It may come as a refreshing surprise to learn that I am not immune to impulsive purchases. The most common are farmer-generated and occur at outdoor markets year-round (at least here in the San Francisco Bay Area). Visually inspiring and delicious, veggies and fruits often lead to impromptu desires. That’s me (right) communing with a bundle of scapes at a friend’s farm stand at the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market in Seattle last month. The temptation was strong, but I resisted them despite the lure of their curls!

But here’s a first for me: while leaving the Mission Community Market last night, I got side-tracked not by produce, but by a towel. Make that a tea towel. Sven and I simultaneously noticed a whimsical print of an owl as we passed by a vendor’s table. We moved in its direction and were instantly engaged in an amusing exchange with the owl’s creator, Cristina.

While we were talking and admiring her graphic handiwork, my attention was drawn to and riveted by another towel that spoke to my organizer spirit and my creative soul. Inked within Liberated Spaces green-colored rectangles were the bold phrases, mantras, and commands “DESIGN ADVICE,” “GET RID OF CRAP,” “BUY THINGS YOU’LL LOVE FOREVER,” “MAKE STUFF.” I could have bought it on the spot, but I simply admired and walked away having been assured that she was there each week if I changed my mind. I jokingly remarked I could be back in a couple of minutes.

As we walked away, Sven and I talked towel. (How often does that happen aside from couples registering at a department store for their wedding registry?) Yeah, I really really liked it. Did I need a $10 towel? No. He offered to buy it for me. I declined. I/we don’t need another kitchen towel. We have plenty and they fill their allotted space in a kitchen drawer alongside the napkins. But oooh, the messages and the design are awesome. It’s okay to think about it for a while. He assured me that if I really wanted it, I could come back another Thursday. I countered with concern that it could have been the only green one on unbleached cotton and she may not have it again. There’s nothing like mulling something over, going back to get it, and finding that the chance had already passed. This exchange took us no more than half a block when we stopped walking and simply stood on the sidewalk to continue the towel debate.

The $10 that I purposefully left the house with was down to $6.25. I spent $3.75 on literal handfuls of organic fingerling potatoes and dry farmed Early Girl tomatoes. The towel was beyond my means of the moment. Again, Sven said he’d buy it for me. But I don’t need it. I mean, gosh, it’s so beautiful and I won’t want to use it. Okay, but what if we split the cost, I offered, leaning towards the side of acquisition and staying within my market outing budget. No, no, he said, he’d just buy it. More resistance and pondering and rationalizations. As artists ourselves, supporting another local artist is something we value. The towel is a piece of art, something that would (and already does) bring joy. As a piece of art, it was reasonably priced.

tea towel by the heatedCristina’s eyes met ours as we wended our way back to her table, and three faces were smiling. Yes, we’d like to purchase the towel. I conceded and accepted it as a gift. I walked home with this silky soft cotton towel in my hand.

What do you think? It’s pretty nice, huh? It looks great on the kitchen table, which to this day is my most amazing return on investment. This $5 purchase at a sidewalk sale in 1994 filled a need in my then uber-minimalist San Francisco studio apartment. To this day, it continues to be admired by all who see it. And now this towel. I’m going to admire it for a while and hang it in a place of honor in my office for others to admire it, too. In fact, I’m kinda hankering to use it. But just not yet…

For towel inspiration or your own spur of the moment acquisition, theheated.com