Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten Pocket Finds - 2013 Edition

This year was filled with great finds. It's so hard to pick my top ten! I did narrow the list down to include only vintage pieces, with the one exception being an item that is vintage-inspired. These are not at all the most valuable things I found this year, or even the most desirable in the vintage marketplace, but they are all things that are meaningful to me and every single piece on the list is something that I will keep forever. In roughly ascending order of importance, here they are:

1. Parties for Children book

The cover alone is to-die-for but this book is in pristine condition and chock full of very usable ideas for parties. I have already referred to this book a number of times while planning my children's birthday parties as well as classroom celebrations in my role as room parent. I am a big fan of simple and wholesome party activities, and the ideas in this book are both, as well as being loads of fun for kids.

2. Poodle bookends

These bookends are not vintage but rather vintage-inspired. Originally available at Anthropologie, I found these at a thrift store over the summer and fell hard. When I first posted this find, I mentioned that I secretly covet a french poodle for a pet and boy, did I ever receive a reader backlash from that statement! There is no risk of me having my poodle dream come true in the near future, so for now, I will have to content myself with my poodle bookends and I am quite happy to do so.

 3. Golden Ceramic Christmas Tree

I never realized I wanted one of these until I saw this sitting there on the thrift store shelf in all its golden glory. I was a little nervous about bringing it home but when I apologetically presented my find to my husband he surprised me by saying he loved it because it reminded him of one that his grandma used to have.

4. Silver plate serving pieces

I found these pieces at a small church thrift store for practically nothing. I immediately scooped them up because I knew I would get loads of use out of them, and the pie servers remind me of one my mother had. I think they are just lovely and I do use them all the time. Side note: none of these pieces have much wear or tarnish, it's just my poor photography once more rearing its head.

5. Agate Necklace

This agate and mother of pearl necklace is one of my favorite finds ever. I love wearing it and always receive compliments when I do. And I love the feel of the flat, cool smooth-as-glass stones. Definitely a keeper piece!

6. Brown-to-Blue Ottoman

This one makes my list because I love the transformation from drab and dated to cool and contemporary.

7. Moss Rose Blue Ridge Pottery dishes

This is the year I officially became a Blue Ridge pottery collector. Before now, I had always resisted it when I stumbled upon it. I try not to add new patterns to my already sizable collecting scope, but how could I resist? This pattern is so perfectly me. I love the simplicity, the neutral colors, the name of the pattern...everything about it. Blue Ridge pottery tends to be either really showy or very simple, and as I prefer the simple patterns this will hopefully keep my acquisitions in check.

8. Nativity Set

Did I need another Nativity set? Uh...undoubtedly not need, considering I have a collection of at least six full sets, at least ten vintage Shiny Brite plastic ones of various sizes, and countless stray figures waiting to be reunited with the rest of their people once I find them. However, I did not yet have a stable, so when I scored this set by stalking the stockist putting out new merchandise at my favorite thrift store, I was overjoyed. I put it on display in my foyer and everyone who steps inside my home is touched by it and stops to take a closer look. 

9. vintage cookie cutters, collection

 What can I say? I can't resist them. This year I was also lucky enough to find a teeny tiny set of miniature ones that match my full-size ones.

As well as a large addition to my vintage red plastic collection. 

 And even more exciting, some of the coppery colored ones, in absolutely mint condition.

10. vintage ornaments, collection

It's incredibly hard to decide whether I love my ornaments or my cookie cutters more, so really, these last two are a tie. But these vintage ornaments just make me so, so happy. For the past two years, I have had enough ornaments to decorate a large tree exclusively with vintage ornaments. Actually, our second tree is usually at least half full of vintage ornaments, too, but ornaments of a different type--the cute little wooden variety, usually. I like those too, but the fragile glass balls are my favorite.


So there you have it, ten of my favorite finds of 2013. I hope to have many, many more to share with you in 2014. Thank you for following along with me this past year and I wish each of you a very happy New Year!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Latest Finds

Again, it's been awhile since my last post and I have found a few treasures since then so an update is in order.

I love thrifting this time of year because all the stores are swimming in Christmas merchandise. Of course, you do need to dig through a lot of less desirable stuff in order to find what you're hoping for, but that does not dissuade me. Here are some of my latest finds:

I'll start with my favorite of the bunch, a lovely, nearly complete Nativity set. The baby Jesus is not the one that goes with the rest of the set, one of the sheep is missing, and the other has a broken leg, but I can live with those small flaws while I search for their replacements.

More vintage ornaments! I especially like the red "Christmas Greetings" ornament, although I can never have too many striped ones.

Another set of Swedish angel chimes. I haven't pulled these out of the box to see if the set is complete, but I really bought them only for the angels themselves. Inspired by a Pinterest image of a lovely Advent wreath that incorporated the angels, and I'd like to try to create my own version next year. I also think they might work as ornaments on my tabletop Victorian Christmas tree.

These two ceramic houses. Not really sure that they are vintage, but I thought they had a vintage look and could be incorporated into a charming winter display.

This funny little Christmas scene. This was still sealed in the box, so all I could see was the tip of the sweet little bottle brush tree. While this will never be a focal point of my Christmas decorating, my kids think its cute and it dresses up a small tucked away windowsill in my house.

And then I found some lovely things for entertaining. I was lucky to find a set of six vintage etched glass compotes that are simple but stunning. (Also hard to photograph! This picture does not do them justice.) I already have a very sentimental set of twelve vintage compotes that belonged to my grandmother but I am terrified of using them around my children. These compotes are just as beautiful as my grandmother's, but if one or two breaks I won't need to seek counseling.

And then a very simple small serving platter from Crate and Barrel. I have a few pieces that coordinate with this plate, and I know its one of those things I will reach for over and over. Side note: these pomanders are from the third grade class party that I coordinated last week and were a very easy project and a huge hit with all the kids. Highly recommend to any room parents out there who might need to keep an eye out for easy, low-cost, and entertaining kids' crafts. Of course, you needn't be a room parent to enjoy making these with your children.

There are a few other finds, but I'll hold off and post about them later. I'm also working on a Top Ten Finds of 2013 post, where I'll review a few of my favorite vintage things that I've found in the last twelve months. Not sure there is any more thrifting to be done before I call it a year, but I'll hold off posting that recap until New Year's just the same. Linking this one up to Sir Thrift a Lot and headed over there now to see what everyone else has picked up lately.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Harkerware Jackpot

I used to find Harkerware in the thrifts pretty frequently. Not every outing, for sure, and not always in patterns that I wanted, but at least monthly, I would find a piece or often more at a shop. Lately, however, it has become a rarer sight. And I hadn't seen a single piece in at least the last four months.

But last week, my luck changed. I had a very successful shopping trip to my current favorite thrift store, and scored a number of pieces in one of my favorite Harker patterns, the teal green Corinthian. Just look at all this!

Four dinner plates, two dessert plates, two bowls, and a serving platter. All in good to excellent condition. There is a small discoloration on one of the rims of the dinner plates and the dessert plates are a little worn so I thought about leaving them behind but I'm very glad I didn't. The prices were very reasonable, too, which is notable because this particular thrift has been overpricing their china and glassware for quite some time.

I also lucked out and found this matching covered dish on the next aisle over.

Lately, I've been collecting so much white china it is nice to spice things up a little with some color. And definitely something a little bolder than my usual turquoise. These dishes would actually be very pretty around Christmastime.

I hope you have had some luck finding some pretty treasures lately, too!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Advent Wreath, Thrift Style

Every year, I make an Advent wreath to mark the days leading to the Christmas season. Usually, I make a simple wreath of greenery with four tapers in the traditional purple and rose. I love the spare beauty of those wreaths, which befits the season, but this year I wanted to do something a little different.

I started with a sturdy square wooden base that I picked up on clearance (I believe I paid $5) at a home furnishings store a couple of years ago. I actually had the intention of turning it into an ice cream cone holder of all things, but that idea derailed and I needed to find another use for the heavy wooden tray. It did not take me too long to realize it would make a perfect base for my Advent wreath project.

Inside the wooden base, I placed four thrifted flower pots, which I filled with sand to weigh them down.

Then, I placed a thick taper candle (which were also collected in thrift shops) into the sand in each pot, three a pale lavender blue and the fourth a soft rose pink. I laid a bit of moss on top of each pot to cover the sand and add another layer of earthy texture.

Around the inside edge of the base, in a wreath-like shape, I arranged fresh greenery, a combination of variegated boxwood and spruce branches. To add interest, I tucked a couple of thrifted pinecone picks into the greenery.

I then added a set of silver plate Christmas angel ornaments which I found new in their box at a church rummage sale last year. They are absolutely perfect for an Advent wreath, as they read "hope, love, and faith," which correspond to the meaning of each of the purple or blue candles that traditionally appear in an Advent wreath.

Unfortunately, there were only three ornaments in the set, so there was no "joy" to correspond with the third, or rose, candle, but as this candle is different from the others, I see no reason why that ornament can't be different as well. So I made my own "joy" ornament, and placed all four among the greenery with some vintage violet ribbon as the final touch.

And here is the final product: a simple yet beautiful Advent wreath to lead us through this season of preparation and anticipation.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Scandinavian Christmas Finds

I was super excited to find a small cache of Swedish Christmas goodies on my latest thrift outing. You all know how I've been slightly obsessed with creating a Scandinavian Christmas in the near future...well, I'm definitely one step closer after this mini haul.

Just steps inside the door of the shop, I spotted the familiar brightly polished Swedish red in the racks of bagged Christmas ornaments. I pulled out several bags from the masses and was delighted to find these candleholders:

Four little red pigs and one traditionally painted candle pot, all marked "Sweden."

Also, an entire bag full of Swedish crafting materials, including sweet wired toadstools, red spun cotton balls, shiny painted apples in different sizes, and braided straw for making ornaments:

And speaking of ornaments, there were these precious little straw hearts and a more elaborate design in the bag, too:

On top of all this goodness, I also found some picket fencing that I plan to put to use while making my other yuletide dream come true--constructing a Pennsylvania Dutch putz under my vintage Christmas tree. Haven't decided if I'll glitter this fencing or go for a natural look. I am leaning towards natural but might paint it white or even a vintage dark green. Maybe leave natural but add a dusting of faux snow.

I can't wait to incorporate these new treasures into my Christmas crafting and decorating schemes. Just need to make it past Thanksgiving and I will go to town!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Christmas Garland DIY

I did enjoy a little thrifting on Friday and scored some nice finds, but I'll keep you in suspense and instead write about something else tonight. I saw a festive garland in a catalog last week and clipped it out knowing that I could make one just as cute. I can't find an image of the garland online as it was actually just a prop in the background, but it was a simple brown paper garland spelling out the words "TOAST" and attached to baker's string with small glittered clothespins.

While dinner was cooking a couple of nights ago, I assembled the supplies from my craft closet and got to work. I ended up glittering every last mini clothespin I had, it was so much fun and they looked so pretty. I tried out a number of different glitters: large silver flakes, teensy tiny bronze, and shimmery white crystals. For the clothespins on this garland, I actually mixed all three together. It's very festive.

Instead of writing TOAST, which would be perfectly wonderful for New Year's Eve, I decided to write PEACE. I will spare you the sermon, but lately peace has been on my mind a lot, or more accurately, the lack of peace in this world. Peace is what I am praying for, and so peace is what I wrote. However, I plan to make a few other words as well so I can modify the garland to suit different occasions.

Now, I know that bringing about peace on earth is going to take more than just 30 minutes and some craft paint, but maybe if we all spent more time crafting instead of playing violent video games, the world would be a better place. Oh, wait, I promised no sermon! So, just make the garland. It's fun, it's easy, and just might contribute to world peace.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thrift Lit: Children's Books

Awhile back, I lucked out and found quite a few wonderful books to take home for the kids. I spent a good hour or more in just the children's book department of a thrift store, patiently going through each rack of books to weed out the ones that I could justify adding to our ever more crowded bookshelves.

Fletcher made the cut:

I had this book as a child and absolutely adored it. I had forgotten all about it, but as soon as I spotted the distinctive cover, the happy memories came flooding back and without hesitation, into my cart it went. I just read it (to myself, not a child in sight!) and am happy to report that I am still in love with Fletcher!

I'd never seen this cute book before, but as my two younger children are emerging readers, I always take a look at "I Can Read Books." This one is particularly nice because it explains about the day-to-day real life of a cowboy.

All three of my children will enjoy this next book, which is part of the popular Tracy Kane Fairy series. This one is one of the better sequels in the series, in my opinion.

And I can't pass up a classic hardback written by one of my favorite children's authors, especially one in pristine condition with the dust jacket:

And I also have a hard time saying no to children's bibles, as I treasure the one that I had as a child and want my kids to have many good versions to read and learn from. This one is a Golden Press edition and dates to the early 1970s.

And I picked up this beautifully illustrated (by Paul Galdone) story book for a little friend of mine who loves whales. It is well-loved but I think my friend will appreciate it anyway.

Another fun vintage find for my little daughter. She is learning to read and desperate for homework. This should help on both fronts. It was unused and is actually quite a good learning tool. I can't understand those learn to read workbooks that have a paragraph of directions on each page! If the child could read the directions, they wouldn't need the book! This little workbook can be done intuitively, so I don't have to hover over her the whole time she's working.

As the weather turns colder and we are indoors a little more, we will have plenty of reading material to keep us busy. And I also know just where to get more. If you are not a book thrifter, I highly recommend you give it a chance. There are such gems just waiting to be uncovered.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Before & After: Wooden Sign

If you've been wondering where I've been, in all honesty, I burned myself out a bit when I went on a thrifting tear a couple of weeks back! I needed to dig out from under my latest piles of goodies, and devote some time to sprucing up a few of the fixer-uppers that I brought home.

Here is a simple Before & After that I whipped out tonight. I've been wanting a little sign to incorporate into my Christmas decorating and when I saw a shabby looking one at the thrift store I knew it was the one. I loved the gently worn edges and the fact that it was in dire need of a new lease on life.

Here's the before:

Lovely, no?

And here's the after:

I find it much improved, don't you? It is not perfect--as usual, I was too impatient for perfection--but for a 15 minute, $1.99 project, I am rather fond of it. It makes my Francophile, Christmas loving  heart happy. And what you can't see from this photograph is that the words are ever so lightly dusted with a very fine shimmery glitter, just enough to quietly shine in the background of a festive (and no doubt vintage) yuletide display.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Few Good Finds

I wasn't going to go out this morning, really! But then I pictured the possibility of wonderful Christmas decorations being put out on the shelves and worried that I would miss out. So off I went, and although it wasn't a big haul kind of a day, I am pleased with what I uncovered.

This sweet elf mistletoe ball will most definitely find a place of honor in one of our doorways this Christmas. He's in near perfect condition, and although at first I intended to pull him right off his perch and throw away the faux mistletoe, I admit that the plastic greenery is growing on me and I now plan to leave it as is. I'm a classy gal, I am.

I also found a few tiny non-vintage bottle brush trees. I am planning to make some snow globes this year with the kids and these will be perfect, especially at 49 cents for the bunch!

I'm always keeping an eye out for vintage cookie cutters and I came across a pile of Christmas ones. Of course, in the bundle were a star, a Santa, and a bell, each of which I already own six or seven copies! But I was thrilled to find this round cutter with green handle. I am such a sucker for the green handled kitchen tools and this one is in great condition, just needs a little cleaning and it will be stunning.

Some fairy bookplates that my daughter will love were an easy choice:

And these little berry bowls:

All in all, not a bad haul for a quiet morning. And then I came home and finally set up this blog to be viewed on BlogLovin', so if you are so inclined, you may now find me there. Simply click the link below. Thank you, as always, for reading. Your interest and feedback make this little hobby great fun for me!

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