Friday, June 29, 2012

Our Biggest Trash to Treasure Project Yet

Well, I think all of the projects Doug and I have done so far are going to look like child's play in comparison to what we just took on, but I'm so excited I can hardly sleep.  We just bought a total fixer-upper in a funny little place called Kitts Hummock.  Just south of Dover Air Force Base, Kitts Hummock is a sleepy rural area on the Delaware Bay.  In looking at websites where I could drool over cottages in our ocean beach towns like Lewes and Rehoboth, I stumbled on an extended single-wide mobile home, one block from the Bay for just under $50,000.

The price includes the property, which backs to some of Delaware's beautiful wetlands.

I won't sugarcoat it--the place needs an amazing amount of work, but because the market is still tough, we got it for just $38,000.  That's less than the price of a new luxury car...and so much more fun.

It comes furnished, but our first step will be to order a dumpster and get rid of 99 percent of the contents:

We will then be buying large quantities of white paint to cover the shiny, dark old wood in the original trailer:

Then we plan to remove the nasty asphalt shingles on the addition, replace them with wood, and paint the entire outside. I think it will be very cute painted a pale coastal blue instead of this mustard yellow:

It even has a cute little shed:

I can hardly sleep for the plans running through my head, and I've already bought enough spray paint for my planned projects that the Home Depot graffiti police are probably ready to arrest me.

This is like hitting the triple crown--we have a whole slate of new projects, we'll end up with a new getaway, and we now have a new home for the junk we find in our weekend travels.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rails to Trails

Doug and I made a quick stop at a rambling old house full of rooms stocked by individual junk and antique vendors yesterday in Oxford, Pa. Although I saw some nice things and got some ideas for projects, we didn't buy ANYTHING.

So this week's post about the world of vintage comes to you not from a store but a trail.

Several years ago, a paved path was built connecting the east side of our town to the west.  It's a mile and three quarters long, connecting several little city parks, and has no cross traffic.  It's been great for walks and runs but is kind of short for cycling.

So I was really excited to learn a couple of years ago that a new trail, following the path of a defunct rail line called the Pomeroy and Newark, was being installed, with its southern end connecting to the existing trail and the northern end spilling out on a beautiful, little-used road that winds along the White Clay Creek. They've installed some cool signposts:

Rails-to-trails is really just another form of recycling, kind of like turning trash into treasure. And the old rail line really had deteriorated into a weed-infested trash pile that now looks like this:

The trail isn't quite finished--parts still need to be paved, kiosks completed, transitions built at the cross streets, and a small bridge constructed--but its quite usable and it's kind of fun to see what's new every couple of days.

A couple of weeks ago, this cute awning appeared under the CSX crossing:

I was puzzled as to its purpose but then remembered walking under the CSX tracks a few weeks earlier while a freight train was going over and seeing some pebbles shower down.  Oh, yeah, that cute little awning is to protect trail users from debris....

This morning, I was riding my bike on the trail when I came upon this object set on a little cleared spot off to the side:

At first I thought it was a stylized barbell, laid next to the trail to inspire walkers, runners, and cyclists to lift weights when they finish their aerobic workout.

But when I got off my bike to take a closer look, I saw this detail on the inside of the wheel:

It's a salvaged train wheel, placed there to remind everyone of the trail's former life as a rail line.

And whoever refurbished it definitely shares my appreciation for what you can accomplish with a nice can of glossy black paint.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Junk in the Grove

Doug and I finally made it to Shupps Grove up in Adamstown, Pa. yesterday.  We had gone in April but beat their opening date by a week. 

 Yesterday was a gorgeous day, and the ride there from Delaware is breathtakingly beautiful.

We made an unexpected stop on the way at a huge Amish "yard sale," complete with ponies hitched to carts, a John Deere engine powering an ice cream maker, and miles of chicken BBQing on grills.  Most of the stuff for sale wasn't our style, but we bought this great galvanized tub--complete with soil, cherry tomato and pepper plants, and flowers--for $15:

Once we got to Shupps Grove, we immediately hunted for the bathrooms and stumbled on what turned out to be my favorite part of the whole place--a shop in an adorable little cottage filled with items made from repurposed junk, plus junk you could buy to make your own fun items. Doug took this picture of me right before we went in and discovered the magic:

Knobs, corbels, springs, stakes, keys, pool balls, boxes, pots, rope, vines, watering cans, bedpans, golf clubs, ladders--the list of cool stuff just goes on. We bought this cute piece of garden art, which had been reduced for Fathers Day:

We also got this beautiful hummer feeder that an artisan had made from a glass, a cruet, and beads. We had hummers in our yard last summer, so we're hoping they'll like this funky feeder as much as they liked the standard plastic ones with the red trays:

From some of the other vendors, we bought this cute little ladder and licorice box to use on the deck with flowers--a visit to Home Depot this morning filled it out with New Guinea impatiens and some herbs. I also raided the garage for the copper spiral chain hanging on the ladder. 

That turned out to be a bad idea because Doug had saved it from a job he did when he was still working as a machinist, and he wanted to photograph it in its entire length, as it had come off the job in one very long piece. He has since forgiven me for defiling it:

All of this new stuff looks great with the rest of our garden treasures, including the bathtub that we found in the garage after we bought our house.  We used it two or three time to hold drinks for parties, then decided to leave it out and fill it with soil and flowers:

We also found some marble landscape markers in our yard when we moved in, so Doug rigged up one of them with this sundial that we bought at an estate sale:

It says "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be."

I hope to grow old with Doug, but I guess I better be more prudent about plundering his stock in the garage.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bargain Blanket

A tip from a Facebook friend (a high school classmate I haven't seen in 40 years) led Doug and me to a flea market at a local senior center this morning.

We arrived early in the hope of catching things as they were brought out of the building. At first, we saw a lot of holiday decorations, craft supplies, and toys, which didn't interest us much, but I soon spied what I thought was a Hudsons Bay blanket, with the traditional dark green, bright red, egg-yolk yellow, and indigo stripes at both ends:

It was marked $2.

I grabbed it and hunted for a tag to confirm my find.

But the label indicated that the blanket was made by Pendleton, and it was marked "Glacier Park Blanket."  I was a little disappointed that it wasn't a Hudsons Bay, but at $2--less than the cost of a large ice tea at Panera--I figured it was still a deal.

When I got home, I immediately googled it and was surprised to get a lesson in Americana.

In the early 1900s, Oregon-based Pendleton began to make blankets similar to the Canadian-made Hudsons Bay blankets, which had been made for trading with the Indians.  The blankets were also sold at gift shops and lodges in national parks. 

In 1915, Great Northern Railroad's founder, James J. Hill, asked Pendleton to create a blanket for him to sell at his Glacier Park Lodge. The company made the Hudsons Bay look-alike for Glacier Park and then went on to make a series of different blankets for a number of other parks, which are still made and sold today. The label on ours places it sometime between the 1930s and 1960s.  

New ones sell for up to $218 depending on size, and I found a vintage one on Etsy that had more patches than blanket, with an asking price of $149....

I also found this cool 1940s ad for a Glacier Park Blanket:

The woman is happy because the ad says this blanket is going to last "for the rest of her life," and I guess that just might be true.

Now, Doug may think that because this post is about a blanket and not a project, he's going to be invisible this time.

Wrong. A man who looks like Doug is never invisible.

My FB friend, Jean, was out of town and couldn't go to the sale, but she called one of the women at the senior center, Micki, to let her know that I would be coming.  Micki spotted me right away and came up and mentioned Jean's name. We chatted for a minute and then Micki went off to put out more merchandise and set up her cashbox. I was a little puzzled as to how she had identified me so quickly, but I didn't give it much thought as we picked through boxes for more treasures.

We met up with Micki again about an hour later when it was time to check out. We paid her and as we were saying good-bye, she called out, "It was nice to meet you--and you too, Santa."

Ah, now I got it.  Jean had seen pictures of Doug on FB, and she must have told Micki to look for a woman whose husband looks like Santa. 

Sorry, Doug, incognito just doesn't work for a big guy with a white beard, blue eyes, and wire-rim glasses.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Bird in the Bath

When my friend Jennie and I went to the antique barn last week, she bought not only an awesome potting bench (couched as an early Father's Day gift for her British husband, Martin, an avid gardener), but also a rusty milk can and a chipped lid from a crock to make a bird bath.

I got bird bath envy and decided to "shop at home" to make one of my own.

I found this great industrial stool in the garage, complete with rust and cobwebs:

The basement yielded this beautiful shallow bowl that I found at Goodwill several years ago for $7:

When I assembled the bird bath, I discovered that the bowl settled perfectly into the indented rim on top of the stool, which tells me that they were meant to be together:

Now, maybe the birds will stop using our water feature as a bathtub.

And maybe Doug can use this stool--which was just hanging out in the shed, doing nothing--as a workshop stool in the garage, since I pretty much stole his:

He probably will be OK with it, since he's very good-natured about my projects, but there's nothing like having to read your wife's blog to find out where your workshop stool went.