Too Thrifty Chicks

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A Celebration of Life: Minnie Mae Turns 80!

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My 8th grade history teacher once assigned the task of interviewing a family member and writing up a history of that person’s life and I chose my maternal grandmother, Minnie Mae Jones Jeffers, better known as “Sis”. I was living with her and my late grandfather because my mom and dad were still active duty Army and one was in Korea and the other was in Kuwait.

My grandmother told me what it was like being the baby girl of a large family; what it was like to grow up farming tobacco; and what it was like to get married real young, start a family in the country and move that family to the big city of Philadelphia. It was the first awareness that I had of my grandmother as more than just my grandmother. I am pretty sure it also was the first time that I was aware that I had the power to tell other people’s stories. My grandmother still talks about that assignment and for many years, until I borrowed it back, she kept the pages I wrote among her keepsakes.

Fast forward some 20 years, to Johannesburg, South Africa, January 2014…

I believe that Reese and I are great friends because we recognize that the Universe has connected us in very specials ways. As she wrote in a previous post, last year we were in South Africa celebrating her birthday on Jan. 2, when her beloved grandmother, Helen Marie, passed away on Jan. 3. Oddly enough, my G-ma celebrated her 79th birthday,  a day later.  If we knew then, what we know now, those three events — life, death, life — should have been a harbinger for things to come, or at least a lens for viewing life. Ultimately, those events have been a reminder that things can be great, rough and then great again.

One year later…

When I was telling Reese, whom my G-ma affectionately calls “Sunshine”, my plans to head to Philadelphia to celebrate her 80th birthday, I could tell by her texts that she was dealing with something. She finally told me that in fact, she was thinking on losing her own grandmother last year. I immediately felt like an insensitive heel. Here I was preparing to celebrate my grandmother’s life and had forgot that Reese is still mourning her grandmother’s death. How do we talk about this?

What I remember saying to Reese is that I thought it was interesting that because of the special connection we share, her grandmother’s death is bookended by celebrations of  life: her own and my grandmother’s. Life can be funny like that.

My G-ma is my last living grandparent and I don’t know how many more years we have together. If she has her way it will be at least 20 more because she told me her goal is to “make 100!”

That’s not a bad goal for a black woman born in the Jim Crow South, who managed to raise eight kids (who have given her an army of grandchildren and great-grandchildren); buy two houses, in two different states and still own them; survived two strokes; and the death of her husband of more than 50 years, almost 12 years ago.

She may not be able to walk a mile, but she can still shake a tailfeather. So at her 80th birthday party, I asked my grandmother three questions and her responses are in italics:

  • What is her secret to reaching 80? “I always try to be nice….and I guess, I just kept on praying, kept on praying.”
  • What’s the best piece of advice she ever received? “Always listen to the old people when they tell you how to do something and always do your best to do it. Oh, and good food! (she said chuckling) GOOD FOOD!”
  • What is the best piece of advice she ever gave? “Try to be nice and love people like you would want them to love you.”

My grandmother has done her best by those things, especially the food part, all my life, but they haven’t protected her from tragedy. Since my grandpop died, she lost her youngest daughter to cancer, buried two grand sons and a brother who has been her nearest and most dependable neighbor and friend for more than 20 years.

She has watched one of her older sisters deal with Alzheimer’s, only to discover that her oldest daughter now grapples with the ravages of the disease. What Langston Hughes wrote in his poem  “Mother to Son,” is what Reese’s grandmother, Helen-Marie, and my grandmother, Minnie Mae, knew and know:  “life for me ain’t been no crystal stair,” but it is worth the small kindnesses you show to others, it’s worth the prayers and it’s worth the love.

Happy Birthday Granny Sis and well done Ms. Helen Marie. Well done!

– Ricks


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Lessons Between Life and Death

My maternal grandmother died on this day a year ago. This day, which happens to be the day after my birthday. I

October 2014

October 2014

woke up at 4am this morning thinking about where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. I was in South Africa. My sister sent me a message on January 3rd: “Has anyone told you that mama died?” My heart sunk. I had just celebrated my birthday in this beautiful country. My grandma died?

I journaled more than I slept that night, trying to process my feelings about it all: about her death, about her life, about being halfway around the world, about my siblings seemingly offering care to each other that I was not part of. The next day, my South African friends took us to meet their families. One of the people we met was a grandmother, who was

Ricks and me with Tumi's Grandmother

Ricks and me with Tumi’s Grandmother

beautiful and kind. We met her in her kitchen where she sits most of the day. It reminded me of my own grandmother.

This post isn’t about death. Today, I am somber, but I can’t say that I am sad. My grandmother lived a full life. The fullness of her life is the reason why I, too, can live a full life. Her sacrifices and commitments are the reason why I can be where I am now: in the middle of a solo vacation.  They are the reason why I am close to being a freshly minted “PhD.” They are the reason I am who I am.

This post is really about living. I was born January 2nd. My grandmother died January 3rd. For the rest of my days, my birthday will be followed by death. As morbid as that sounds, I woke up this morning thinking about how challenging but encouraging that is. For the rest of my life, when I wake up on January 3rd, I will remember that I am indeed living; that I am (hopefully) thriving. For the rest of my days, life and death will be just a

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2007

day away. That doesn’t scare me. It inspires me to keep on living and doing. No matter how much we want to prepare for death, we’re never fully prepared. Yet, each day we’re living, we can continue with the will to make it worth it.

Helen Marie, look at you. Still teaching me things. I’m forever grateful.

Rest on, mama. We’re still making the most of living down here. ❤ ❤ ❤

-Shanté


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A Thrifty Birthday + Give Away: The Too Thrifty Chicks Blog Turns 1!

Hi Gang!

We’re coming at you really quick to ask, “Do you know what today is?” It’s TTC’s birthday! We’re officially one today!!! happybirthdayGIF

On this day last year, this blog began — a few days after our very first thrifting adventure when we rode around Maryland suburbs on an overcast day looking for Columbus Day bargains at every Value Village we could get to. We spent hours — seriously like 5 plus hours — going through every rack with a fine tooth comb. By the time we came up for air and Indian food a friendship was born. A few days later, this blog was born. We never imagined this blog would become what it is. We were both simply looking for a creative outlet to share our writing and adventures. But through this blog, we’ve met cool people, gotten great encouragement, and deepened our offline bond.

To celebrate, we went out for Indian food and a little thrifting to celebrate. When you get a chance, we hope you’ll hit up the racks of your local thrift store in our honor.

We also decided we wanted to show our appreciation for one of our most loyal followers. Seriously, this lady comments on every posts and shares them regularly on her Facebook page. Everybody put your hands together and show TOSHA some much deserved love!

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She’ll receive this studded top from Reese’s personal collection, and a pair of handmade

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Everybody else, stay tuned. More give aways in November and more fun and adventures to come in this new year!

1043877_10101575920175405_815990422_n— R&R


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Chucks & Cupcakes

What do you get when you put together a birthday, cupcakes, chucks, and laughter? A jolly good time! We celebrated our friend’s birthday with a fantastically ridiculous photoshoot featuring our favorite sneakers. The bad side of such shenanigans? R&R drooling all over the converse website when we got home. No worries Operation Do Better friends. We refrained from purchasing new sneakers (after all, this is a want and not a need, right?), BUT when it’s time to celebrate another milestone, we already have pairs picked out.

This post doesn’t need a lot of words….the photos speak for themselves.

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Who shows up with an Ikea bag full of chucks? This chick does! Had to be at least 25 pair.

T with her pile of chucks…check out the custom made ones! *swoon*

Chucks and Cupcakes

It’s cold in DC today, but Ricks definitely looks like Spring. Color and more color! Put away your drab clothes and pull out the fun ones!

Feeling a little flighty with the pale pink shorts w/birds on them. Paired with flowery sunglasses and this girl is ready to take on Spring.

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Quick! Blow out the candles that aren’t lit! (lol) Happy Birthday Nikki!

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If someone has a chocolate allergy it’s reasonable to assume she wouldn’t eat chocolate right? Wrong! This chick tried to be sneaky and snag a bite before anyone noticed…but the evidence is on her face! CAUGHT! (btw–she’s not being sentimental. Those tears are from laughing so hard!)

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Nikki, you’re fierce and fabulous. You have to learn how to growl. ROOOOAAAAARRRRRR!

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Red velvet cupcake to match the red chucks she got for her birthday. YUMMMMM! Nikki B. is all smiles and so were we. 🙂

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The birthday girl loves her car and her chucks…put them together and she’s in heaven!

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::singing:: Friends….how many of us have them?

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Look at this awesome collage. This is the only way to show you all the pics at once…LOL.

We had so much fun celebrating Nikki’s birthday…and nearly 500 photos to prove it. Have a friend who has a birthday coming up? Celebrate her in  a way that reflects who she is. We did, and we’ve got some fun memories to show for it. Happy birthday Nikki B.! We hope you have a fantastic birthday filled with laughs, love, and light!

xoxo

R&R