Thursday, March 22, 2007

great finds

great pile of butterick catalogs thrifted by little lovelies.

lots of fun to be had over at the thrift shopper.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

dress up your chandelier

photo from fleamarketstudio.

i have a little thing for chandeliers. i even bought my first house because the first thing i saw in it was an antique crystal chandelier from the 1920s. big, small, modern, ornate, old fashioned, bring them on. there is just something special about entering a room with the play of light in an unexpected sculpture hanging from the ceiling. chandeliers can say many things about the room, like this area is GRAND or feminine, nostalgic, demure or playful.

one inexpensive and easy thing to do as the seasons and holidays change is changing your everyday light fixture into a work of art, you can use items that you have found at flea markets, or that you already have, it only takes a few minutes for a fun transformation!

  • hang pretty ribbons, in bows or loose strings, bright or subtle
  • paper maché easter eggs, in groups of three or hanging alone from ribbon
  • clusters of seashells, collected from the beach, pierce a hole and tie up with raffia or rope
  • change the lampshades with something fancy, or cover/paint existing ones with new fabric
  • suspend small collections, such as vintage toys, costume jewelry, feathers!
  • tie gorgeous silk blooms with florist's tape, the bigger and brighter, the more exciting.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Thrifting with little people

I love thrifting (no surprise there!), but I also have a 2-year-old son. At first I thought I wouldn't be able to thrift with my busy-bodied little guy. Then, I came up with a few things that make going to tag sales and thrift shops a great experience for both of us. I thought I'd share these ideas for those of you who have kids (or grandkids) you want to take with you on your thrifting adventures.

1. Have a plan, and share it with your little companion(s). I tell my son where we are going, what we are going to do, and what I expect of him while we are there. I'm not sure he understands everything I say, but it seems to help.
2. Hit the toy aisle or kids' table first. I let my son pick out a small toy to play with while I make the rounds. I tell him he can keep it if he is a good boy. I can't decide whether to call this a bribe or an incentive, but it usually works great.
3. Consider using a backpack or sling to carry younger children. My Kelty kidpack (shown in use in the picture above) has saved my thrifting sanity. It allows my son to be high enough to see where we are going, and keeps my hands free (to grab all the goodies I can carry!).
4. Play games to engage your child's attention and deter whining. I play I Spy (we're working on colors, letters and shapes), but a treasure hunt could be more fun for older children. Just remember to tell them they should walk, be polite, and not pick up anything breakable.
5. Be prepared to abandon ship. Sometimes my son just isn't up for cruising the aisles or
hopping from sale to sale in the car. I let his mood determine the length of my thrifting trips.
I try to leave before he gets loud or whiny. Otherwise, I end up with a little guy crying in my ear as I hastily pay for my goodies.

Do you have any other ideas for hitting the tag sale trail with little ones in tow? I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, March 17, 2007


"Hochzeit" is the word for wedding in German. Pronounced "hoh' kh' site", it literally translates to "high time" or " high celebration". What an expression! A charming, and reflective way to describe such a joyful and significant event.
Traditionally, as in many western cultures , the bridal couple receive china for there wedding. Found at a flohmarkt (flea market) in Überlingen, this Hochzeit Geschirr or wedding china was made in Bavaria between the 1940s and 50s.

Take a look at the bottom or leg of the cup. It is gorgeous.

~post sent over from elsa. thank you!

Friday, March 16, 2007

sheet top

i spotted this adorable top made by nikki and asked her to tell us all about it! she says:

First of all I'd like to thank Jenny for the invitation to be guest blogger on Tag Sale Tales. My thrifting is somewhat limited in the items I look for, when I go thrifting I usually have my girls with me, they head straight for the toys and I head for the fabric and sewing patterns/notions. My girls always find something they want to take home and Mia now brings things to me and says "It's 50c Mamma, I think I'll take it!" She's so funny.

Sometimes I come out of the thrift store empty handed but other times I score and find some fantastic fabric or an old bed sheet or a set of curtains with great patterns and colours. On a visit to the hospital for an antenatal check up while pregnant with Esme in 2005 I picked up a piece of green floral fabric, I think maybe it had been a sheet as it was nicely worn and wonderfully soft. It sat in my stash until recently when I turned it into a top for myself.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

small treasures

Amanda here from SouleMama. Thanks so much to Jenny for the invitation to join the inspiring Tag Sale Tales blog. I hope to pop in from time to time to share some of my thrifting tales.

The days when I return from thrifting with bags upon bags of wonderful fabrics, dishes, or vintage clothing are quite thrilling indeed. There's a certain excitement that we all know - the thrill of that mega find. But often, just as delightful for me are the days when I return home with one special little treasure. And the thrill of the 'big find' is replaced with the quiet satisfaction in knowing that this little treat is coming home with me. And the pleasure in knowing that these old, discarded items will find a new life in my home.

Such was the case on this particular day, when I came home with this sweet old tin, and lovely vintage fabric pictured above. Just perfect.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

daily wear

i just adore roxanne's style. her poses are just as graceful and demure as her outfits, which she has all in a set here for the wardrobe remix group. (this one features her vintage plaid 1940's suit, which she bought on ebay)


a face dated back to yesterday that delights me. ~ lilie, on her polaroids from a french market.

green tins

jessica has a great idea for recycling metal tin cans (you could use those boxes you find at the flea market for some unusual shapes too) she blogs, "i took these old tin soup cans, drilled some drainage holes in the bottom, and made planters for some little succulent plants i had. they look really really cool when they start to age and rust."

i recently read somewhere that recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run your tv for 3 hours.

want more ideas? read "use your garden to recycle just about anything."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

metal tins

ali took these great polaroids of vintage metal tins at the flea market.

these remind me of the kitchen in the apartment i stayed at in buenos aires, where all the silverware was stored in a bright yellow vintage tin box on a shelf. so pretty, easy and pleasing to the eye. so, what are you storing in tins?

Monday, March 12, 2007

antiques speak

do boots come to mind when you hear the word hobnail? never fear! simply turn to the antiques roadshow glossary of terms to fill you in on the world of hidden treasure lingo, explained by the roadshow experts.

p.s. the unique ruffled footed bowl above is a fenton and it's going for a steal right here on ebay.

window dressing

viewing cindy wood's detailed drawings of window displays convince me that if i were still living in virginia, i would drop everything i was doing today and go shopping for dresses at bygones in richmond. she even tells me that there is excellent chocolate shop in carytown, the shopping district where she goes to draw these displays from life. sweets and vintage clothing, what could be better?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

vintage wallpaper coasters

i love this idea from martha stewart to take scraps of vintage wallpaper to decorate glass coasters. how many of us already have the materials lying around? simply affix the paper scrap with mod podge to the bottom of a plain glass square and add felt dots to protect surfaces.

i wish i had held onto a few sections from the insane myriad of layers in our first home. i peeled back the decades in that house, just the breakfast nook alone had eight layers all pasted on top of each other! the best was that first original paper, a pretty green pattern that i would have left up if it were still in good condition. (it is almost identical to the example above!) to add to this idea, you could also use images from children's storybooks or vintage cookbooks that are usually in abundance at thrift stores. tie it up in pretty ribbon and you also have a wonderful gift! more detailed instructions.

i miss the 80s

the adorable rhiannon shows us how to rock an acid wash skirt among other thrifted pieces in this ensemble. adorable!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

charm & poise

Yay! Mom Coated Everything in Crisco!
Originally uploaded by Charm and Poise.

viewing sharon's photostream (charm and poise) on flickr is always a pleasure and a hoot. she has sets called: jell-o wonderful, dieting the knox way and my favorite, thrilled housewives and cooks.

in her own words, sharon says, "I am totally addicted to the pursuit of gracious living. To that end, I collect cookbooks, etiquette guides, marriage manuals, health and beauty advice books, decorating and craft guides, modeling manuals, cocktail recipe books, entertaining guides, and any and all housewife ephemera from the 1950s through the early 1970s. Oh. Also: teen ephemera (anything from dating books to yearbooks), aprons, serving trays, tv trays, ugly paintings, and cat figurines. I think that about covers it."

if you are a flickr addict and have a weakness for vintage magazine adverts like me, go take a peek at her wonderful collection. you may even find a wonderful cake idea for your next LOST themed party, be inspired to get a mini-cut and you just may run into gregory peck.

Friday, March 09, 2007

swatch portraits

purl bee has a wonderful tutorial on how to create a swatch portrait. these look so beautiful displayed together on a wall and are a great use for all of that vintage fabric that you know you have folded, stashed, or left over from projects. you could even take the idea a step further and use pieces from well loved (but too worn) items of clothing, outgrown but cherished baby blankets, or just thrifted clothes that fit like a fad, but still have a great pattern.

there is a swatch portrait group over at flickr if you would like to join, amanda soule has already displayed some gorgeous swatches up on the walls of her home!

thrift score: read this

i know what you're thinking. as IF we all needed more encouragement and reasons to be mad about thrifting! but you know, sometimes people look at us funny after they ask us where we found that fabulous beaded cardigan and we tell them it was snatched up for $2.50 at the shoddy looking warehouse on main street. and they just can't believe we sorted through the icky old stuff there, but we know they are really envious that we can look so fabulous for so little. (am i right? i'm right.) this book has witty ways of justifying the thrift lifestyle and the endless treasure hunt and for finding the haute on the cheap. it even includes a listing of hundreds of consignment stores nationwide, as well as in australia, ireland, france, canada, and england.

from the book's description:

Shopping is America's No. 1 pastime, but nothing beats the thrill of thrift shopping, The lowest prices! One-of-a-kind items! Oddities from the past!

Let All Hoff, a 20-year veteran of the thrift-store wars, tell you why you must always check the toy section (thrifts stick the best weird stuff there) or how to try on clothes in the aisle without showing your underwear!

Thrift Score is packed with fun information: Learn the origins of thrift-store perennials like plastic dinnerware, polyester shirts and paint-by-number masterpieces. Get smart about buying used clothes. Discover new uses for previously overlooked items like bowling balls and Herb Alpert records. See how easy it is to gather up common thrift items and throw fabulous theme parties -- Tiki Party tonight! New Wave Party tomorrow! Marvel at the folly of dead fads like designer jeans, CB radio and fondue.

Thrift Score is a funny, useful book no serious thrifter or thrifter wannabe should be without.

something else great about this? even though the book is out of print, that just means that you can buy it just a couple dollars at right here.

be sure to check out this interview with the author of the book at soapboxgirls.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

table dreams

A table is important. Not only does it allow you to place things on it at a
comfortable eating, playing or crafting height, I'm going suggest that it is
the heart of the home. It's a place to nourish one another with food and
love and all the good things that friends and families share.

My husband and I found ourselves without a table after a long distance move. We ate in front of the tv, plates in laps, uncomplicated food required. And it was fine for a while but the time came when we felt a longing for that simple ritual of sharing a meal at a table.

Luckily, there was a table of my dreams. I'd seen it everywhere--it kept
popping up in my favorite magazines and on the television and my heart would race a little. One lovely, undulating leg. White. Round. But we were building a house and it seemed the wrong time. So I waited. Grudgingly served meals that only required one plate. Sighed as I reached across the room for my water glass. Waited. And then one day, while schlepping through the piles and stacks and racks at my favorite vintage store, there it was--a vision in undulating white. So simple, so retro, so perfect. So only $25!

It's a great table. There are some scratches on the surface and chips in
the paint that make it comfortable. It's small enough to fit in our little
dining area but large enough to hold lots of people if you don't mind
sitting close. It hosts Monopoly championships and the occasional dinner
party. And every evening, two people eat their supper there. Sometimes
with more than one plate each.

guest post by betsy carr. check out her blog, and be sure to visit her (new!) site that features her handmade home and accessories that she often creates out of vintage items. thanks betsy!

everyone has a story

just a little heads up info for the tales: i have been getting emails from readers right and left who are wanting to contribute and decided to publish some guests posts regularly! if you have any ideas, feel free to send them my way. i'll also be looking around the web for things that i find interesting to you creatives who know that you don't have to have a lot of cash to live beautifully! lookout for some new fun things to participate in soon as well.

all my best,

Austrian Schnapps Decanter with Matching Glasses

elsa araya passed along this beautiful story to me, just look at that gorgeous set! thanks elsa!

I caught them out of the corner of my eye and immediately felt my breathing pause as I tried to focus in on them. They were sitting there in the center of the dining table surrounded by, although I did not know it at the time, other treasures that also needed new homes. We were visiting a house for sale. We walked through the entire house for what felt like hours because I could not stop thinking about them. I could not wait for the right moment to ask my questions: what are they? where are they from? who's are they? Imagine my delight when I found out everything in the house was also for sale.

The daughter of the man that owned the house, Frau Nachdigal (Nightingale in English), said he died the winter before last without moving a single thing in the house after his wife died 7 years earlier. She said everything in the house had to go and much to the real estate agent's dismay, the visit quickly turned into a private estate sale. I brought home treasures including these Austrian crystal schnapps glasses with a matching decanter set that made my heart skip a beat for a fraction of what they actually cost!

They belonged to Frau Nachdigal's mother who was a professional seamstress and from what I gathered walking around her home, a very glamorous lady. All of her belongings were stored and preserved very well. One can only see the years in the changing styles as she was a woman of her time, a dedicated follower of fashion. Her daughter told me that she loved everything Italian: art, lace, furniture, shoes, bags. She spent most of her vacations in Italy. She was also the kind of woman that bought two, three, or four of everything she fancied in all the colors that she loved: scarves, belts, gloves, handkerchiefs, purses, even umbrellas. Before she fell in love with Italy, she frequented and was in love with Austria. That is when she acquired this charming Austrian schnapps glasses set.

Although tradition in Germany, and German-speaking Switzerland, schnapps originates from Austria. True schnapps has no sugar or flavoring added and is distilled from primarily mirabelle plums,

"In Austria, sekt or champagne is drunk on formal occasions, while schnapps is reserved for more intimate, convivial gatherings - the type of drink served defining both the nature of the event and the social relationship between the drinkers. The choice of drink also dictates behavior, to the extent that the appearance of a bottle of schnapps can prompt a switch from the ‘polite’ form of address, Sie (You), to the highly intimate (and casual) du " quoted from Sekt Versus Schnapps in an Austrian Village by M.A. Thornton (1987).

Friday, March 02, 2007

the beauty of the journey

I recently had the curious opportunity to go through my Grandmother’s belongings after her death a few weeks ago. It was something my mother had been dreading, so I wanted to be there for her. I grew up far away from my Grandparents (they were in Los Angeles, we were in Iowa) so their home lived mainly in my memory. To walk through it the first time after her passing was so strange, to know that those memories and parts of their home could now live on in mine...

My mother showed me some things she thought I would find of interest: my Grandma’s amazing collection of jewelry, a drawer of vintage gloves, a closet full of fragile silk scarves, a cedar chest with journals, dolls and linens that belonged to my Great-Grandmother. The more excited we got, the more wrong it seemed. My Grandma was dead, shouldn’t we be mourning?

But mourning almost seemed selfish as well. My Grandma was 86, she’d had a long life full of family and love. Her husband of over half a decade had been dead for 14 years and she missed him. She’d had a stroke and was getting frail. She was ready to go, so when she quit eating and started to fade away we all knew it was okay. We were lucky to have so much time with her, and so blessed to have the opportunity to let her know how much we loved her.

My Grandparents loved beautiful things, just as I do, and collected them with a vengeance. Going through their belongings, I considered how happy it made me to know that my loved ones would someday be doing the same thing with all of the things that brought me joy. I am so privileged to be a part of the long line of those who appreciate beauty. I feel like the broken, tarnished lattice-work bracelet was saved just for me. The dried-out watercolor tin, the dusty dishcloths, the half-filled ledger were all waiting for me to love them. My Grandparents would be so happy to know that their beloved treasures are still cherished, and I’m so lucky to have such wonderful memories in my home and in my heart.