Sunday, October 30, 2005

grab bag mysteries

1920's quilt triangles II

most of the time, grab-bagging at thrifts is pretty uneventful, but there will be that one time when you find the most incredible treasure! i know it is looked down upon to open bags or boxes that are stapled or taped shut, but if you do it carefully, or even ask for help, i think you will thank yourself. i was poking around one of my favorite thrifts, and i stumbled upon a wee box that was taped shut. what are you supposed to do with that - buy it and try your luck or open it and review the contents before you buy it? i, of course, opened it immediately to find what i never thought in a million years i would find. this box that i sneakily opened was stuffed with over 300 feed sack triangles from the 1920's!!! i couldn't believe my eyes! my emotions got the best of me at first, but i caught my cool when i brought the box up to the register. wondering how much all of these beautiful geometric fabric cuts would cost, i was stunned when i heard the clerk say, "is fifty cents ok with you, dear?"

i scored the whole box for fifty cents!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

when i got home, i began to brainstorm about the history of these triangles: who did they once belong to, how long did it take to cut all of them, where did all of the fabrics come from, was there a quilt already started, why were they here in a taped box? after thinking about their past, i began to think of their future: what was i going to do with them? so i say, if you see a mystery box or grab bag, go for it - you may have the most wonderful treasure to take home with you!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

tag sale tales girl

tst girl was fashioned after the build your own superhero page from living out loud. here she's all ready to go with the things i bring thrifting with me. measuring tape to make sure that side table will fit, swatches just in case it's not the right color of green, music because i like to drown out the muzak and light crowds and get in my own thrift zone. hand sanitizer because...well, you just never know thumbing through all og those used items! patience, no expectations and a keen eye are what bring me a little bit of luck. besides your wallet, what do you like to bring?

Friday, October 28, 2005

"If you love it and it's beautiful, it goes with anything else that you love and is beautiful."~Betsey Johnson

I'm posting pictures today from an old HGTV episode that focused on fashion houses. Betsey Johnson's eclectic home style really left an imprint in my mind. I adore her playful spirit. I often feel that people too often focus on what everyone else thinks a home should be (like what they see in catalogs), and not enough on what best suits themselves. Your home is an extension of your personality, and it's totally alright to use something as unconventional as beautiful piano scarves and vintage dresses in lieu of curtains if you want to!

I love peeking into people's houses, it's one of my guilty pleasures! Once a year they open up a few homes in our historic neighborhood for tours. I hope it's not shameful to admit, that I don't go there to hear about who owned the carriage house in the back and how many layers of wallpaper the owners had to peel. I go in there to look at their stuff!

I'm fascinated by what people collect, and how they put it together. There was one home this year, that some of the local history buffs were scoffing at. As we were walking through the gate I heard two older women exclaim, "that's not historic". It was the brightest painted bungalow on the tour in blue and red, colors the owner had brought from her previous home on the beach. Seeing that it was screaming with character just from the front steps I naturally gravitated toward it. The woman who lived there was a collector of colorful vintage things, her little California bungalow was filled with personal treasures that reflected her taste, her life, and her memories.

Her mother was a seamstress, she had a 50's gown of hers displayed on a sewing mannequin in the bedroom alongside her collection of vintage purses and rhinestone pins that were all neatly laid out on her dressers. She also was a lover of dachshund's. She had three. Just as you walk up her front steps you get a hint of her zest for them. In the tiny back bedroom was a museum devoted to things she had collected about the breed... everything from posters to stuffed animals. The other tiny bedroom (in baby-doll pink) that adjoined that one showcased her passion for vintage children's items from the 50's. Her one and only bathroom had a wall hook with three vintage frilly swimming caps, which complimented the shower curtain with 50's bathing beauties in their dive poses, and porcelain mermaids with gold gilt edges from the past hanging on the walls. Her kitchen was filled to the brim with kitsch, she even had managed to score a bright turquoise refurbished vintage fridge.

These weren't all things that I love, but seeing how she did turned me head over heels for her house. Walking through her rooms filled me with the most fantastic feeling, and gave me such a lift for the rest of the day. I felt immensely inspired.

The next time your shopping in a flea market, a thrift store, ebay, or a estate sale for things to add to your own collection... feel free to abide by Betsey Johnson's motto: "If you love it and it's beautiful, then it goes with anything else that you love and is beautiful".

Thursday, October 27, 2005

silly is sublime


i'll admit it: i have a soft spot for the silly...particularly the cheap and silly! over the years i've found myself magnetically attracted to that which is more than a little off-kilter, absurd, or hilarious in my local thrifts.

i like to laugh. who doesn't? when slogging through the tedious tasks of daily life, and i'm feeling a little down, i just glance around at my bright, funny thrifted trinkets and toys, and i can't help but crack a smile!

and i can't help but wonder, "what is the story behind this object? what kind of crazy sense of humor did it's maker or previous owner have? why did they give it up? why is this thing so odd?" silliness is a wonderful thing. we should all have more silliness and frivolity in our lives! the beauty of thrifting is that funny, odd, silly things can come into our lives, cheaply, if we take the time to look for them.

which brings me to the funny bag above, found at a new york city "thrift store" not too long ago. a sad example of graphic design, for sure. but i love it nonetheless, if for nothing more than it's imperfectness.

what's the funniest object *you* ever found at your local thrift?

i love pop "corm",

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Get More Use from Your Treasures

Over the next couple of weeks I thought I'd share practical ways that I use my vintage finds around my house. I've been collecting pottery for probably 20 years so I have a pretty good stash of flower pots that are extremely handy for holding all kinds of things besides flowers :) In the picture above I've used a Bauer flower pot to hold paper towels; you can also see my salt and pepper shakers and a black and white enamelware box for sugar.

This picture shows another Bauer flower pot used to hold utensils and a Ransburg bowl to hold fruit.

I don't know the maker of this little pot but I've always loved the little cherubs playing on it. This pot has been used for pens and scissors but now it holds my crochet hooks. Get more enjoyment from your treasures by finding creative ways to use them around your home.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

me, the minimalist

as i once wrote, i don't buy things that i just l i k e , i only buy what i l o v e.
shopping at flea markets and thrift stores doesn't mean that my apartment is cluttered. i actually see myself as a minimalist! i don't like to be surrounded with too much stuff. the main reason is that I get bored with everything so quickly. i don't have a display of my collections of vases, candleholders or souvenirs from my trips. i just keep everything in my wardrobe. about once a month i change my interior by replacing decorative things with different ones.
i keep the base colors simple. i like natural colors and materials the most, so everything around me is wooden and white. if i miss color, i just change candles, vases, cushions. i buy colorful flowers. this system has worked for me for years.

yet sometimes i forget about my own rules and buy something i'm almost sure i'm never going to use. like these hand made hearts you can see on a picture. aren't they cute? i bought them at a flea market. they're so 'not me', yet I love them. there is no right spot for them, so i just keep them in one of the boxes.

sometimes i think it's such a waste. lately i've been thinking how nice it would be to own a shop with decorative items. i would buy everything i like and not worry if it's my style or not, because i could always sell it in my shop...

Monday, October 24, 2005

know your prey

this summer i've had tremendous luck at garage sales, and i have to say that one simple thing seemed to help the most : making a wish list.
it seems incredibly simple, yes. but you'd be surprised how quickly i'd find what i wrote down! suddenly the treasure hunt becomes more focused - i wrote down '50s teacups' and lo and behold, within a week i spied the perfect cups, the set for $1!
as the summer progressed, i checked off my treasures - a dollhouse, a teak credenza, danish modern chairs...
next time you foray into your favorite cluttered thrift store, take a minute to think about what you'd really like to find. you might be surprised how easy it is to find once you've set your mind to it!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

buttons in glass houses!

my buttons live here II

one of my most favorite things to do while thrifting is to search for the ultimate storage display! i came across a dozen of these forgotten glass baby bottles (in the original boiling pot) at a local thrift a few months ago. i got the whole set for a couple bucks not knowing exactly what i was going to use them for. after some thought, i realized i have always color-coded my life, so why not do the same with my vintage buttons. what a perfect home! i think the buttons look so beautiful through the glass, and most importantly, i can see all of them - i no longer have to sift through mounds of buttons to find the perfect one!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

we are the champions, my friends

do you feel like a winner when you spot a fabulous thing in a thrift store? i do! especially if i go there to look for a particular item.

last time i went to check out thrift stores was for a reason. i needed a jacket. there is a difference between times when you go just to look around and these when you are desperate for something, don't you think?
finding exactly what you were looking for makes the whole thing feel like a real hunting. lately i've realized that i already had a hunting map in my head. the first stop here, the second one there... by the fourth one i usually feel like recharging my batteries, but i'm usually too focused on my goal to sit down for a coffee. so i just drink water and have a bite on the go (always something sweet!). it's rather unlikely that i find exactly what i was looking for, but it doesn't stop me from hoping.

you've probably guessed that the jacket on the photo is the one i'm talking about, haven't you?
it was my perfect find. i was a hunter, the jacket was a fox. it looks as if it was brand new and it costed close to nothing. i won!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

good things come to those who wait...

while out shopping the other day, i tried on the perfect trench. normally i don't gravitate towards the belted coat because they always made me feel a little more puff and tough than i like. but this one was different. sophisticated. it had a soft cotton sateen finish. button down with large cuffs. and delicious princess seams made me want to walk out of the store wearing it right then and there. i felt like katherine kepburn or coco chanel, so tailored but so comfortable and not even trying. if i had my pajamas on underneath i would have had a nice silhouette. but...i left the ivory beauty there. in the store. with hopes of clearance to come around soon. though a coat like that is hard to come by, i'm a die-hard deal girl. i have no snobbery towards wearing certain labels, it's the specific item that beckons me to buy. but only if it's a tag sale item.


you never know what you'll find when you're shopping for vintage wear. i saw this drawing by cindy woods this morning and about fell off my chair laughing at the sheer cleverness. there are entire careers based on window dressing and design and i've admired a lot of beautiful ones...but the visual merchandiser behind this one takes the cake!