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Easy as ABC

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There is something refreshingly hopeful about the season of new school supplies. Crisp-edged Pink Pearl erasers, the immaculate white pages of a new notebook, the smell of Elmer’s glue: a fresh start! I was never a good student in elementary school, but I loved the feeling of readiness and optimism as I collected my pristine supplies and KNEW that this year I was going to be as competent in academics as I was in school supply shopping. (I would just ride the momentum of success that I had showed in this first task. Bring it, daily assignments and worksheet tedium!)

School supplies also shrink our big world. Who hasn’t shopped with some grown-up in the heat of August, collecting pencils and paste all the while denying that summer’s really over? We’ve all been there.

This weekend I garage saled with my girl Liz and we hit the most nostalgic sale. I think we squealed like schoolgirls as we rummaged through the bounty of 80’s childhood kitsch they had. Rainbow Brite, Care Bears, McDonalds Mc Nuggets characters, Smurfs: all there! (I missed you all so much!) It was like “Anne Potter, This is Your Life!” and I fully expected the cast of Saved by the Bell to come from behind the curtain, with smiles all around, congratulating me on being eight years old in 1985.

But nostalgia trip aside, the best find was humbler than all those wonderfully tacky plastic toys. Off to the side, and kept neatly stored in their original boxes, were perfect (and complete!) vintage sets of Milton Bradley flash cards. A for apple, X for xylophone: beautifully simple cards with sweet two-color illustrations. Yellowed with that paper patina that boasts experience over up-start Disney flash cards from 2005. Innocent and sweet, just perfect.

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I scooped up the two boxes, vowing to give them a second life as Back to Cool garlands. Using the same technique as I did in my Chinese Cookbook Garland, I’ll turn these wonderful flash cards into a simple decoration that will Schoolhouse Rock. Because the cards are so cool on their own, I didn’t want to use them in a project that would compomise their lovely simplicity. This project will be just perfect to show off their old-school swagger (and maybe give more reading lessons to the next generation!).

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Check out one of the finished Flash Card Garlands (lovingly named after my brothers’ elementary school).