Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Party Finds

I dashed out for a quick thrift run today and accidentally spent three hours in one store. Oops. I wish I could say that hardly ever happens. But the truth is, I get especially hung up on the books and today there were lots of wonderful children's books and it takes time to comb through the racks. I found some real gems, which I will share with you in a later post.

What I will share now are the fantastic props and supplies I found that I will use for some upcoming family birthday parties. I found this General Store sign, which I couldn't resist even though I already have a homemade version. This one I will probably age a little bit to make it look older, but it is much cooler than mine. It will be used in my younger daughter's pioneer party someday.

When I was purchasing this piece, the young cashier asked me if I was buying it because I owned a general store. No, I said, half wondering if he were for real. He looked up at me equally puzzled until I offered up that it was for a party. "Oh," he nodded, "a speak-easy party, like in The Great Gatsby." Uh, no, I laughed, telling him it was for a Laura Ingalls inspired pioneer birthday party. He wisely ceased the small talk after that. In retrospect, I guess I should be flattered that he thought I'm so cool as to be having a speak-easy party!

Anyway, our second pioneer party is at least a year off, and for now I am working diligently on plans for my daughter's woodland fairy party, which will be held next month. I found this autumnal floral ball to hang from a tree branch.

I also found two green apple plates, which I will use with a little cup to serve sliced apples and caramel dip at the party. Maybe one plate will hold red apples and the other green?

One of the activities I have planned for the fairy party is having the kids make fairy gardens that they can take home. I have begun collecting little natural objects like seed pods, twigs, and acorns so they will have a large supply of materials to choose from when constructing their gardens. It is amazing what kinds of structures can be made from such simple materials and a little string and glue. I love seeing what a child's imagination can come up with and for the most part, I discourage adult interference. But I lost my breath when I saw this beautiful tower that will be perfect in our more permanent fairy garden. It is made from wood so technically it is all natural and won't offend the fairies. And it will provide much needed sturdiness--so much of what we create in our fairy gardens just can't fight off the elements but this little structure should be able to withstand a New England winter.

And then there is this pirate flag. I am sure that in the next couple of years, we will be having another Pirate Party, probably for my little boy. This flag definitely out-classes the plastic Oriental Trading number that I had flying from our playhouse for our first pirate party. And only 99 cents!

Last week, I organized my party supply closet so I am off now to slip these things into their proper storage spots. Love that I am finally getting my party supplies organized--it's a wonderful feeling! Linking my finds up to Sir Thrift a Lot, who is celebrating his one year anniversary this month!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weekend Thrift Finds

Sadly, it has been a couple of weeks since I got to go on a thrift excursion. The young ones have made it clear: they like what I find them at thrift stores, but they don't like going! Their strong opinions have made it hard for me to get out but yesterday I took advantage of a moment of peace and went out for a quick fix. I could only make it to one store, and unfortunately, it seemed both overpriced and picked over, but I take what I can get, folks.

Here are my spoils:

I spotted a set of four of these glasses and quickly shot off a text to my friend Kristen. She collects this pattern but I wasn't sure if she needed goblets. She messaged right back that she wanted them, so into the cart they went.

Next, a very sturdy and cute basket for my daughter's Little Red Riding Hood Halloween costume. This will serve as part of the costume as well as the treat bucket. I also picked up a skirt for the costume, but plan to doctor it up a bit so I am not sharing yet.

Then my favorite find of the night, more vintage Christmas cookie cutters!

These are in pristine condition--obviously owned by someone not fond of baking. I needed many of these to help reach my goal of having 4 of each one. I still need quite a few but this bag included several of the ones that are harder to come by, like the turkey. On the flip side, I now own seven Santas, so if you have any interest in owning one, please send me a message and it is yours.

Also in the bag with the cookie cutters was this cake decorator. I have a few of these but this one is newer and in better condition.

The book section was pretty sparse but I pawed around until I found a few I wanted to take home, including these two children's Christmas books.

The Christmas carols book reminds me of one that I had as a child (and still have, sans its cover), and I love that it includes my favorite old English carol, "The Friendly Beasts."

Finally, I found these sweet little wooden buckets, which will be employed in my next Little House on the Prairie party somehow.

A few good finds, and I returned home in a better mood than I had left. Retail therapy, thrift style. Linking up to Sir Thrift a Lot.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

American Girl Playset: The Thrift Version

My girls are absolutely bananas about American Girl dolls and all the endless accessories and clothing you can buy to outfit your doll and her world. I shudder to think how much money we have spent at this store over the last three years! But it is wholesome and imaginative play and I would much rather have my kids playing with dolls than many other things that they could be interested in. However, all the little purchases of an outfit here and a playset there add up and it is time to draw the line: no more American Girl purchases except for very special occasions, like birthdays and Christmas.

I expected disappointment from my girls, but I underestimated them. Instead of pouting about not getting more stuff, they decided to use their creativity and resourcefulness and make some stuff of their own. They borrowed my laptop, logged onto my Pinterest account and began to peruse the many wonderful DIY American Girl ideas and tutorials that exist in blogland.

And here is where the thrift comes in. If you've been reading along for any length of time, you know that I always comb the arts and crafts sections of thrift shops for supplies. My cabinet contains beautiful ribbons, trims, laces, vintage pipe cleaners, wood pieces, paints, fabrics, threads, and so much more. Additionally, I save little things that I think might be useful for making things, like bottle caps and lids of various sizes, and weird plastic and foam pieces that come in packaging. I know it sounds like I might be a hoarder, but I promise you I am talking about a baggie full of these things, not boxes and boxes full! My daughters had a ball pulling out some of my things and brainstorming what they could use them for--my older daughter exclaimed that her head was exploding with ideas!

Here is the couch (inspired by this tutorial found on the AG Doll Play blog) that my older daughter made with fabric from my stash, an empty clementine crate, and trim that I thrifted.

I just promised I wasn't a hoarder but I freely confess that in the past, I've had a hard time actually using some of my vintage notions. It is only recently that I have learned to let go and enjoy using all the little beauties that I've so carefully collected over the years.

And here are a pair of doll slippers she made, also inspired by something she saw online (possibly this).

Any Janie and Jack fans out there? If so, I'm sure you'll recognize the little ribbons that used to come on every tag--well, of course I couldn't throw those away!

And I've saved the best for last. We all fell head over heels in love with the art studio also pictured on the AG Doll Play blog, which is packed full of the most creative ideas for making things for the dolls.

We copied the same structure (scored foam core covered with scrapbooking paper, in this case leftover AG paper from another project) for the walls, as well as the "Art Studio" banner and string of artwork.  My daughter enjoyed making the art. If you look closely, you will see that the middle painting was awarded a blue ribbon! (This is another idea borrowed from the original model, although that version utilized the "Best in Show" blue ribbon from the AG dog show set, and we couldn't find ours. We made do by gluing together several thrifted vintage blue foil Christmas stars and some ribbon--I think it is almost as nice!)

The art stand was also thrifted; it was originally a recipe stand and I paid around 10 cents for it. The trash can (don't you love the trash piling up inside the receptacle? My daughter thought we needed to be very realistic!) is a pencil holder from the dollar store. The trim on the walls, as well as the cording on both garlands were both thrifted vintage sewing notions. The poster on the wall behind the stand is actually a ticket stub from a small doll museum in Paris that I kept as a souvenir of my visit. The little ceramic cat was painted years ago by my daughter at a party.

On top of the pretty blue art cabinet (a box leftover from a Melissa & Doug craft) is the Best in Show trophy from the AG Dog Show set, a repurposed cap holding paintbrushes, and a few jars holding art supplies. The tall glass container in the back is holding a homemade colored pencil made from a toothpick--more are in the process of being made.

On the cabinet shelves are a stack of vintage Paris images that will be used by the dolls for inspiration--these came from a wall calendar my sister gave me a few years ago. The bowl of thrifted wooden apples came from our doll house, as did the little vintage house, also thrifted.

The drawing table is made from two thrifted candleholders (for table legs), scrapbook paper and more thrifted trim. I believe the flowers are also from the Dog Show set, and my daughter made the pencil and still life.

All in all, this playset cost about $2 to make. All I purchased for this was the foam core backdrop and the trash can. Everything else came out of our craft cabinet or our doll play collection. And we had such a fun time making it! Thank you to the super-creative folks behind the AG Doll Play blog for these wonderful ideas. We are now working on our second playset--one we thought of all by ourselves!!--photos to come soon.