Sunday, August 25, 2013

Vacation Thrift Finds

After a week of blissful R&R in Vacationland, I am home and ready to take on back-to-school fever, which has hit our household in full force. Although this is one mom who is sad to see the end of summer, I am relieved to know that all three of my children are excited about school, even the two who are entering new schools with all the challenges that accompany such a transition. I must say, it is amazing what a new backpack, lunchbox and water bottle, crayons, colored pencils, and a notebook can do to turn first day jitters into "I-can't-wait" excitement.

While in Maine, I spent most days on the beach enjoying glorious late summer weather or at the lobster pounds eating, well, pounds of crustaceans, but I did make a brief trip into town to check out the thrift shops in the area. I wasn't in the mood to do any serious shopping, but I still found a few little treasures to tuck into my suitcase.

My girls are into all kinds of home crafting projects right now, so I always dig through the arts and crafts area of thrift shops, where I frequently find unique and interesting finds to keep our crafting cabinet fully stocked. This trip I scored some vintage rick rack (one of my personal weaknesses!), pretty vintage lace trim, wooden shapes, dollhouse-sized bird ornaments, a miniature metal latch, and tiny jingle bells. I also found a large bag of raffia, which I need for preparations for an upcoming birthday party. The girls picked out some vintage buttons and tiny boxes, which they have already crafted into button boxes.

I also nabbed small yardages of two vintage fabrics. The pink one has tiny roses and daisies on it, and we are going to use it for the backing of a nine-patch quilt (made of vintage fabrics, of course) that my daughter is making. The green one I had to have because I remember that fabric from a skirt my mother made me as a young child. Very 1970s!

Also in the craft section was this unused vintage Bermuda bag, plus a pattern for making the covers, and a half finished sample. A while back, I picked up a darling vintage child size version that needs some TLC along with two vintage covers in good shape. When I get to that project, I can make a cover for this one and then give a bag to each of my daughters. Maybe for Christmas? I wish I had kept my own beloved Bermuda bag from 7th grade. I remember having several totally preppy covers for it, including one that was a beautiful madras. I'm glad I found these two bags so I can still pass on the preppy love to my daughters.

It is kind of hard to show the scale of my next find: a very large shallow stainless steel pan. I picked this baby up for a buck and I have already thought of a number of uses for it. I originally intended to use it for my younger daughter's pioneer party (a re-do of daughter #1's Little House party from earlier this summer)--with so many guests in attendance, I needed another pan for washing clothes. This pan will do the trick nicely and like I said, it will be great for other projects, too. Not to mention I can fill it up with ice and use it for adult beverages at parties. It looks a mess now, but once I get it cleaned up, I'm sure it will be a beauty.

I found a box full of vintage coloring books at a yard sale on our way home, and picked out a few for myself. I'm always searching for vintage Christmas coloring books in particular, although as my kids grow up, I'm losing a bit of interest in them. These finds were not quite as exciting as the vintage Peanuts coloring book I found a few weeks ago, but I don't see these very often and I was happy to pick them up.

I've also been looking for vintage comic books for awhile now, but have never seen one in a thrift store for a bargain price. I so remember loving them as a kid and am disappointed that my kids don't know the joy of curling up with a fun comic book on a lazy afternoon. I was thrilled to finally find one, offered up for about a quarter at the same yard sale. It is in great shape, too, aside from a slight musty smell which I think I can minimize with the help of my trusted friend, Mr. Baking Soda, and a plastic zip baggie.

And nerd alert! I bought a puzzle. I love making Ukrainian Easter eggs, and I'll admit it, I love doing puzzles so this was a perfect find. What makes it really fun is that my kids now love doing them with me, so while it is no longer time for solitary reflection, it is enjoyable in a whole new way.

There you have it, my vacation treasures. Nothing too spectacular, just enough to keep me in the game! Linking up to Sir Thrift a Lot; I missed seeing all the thrifty goodness last week. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Before & After: Magazine Rack and Pedestal Bowl

This post's title is absolutely misleading! I have no "before" shots to show you. You are going to have to use your imagination, but I assure you it won't be difficult.

You see, both of these pieces were simply dark brown stained pieces before I got hold of them. The magazine rack I purchased for $5 a couple of years ago at a church rummage sale, mainly because I liked the cloverleaf cut-out. I always intended on painting it but only got around to doing so this past week. In my defense, I didn't know exactly where I wanted to put it in my house until just this last week, so I didn't know what color to paint it. But I'm working on decorating my older daughter's bedroom right now, and it seemed to be a good fit. We needed something to keep her 1,001 American Girl catalogs from papering the room, and we needed it yesterday! So, location decided, we just needed to agree on a color. She has her old baby glider in her room, which she uses as a very comfy reading chair, but it is a small scale pink gingham. Someday soon, I'd like to have it reupholstered, but that is not in the cards for at least a year so for now we have to work with the color. To de-babify the chair, and to make the reading nook a little cozier, we moved my favorite re-done footstool in from my room.

It has a lot of pink in it, which works well with the chair, but the pattern is so bold and modern that it helps balance the preciousness of the glider's print. Once the footstool arrived on the scene, we realized that the magazine rack was destined to be bright, glossy, cherry red.

And here is the after shot:

I simply used spray paint for this update, and we are both very happy with how it turned out. Now I just can't wait to pull up that old blue carpet in her room--fingers crossed that there are hardwood floors underneath!

And for my second show and tell, I offer you this pedestal bowl.

Again, no "before" shot, but it won't take much to imagine it all a dull brown. This re-do was done without a plan. I was very bored one day and had only a few moments, so I custom mixed a dark grey-blue color using some leftover acrylic craft paints that I had laying around and added some calcium carbonate to make it chalky. It was sooooo chalky and dull, so I added a thick layer of finishing paste wax. It didn't seem to help the finish much at all, and in fact, it lifted off some of the paint, so I set it aside for awhile. Then tonight, I dug up some polycrylic for another project I was working on and decided it wouldn't hurt to try putting a layer of that over the wax. I actually loved how it looked after that. Glossy but not high-shine, and it brought out the richness of both the brown and the grey blue paint. I show it here in my sitting room, but it is now living up in my bedroom holding all my bracelets. I never wear my jewelry because it is always tucked out of sight, but this should remedy that somewhat.

I feel so good that I knocked out these two projects and can cross them off my list. Plus, they are both going to help me and my kids be more organized. Win, win! Next up, my most ambitious painting job to date: a re-do of an old French provincial desk for my daughter's room. I'd love to get it done before school starts up again but only time will tell if I can pull that one off. We shall see!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fairy Gardens from Thrifted Finds

Last week, we had friends over to make fairy gardens. I've been wanting to do this forever and have never gotten around to doing it. While some fairy experts say to use only natural materials as to not scare away the little sprites you are trying to attract, I say use plenty of natural materials accented with a good thrift find or two!

Here is the garden I made with my son:

The wooden door with the round window cut out is from this thrift store find:

I removed the center piece before painting this piece and immediately thought it looked like a little gnome or fairy door. I tucked it away with my fairy house making supplies and think it is perfect as the entrance to our little fairy cottage.

Chickpeas make wonderful pebbles--this was my friend's fabulous idea--and she also brought some plastic egg cartons which we cut up, buried slightly in the soil, and filled with water for little reflecting pools.

We tucked in some thrifted greenery for a touch of color, and for our twig ladders, we used wire that came from a bag of craft supplies I picked up somewhere along the way. The pot was repurposed, so really this was a nearly no-cost morning of fun!

Here is a view of my daughter's garden with its shades drawn closed:

When the fairies want fresh air and sunshine, they pull back the hosta leaves and enjoy their homestead in all its glory:

The campfire ring is a thrifted curtain ring, and other accents like the decorative berry balls and glass pebbles were also picked up secondhand for pennies. I rescued the sweet little rusted bench from a "free" basket at an antique store. It's a beautiful store not far from our house, but when I visited last summer with a friend, the only things I was interested in taking home were from the free basket! Not because they were free, although who can argue with that, but because they were the most charming things in the shop. I felt a little guilty dipping into the free basket without buying anything, but then my friend spent a pretty penny on some treasures of her own from the shop so my guilt was eased.

For her garden, my younger daughter used a heavy brass vessel that I brought home a few weeks ago, thinking it would make a nice display piece in my sitting room. But when I actually got it into the house, I realized it was most likely an old ashtray--the kind that stood on a stand in a lobby or similar location--and after knowing that, I just couldn't put anything nice inside it and banished it from the house. It makes a very regal fairy garden, though!

See the pot of chickpea stew roasting over the open fire? The fairies won't go hungry tonight.

This was such a lovely project, and one that has continued to entertain us even after we settled the completed pots into our garden. We check every day for signs of fairy activity--so far, we can't quite tell if we've had visitors but we remain hopeful that we will have tenants very soon.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tax Free Thrifting!

What's better than a quick thrift trip? A quick thrift trip on tax-free weekend! My family needed to do some shopping today to take advantage of our state's back-to-school tax-free weekend, and luckily for me, one of my favorite thrift stores was located right along our route so I got to pop in for a few minutes.

I can't say I found anything spectacular, but it was worth a quick stop. Along with a couple of books for the kids, here is what I found.

I have a set of six of these retro Christmas/New Year's glasses, and I was very happy to add four more to my collection.

Nabbed a few more vintage cookie cutters, including a leaf shape that I don't already have! Of course, most of the cutters in the bag were more common ones but they are still hard for me to pass up. So now I am the proud owner of yet another Santa, star, circle, and two slightly different flower shapes.

I thought these little removable plate handles were a cute vintage find. Nice that they are still in the package. I think I'll keep one and gift one. They'd be especially sweet at a child's tea party, don't you think?

My girls are wild about all things American Girl and I am always on the lookout for new things for their collection. I get especially excited when I find things that are no longer produced, or, as AG likes to spin it, have been "retired to their archives." This Molly mystery game is no longer available, and although it is missing its parent guide book, all the other pieces are there in pristine and unused condition. I'm pretty sure I can figure it out and it looks like a lot of fun.

I also found this sweet little fairy game, which is in mint condition and will make a perfect birthday gift for a little girl I know that loves all things fairy.

Linking up to Sir Thrift a Lot, who also scored some vintage Christmas love this weekend. I'm hoping I can step out for a bit of shopping this week, but I'll have three reluctant tag-a-longs every day so it may take some bribery on my part. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

More Thrift Finds

Here are a few more treasures that I scored last weekend during my thrift vacation. Side note to those that may not know me well: when I say "thrift vacation," I am not meaning a vacation from thrifting, but rather a vacation with the sole purpose being to thrift! Well, that and eat grown-up meals and drink pretty cocktails and catch up with a good friend. And while I know thrifting is not everyone's cup of tea, it actually relaxes me and dare I say it, rejuvenates me. I'm not sure what it says about me that digging through piles of junk inspires me but it just does. Some of my best ideas come to me when I am in thrift stores, so why fight it?

If I remember correctly, the idea to decorate my son's bedroom in a vintage sports theme came to me at a thrift store, and since that day, I've found many a treasure for the space, which will soon be completed. While shopping last weekend, I spotted these ball and bat bookends that are simply perfect on his bookcase. They need a bit of TLC, but until time permits a polishing up, they are fine as is.

You know I am always on the lookout for vintage china in my patterns, and I really, really do try to limit my purchases to patterns I already collect, is so very hard for me to stick to that rule. I guess that is my way of saying that I am now an official Blue Ridge Pottery collector. I got pretty lucky this trip. First, I found a plate in the Yellow Nocturne pattern:

And then, I found a whole cache of dishes in the Moss Rose pattern. Berry bowls, dinner plates, saucers, bread and butter plates, and these two serving pieces:

And I found more Sheffield Serenade for my friend, including a harder-to-find large platter. She is going to be set!

Although I was wearing down at the end of our weekend thrift-a-thon, I wisely chose to linger at the book section of one of our last stops and found some real gems. First, I found some lovely vintage volumes to add to my collection of classic children's literature, including another very beautifully illustrated edition of my favorite Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott, and an equally stunning edition of The Secret Garden. The illustrations are gorgeous!

FYI: The "Shoes" series by Noel Streatfeild is a must-have for young girls, and I'm not too sure it is widely read these days. So spread the word!

And then I found this:

This is a quite early Peanuts coloring book, dating to 1958. It is not in perfect condition, and it has four pages colored, but in my limited research to date it appears to be a great find for a mere $2.75. Apparently, one in mint condition recently sold at auction for over $600. Like I said, mine is far from mint, but I'm quite sure it is worth more than three bucks.

The final find I will share today is this candle holder, which I thought might fit with my Scandinavian Christmas theme.

All in all, a very productive and fun weekend. Linking to Sir Thrift a Lot, can't wait to see the spoils that others post!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Weekend Thrift Finds

I had a wonderful time thrifting and hanging out with a friend last weekend. Although I originally set out to do more browsing than buying, I left with some pretty wonderful treasures. To start with, I found these vintage-look cast iron French poodle bookends. I secretly want a French poodle. I guess now it is not so secret, but since my husband doesn't read my blog regularly, I think I'm safe. Anyway, my friend was not as enamored with them as I am, but I wonder if she will change her mind once she knows that they were recently sold by Anthropologie for $65 a pair? And sees how cute they are on my bookshelf!

I ran into quite a bit of vintage wrapping paper at a couple of stops this weekend, much to my utter delight! (It's the little things, folks.) I'm sharing a few of my favorites with you, I think in total I got about 8 different prints. I especially love this Valentine's theme paper, still in the package:

But I also like this Easter print:

And this alphabet sampler print:

And I'm not sure how old this next paper is, but as I adore vintage paper dolls, and have a very large collection, this paper just had to come home with me:

Why don't I ever find any vintage paper dolls at thrift stores? I have only found one not-so-interesting book of paper dolls at a thrift store. I just know they must be out there, so if anyone has any tips on how to find them, I'd love to hear them. In the meantime, I am forced to add to my paper doll collection through online auction sites.

Remember my collection of vintage Christmas cookie cutters? I found a few more for my collection. I am aiming to complete three sets, one to give to each of my children when they grow up and leave home. I inherited mine from my mother, and this will be a way for me to continue for at least one more generation my family's tradition of making hundreds of Christmas cookies every year.

The bell, star, tree and Santa must have been the most popular cutters because I find them pretty frequently. I also usually have to purchase a whole bag of cutters that I don't want to get the few that I do, but this time I didn't mind because they were priced so inexpensively that it was well worth it. I just pulled out the ones I wanted and placed the bag with the rest of the cutters onto the donation pile on my way out.

Another vintage Christmas find, and a great one at that, are these beautiful ornaments still in the box. Of course, the box held only five ornaments, but they are in wonderful condition and I don't have any of them. My favorite is the blue one with the cabin on it, followed closely by the one in front with the bell.

I also found this vintage Paris Metro puzzle that reminds me of one of my favorite cities in the world. However, it did trigger a memory of the time in college that my friend Karen and I accidentally boarded the first class train and were accosted by the RATP Police! The mean lady officer confiscated my friend's passport and it became a stressful nightmare as we hastily tried to secure the funds to get it back. Not the most pleasant memory but it hasn't dimmed my affection for all things French. (Like my longed-for French poodle, as mentioned above.)

These are just some of the treasures I found last weekend--I'll post more in the next couple of days. I also am finishing up one of my thrifty before & after projects, and will post that soon as well. Unfortunately, I got so motivated to start my project that I failed to take a "before" shot so you'll have to use a little imagination! Oh well, it's all in good fun. And despite being a bit late posting this, I'm going to link up to Sir Thrift a Lot again, enjoy checking out other great thrift finds.