Archive for the ‘in the yellow button house’ Category

It’s been awhile since I’ve featured a few choice finds from my frequent trips to thrift stores.  As you may suspect, this lapse is mostly due to a new thing called parenthood (less trips to thrift stores) and another new thing called packing (less time for posts).  Anyway, I’ll keep it short and not show you everything we’ve discovered lately, just my most favorite finds.  I’ll also note here that it’s kinda counter-productive to vigorously organize, purge and pack then turn around and bring more things into the house.  I say this more for my benefit than anything else.  Anyway, I digress.  Onto the fabulous finds!

old & rusty (& lovely) singer

Ryan brought home this antique sewing machine (maybe from the 1920s?) one cold, rainy day in early spring.  He found it in a dumpster.  Truly.  My husband knows I gravitate toward old, dark, rusty antiques.  This darling machine normally sits high on a bookshelf, purely for looks.  With its art deco-meets-art nouveau details, it adds a bit of vintage, crafty charm.  Now the machine is patiently waiting in a queue to be packed up, along with everything else.

old quilts & a new(ish) baby

I found these quilts at two different thrift stores, both for $5.  The lavender one is huge and could cover a queen-sized bed.  We like it for picnicking and playing out on the grass.  We like the whimsical stars of dark purple and various petal patterns.  The second one is not quite so large, but bigger than a baby quilt.  I know, it’s pink.  But I couldn’t resist, it’s so pretty and so well-made.  If it’s any consolation, there are little dinosaurs and sheep all over the backing.  And someone carefully quilted around every individual blue leaf on the edging.  If you didn’t already know, handmade quilts hold a soft spot in my heart.  Especially those I can snag for $5 or less.

+/- 120 knitting patterns for $1

Vogue Knitting International magazines, twenty-five cents each.  Need I say more?

most organized spices of my life

Last time I was home, my Marmie showed me her newly organized spice cupboard, complete with two tiered spice racks.  I was seriously envious.  An unorganized spice cupboard is a big personal pet peeve and here my mom’s looked so much better than mine!  So when I found a similar tiered spice rack at the thrift store (for $1), I almost yelped in excitement.  Now my spice cupboard is just *tear* so perfect.

little yellow ware bowl

In my recent reading of kitchen design (specifically, how to create a warm and cozy country/vintage/folksy kitchen), I discovered yellow ware and instantly feel in love.  Made in Great Britain, France, Canada and the US from the 1850s to the 1930s, yellow ware is sturdy, useful and oh so darn charming.  Grandma Blakemore always tells me to add a bit of yellow in every room.  Yes, please.  So when I found these two bowls at the thrift store (one for $5 and one for $3), I was thrilled.  It’s true that at some point, both bowls had been smashed to smithereens then meticulously glued back together.  But doesn’t that just add to the charm?  I have no idea who first made them and what their value would be if they were in mint condition but I really don’t care.

bigger yellow ware bowl

Right now I’m using one to pot a kangaroo foot plant a dear friend gave us and the other sits on our dresser and houses keys, ticket stubs, odd buttons and things.  These old chippy bowls are now dear to me, mostly because they are adorable in a dusty-vintage-kitchen sort of way, but also because I can get good use out of them and not worry one bit about owning something valuable.  And that’s the way I like it.

good summer reading equals one wonderful summer

Lastly, and perhaps most exciting (depending on your taste), I’ve acquired a nice collection of summer reading.  Ranging from eighty cents to a dollar fifty, these used books are better than library books because I don’t ever have to return them.  No late fees!  And I can give these books to friends when I’m done reading them and not worry about ever getting them back.  I’m finding that breastfeeding and reading go very well together (as Emily G. predicted) and have already finished and passed along those not pictured: Atonement (Ian McEwan), The Lace Reader (Brunonia Barry), Prodigal Summer (Barbara Kingsolver), and If Only it were True (Marc Levy).  Happy summer reading, my friends.

Also, happy summer thrifting!


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I’d like to take a moment and thank Pam, my dear sweet housemate and insect-killing hero, for coming to my rescue this very morning.

A cup of tea sounded like a good idea until I opened the cupboard (the one housing various teas, blue agave nectar and honey) to find hundreds of tiny black ants having a happy heyday all over everything in the cupboard.  Ew.  So gross.  I tried to fight off the little buggers single-handedly, but lost heart and morale when they started crawling all over each under the sweep of my not-so-deadly paper towel.

Pam stepped in and proceeded to quickly and effectively kill them off and clean the cupboard by spraying Green Works all-purpose cleaner on every last one of them.  I wouldn’t have even thought to kill them, er, drown them actually, with our earth-friendly cleaner.  This is why Pam is my hero.

We both agreed that insects who crawl over each other might be the epitome of grossness and creepiness and then decided that this is strictly weird alien behavior.  Not welcome in our human-dwelling-only house.  We hope that’s the last of the ants, but are keeping the Green Works nearby.

So, thank you, Pam.  For saving me when I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ants in our kitchen.  Thank you for bringing peace back to my cup of morning tea.  Thank you, also, for every single spider you’ve killed for me this past year.  You are gracious and kind and we are certainly going to miss you for many, many more reasons than your mad bug-killing skills.

Note to self and other selves like me: next year, try to remember to clean out the tea cupboard before it starts getting really hot outside, before the ants get curious and … out of control.

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welcome to a little corner of my world on an overcast day

side view of new shelves (love the cast iron brackets)

Finally I’m feeling that the little nook inside our home just for creating, sewing and finishing projects is fully complete.  My wood-working father built and installed beautiful shelves for above my trusty Singer.  Now knitting needles, yarn, favorite artsy books, buttons and thread are all within arm’s reach.  And it just looks so darn pretty.  Thank you, Dad!  What a perfect birthday present.  I think I may want more shelves next year.

sewing space in the sun

With three windows, there is plenty of natural lighting in my little space.  French doors open from our living room and give others a peek at what is currently being dreamed-up.  The chest of drawers is a lucky thrift store find: originally handcrafted in Ludington, Michigan, it was used for eons in a dormitory at Messiah College.  It is now serving as one of the most solid pieces of furniture in our home; I think it’s indestructible.  Anything and everything craft is hidden away in the drawers (fabric, shrunken sweaters, paints and glues, zippers and ribbons and things).

The work table is also from our thrift store.  I believe I related this excellent find in a prior post.  Lamp and blue canvas bag: Restoration Hardware (oh, the perks of having once worked retail).  The old cheese boxes under the table were found at our thrift store (surprised?) and are from a local dairy.  They are now home to more random crafting items.  The little writing desk was Ryan’s Grandpa Langer’s and somehow perfectly matches the sewing bench that was my Grandma Case’s.  The seat of the bench lifts up to reveal sewing miscellaneous stowed inside, just almost exactly as she left it.

The detail that remains is to put a picture of Grandma Case in the black frame on the second shelf.  I’m thinking of the one from 1925 with her and her older sister riding a goat cart in Flint, Michigan.  Yes, a copy of that snapshot would perfectly complete my little sewing space.

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24 weeks (please excuse the garden hose left out in the grass. yes, we are those people).

Is it really mid-August already?  Probably: crape myrtle and sunflowers abound.  Am I really in our sixth month of pregnancy and will there really be a baby in the house in just over three short months?  So I’m told.  I feel like there is much to do before that time arrives.  So much to read (not to mention so much to knit!).  One major project, however, is complete and I’d like to share a few details…

Last week my parents were in town for their annual summer visit.  Visits with my parents consist mostly of lying around reading, going to an occasional store or restaurant, and playing Settlers of Catan late into the evening.  This year, however, Mom and I decided to be industrious.  Our goal: to refinish a Jenny Lind changing table that was given to us by my sister-in-law (who actually found it at a garage sale (story and “before” photo here) and bought it for her own sister who ended up not needing it but whose husband first sanded off a bit of the original finish.  Phew.  Long story.  Thanks, Joey, for your help!  And thanks, Christine, for the changing table itself!).

Right, so.  A strong, sturdy changing table in need of something just a little bit funky (antique-looking? vintage? shabby-chic?).  Mom had leftover paint from a past project that she generously donated to our endeavors.  Color: a very light sage/aqua.  I promise, for those of you who grew up playing in the West Flint church nursery, this color is not the same as the chippy blue paint we sometimes tasted off the old built-in cribs.   The pictures below just kind of maybe look like it (?).

The process:  we sanded off all of the original stain and finish (which took some time), then Dad and Mom painted the changing table.  Remember, I’m pregnant; I have some reservations toward paint fumes and such.  After the paint dried, Mom and I sanded and chipped away sage/aqua in random and possibly strategic locations.  I’m still not exactly sure what look we were going for, but we went with what materialized.  We then accented the rough places and edges with copper/brown wax paint, buffed it in, and when everything was dry, buffed in a coat of citrus shield paste wax for a subtle matte finish.  Ta da!

changing table housing teddy

The changing table now sits in our bedroom waiting for a pad, some baskets and blankets, cloth diapering supplies and etc, etc.  What normally goes on the shelves of changing tables, anyway?

up close, so you may see some detail

In closing, I’d like to give an absolutely extra special thank you to my dearest Marmie who helped (okay, who actually took the lead) with this project.  Thank you!  And also, happy birthday again.  I hope I can be to our little one what you’ve always been to me.

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spring flowers in an old Kerr jar: $0

One thing I find so striking about March in the valley is all the yellow.  Sunshine, daffodils and forsythia abound and I am reveling in it.  A friend came by to knit last week and brought me lovely, lacy daffodils (oh so feminine!) and button-y grape hyacinths.  Our table has found a cheerful centerpiece and I find joy in simple pleasures the earth provides.  And this is only the beginning of a blossom-filled spring and summer (I am dreaming in lilac, peony, dogwood, crape myrtle and sunflower tones).

milkglass salt & pepper shakers: $1

So on to finds that are less thoughtful gifts and more interesting thrift-store purchases: a set of adorable milkglass salt and pepper shakers.  I stumbled upon these the other day at our favorite store, Gift and Thrift.  I love the visual texture they add to the table and am very glad our kosher salt fits through the holes in the rough and well-used lid.

chipped and cracked work table: $28

Also at Gift and Thrift, Ryan and I found a perfect work table for my crafting endeavors.  It is old, chippy (as you can see), well made and very well-used.  My favorite part?  The table transforms.  It’s true!  There are built-in leaves on either long side that pull out and snap in place to provide almost double the amount of workspace.  De. Lightful.

lightweight white pullover: $0

Last week I hosted a girl’s clothing swap with friends from church and from the college community nearby.  If you’ve not participated in a clothing swap, you are truly missing out.  We find things from the backs of our closets, any season and any size, that we seldom wear and swap for things we maybe will!  Whatever is not claimed is then taken to the local charity thrift store.  No need for clothing swaps to be limited to clothes: cosmetics, housewares and accessories all find new homes.  I came away with a lovely black jacket and some great Burt’s Bees products (all not pictured) along with this soft and summery Old Navy pullover.

damask hoodie in greens: $4

Another Gift and Thrift find: a woodsy green hoodie with an all-over damask print.  It’s cotton, lightweight and reversible.  So if I’m feeling less damask-y and more solid green, it can simply be turned inside out.  And the zipper has a tiny green velvet tab.  How sweet.

blue shirt with pearl snaps: $3

Lastly I found a beautiful white cotton shirt featuring tiny blue flowers by Lucky Brand, also from Gift and Thrift.  It is slightly country/western: pointy pockets, dramatic cuffs and pearl snaps.  So airy, so girlie and so comfortable.  I’m finding many, many reasons to wear it, at home and away.

And so this concludes the major finds from the months of February and March.  I think I’m done buying clothes for a while, however low-priced, as I feel well-prepared to face the remainder of spring and summer (come what may).  However, this does not mean there will be fewer clothing swaps; free clothes are always allowed in my book.

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Finally, they are done.  I’ve assembled and hung all the window treatments that I plan to create for our home.  The last room to be considered was our rain room, so named for the delight it offers during a warm spring rain, windows slightly open: the sound of raindrops falling on the tin roof just outside the windows.  Some might have called it a sun room, given the small space, large windows and abundance of morning and afternoon sunshine.  But we, being often slightly different, have dubbed it something opposite… the rain room.

In the rain room, one can find a small seating area not far from two bookcases, perfect for solitary reading or Sunday morning coffee with husband.  Also in the room, there are two small desks just for me and my crafting endeavors.  I love to work in so much natural light and to have my very own workstation, even if it’s just a corner of a small room tucked away in the far folds of the house.  My sewing machine is perpetually out, my knitting needles are handy and other friends are stored in a chest of drawers an arm’s reach away: buttons, needles, thread, glues, skeins of yarn, various scissors and scraps of fabric for every occasion.

For the final touches on this little and full-of-so-much-interesting-purpose room, I, of course, used twigs.  I can’t live in a world without twigs.  They are so varied, so screaming “nature,” so free.  Other supplies included a white sheer 80 x 84″ panel from the local thrift store,  thread, six i-cords knitted in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Hollyberry and fiberfill.  Oh, and one small bird’s nest brought home from the blueberry farm by Ryan.

So, I saw a technique in a book once where you take a bit of fiberfill, wrap it into a portion of a sheer drape and secure with thread to create little balls all over the sheer.  Instant texture.  I applied the same idea, but first divided the large sheer into three parts, hemmed where necessary and added rod pockets.  Once the balls were complete (which took the longest bit of time), I gathered the fabric at either end and twice in the front so most of the window would be exposed.  Then came the twigs, secured with the help of wire and the knitted i-cords knotted around the fabric, hardware and twigs at the gathered points.

twiggy whimsy window

Lastly, above the south-facing window, I nestled the little bird’s nest into the crook of a few branches.  Ryan promised that the nest had been vacant for months before he retrieved it from the blueberry bush and brought it home to me.  Total cost: $7 (for the yarn and the thrift-store sheer).

bird's nest and i-cord

second and third windows of the rain room

the one with the bird's nest

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There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.  -Leonard Cohen

Today while we were sitting in the sun on the front steps, Ryan told me of the Chinese belief that the second go of a teabag makes the best tea.  Interestingly, as my caffeine intake has now been restricted to weekends and very special occasions, I’m working to savor the new morning ritual of a tall glass of cool water.  Fresh, clean water is something to be savored; not everyone on our planet has the luxury.  However, when Saturday happens again, I’ll experiment and reuse my teabag to maybe form an opinion on the said Chinese belief.  Although I do suspect that there is something in the twice used, the neglected, the imperfect, and the things others maybe all too often discard.  I look forward to Saturday and just seeing for myself.

Sewing the new, from used fabric: For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been spending spare minutes here and there to sew treatments for a number of our main rooms’ windows.  We’ve been in our current location since June and I’ve just now found the time.  Dr. Richardson would be so proud and probably a little shocked that it’s taken me eight months to treat the windows.  I’ll never forget her drilling it into our brains that a room is not fully decorated until the windows are taken into thoughtful consideration.

So I finally dealt with our windows.  In the dining room, I reused a linen panel we had hanging in our bedroom window in Houston.  You see, our apartment in Houston had all of two windows.  We now have nineteen (+/-)?  By cutting the linen panel into thirds and strategically piecing the extra fabric, I created the valances and hung them by simple built-in rod pockets.    Total cost: $0.

linen valance against a mushroom wall

one of three dining room windows

For our living room, I used white vintage silk leftover from an upstairs window treatment project.  The fabric was given to us by a neighbor friend who originally got it used from her sister.  Have I mentioned I like to recycle?  I created rod pockets, embellished the silk fabric with stripes of crisp, white cotton and added a crocheted lace fringe.  The yarn used is by Knit One Crochet Too, a laceweight baby mohair (70%) and silk (30%) called “douceur et soieis,” purchased from our local yarn store.  There may be a green stain on one of the valances and each may have a varying number of florets, but I honestly believe in flaws.  Total cost: $12 (for the yarn).

windows, valance, plants and outside

lace, up-close

the living room and its windows

And for our bathroom, I made a single valance out of more used material.  The colorful bits are the last remaining extras from a random sewing project and the cotton is leftover from yet another window treatment effort.  I didn’t have the correct size of floral fabric, so I cut and sewed, cut and sewed, in order to create two very pieced squares.  I bordered the squares with the cotton and created one last simple rod pocket.  Total cost: $0.

bathroom window valance

bathroom window, valance, mirror and me

Also I love that these valances hide the terrible, terrible mini-blinds when they are not in use. There is just one last window treatment project which will hopefully be complete in a week or two.  All this in time for open, sunny windows, cool breezes and summer company.  And now I am in the mood for sweet ice tea.

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