Picker’s Paradise

It’s no secret that I love to shop. I like to browse; I like to buy; I like to know what’s for sale and what’s on sale. And this, my friends, is one of my favorite places to shop. I know what you’re thinking. A flea mall? But trust me, this place is a hidden treasure. Located in Leeds, Alabama (just outside of Birmingham), Bama Flea Mall is a maze of booths full of antiques, furniture, china, toys, collectibles, and treasures waiting to be dusted off and taken home. If you’re in Birmingham and have a few hours to kill, this place is well worth your time! I try to go as often as I can, and I always find unique pieces that I love!

Several weeks ago I talked JD, Piper, my parents, and my sister, Ellen, into spending an afternoon at the flea mall with me. Ellen was excited and JD wasn’t, but you wouldn’t know it from this picture!

Have I mentioned that I love this place? It’s just packed full of amazing things!

Some booths have better stuff than others, and this is one of the best. I love everything in this booth and would buy it all if I could! But this time I was looking for something specific — a coat rack for my foyer — and couldn’t be distracted by all the pretties in this booth.

A coat rack I needed and a coat rack I found! Actually, JD found this one. Maybe I was distracted by all the pretties! (Dad may look tired sitting here, but that’s because we had run a 5K earlier that morning. And don’t be fooled — looking at his mouth I can tell he was still talking!)

I love my coat rack, but it wasn’t the only treasure I found that day.

Check out my vintage Fiesta circle pitcher! We have Fiesta dishes, and I’ve been looking for a circle pitcher for years. They’re usually between $30 and $50 and not in a color that I like. This one, though, matches my dishes and the color of my kitchen, is in perfect condition, and only cost me $12! Score!

I LOVE Heritage candles, and this is one of my favorite scents. I think this is my fourth Lemongrass Sage candle, but this one cost less than I usually pay. Thanks, Bama Flea Mall!

Want to see the other treasures I’ve found on previous trips to the Flea Mall?

I wanted a table or desk for my foyer, and I found this beauty at the Flea Mall last spring. I wish I had a before picture, because it was blue (and not a cute blue.) A coat of paint and little accessorizing, and I love it.

(Disclaimer: The walls in our living room are green, but not THAT green! Please excuse my lack of photography skills.)

One of my first purchases at the Flea Mall was this set of wooden window inserts. I glued some fabric behind them and hung them on our bedroom wall. (And again, the colors aren’t that bright, I promise!)

While shopping with my friend Chrystal I found this cute little suitcase that matches our bedroom perfectly. How could I resist? I lined it with some fabric and now we use it as additional storage on our bathroom counter.

So, do you think you’re up for a trip to the Bama Flea Mall? Here are my tips for a good shopping experience:

1) Know what you’re looking for. Sometimes I go with specific things in mind (like a coat rack), but I always have a list of things I’d like to find (like Fiestaware, old books, etc.)

2) Take your time. This isn’t a store to run in and out of; it’s a store to soak in and savor. Set aside a few hours, wear comfortable shoes, and enjoy the experience.

3) Imagine the possibilities. Like that desk but hate the color? Take it home and paint it! Keep an open mind and think of different ways you can use the treasures you find to make them work in your home.

4) Take a friend with you. I often enjoy shopping alone, but this is a fun store to share with a friend or family member. Try on the funny hats! Sit in the silly chairs! Have fun!

I hope you’ll take time to visit Bama Flea Mall sometime soon. I know I can’t wait to go back!

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Color Running in the Rain

Last Monday, Dad, Ellen, and I participated in The Color Run. Oh, I mean, we Color Ran.

I began hearing about The Color Run sometime last year (probably through Pinterest.) After completing the Couch to 5K program in the Spring, I was so excited to register for the Run in Birmingham, and I somehow talked my dad and sister into registering with me. Honestly, we didn’t train very hard and we weren’t too interested in logging a good time — we just thought it looked like a lot of fun!

The Color Run is a 5K where volunteers throw colored powder on you at each kilometer marker. You start off wearing white and as you run the race you get colored yellow, blue, pink, and orange. At the finish line every participant has a color packet to throw in the air to celebrate and get even more colored. Sounds like fun, right?

On the day of the run, we got up early and headed toward Barber Motor Sports in Leeds. As we pulled into the venue, it started to rain. Getting out of the car, we had a five minute conversation about whether or not to bring an umbrella. We didn’t want to have to carry it while we ran, but neither did we want to stand in the rain for an hour-and-a-half waiting for the Run to start. We finally decided to bring the umbrella, and I cannot even tell you how glad I am that we did. We got lined up in the starting chute (with lots of time left to stand there and wait) and the bottom fell out. Seriously. Cats and dogs.

But despite the rain, everyone was so excited. Girls were wearing tutus and tiaras. Guys were sporting fake mustaches. Neon was everywhere. And this couple? A cheerleader and Elvis? Turns out I’m related to them.

Meet my cousin, Josh, and his sweet wife, Amy. I’m so glad we found them in the crowd and got to run with them! And standing next to Josh in the starting chute was kind of like sitting at the cool kids’ table in the lunchroom. People wanted to take his picture. He was kind of a big deal.

In the starting chute, we were getting geared up. Not warmed up, mind you, as there was no room to stretch. Several people around us couldn’t wait for the finish line and threw their color packets over the crowd before we even started. Meanwhile, it started raining even harder. Have I mentioned that I was thankful for that umbrella? It at least kept me from getting soaked through before we even started.

Finally, fourteen minutes past starting time, they let us loose. I folded up my umbrella and off we went. I had never really run in the rain before, and I have to tell you, I didn’t mind it! It was nice and cool, and rain dripping down my face feels much less gross than sweat dripping down my face. Running on the track at Barber Motor Sports was also a neat experience. I wasn’t quite prepared for the hills, but we made it. At the color stations we put on our sunglasses and held our breath as we ran past the volunteers and got doused with color. Now, I imagine the effect is different when it’s not raining, but the powder got a little pasty when mixed with the water. And it ran. We passed a girl who had gotten a good dose of blue powder, and Dad said, “Those are the worst varicose veins I’ve ever seen!” in reference to the rivulets of blue running down her legs.

We made pretty good time considering we were slowing down to run through the color zones, walking up some of the larger hills, and splashing through several inches of water on the track. At the finish line celebration, it was raining even harder, so our pictures are blurry. (By the way – thanks, Ellen, for bringing your waterproof camera!) But here’s the end result:

And wouldn’t you know that as we got into the parking lot the rain finally let up? (Which allowed us to take a few more “after” pictures.)

Don’t you love Dad’s pink hair? We were secretly hoping it wouldn’t wash out for a few days!

As proud as we were to finish with a strong time, we were even prouder to get home and get cleaned up. (Well, at least I was.) And it sure was nice to eat a big meal at Jim-N-Nick’s for lunch, and even nicer to see other (still colorful and soggy) color runners there.

But as I reflect on the race, I don’t really feel like I experienced a true Color Run. What we did Monday in the monsoon was a completely different race than what I expected. Don’t get me wrong– it was a ton of fun, but still not the conditions of a true Color Run. I guess the only thing to do is sign up to run it again next year! Who’s with me?