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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Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Thrift Care Package

I received the most wonderful surprise on my doorstep earlier this week. One of my favorite thrifting pals sent me a box full of vintage goodies. We have clearly spent a fair amount of time thrifting together because everything was perfectly "me."

There was this Christmas child, who with her cheery red and white ensemble, will be a lovely addition to my collection of vintage Christmas figurines.

And then this tiny jointed Peter Pan doll. Every detail is perfect. He even has sleep eyes.

My friend knows how much I love vintage stationery, especially holiday stationery, so she packed in these sweet little postcards, still in the original packaging:

And this pad of seal and stamp stationery is unique and fabulous in its own right. My kids love using vintage stationery to write letters to their friends back in their old hometown. Or maybe they just nod their heads in fear of disappointing me when I ask them if they like the vintage stationery I give them...anyway, they use it and that is what matters.

More Christmas goodness: these precious teeny tiny angels:

And I've saved the very best for last...two (TWO!!) little boxes of the most amazing little miniature nativity figures. They look unused and I am already brainstorming creative ways to employ them in my Christmas decorating. I absolutely adore the boxes, too!

Now I really can't wait to start my Christmas decorating! But I promise I'll wait until after Thanksgiving...I need to give my thrifted pilgrim candles and faux Plymouth Rock their day in the sun!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Weekend Finds

I did manage to sneak in a little thrifting this weekend, despite being pretty busy. I had two little helpers who helped keep me on task, and also who spotted one of my favorite finds of the day:

I have a growing collection of these Christmas pyramids--six to be exact. I keep them up all year, in part because I adore them and in part because I don't know where to store them! Most of mine are missing a few parts, which I imagine I will get around to replacing someday, but in the meantime I really kind of like them exactly how they are. Not to mention that I'm not planning to light the candles around my little ones anytime soon anyway, so if I'm missing a few candle holders it doesn't bother me in the least.

Above is my collection; I've removed all the candle holders and many of the "propellers" until I can replace them all. I display them on a ledge leading down into my basement, which also prevents my children from crawling out onto this inviting space and falling off onto the hardwood stairs beneath!

I did not find too many vintage goods on the shelves this time out, but I did find a vintage inspired  silver milk bottle vase:

I also found a small bag of these millinery flowers, which I hoped were vintage. I'm not sure whether they are or not; if they are, they can't be that old. But they will be great for crafting American Girl accessories, so I'm happy I picked them up.

And speaking of American Girl, I snagged this vintage spice rack to re-purpose into a new handcrafted American Girl play accessory. I am so excited about my idea. If I can pull it off, it will be a Christmas gift for my girls and I'll be sure to share it right here.

And one more little treasure. I found a bag of six of these beautiful miniature Chinese lanterns. My daughter is very interested in China right now, both the language and the culture, and these are just the right size to use in her doll play. I couldn't pass them up. They could also be used as Christmas ornaments on an around-the-world tree, which is one of the themes I am working on for a future family Christmas tree.

So, there you have it, my thrift finds for the weekend. Linking up to Sir Thrift a Lot

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Before & After: Storage Cube

I love digging through the thrift stores and finding treasures that are beautiful as is, with maybe a gentle (or aggressive!) cleaning. But what I like even more is finding pieces that need a teeny bit more than just a quick polish and giving them a new lease on life. And that is how I end up with pieces like this:

I found this sad little storage cube at a thrift store last month. It was $6.99, and without the storage element, I doubt I would have bit. It was pretty ugly! But I figured I'd paint it, distress it a touch, and recover the seat with some scrap of fabric that I already had and stick it in one of my kids' rooms. They can always use an extra little seat, and the hidden storage is such a bonus.

Flash forward to the day before Halloween, when I frantically raced to the fabric store in search of a few items that I needed to complete my son's Captain Barnacles costume. I walked by the clearance remnant bin on the way to the fleece and paused only because a beautiful designer fabric caught my eye. It was a striking print with a large birdcage motif--trust me, it was gorgeous although my description does it no justice! After pondering it a few moments, I decided I just didn't have any use for it so I placed it back in the bin. That's when another equally lovely fabric jumped out at me, and I immediately knew what its calling would be. I've been pretty much in love with the classic navy and white designs in the past few Williams-Sonoma Home catalogs and this Robert Allen print reminded me so much of that look. I knew I had to re-tool my design plan and use this fabric. The fact that it was marked down to just $4 for over half a yard was icing on the cake.

Today, I lugged the cube out onto the driveway and got ready to paint. But when I opened up my paint closet to retrieve the can of paint, I spotted my brand new can of Howard Restor-A-Finish and a light bulb went off. Instead of painting, I'd spiff up the tired wood and hope that the end result was a richer look that could even be at home in my more formal rooms.

The Restor-A-Finish truly worked like a dream! So easy to use and clean up, too. I think it took five minutes to wipe on, and a couple of hours to dry. While it was drying, I recovered the seat and then went out for a nice dinner with my family.

And when I came home, I simply popped the seat in the frame and voila, here is the "after" shot:

I love it! The wood is rich and dark enough to stand up to the crisp blue and white pattern of the fabric, and the tiny little nicks in the wood that weren't completely erased by the finish restorer simply add a little character. I'll probably move this little seat around a lot, but for now, it is finding a home in my sitting room, where it works nicely with the neutral palette.

Not bad for a quick $11 project, wouldn't you agree? And I still have fabric left over for a small pillow. Sometimes, things work out just right. I'm linking this little project up to Silver Pennies and Elizabeth & Co.