Saturday, April 28, 2012

From Fleece to Chenille

In the winter, we like our bedroom to look kind of lodge-y: buffalo check sheets in reds and blues, fleece blankets, and plaid pillow covers:

But buffalo plaid and fleece don't work so well in the spring and summer, so I like to switch things up in late April or early May (poor Doug--just when he learns how to make the bed "right," I change everything).

We have a "body" pillow that runs along our entire headboard (you can't see it in my before picture, but it was covered in red and green plaid flannel for the lodge look).

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a chenille crib quilt to make a new cover for the big pillow:

My cousin Lou (the same one who figured out  that my little porcelain-topped table was a medical cart), suggested making a throw pillow if I had any fabric left over. I didn't have any left from this project, but on Thursday night, Doug and I went to a flea market at our local senior center, and I snapped up a soft, faded blue chenille bedspread. It was priced at $5, but the woman let me have it for $2 because it had a small tear in it.

I didn't know what I was going to do with it when I bought it, but I figured I didn't have much to lose at that price.

When I got it home, I washed and dried it and then repaired the little tear with an iron-on patch. I decided to use it as a folded throw at the end of the bed, but chenille spreads are so floppy, I knew it would be a big pain to fold it every day (let's not even talk about getting my sweet husband to do that).  Plus, they're not really symmetrical--the bottom end is usually rounded to hang better when it's on the bed.

So I cut off the rounded end to square the bedspread off. I ended up with a rectangle that had two long fringed edges and two shorter plain edges. Then I folded it in half, right sides together, and stitched the plain ends together. I flipped it right side out, folded it in half again in the same direction, and then top-stitched it together. Now it's four layers thick, just the right configuration for an end-of-bed decorative throw, and it doesn't come apart.

I threw away the end that I had cut off, but I retrieved it from the trash the next day when my creative cousin suggested making a throw pillow.  I quickly stitched up a cover for a small pillow that I already had. I did a quick and dirty job--no zipper, just whip stitched on the open end--but I can  undo the stitching in seconds if I want to change it out. Here is the finished look for the warm weather:

I also changed out some accessories to match the summer color scheme, including bringing in the little yellow and black picnic tin on the dresser.

Doug will have to get his semi-annual bed-making tutorial when he gets home later today.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thinga Aren't Always What They Seem

A couple of days ago, I posted about a porcelain-topped cabinet that we found at a yard sale for $30.  It had wheels on it, and I assumed that it had been used in a kitchen.

But now I think I was wrong.

My cousin Lou in Florida did some research and found this one on eBay advertised as a vintage medical cabinet:

The seller was asking $224 for it!  It's very similar to ours except that it has an outside latch on the door, where ours has a knob, and it opens from the opposite side.

And blogger Pam (House of Hawthornes) posted one very much like ours--she also found hers at a yard sale:

Pam's has the original knobs, which she reports look like Bakelite.

From some other reading I've done, it seems that these little carts were wheeled around the operating room with the tools of the trade in the drawer and the cabinet. The porcelain tops could be easily sterilized to serve as work surfaces.

We took the wheels off ours because we knew we were going to put it in front of a window, and we didn't want it to be too tall.

Here it is in place in our upstairs powder room (oddly enough, one of the largest rooms in our little house):

And it's now filled with extra towels, toilet paper, and other bathroom items:

We loved it before we knew what it was, but it's nice to be able to trace the history of the vintage treasures we collect.

Thanks, Lou!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

They Had Me at Porcelain

Last weekend, Doug and I went to southern Delaware to do a small construction project for his sister and her husband. We really weren't planning on doing any junking, thrifting, or antiquing because we knew it would take us the whole day to get there, do the work, and drive home.

But as we pulled into his sister's neighborhood, we noticed lots of stuff in people's driveways....

A neighborhood yard sale.

We knew we had work to do, but Doug's sister directed us to the house across the street, where the woman was selling stuff following the death of an elderly relative in the Baltimore area. We went over to take a look, and I immediately fell in love with a vintage porcelain-topped cabinet. It was a little banged up, the shelf inside was missing, and some of the veneer was peeling off, but it was structurally solid, and the porcelain top was in mint condition. The lady was asking $30 for it, and I didn't quibble with the price--she had already turned down an offer for $25.

When we got it home, we used wood patch to fill in where the veneer had peeled off. I ripped out the lovely faux wood contact paper that had been used to line the entire interior as well as the drawer. And my handy husband made me a new shelf--he even crafted it so that it slid into the existing track inside instead of just resting on top of it.

We also removed the knobs--I knew they weren't original because I found a whole bag of similar ones in the drawer, which still had price tags on them from Hechinger, a home improvement store that went out of business a few years ago.  Doug can probably use these on the cabinet doors that he plans to install in the garage (we got 13 doors for $3 at another recent garage sale).

Once again, I had visions of glass knobs dancing in my head, so I went online and ordered some light blue ones from I only needed two, so the shipping cost almost as much as the knobs, but they are beautiful. Here's a sampling of the knobs this company offers:

Anyway, I painted the whole cabinet, including the new plywood shelf, with glossy white paint, cleaned off the porcelain top, and installed the knobs:

I think it will be perfect for towels and extra toilet paper in our upstairs bathroom:

It's a good thing we drove the pickup truck that day. I really don't think this would have fit in the back seat of the Honda.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Best-Laid Plans

On Sunday morning, we were all set to go to Clover Market in Ardmore, Pa., but our plans changed at the last minute because one of the friends we planned to go with was sick. Since Clover Market happens six times a year, we decided to wait and see if they can go with us next time.

So we needed a new plan for Sunday.  For the past several weeks, we had been talking about going up to Adamstown, Pa., which is pegged as the "Antiques Capital of the USA," having 1,000 vendors within 7 miles. Our main destinations were Shupps Grove and Renningers. We had been waiting until spring to go up because Shupps Grove is outdoors only and not open in the winter.  This seemed like the perfect day for it.

We got to Adamstown with no problem. The 53-mile trip takes about 90 minutes because the route is just twisty back roads, but the countryside is beautiful. Finding the exact locations was a little harder, but with some help from Siri on my iPhone, we found Shupps Grove.

There was just one problem.  We were a week early--it doesn't open until April 21st.

OK, so we regrouped, consulted Siri again and went on to Renningers, which is a mix of indoor antique booths and outdoor fleamarket style tables.

Renningers has everything from guns and lanterns to coins and Elvis memorabilia. One stall has more salvaged hardware than I have ever seen in one place--doorknobs of every style, door stoppers, bolts, locks, skeleton keys, faucet handles....

Some of the stalls were just a mish-mash of thrown-together junk, while others were artfully arranged. One young woman who had a nice collection of vintage Pyrex and kitchenware had painted the walls and pegboard in her shop a wonderful shade of 1960s aqua. (No, I didn't take a picture but I should have.)

Despite the number of vendors at Renningers, I didn't see anything I couldn't live without, but Doug bought three 78s for his Victrola and an ice cream scoop. Yes, it was a mechanism he had never seen before so he just had to have it.

So, it was only noon, and we were done at Renningers.

On the way into town, we had seen what looked like an old mill turned into an antiques mall called the Mad Hatter.  We decided to stop there, and it turned out to be a great decision.

It's not a pickers' heaven--it's retail--but the building is clean, well lit, and staffed with friendly people. It's a great place just to walk around and sight-see. One large booth is like a 1960s museum--the shelves are loaded with things from the "mod" era, all in color-coordinated sets.

Doug of course managed to find a camera that was essential to his collection. Last week, he bought the Pioneer model on the left in Strasburg, and at the Mad Hatter he came across the junior model on the right, which mimicked the Pioneer and was marketed to children for the 1949-50 Christmas season:

I started the day with three things on my mental list and managed to find them all.

I had been looking for a white chenille bedspread that I could cut up and sew into a cover for the large pillow that spans the entire headboard on our bed. What I found was even better--a crib-size spread that is already the perfect size to be stitched into a pillowcase with no cutting:

My wish list always includes picnic tins in styles and plaids that I don't already have. Doug found this cute little tartan one with wooden handles:

And as much as I hate to admit it, this past week I had identified just one more place in our house where a stained glass window would be perfect. Doug found a whole stack of them on the floor in one booth at the Mad Hatter, and we chose this one, which was a bargain at $45:

I think it looks great hanging over our kitchen sink:

This really is the last one. I promise.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Life is Good with Donuts and Cameras

 A 40-minute drive through southern Chester County horse country on Saturday afternoon brought us to a wonderful place that had everything--well, everything we're interested in anyway: fresh donuts, freshvintage, and fresh sandwiches.

After a crack-of-dawn outing to a garage sale had us back home, showered, and wondering what to do by 10:30 in the morning, we decided to take a little trip up to Highland Orchards in West Chester, Pa.

We knew they had apple cider donuts:

and we knew that freshvintage, owned by blogger Colleen Alison and her husband Chris, had just opened there:

The only thing we hadn't planned was lunch, but it turned out that there was a wonderful little deli right on the premises, where we bought some made-to-order sandwiches and some drinks. Dessert, of course, was a given--we dove right into the bag of hot donuts that we bought inside the orchard market.

But first we visited freshvintage, where we met Chris, who was really nice and very friendly.  In an odd twist, although I loved the way the store was decorated, I didn't buy anything--this time.

But of course Doug was like a moth to a light with Colleen's display of vintage cameras:

and there were two that he just had to have.

Now, I can't wait til this Sunday, when we go to Clover Market in Ardmore, where freshvintage will join dozens of other vendors for the day.

Maybe, the vendors will all hide their old cameras.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Boxes, Bundling, and Bad Intentions

Last Saturday morning, Doug and I headed out at 6:15 for a garage sale advertised as having a lot of vintage tools and a large collection of vintage fruit boxes.

Here is the back of our truck when we got home, but making these purchases wasn't exactly smooth sailing.

It was definitely a "guy" kind of sale--when we got there at 6:30, the early birds were out in force, but I was the only woman.  Guys were already loading mysterious machinery and equipment into pickup trucks, but I zeroed in on the boxes because of the beautiful labels on them.

Nothing was priced, and the young man in charge seemed more interested in telling stories about the stuff than he was in selling it.

I asked him about the fruit boxes.

"Oh this is just part of the collection," he said.  "There's more over at my house across the street. We have more than a hundred of them and we're selling them as a set."

Good luck with that.

Then he weakened just a bit.

"If you see some you like, ask me and maybe we can work something out. But it wasn't my intention to split up the lot."

I wasn't too concerned about his intentions; I just wanted to buy a couple of boxes.

So I wandered around trying to decide which ones I wanted based on the labels. I chose two, one of which turned out to be perfect for storing food for our cat, Casey:

and the other for storing my collection of British Country Living magazines (I didn't think Casey would appreciate having her food stored in a box with a picture of a dog on it):

 I also picked up a little cardboard cheese box that was filled with vintage marbles:

 as well as three hardback books.

Doug added to the pile three metal storage boxes for hardware.

We decided to be like Frank from Pickers and go for a "bundle" deal.  We settled on offering the guy $40 for the lot.

In the meantime, however, Doug spotted a really cool wooden box that had once held black powder pellets but now contained a vintage scale and set of weights.

Doug wanted only the box:

which had a really cool insert to keep the explosives in place during shipping:

The guy was adamant about selling the box and the contents together, and he wanted $50. Doug pointed out that there was no connection between the powder box and the weights, and he finally wore the guy down.

"OK, you can have the box for $20. But it wasn't my intention to sell them separately."

We paid him quickly before he could change his mind and then helped him "stage" the scale and the weights so people would notice them in the driveway. He probably ended up getting $50 just from the scale.

He also had the satisfaction of having the last word about his intentions. But that's OK because we had the boxes.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Windows on the World

I'm not sure how our addiction to stained glass windows got started, but we now have six of them, and they're all special to us for different reasons.

Doug bought the first one when he was newly single after a divorce. He was living in a little 1960s ranch house, and he bought a window to hang as a divider between two open rooms. When we bought our current house together, the shabby window sat in storage until we finished off our attic bathroom. Then we realized it would be the perfect thing to hang across the top half of the gable window. Doug made some repairs, and I got out my can of high-gloss white paint and gave it a much-needed facelift.

The second one came to us on an overnight visit to one of our favorite towns, St. Michaels, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. We spotted it in an antiques store and made the first of our "we don't know where we're going to put it, but we love it so let's buy it" decisions. It turned out to be perfect in our kitchen, where a window-unit air conditioner left a very strange view of overlapping muntins. We bought the little green frog that's hanging above the window because it matched so well and was only $1.50 at a thrift store.

Our third purchase was our Nantucket window, whose long journey to our house was detailed in an earlier blog entry:

The fourth one, our tiniest and cutest window, was a birthday gift from our dearest friends, who delivered it to me in a pillowcase (wrapping a stained glass window isn't easy, you know). This unusual square window with a crest in the middle was a perfect fit for the top of the triple transom window in our living room--not to mention a perfect match for the red and green glass fishing floats that we already had hanging there.

Our candle window was a crazy project, described in another blog entry. It took us an entire day to find a home for this one, but it works beautifully across our front door, where it gives us some much-needed privacy from the street:

Last weekend, in another one of our favorite towns, Strasburg, Pa., we found what may well be the last in our collection. It's also in the foyer, hanging across the top half of a very plain window.

I told Doug that we really have run out of places to hang these gems.

But I realized after reading an article in the online version of the Daily Mail that stained glass can be incorporated as a design element in houses a lot smaller than ours. Derek Diedrickson, who builds micro houses out of junk, included a piece of stained glass in this 24-square-foot house:

Privacy and beauty all at once--who could ask for more?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Victrola Magic

The people at the Beebe Hospital Thrift Store knew what they were doing when they put the 1930 wind-up Victrola right inside the door on the edge of the checkout counter.

The piece attracted Doug just like the rows of candy bars at the grocery store checkout attract five-year-olds. 

He has always looked longingly at console models of vintage record players but passed them up knowing that we have no space for them.

But this one was a portable, a perfect fit for our tiny 1939 cottage.

The record player was in beautiful condition and was priced accordingly--it was $300. After giving it a quick glance, I continued into the store and started looking at other things, but Doug was truly like a kid in a toy store--he couldn't drag himself away. Finally, he began to wander aimlessly around the store, but his heart wasn't in it--I could tell he wasn't really seeing the housewares, books, clothes, picture frames and other thrift-store-priced items on the shelves.

The women that work at the store are all volunteers, but they are no amateurs when it comes to marketing.

A handy little cubby inside the lid of the Victrola case holds records:

and this one just happened to come with three, one still in its original paper jacket:

The ladies pulled one out, wound up the player, and gently set the needle down on the heavy black disk. A scratchy 1930s polka boomed out of the speakers, and Doug's jaw dropped. 

That was when I knew it was a done deal.

If we had found the player in an antiques store, I definitely would have bargained with them for at least 10 percent off. But in a charity thrift store, that just doesn't feel right--you might as well steal from cancer patients.

So... the day had started off with real bargains--a $10 vintage sewing machine (the subject of my last blog entry) and two Wonder Shredders for 50 cents each (we got the large and small ones in this set of three--now we have something else to hunt for):

But it ended with one of our most expensive purchases ever.

And of course now Doug has something else to look for in our travels. The next day, I caught him picking through a cardboard box of old 78s in an antiques barn in Strasburg. He came home with just one Jimmy Dorsey record for $3.

A couple of days after we bought the record player, he admitted that he had been ready to walk away without buying it until those devious aqua-jacketed clerks cranked it up.

"They had me at polka," he said.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish for

A couple of days ago, Doug and I were talking about our recent projects and saying that we needed something that would take longer to finish--our house is too small to accommodate more stuff, but we love working on things.

Yesterday, Doug may have gotten even more than he bargained for.

We went to an estate sale in Lewes, Del., which is pegged as "the first town in the first state." Lewes has lots of old houses, so we were excited about the possibility of finding lots of old stuff--cameras, tools, picnic tins, Pyrex....

It didn't look promising when we got there. Doug and I are both snake-phobic, and one of the first items we saw for sale was a frighteningly realistic rubber snake curled up on a chair right inside the front door. That wasn't a good start, and it didn't get any better as we made a quick tour of the house. It was the second day of a three-day sale (it had started on Friday), and the place was pretty wiped out.

We headed out to the garage, where an old treadle sewing machine caught Doug's eye.  It was a brand we had never heard of--Minnesota.  The "head," or machine itself, was in good condition:

The cabinet, on the other hand, was pretty beat up, with two drawers missing and the veneer cracked with age and water damage:

As Doug continued to look at it, a young woman came up to him and started telling him about the machine and her never-carried-out plans for it.

Then she offered it to him for $10. How could we not buy it?

Uh, maybe because it wouldn't fit in our Honda Civic?

Well, we did manage to get it into the back seat of the little car, where we used a bungee cord to fasten it to the backseat head rests so it wouldn't flop all around on our 90-mile trip home.

When we got it home, we found a few treasures in the two remaining drawers, including an original manual. Although the paper is brittle and yellow with age, all of the pages are there, and it's still stapled together...mostly:

There was a box full of of attachments:

And a box of other odds and ends including needles and hardware, plus a paper tape measure and a partially used package of "gripper" snaps. Also included were four bobbins (below right), which are very long and narrow--nothing like the ones in my newer machines, which are round and flat:

We did a little research on the machine and found out it was made around 1912 by the Davis Company for Sears. It sold for about $16 and was marketed as a high-end machine because it had ball bearings. (Doug probably understands why that's a selling point, but I can't say I do.)

I also learned that you could buy a "handsome parlor cabinet" for it in the 1920s:

In looking around for images and information on the machine, I stumbled on a blog called Serendipity Handmade, where blogger Collette posted a photo of a restored Minnesota A, owned by a friend of hers:

Go for it, Doug. This project should keep you busy for a long time.