October 18th, 2012

If you’ve followed this here blog for a while, you might recall that I used to thrift constantly – and by constantly I mean constantly. Like instead of going to a movie or the beach or seeing loved ones, I’ve consistently preferred spending my time wandering through endless hot and smelly thrift stores filled with strangers unwanted crap. Come on, you all know I’m just choosing to live super classy or whatever and so for the last fifteen years I’ve thrifted for the pleasure and the frugality of it, but honestly I’m just addicted to the gamble of maybe finding something unexpectedly amazing and budget friendly. I’m cheap! I like a deal! I like stuff! The central problem that arrises from these years of accumulating furniture and vintage things? Well, first they come home with me and then they get all needy about having ‘space’ to fit in. Shocking I know. Stuff takes up space! And now I’ve finally managed to run out it.

The solution to this problem seems easy, but breaking down and renting storage seems like giving up and admitting to moving out of the ‘collector’ zone and into official ‘hoarder’ status. I’ve put off getting extra storage for a year, then put it off more, then piled more stuff in any random open space left, then kept putting it off followed by putting it off again. This procrastination meant that I slowly began to take some kind of an unplanned thrifting hiatus in order to allow for my love of blindly ignoring the vanishing space issue at the house. Don’t get me wrong, its not like I’ve completely stopped all my vintage buying cold turkey. Come on. Are you crazy! I mean really? No. I will never stop and admittedly I’ve continued to buy things via ebay and craigslist here and there, but hitting up a bunch of thrift stores and randomly shopping? Nope, no way. The temptation to buy more and more crap I don’t need (like all the studio pottery made, ever) is just too difficult to resist.

I’ve been so good. So chaste. So in control.

Then my friend Alison asked if I could take her and her very nice mom thrifting around Palm Springs to help find a few replacement pieces for her new apartment. I was like sure, no problem, happy to help, would love to tag along, how nice, this will be fun…until it happened. THRIFT BINGE 2012.

At the end of the day Ali and I amassed and inventoried our finds behind the Angelview in Cathedral City and grabbed a couple iphone pics of our conquests. No big deal, no worries, whatever…only about 80% of that pile is mine even though I was supposed to be helping her find stuff and NOT buy things for me.


I fell off the wagon in a big way, but hey, at least I did it with style.

What the what is mine? Shame list:

Vintage Eames wire chair (with vintage effiel base!)
Tall teak salad bowl thing / soon to be planter
Big leather pouf
Rattan magazine holder
Three pillows from around the world (Turkish, Mexican, Japanese)
Two tall ceramic vases
One glass container / future terrarium

*Yes. I actually let Ali pry that sweet fiber art hanging from my greedy clutching fingers. Obviously because I’m super generous and just amazing in general. She deserved it. Dammit.

**Also, thank you to Mrs. Brislin for coming along and funding all the stuff I made Ali buy for her new pad.

Despite the initial photo evidence to the contrary, things haven’t been all thrift scores and amazing vintage finds for my buddy Alison the last few months. Pretty much? Everything has been terrible after the sudden onset of some major medical issues, best described in her words:

Over the summer I had to have emergency surgery to have a grapefruit sized tumor in one of my ovaries removed, a sudden and shocking discovery during a routine exam. It was rapidly growing and compromising my organ function, and having been cut off of my insurance just mere days prior by my ex-boyfriend, I had no choice but to hand over my credit card to the hospital to perform the surgery. Which leads me to where I am today: buried in $15,000 of debt. I was incredibly fortunate to bounce back health-wise and I’m doing great now, but it’s impossible to get ahead and a daily stress on my life.

My friends and I put our heads together to figure out a fun way to have a fundraiser to help pay my medical bills. I’ve been braiding hair ever since I was a little girl, when my mom taught me how on my American Girl dolls. I’ve never stopped! Braids By Brislin is a braid bar fundraiser and a fun night of hair braiding and friends – to help me shave off some debt and to make some ladies feel pretty. Whitney of Myrtle has been lovely enough to host the event at her store, so I hope you can join us for a wonderful time. We’ll be scheduling braids and accepting walk-ins, so email me to schedule a time or if you have any questions. Thank you so much for your support, I’m incredibly grateful!

Scary awful crap city.

I’m ecstatic that Alison is now healthy, but also intensely pissed that in order to be so, she was buried under a huge pile of medical debt. Personally? Her exact situation is a constant crushing fear of mine being similarly uninsured, now getting older and dealing with my own ongoing medical issues. This fundraiser hits me right in my sympathy bone and it seems unfairly cruel to force anyone to choose between their health and crippling debt.

*On a side note: I’m not super comfortable outlining the various reasons and history of why I don’t have medical insurance. Its personal and complicated, but mostly its boring. Do please assume I’m at least a mildly clever freelance person who has made a huge effort to find a solution which just hasn’t panned out yet.

Braids By Brislin >> come get your hair did, shop it up and hang out with nice folks this Saturday for a good cause.

A bunch of super great ladies have banned together for the Braids By Brislin | Braid Bar fundraiser being held this Saturday at Myrtle, Los Angeles. View the braid menu here or email Alison directly via to schedule a private appointment with her or check if there are any appointments left. I believe Ali is mostly booked up for Saturday but there will be open time each hour for walk-ins as well.

Can’t make it? Want to help? Go ahead and make a donation to Alison directly right here.

I’m going to be there hanging out (even though my hair is sadly too short for braids). Kate Miss will be there being awesome (she also designed that great Braids By Brislin site and logo). Laure Joliet will also to be representin’ (whose head has been an inspirational vessel for braiding). Plus tons more attractive and fascinating (and maybe single?) folks.

Come! Say hi! Be merry! Help a lady out!

A braid bar fundraiser

October 20th 2 – 7pm
2213 Sunset Boulevard,
Los Angeles 90026

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  1. Katie on 10/18/2012:

    I started reading this post envious at the amazing thrifting opps in the States (I’m in the UK), then ended it grateful that we have free healthcare here. Swings and roundabouts eh? Hope Alison’s braid event is a hit.

  2. Fleur on 10/18/2012:

    I am de-lurking to tell you my solution to the terrible state of health insurance in the States was to move to Australia. I miss America alot and often, but hearing stories like your friends’ above helps reaffirm my decision to leave. Wishing you good health, storage solutions and a health insurance fairy!

  3. jeannette on 10/18/2012:

    as a freelance person i’ve paid for my own health insurance for nearly 30 years. does your state have subsidized health ins for low/no-income people? mine does, and it reduced my monthly bill from $700 a month to $176. good luck, it’s real out here.

  4. THE BRICK HOUSE on 10/18/2012:

    jeannette – I have checked into that, and as I sort of alluded to earlier, there are a couple mitigating factors that I’m not totally psyched to share super duper publicly. Ugh. US healthcare just seems nutty in general.

  5. Katherine Smith on 10/18/2012:

    Wow. I live in Cat City, and I spend a lot of time wandering around thrift stores in the area and I just see piles of junk. This is the difference between someone who knows about STUFF and how to curate and me, a lay person.

    I’m in LA this Saturday and I will try to make it to Alison’s fundraiser. My hair is driving me nuts! I need a good reason to spend money on someone fiddling with it! But I’m a fat person, so I might not feel comfortable being around a bunch attractive (and single?) people. We’ll see how my social anxiety does. :-/

  6. maggie on 10/18/2012:

    My husband didn’t have insurance for a few years and I got a lot of shit about not putting him on my (very, very expensive) company plan from people so I respect your decision not to go into the details. It’s a very complicated issue that only seems to be getting worse. I’ve had multiple friends WITH insurance who have gotten very ill and had to have fundraisers because as soon as you get sick, the insurance company tries to find ways to not pay for it so sometimes I wonder what is even the point. Ugh.

  7. Furpants on 10/18/2012:

    I love your thrifting habit. You have a real gift there!

    For your friend Alison, I hope she makes the $$ soon. I have insurance and I still end up paying through the nose every time I need a test or procedure. The US needs a single payer policy. It blows my mind when people who are opposed to “Obamacare” go on about how we have the greatest health care system in the world here. I just have to assume those people have never had any medical issues themselves, or in their families, because the system is so broken, and stories like Alison’s are all too common.

  8. Frances on 10/18/2012:

    I was a freelancer person who had to buy my own insurance for a while. They FUCKED ME on my completely boring and common “pre-existing conditions” (a history of depression and fucking rosacea). They wanted like $400 extra a month as a penalty for having gone to therapy for a while and for having rosy cheeks. Bastards. It was a weirdly terrifying and emotional experience trying to get insurance; I totally would have given up if it weren’t for the nice insurance agent who was helping me and holding my hand. I feel for you, sister.

  9. Erin on 10/18/2012:

    Move to CANADA! Or better yet, QUEBEC!
    Healthcare for all! $7/day Daycare! Dirt cheap university degrees!

    Hmm.. The awesomeness of Canada was mentioned a few times during the latest presidential debate, but unfortunately only in the context of our bottom barrel business tax rate and the prospect shipping Albertan oil to Texas via an environmental horrorshow..
    We’ve got actual awesomeness up in here.. but these things might be construed as SOCIALIST! Cosmos Forbid!! Socialism! EVIL!!

    Sorry, got carried away there.. and I’m sorry about the private insurance struggles. Obamacare is a step in the right direction, I can only hope there are more steps to follow

  10. Nikki Kelly on 10/18/2012:

    That is some lame business Alison is going through right now. 🙁

    I will say that is some sweet loot you two pulled in. I’ve never been so lucky thrifting. Maybe I find one or two awesome (to me at least) things a year. It must be more about how often you go and where you live. Oh, and what is that little geometric rock looking thing on the bottom left, in front of the boat shaped basket? It looks fancy!

    Love the blog btw, and your IG feed, and little Bea! I want to cuddle her so bad.

    Nikki Kelly @ the ambitious procrastinator

  11. THE BRICK HOUSE on 10/18/2012:

    Katherine Smith – I’m chubby and I always feel out of place in LA. I try to make up for it with my sparkling wit and my filthy mouth.

    Erin – Can Canada let me in to it? Because I love Canada.

    Nikki – it’s hit or miss. I used to go all the time, but now not so much. You never know what is going to be out there. Oh, and yeah that is a geometric rock and half of a pair of book ends.

  12. Ladybug on 10/18/2012:

    Dude, I agree with Erin, Canada is awesome! I can’t even imagine what it must be like having to pay for help care, such a sad situation for your friend and anyone else who gets sick and isn’t rich.

    Also we need to be chubby here to keep us warm! And we spend our free time eating poutine and butter tarts!

  13. Kathy on 10/18/2012:

    Another Canadian here! Love my country and our healthcare but the thrift stores in my area suck! I would love to find half the amazing things you do.

    Glad to hear Alison is doing well and I wish her luck with her fundraiser.

  14. nickarmadillo on 10/19/2012:

    All political issues aside (It’s tough being one of the few right-wingers in the design community. I find myself constantly having to hold my tongue when I see comments like these), I hope that your friend makes a full and speedy recovery.

    Also, those thrifts are simply amazing. While I’ve never had any desire to live in Cali, your thrift shop stock does give me a slight twinge of jealousy. Perhaps one day I’ll get a chance to head back over there and go on my dream vintage binge.

  15. Brooke on 10/19/2012:

    I was going to chime in the same sentiment. Every time I hear a story like that I am even more grateful to live in Canada. Sure our healthcare doesn’t pay for everything (prescriptions, eyeglasses etc) but with my work coverage and AB health I pay almost nothing for any kind of medical expense you could think of.

    We’d love to have you in Canada 🙂 though you’d find that good thrifting is hard to come by unless you’re in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal.

  16. the brick house on 10/19/2012:

    I’ve never met a Canadian I didn’t like. Keep being cool, Canada. I hate your hatefully cold snow, though. Dick move, climate!

  17. Yvonne Cornell on 10/19/2012:

    Your friend, Ali & her braids, is precious, resourceful and her positive approach to her situation will be rewarded in kind. I sent the e-mail posting from her Braid Bar Fundraiser to all my friends in Los Angeles to support Ali and get their very own “Katniss” or “Crown” braid in support of sweet Ali. Even dudes with long hair! Hope that was ok too. Please post us up later on how it all went down 🙂

  18. Catherine on 10/21/2012:

    Alison’s is the kind of story I hear too often when I am in the U.S. and I have never encountered where I live now, in France. My husband recently got laid off, but we still can go to the doctor–so important when you have a young child. I know people with cancer, and they are bummed about the disease but have no worries about paying for treatment. Nobody here goes bankrupt or loses their house when they’re sick.
    Obamacare is a good start, but real socialized medicine would be better.

  19. Simone on 10/21/2012:

    I saw pictures of you at the bloggers conference, I don’t think you are too big or anything. From over here it looked pretty normal to me. I find that women who diet with a vengance tend to transpose that selfhate onto people who don’t diet.
    Last year I had a “thing” that could be serious and required research in the hospital. I can’t say how immensely grateful I was that that fear was not topped off with the stress of having to pay all the bills as well. So how people can have objections to centralised healthcare is beyond me.
    A tip for your friend: there is a book called “Anticancer” it is written by Mr. Servan Schreiber a doctor who faced aggressive braincancer himself and through research and investigation found things he could do to aid his body in its healingproces.
    I wish you all the best and a succesful fundraiser. I have a daughter with 76cm long hair, but the west-side of the US is a bit far awayfor us.

  20. BelindieG on 10/21/2012:

    I’m with Jeanette. I’ve paid for my own health insurance through Kaiser, and while it’s not amazing, it’s been pretty good. I don’t understand why people can shop. shop, shop but then claim they can’t afford to buy health insurance. Yes, many countries in the EU have state-provided health care, but the citizens also pay higher taxes (or higher than any place but California)–it’s not “free”.

  21. Yvonne Cornell on 10/22/2012:

    Folks — Self employment insurance!? Ha! Poor Ali would NOT qualify for her own health care insurance yet. Not until 2014 does the portion of ObamaCare kick in called “guaranteed issue” where a policy is offered to any eligible applicant without regard to health status. In other words, Ali would be hard-pressed to qualify because of her “pre existing” condition. I sure hope the braiding was a start at chipping away at those bills. Hang in there Ali!! Yvonne 🙂

  22. The Vintage Cabin on 10/22/2012:

    That just sucks – if I win the lottery I’ll know where to send some of the dough. Things aren’t 100% rosy here with Canada’s system but shiiiiiit, you guys would be better off going to a veterinarian for services. My dog has better care than you do there! I pay $80 a month for insurance for him and so far he has had two major spinal surgeries costing almost $15,000 and it was all covered. So why can your fucking PET get high quality insurance yet you can’t (these vet insurance plans are available in the US too)!? It makes me sick. That said, at least you don’t have to say aboot all the time and use loonies and toonies for currency.

  23. Greenieweenie on 11/24/2012:

    US health care is a national embarrassment. I loathe it and it is reason number one I don’t want to live there anymore. When I first moved to Hong Kong I got bit by a snake, medevac’d by helo to the hospital and had overnight observation stay in the public ward to the tune of 12 USD. I was able to put my health first, for the first time in years. Had I been in the US, I just would have thought, forget it. See if poison sets in and then I’ll do something about it. I’m so touched that HK actually gives a shit about my health–and I’m not even a permanent resident. The US system is just WRONG.

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