on my junkin’ hobby (not what most college kids were doing). We scoured my college town of Waco for more treasures, hitting all the antique stores Joanna Gaines features on Fixer Upper. And I was making the rounds before she was! I actually have memories of bumping into her in a few stores.

Nothing calms me more than roaming around a thrift store or antique mall. It is my favorite hobby, but I am running out of room on my walls and in my spaces. I had a very vivid dream the other night about an antique booth I had taken ownership of. It was named Crimson and Clover (like the 70s song), and it was lined with antique wallpaper and filled with treasures. I have a clear vision. Creative types like me dream ideas in the night while we sleep. Hopefully, one day, I can make it a reality, and you will be able to shop for all the stuff I have found that I have no room for. I’m running out of nails, and after all, one gal’s trash is another gal’s treasure!

Let me know if you’re ever looking for something in particular, and I can try to help you. Or I can introduce you to one of the many thrifting friends I have met along the way. There are so many of us in this town… an army. We must all have the same personality type. The older, quirkier, chippier, weirder…the better for us. It would be way too easy to just walk into a store and buy something. We like to live life on the wild side and complicate things. Just ask our husbands.

Get out and go junkin’.


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July 2024
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