Friday, November 30, 2012

Frugal Friday

Hello, I'm Anne and I'm a thriftaholic. I felt a little bit guilty this morning when I made the decision to skip the preschool sing-a-long in favor of a little field trip to a new thrift I just learned about. In my defense, it is only open twice a week and it is a bit of a jaunt so I can't just go there on a whim. And today is the only day in quite awhile that I'll be able to get there. And do they really need another voice for the "Wheels on the Bus" chorus? I think not. Do I sound defensive?

I did uncover some treasures, so it was all worth it. (Although I have already promised my daughter that I won't miss the next one, okay? So please no judgment!)

Here is a cache of vintage Christmas ornaments, all in good shape and in my favored color palette. Lovely!

I also picked up a couple of non-vintage angel ornaments. I am thinking I will probably do an all-angel theme tree someday soon so I had better start looking for sweet angel ornaments!

There was a small collection of vintage aprons, and although I contemplated purchasing the lot, I decided to take just the cutest one. I love this adorable fabric, don't you?

I love these old Christmas sewing kits--a brand new sequined Santa napkin ring kit and a partially finished sequined ornament kit.

This little footstool was too cute to pass up. It will be one of my next projects. I plan to paint the wood a creamy shade and recover the seat to give it an update. Since it is small, I have a good chance of getting to this before Christmas. It would fit perfectly in my sitting room, but my girls are already fighting over who gets it for their room, so we may resort to a lottery.

In addition to these finds, I also picked up yet another Advent wreath candle holder, some cute ski pants for my daughter, an American Girl Samantha board game that I'd never seen before, and a couple of toys for my son. All in all, I'd say it was a successful trip. Now I'm torn between staying home and working on some of my projects or heading out to explore new thrifting territory tomorrow. I'll keep you posted. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Last of the Stash

Here are the last few finds from my treasure-hunting weekend. I have had so much fun incorporating them into my home!

Here is a reproduction Russel Wright pitcher. Oneida came out with this line a few years ago and I purchased a black one then but this blue color was so lovely that I couldn't pass it up, even though there was a small chip on the spout (the 75 cent price tag was also an incentive!). My mother had a set of blue Russel Wright Iroquois dinnerware that we always used for holidays when I was a child and while this blue is not exactly the same shade, it is close enough to serve as a happy reminder of Christmases past. I plan to fill it with seasonal greens and perch it on my bookshelves in my living room.

I found these 1970's cuties at one of the Goodwills we hit that weekend. I am not a huge fan of the overly rosy cheeks, and considered painting over them before adding them to my son's vintage sports-themed bedroom, but after some quick online research I decided that at some point I may wish to resell them and altering them would decrease their value.

I'm always on the lookout for vintage greeting cards, wrapping paper and paper goods. I do try to be selective, especially with the cards, unless I can find a big batch for pennies. I picked these out of a large bin to add to my collection. Not the finest I own, but charming in their own little way.

My friend shook her head at me when I threw this next item into my shopping cart--a replica Plymouth Rock. I thought it was adorable despite the cheesy packaging and loved it even more when I unwrapped it and set it out next to the Gurley Pilgrim candles (a flea market find) at Thanksgiving.  I really wish I'd picked up the turkey candle, too!

This glass owl paperweight reminded me of my professor sister, and I may end up giving it to her at some point. Until then, it roosts on my desk.

I just couldn't leave this beaded lace collar in the dollar bin of a pricey stall at the flea market. It is in excellent shape and will be a nice addition to the fancy dress-up collection that I break out for special tea parties for my girls.

And finally, here is a small pinecone candleholder that I picked up intending to spray paint. I decided to use it as a pedestal for my vintage tree topper. I may still paint it at some point, but for now, I kind of like the aged bronzey color on my mantel display.

And there you have it. All of my finds from my weekend, except a couple that are earmarked for Christmas gifts. Perhaps I will share those with you after the holiday, when no surprise will be spoiled. I hope you enjoyed seeing my haul, and I look forward to sharing many more treasures with you soon!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Before and Afters

So, its pretty obvious that I love collecting vintage goodies, but I also love to hunt for things that I can re-design or re-purpose into useful and beautiful things for my home. I enjoy browsing in trendy home boutiques and catalogs, but I can't stomach the prices! Additionally, I like my home to reflect my personal taste and unique style and that means weaving in all the quirky collections and sentimental "stuff" that brings me such joy each day, and giving more standard household items my unique spin. I'm always looking for things that I can tweak to be more "me." Of course, I also love that re-purposing helps our planet in just a tiny little way. I'm making a concerted effort to reduce my consumption, and while this is far from easy, shopping secondhand makes me feel like at least I'm heading in the right direction.

Here are a couple of projects I completed this weekend. I found this candlestick at a thrift last weekend and brought it home to join two similar candlesticks I already owned. When purchased, all three were this brown color.

The color was fine, just nothing special. I've recently seen sets of antique white distressed candlesticks in stores and catalogs like Ballard's Designs, and I knew I could replicate them for much, much less than they were going for. Using heirloom white spray paint I already had, I gave them a good painting and distressing with coarse sandpaper. They now look like this:

Don't worry--this is not how I plan to display them! I am in the process of pulling out all my Christmas decorations and this funny vintage music box just seemed to land here. It will soon find a more appropriate home.
Here is another easy project that I completed yesterday. I also bought this--whatever it is--at a thrift shop last weekend. As soon as I saw it, I knew what I would do with it. It appears that it was meant to hold candles or tealights or something of the sort, as the base was covered with wax drippings. And it might look nice as a candleholder. But I had other plans. I absolutely adore this aquamarine color, and use it a lot throughout my home, especially at Christmastime. I knew immediately that I would clean it up, keep the base color, change the bow accent color, and use it to display vintage glass ornaments. This is the "before" picture.

And this is the "after" :

I'm pretty happy with the results and I'm now itching to finish up a couple of more complicated projects that have been sitting around for awhile. What do you think of my handiwork?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thrift Therapy, Part Deux

Here are a few more treasures that were uncovered during last weekend's thrifting adventure. I am still going through everything that I purchased and figuring out what I will do with each and every piece. Some have already found their place in my home, some will be reworked and repainted and will then re-emerge to claim their rightful spot, and some will be tucked away for another day. I've been having great fun today transforming a few of the treasures and I will share the before and after shots soon.

It is no secret I love to bake, and a natural extension of that passion is a collection of vintage cake toppers and decorating implements. (At least, I think its a natural extension--I know some people may not agree and may actually think I am nuts! You know who you are...)

I found these delightful ladies at a large outdoor flea market, mixed in with a bunch of ragged vintage Christmas decorations. I thought they were adorable. I think they might be 1950's bridesmaids but I am not sure.

Now, I mentioned they were mixed in with a lot of Christmas didn't think I left them behind, did you?

I love these angels and have a few of them already. I guess now I am a full-fledged collector of paper cone angels! I don't think the bottle brush tree is vintage but it was cute so I took it, too. Hiding behind the harp is a little plaster cast angel. She will look sweet in one of my miniature nativity scenes that I set up this time of year.

After I paid for the Christmas stuff and cake toppers, I took one last look at the messy table. Covered in white fuzz, this adorable little stuffed deer peered up at me and I just couldn't leave him behind.

I tried to research him on the web when I got home. I never found an exact match, but I suspect that this is a vintage Dakin deer from either the 1950s or 1960s.

Also at the same flea market, I found two of these vintage Wedgewood plates. The shady dealer claimed they were 1840s, which I doubted (turns out they date to the 1880s), but for $4 for the pair, I couldn't resist. I had been hoping to find a few more plates to hang on my dining room wall. Because they are going on the wall, I didn't mind the single tiny chip on each plate. I did mind when the dealer tried to steal $20 from me, but unfortunately for him, I was paying attention and he was unsuccessful. But it was a good reminder that one must be careful when paying with cash and when dealing with people one does not know.

I have a few more finds from the trip to show you, and also some thrifty transformations that I've been working on. Check back soon!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thrift Therapy

Thrifting time has been scarce this fall as I settle into my new surroundings and new routine. And although I recently have discovered a couple of shops nearby, it takes effort to get there and so I have found myself in withdrawal. What was needed was a whole weekend devoted to nothing but treasure hunting. Thankfully, my dear friend Gina has been bitten by the thrift bug and she was willing to meet me halfway (or almost halfway) to scout out some new territory.

And what treasures we uncovered! On Saturday, we hit several small thrifts shops before practically closing down (and cleaning out) Savers. Here are some of my favorite finds of the day:

A vintage sewing instruction book on how to lay out and cut a pattern. I can't imagine that this process has changed much over the years and I could certainly use the help.  I also found a few cute '70's fabrics that I will give to my daughter who is working on a nine-patch quilt inspired by the Little House books.

Next up, the only purchase I regret from the trip...a rooster covered dish. We had hoped it was vintage (Westmoreland roosters fetch around $35) but alas, after a bit of research I am pretty sure he is a knock-off. Not sure yet what his fate will be. I paid $4, and ebay tells me that even the no-name look-a-likes can command $15, so maybe his life will be spared and he'll reappear in my future vintage shop. 

This next find will look like nothing to most people but is precious to me. My mother, an excellent and prolific baker, had several of these forks that she always used for baking. They are heavier than the average fork and excel at mixing butter-based batters. My mother's forks originally came from the dining hall of my uncle's Black Hills inn. Anyway, when my mother died, I inherited one and I treasure it. The edges of the tines are worn thin from years of mixing and I love using it to bake, especially with my children, because I feel like my wonderful mother is right there with us. I was thrilled to find an identical one in the junk section of a large thrift we visited on Saturday. I believe it cost me all of a quarter. As you can see, the tines on this one are nice and even, just waiting for me and my children to bake up a storm and wear them down with memories.

I found this lovely vintage basket style purse hiding in the windowsill at a small but lovely thrift shop. It was marked half price and I simply had to have it at $7.50. I especially love the metal clasp with its unique detailing. It reminds me of a Nantucket basket but I have so far been unable to determine its  age, maker, and value. Nevertheless, it will look charming in my bedroom, holding bits of my vintage costume jewelry collection.

After we hit up the small thrifts, we headed over to the thrift paradise that is Savers. Three hours later...I had a basket of treasures and some adorable fashions for my children, from mini Boden, Crewcuts, and Baby Gap. These flower power pants from mini Boden were a major hit with my daughter.

I also left with a huge stack of books, including a large supply of my girls' favorite American Girl books, many seemingly brand new.

This is actually the tip of the iceberg in terms of what I brought home. I will spread the spoils out so that I can get multiple blog posts to tide you over til my next outing! Until then, happy thrifting!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Is there an Elephant in the Room?

Let's hope so!! Much to my great delight, I have discovered a whole new genre of thrifty goodness! Last week, I nearly caused my husband to run off the road when I suddenly shrieked out "Oh My God!" as he was pulling out of a parking lot. He thought he was about to run over a pedestrian, and was none too happy with me when I confessed that my outburst was due to having spotted a sign on the church lawn across the street advertising a "White Elephant" sale this weekend. A white elephant sale? What was this? I had participated in white elephant exchanges at holiday parties in the past, but had never encountered a rummage sale with this label before. I whipped out my iPhone and quickly punched in a reminder.

After my morning hair appointment today, I raced to the other side of the center.  With great anticipation, I entered the White Elephant sale. It was small but seemed to have a nice range of items. I immediately was drawn to the two large tables of Christmas decor. I discovered a box of vintage bird ornaments, 50 cents each. I took two to add to my growing collection of feathered friends. Someday I will have enough to decorate an entire Christmas tree. Since I now have a little more space to play around with at home, I plan to have several Christmas trees each holiday season, each with its own theme. I may have to work up to this, and my goal this year is just to have three. More on this later, as I further develop my plans...

After carefully investigating the rest of the Christmas goods, I moved on to the china and glassware. I selected two glass containers that had nice shapes. I plan to use that looking glass paint to turn them into faux antiqued mercury glass. They will look awesome with the rest of my vintage Christmas decorations this year!  I will post an "after" shot once they are complete.

I also scored a vintage Texas Rangers bobblehead. I believe at the time this was made, they were called "nodders." I have no great love for the Texas Rangers, but this will look ever so cute in my son's bedroom, which is being furnished with a "vintage sports" theme. So far, I have collected old weathered table tennis paddles and a tennis racket, a set of ceramic quarterback bookends probably dating to the 1960s, and some felt pennants. I am just about ready to implement my decorating scheme, and when I do, I will post pictures of it, too.

Although I definitely plan to keep the nodder, out of curiosity, I had to sneak a peek on ebay to see if my little guy could fetch a few bucks. A couple of examples popped up immediately, with one going for around $30. Not bad, considering I paid only 50 cents for mine! 

At the same table as the nodder, I uncovered two pairs of unused vintage ladies' white gloves. I love throwing dress up parties for children, so these just might come in handy some day. Usually well-used examples go for upwards of $5 in thrift stores, so I felt good about getting both pairs for only $1.50. One came in its original bag; the other has pretty mother-of-pearl buttons at the wrists. These were a nice find.
And then I spotted a little nostalgic find: a book of children's seals from the 1970s. I grew up using this brand of decorative seal and although I don't remember this particular booklet, I have been searching for some (particularly the Christmas and Valentine's sets, FYI!). These are in mint condition, with all the seals there. Tucked inside the booklet were sheets of nature seals that I believe came from Ranger Rick or some other publication and also date to the 1970s. I might give those to my kids to use, but I will keep the Dennison's for myself. At least for awhile. I also picked up a cute mini Cape Cod souvenir booklet. It is in great condition and was just too cute to leave behind.
In the end, I decided I very much like White Elephant sales. The prices were very reasonable, there was a nice selection of goods, and no admission fee. I will be keeping my eyes and googling fingers on high alert for more!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Yum, soup!

Not long ago, for the first time in many years, I ventured into a Temple. Now, fret not! I haven't rejected my lifelong Christian beliefs; rather, I was seeking fulfillment of a different kind. A thrifty kind! The largest (only?) temple in town was hosting its annual Rummage Event. This three-day monstrosity outdid any of the church rummage sales that I have been to in the past. Day One, everything individually priced. Day Two, half price sale. Day Three, bag sale. I was worn out from the weekend, so I didn't make it to Day One, which fell on a Monday. But while my little ones were at soccer class on Tuesday afternoon, I took the three minute stroll down the street to check out the sale.

I only had a few minutes, so I had to work quickly. Luckily, I have perfected the lightning speed walk-through, and I wasted no time evaluating the two sections that were of most interest to me. Now normally, you know I love the vintage Christmas stuff, but I figured this was one sale that would disappoint on that front. So I concentrated my efforts in the kid books/games and china and glassware sections.

I immediately spotted a lovely ceramic piece among the plates and teacups that looked like old Johnson Brothers. I turned it over and indeed I was correct. It was marked $10, but since it was half price day, it was only $5. It wasn't one of my favorite Johnson Bros. patterns, but it was pretty and the piece was rather unusual. It was with the kitchen implements and seemed to possibly be a soup tureen but it had only one handle. And the lid didn't have the characteristic cut-out for a ladle. looked suspiciously like a chamber pot. But no, that couldn't possibly be, right? I brought it up to the sweet little ladies running the check out line. "What a beautiful soup tureen!" the woman checking me out exclaimed. "It is a soup tureen, right?" I asked, not at all sure. "Of course!," the lady replied, shaking her head at my ignorance. The other ladies nodded in agreement. I hesitated, but decided to buy it anyway.

my new "soup tureen"
I brought it home, placed it on my table, flipped open my laptop and googled away: "Johnson Brothers soup tureen." Countless examples of beautiful soup tureens, some with similar detailing, but none with only one handle and all had lids with the hole for a ladle. I tried googling one-handled soup tureens. Nothing came up. Then I followed my original instincts and googled Johnson Brothers chamber pot. Guess what? Of course, a number of pots very similar to mine flashed onto my screen. I had been right. I was now the proud owner of a turn of the century chamber pot. Happily, I did note that I had gotten an outstanding price for it. I only hope that some poor lady from the Temple hadn't been serving her grandma's famous matzoh ball soup in that pot for the past 50 years.