Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vintage Sewing Notions

When I am treasure hunting, there are certain things I always look for. Vintage china and glassware, of course. Children's books and toys. Christmas decorations. And Fisher-Price Little People and accessories. But I also always take a moment to comb through the craft supply section in hopes that some vintage treasures are lurking in the bins of dollar store acrylic yarns and half-used bottles of glitter glue.

Over the weekend, I found some lovely sewing and crafting notions and I can't wait to show them off. These beautiful vintage ribbons were hiding in a bag of gaudy modern Christmas ribbons. The ribbons themselves are simply lovely but the old spools add so much character. I might keep these on permanent display rather than use them up.

I also found several small bags of vintage trims, including some cool textured rayon rick-rack . I especially love the blue and white floral trim.

Then, at another store, I came across this cute vintage embroidery kit for my daughter to practice stitching on, new bamboo knitting needles, and some vintage buttons.

These precious little ribbon bows and tiny vintage millinery flowers made me smile. My girls and I will use these in our crafting work, possibly on some things we are creating for our dollhouse.

I can always use a little help refining my seamstress skill set, so I picked up this vintage sewing guide.

Since I need something to house all my little finds, this tabletop cabinet came home with me. A very sincere thank you to my friend who sawed the decorative heart trim off the top of this cabinet to simplify it and make it more my style. I'm pretty much in love with the little ceramic knobs.

I've enjoyed having the opportunity to go through my collection of vintage trims and laces as I fill this little cabinet up. It will be helpful to have vintage inspiration right at my fingertips the next time I'm working on a project. So much nicer than my old plastic Rubbermaid containers! I had so much fun checking out everyone else's weekend thrift finds last week after linking up to Sir Thrift a Lot, so I'm doing it again. Good luck out in thriftland this week, all!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

More Vintage Fun for Kids

Having three young children at home means I always have an excuse to pick up vintage children's toys, decorations, or books. But let's be honest, even if I lived alone with no little ones around, I would still be tempted by vintage children's things. They are just so much fun and bring back so many happy childhood memories. And it is even more fun to treasure hunt when I have a ready audience just waiting to play with whatever vintage goodness I bring home!

I'll start my sharing with something that conjured up not pleasant childhood memories, but bitter memories of sibling jealousy and rage! My oldest sister had this very same deluxe set of crayons, and guarded it from her little sisters with the intensity of a tiger mother protecting her cubs. How I coveted this set! When I saw this tucked in a stack of tired board games at a church rummage sale, I recognized it at once and knew it was going home with me.

Look at all those crayons lined up so nicely, and that adorable little red and gold crayon sharpener! It's no wonder my sister protected this set so ferociously; I have to admit that I, too, have yet to let my little charges play with my set.  

Next, I found this colorful United States map puzzle by Playskool. I'm guessing it is from the 1950s or 1960s. The states were packed separately in a ziploc bag, so I had to take a chance that all the pieces were there when I purchased it. Unfortunately, one of my favorite states--Rhode Island--was missing when I put it together. Luckily, RI is a tiny little state, and you can hardly even tell it is not there. I doubt this one will get much use around here anyway, at least for awhile, as it is a bit more challenging than I think my kids are ready for.

Another vintage Playskool toy is one of my favorite finds of this past week. I love this vintage parking garage almost as much as my kids do.

Awhile back, I found this Bingo set. If you recall, back in February, I found a partial set but this time I found the box and all. We love Bingo, it's a great family game and perfect for rainy days or cold winter nights when we don't want to go out and brave the wind or snow.

This next find qualifies as a toy but really, I wanted them for my adult self. I loved marbles as a child, and have been collecting them when I find them for a reasonable price, which is hardly ever. However, I stumbled across several small bags of old marbles for only 50 cents each the other day. I think they look pretty in this bird topped jar in my sitting room.

And finally, these are probably not vintage but they are a nice find nonetheless. I had previously thrifted a vintage set of plastic chess pieces but could not pass up these wooden pieces for a replacement. We've been wanting to pull out the chess board this summer to keep our skills from getting rusty, and this find just might motivate us to do that!

And now I'm off to work on preparations for my son's upcoming baseball birthday party. The adrenaline had better kick in soon because I only have two more days until the party and ever so much to do!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Vintage Christmas in July

I love vintage Christmas anytime of the year, even in the middle of a good, old-fashioned July heat wave. But I especially love Christmas when stores are having 50% off Christmas in July sales! Today, I'm highlighting the yuletide goodies I found over the weekend.

Normally, I am not one to collect or display too many Santas, but these vintage china figurines were adorable so I picked them up.

Perhaps they will make an appearance in my angel choir come December.

Or not.

I went a little Santa-crazy and also took home this vintage-look (but reproduction) cast iron Santa doorstop.

Not sure what this little elf's original purpose was, but she'll look sweet on a bookshelf with a sprig of holly tucked into the back.

This Johnson Brothers cup and saucer has a beautiful design and I love the Christmas tree peeking out from inside the cup. I couldn't resist it, even though I scolded myself as I put it in my shopping basket. But it was just too pretty to leave behind, I would have certainly regretted it. 

From the refined to the not-so-refined: I loved Holly Hobbie as a child and my pioneer-loving children do too. I found these two vintage Holly Hobbie Christmas glasses to go with the one we already had.

This ceramic Christmas tree with plastic bulb ornaments caught my eye due to its super cool retro gold detailing. Not sure how or if it lights up since there were no electrical parts, but it looks plenty festive simply sitting on a table or shelf. An unexpected bonus is that my husband loves it because it reminds him of one his grandparents had displayed at Christmastime.

And my friend spotted this Swedish wooden light-up star ornament for me. My Scandinavian Christmas dream is one step closer to a reality!

My friend also generously shared her score of vintage Christmas ornaments. I love finding the striped ornaments and the turquoise ones are my favorites. The tiny bells are quite unusual; at least neither of us had ever seen them before.

Finally, no vintage Christmas haul is complete without a tin cookie cutter or two. I already own these particular models, but as I'm trying to collect three full sets (one for each of my children), I always scoop them up when I run across them.

No matter the season, vintage Christmas finds make me so happy! Have you found any holiday treasures lately? I'm linking this post to Sir Thrift a Lot so be sure to go over there and check out what other thrifty folks have found this weekend.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Vintage Fun for Kids

A few days ago, when I was recounting all my recent finds, I forgot to mention two things that I picked up for my kids. Okay, well, for me and the kids.

I loved the Uncle Wiggily board game as a child; I have many great memories of playing this game with my sisters and cousins. This version is not that old, probably dating to the 1980s, but I was still surprised to see that it was complete and in very good condition.

I also picked up this retro Hansel and Gretel puzzle. When I looked it up online, I learned that at one point this same puzzle came in a very cool cylindrical tin. I wish I had found it in the tin, but even in the box it is still a cute puzzle and all the pieces are accounted for.

Now I must admit that neither the puzzle nor the game has caused too much excitement around here, but this next find has been a winner with all three kids. My two younger ones are really into acting out the Peter Rabbit stories right now, so when I spotted this little vintage rabbit tea set I had to pick it up. We've been enjoying the most delightful tea parties ever since. Come a rainy day when there's nothing else to do, I'll get out Uncle Wiggily. Until then, do drop by for a spot of tea. We'll put the kettle on for you.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Today's Thrift Store Finds

Last night when I was putting my daughter to bed, she confided that she wanted me to take her to a treasure store. I was worried that she would change her mind overnight--she usually protests when I try to take her along with me--but she didn't. So right after church, we changed clothes, grabbed a snack and hit the road.

I wasn't sure how fruitful our outing would be, but I was pleasantly surprised! I ended up with an array of wonderful finds, including things that I had on my list.

Right off the bat, I found this cup and saucer in one of the patterns I collect. Although I have a pretty extensive china collection that includes a number of different patterns, as far as active collecting goes, I focus on two patterns. This one is called Ever Yours Boutonniere by Taylor, Smith, & Taylor. Turquoise is my favorite color, and I adore the simplicity and sweetness of this pattern.

The other pattern I collect is the one I shared with you last week, Dixie Dogwood by Joni.

Unfortunately, no Dixie Dogwood on the shelves today. But not to worry, I found other treasures.

While I certainly love my china, I also have a bit of a thing for vintage cookie cutters. I have an enormous collection! Most of the cutters in my collection are vintage tin, probably dating to the 1960s, that I inherited from my mother, who loved to bake just as much as I do. However, in the past couple of years, I have begun to amass a rival collection of vintage red plastic ones. I have not spent a great deal of time researching this collection yet, but I do know that most if not all of mine were manufactured by one of two companies: HRM and Tupperware.

Above are just a few of the vintage Tupperware cookie cutters that I have found over the years. Below are the HRM ones I found today. I am so excited because they appear to be from a Nativity set. I am definitely going to have to do that research now because I simply must have this whole set!

Next, I found a small bag of mostly vintage craft supplies. I especially love the gummed foil snowflake stickers and glitter. I was happy to see the two boxes of map pins tucked in the bag, as they were on my list. More on what I'll be using them for later.

I then picked up these small vintage candles to replenish my supply, which was depleted for my daughter's Pioneer Party candlestick making craft.

I have been looking for vintage jewelry boxes to house my growing collection of vintage costume jewelry, but most that I've seen are either grimy or smelly. This one was actually in pretty good shape, clean, and I love the pink satin lining. I picked up the pearls today, too.

Of course I had to look at the book section, and I found these two keepers. The Big Golden Book is in excellent condition inside and very cute, with both stories and songs, and the other one looks to be a good children's cookbook. (Notice the red cookie cutters on the cover!) I love the Usborne books, and usually pick them up whenever I see them.

I also picked up a bag full of these cute vintage postcards featuring nature themed pen and ink drawings to encourage my daughter to write more notes to her friends back in Philadelphia. These are just the right size for a few sentences and she can practice writing addresses, too. Of course, this means I'll have to trek to the post office to buy some postcard stamps, but that's okay.

The last find I'll show you just may be my favorite find of the day: a very pretty and unique agate and mother of pearl necklace. Sadly, my pathetic photography does not do it any kind of justice, so you'll have to take my word for it.

I did find a few other things but as I'm going to be doctoring them up, I will deal with those things in separate posts. Hopefully, I'll have some successful "Before & Afters" to share soon!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Adorable Mermaid Birthday Party

My girls absolutely love mermaids, as many little girls do, so it was no surprise when my younger daughter requested a mermaid birthday party a few years ago. Now, although Ariel is practically a friend of the family (we've seen her story at least a couple of hundred times), for this celebration I chose to create an enchanting mermaid paradise almost completely Disney-free. And using thrifted, scavenged, and homemade goods, of course!

Since this was nearly three years ago, I can't remember every last little detail. But since I am a saver and a party recycler, I held onto many of the props and decorations, and lo and behold, the other day I even came across my original party plan! And let me tell you, there is nothing like finding your two and a half page, typed, micro-detailed party plan for a two hour, four-year-old's birthday party to make you confront your own OCD/controlling tendencies.

Anyway, it's your lucky day if you are planning a mermaid party of your own. Don't worry, I am not going to make you read my lengthy original party plan! I'll just hit the highlights.

The party took place in the indoor gymnasium of a church, full of play equipment and toys suitable to preschoolers. The kids, who had been invited to wear their favorite mermaid, princess, pirate or superhero costume, ran around and played in the gym a lot but also enjoyed the three stations I had set up. I love to set up stations at my children's parties, usually three to five different activities running at the same time, from which the children can pick and choose. I find that this approach works very well with preschoolers and young elementary children, whose attention spans are short and who enjoy bobbing about to whatever activity catches their fancy. Some children do all the activities, some just do one or two, but it just works. For this party, I handmade 3D signage to match the mermaid and crab invitations that I sent out (I think I sent mermaids to the girls and crabs to the boys if my memory serves me). I just used materials I had on hand, like cardstock, googly eyes, sand, and small starfish. Everyone has starfish laying around the house, right?

The first station was making shell necklaces. I had a huge stash of ark shells with holes in the tops that my children had collected on a recent trip to Florida. They are so easy to string on either jute string or embroidery floss. I also purchased a jumbo pack of pony beads from the dollar store and the kids loved making patterns with the shells and beads. Not only did they enjoy crafting and wearing their seashell creations, but the finished necklaces served as one of the take-home favors.

The second station was equally simple. I bought a variety pack of large sandpaper sheets at the dollar store, and traced ocean shapes onto the sandpaper before cutting them out. I used shell shapes and a seahorse, but the possibilities are endless. If you don't want to draw the shapes yourself, you can google the shape you want and choose from a great many templates online. Then glue the sandpaper onto a sheet of cardboard or posterboard, add some crayons with the wrappers peeled off and some plain white paper, and the kids can make sand rubbings to their little hearts' content.

The third station was a game of freeze dance, using the Little Mermaid soundtrack. This was requested by my little birthday girl, and might have been more successful if there hadn't been so much other activity in the gym.

A gym is a challenging space to decorate because it is huge, but I broke it down into smaller sections to give the room a more intimate feel. The entryway, cake station/snack table and dining area were all treated as individual spaces with their own decorative flourishes.

Above the entryway, I hung strands of pearls and seashells, inspired by this magazine clipping.

I also had found a rope trimmed oval beach sign on super duper clearance at the Hallmark store, and I painted it to be the official sign that guests were entering my daughter's "Grotto."  

Upon entry to the party, guests could deposit their gifts into a large treasure trunk that I had thrifted. They were given tropical flowers to pin in their hair and on their clothing. Then they were free to explore.

Behind the cake and snack tables, I hung blue glittery curtains to resemble the sea. My daughters had designed and colored adorable paper mermaids in the weeks prior to the party, and I pinned these against the shimmering sea backdrop. The snack table featured shell servingware, which were thrifted silverplate shell-shaped bowls that I had spray painted bronze, along with a few plastic ones that I had found.

For the dining area, I put long tables together to seat the 30 children in attendance. I covered the tables with dark blue table coverings, and then laid fishing nets over the coverings.

On top of that, I created centerpieces using these thrifted 1970s sand castle decorations, faux gold coins, and more seashells.

Then, at each place setting, sat a personalized sand pail filled with a healthy lunch--mini turkey pitas, goldfish crackers, banana, and juice box. The overall effect was quite enchanting.

My final take home was a message in a bottle that guests were given as they left.

Inside each small plastic bottle was sand, miniature blue dolphin beads (taken from a broken necklace that was a party favor from a previous celebration) and a tiny scroll that read: "Thank you for coming to my party! Love, the birthday girl"

This party was a huge success with my little mermaids and mer-man and was a lot of fun to put together. I'd love to recreate it someday! Tell me, have you ever celebrated a birthday under the sea?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vintage China Scores

I took an unexpected road trip this weekend with my daughter and although it was a pretty long drive, I negotiated two quick stops along the way. In exchange for a $1 payment to said child, I was given permission to spend a few complaint-free minutes in two of my favorite thrift shops. The dollar was meant to be for her to wisely spend in the store. See, I wasn't really bribing! I was trying to encourage an understanding of the value of money and budgets. However, somehow she conned me into buying the books that she picked out while she kept the dollar. Perhaps I am the one that needs a lesson in money management.

But nevertheless, I am so very glad I stopped, because I scored lots of vintage china! At the first shop, I just about lunged over two elderly ladies when I spotted this set of four dinner plates, bowls, cups, and saucers in one of my two patterns. It was priced a little higher than I'd like, but since I rarely see it in my thrifting adventures, I decided that the regret would be overwhelming if I didn't pick it up.

The pattern is called Dixie Dogwood by Joni and my collection began (like so many of my other collections) when I inherited a few pieces from my mother. I think they originally belonged to my grandmother. I like it on its own merits, but the fact that my mother and grandmother owned the pattern makes it even more special. It just makes me happy when I see it.

At the first stop I also found a set of cups and saucers and some bread and butter plates in the Sheffield Serenade pattern that a friend collects. This is my friend who so generously gave me all the Harkerware awhile back, so you can be sure I was beyond delighted to be able to pick these up for her.

And then on to the next store, where I was amazed to find more of her pattern!  Eight dinner plates, two small bowls, the hard-to-find matching gravy boat and covered butter dish, and several more cups and saucers and bread plates. I'd been looking for this pattern for my friend for quite some time and had always come up empty-handed. I still can't believe I found such a load of it in back-to-back stores on the same day on a trip that I hadn't meant to take--the thrift gods were smiling that day for sure. Even better, when I went up to pay for the dishes, the lady told me they were half price so they were a huge score. I can't wait to give them to my friend!