Archive for the ‘things vintage’ Category

bunny slippers (circa 1984). cost: free

About a month ago I was home in Michigan on a very nice trip, just me and my in-utero babe.  While there, our generous and supportive families threw a couple of lovely baby showers.  At one of these showers, Marmie presented us with a number of items she’d saved from my own infancy.  Like the yellow crescent moon, star and moon-baby mobile that used to hang in the corner of my nursery.  And a small, lacy green romper (complete with lace on the romper rear) that I can’t believe ever fit me.  Also a tiny, fuzzy and delightful pair of bunny slippers (100% wool lined with 100% cotton–so cozy!).  Mom said she sent away for them but by the time they arrived, my little feet had grown too big.  Now twenty-six years later, our winter baby’s feet will slip into these two little bunnies and stay toasty warm.  Que adorable.

folk art alphabet (house, moon, star, flower). cost: $28

I’ve had my eye on a framed cross-stitch folk art alphabet at an antique store in town.  The dimensions, I knew, would be just perfect for the wall over the changing table in our bedroom.  I could only resist this old, faded alphabet for so long.  Once it hung over a doorway in Harrisonburg’s Fleatique store on Route 11.  Now it hangs over baby’s changing table.  ABCDE house FGHIJK moon LMNOP start QRSTU flower VWXYZ.

baby's very own copy of Jane Eyre. cost: $1.25

While visiting our absolute favorite thrift store a number of weeks ago, my brother-in-law stumbled upon a pocket-sized hardback version of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.  What could be more fitting for baby to cut his or her teeth on?  Now Jane Eyre sits on a low bookshelf next to Mother Goose, Peter Rabbit and But Not the Hippopotamus!

Random baby fact I recently learned: when a baby girl is born, her reproductive organs are stocked with all the eggs she’ll ever produce, so a part of me (the egg part) was once inside my maternal grandmother.  I never thought of it that way before.  Crazy.  So if I’m carrying a little girl, right now I’m also toting around all the eggs that will one day be all her children, my own grandchildren.

Today is November 4… let the ninth month of baby-growing begin!


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pint-sized finds

Highlighted below are a few small and charming finds, made by me and made by friends, for our little not-quite-here-yet baby.

The first is a feed sack dress, which my sister-in-law and I found at a new antique store near downtown Harrisonburg.  This dress is different from any feed sack dress I’ve seen, as it has a yoke which buttons at both shoulders.  I couldn’t resist bringing it home, as I have a number of super soft old feed sacks stowed away for toddler garment purposes and plan to use this dress as a model for sewing (if, of course, the baby is a girl.  Girl babies and toddlers in my book necessitate clothing made out of vintage pillow cases and old feed and flour sacks).

vintage feed sack dress: $11

Next pint-sized find: little lavender booties.  When Ryan and I were visiting family this summer in Michigan, my aunt gave me this pair of knitted booties (pictured below).  They were found in my grandmother’s things and, sadly,  I’m not sure who made them or which little baby originally wore them.   But I do know that they are very sweet, quite old, and perfect for a winter newborn.  Have you seen booties that pull up over the knees?  How delightful and how cozy.  Thank you to Aunt Cathy for thinking of me when she found them and thank you to Bear for posing for this picture.

knee-length knitted booties: $0

Lastly, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law found a little old rocking horse at a garage sale, fell in love with it, and thought of us.  So small, so dear, and so very obviously loved by other little girls and boys.  The wood is beautiful, the construction is solid, and the horse’s head even moves from side to side.  I particularly adore the leather ears and tail and can picture it in the baby’s someday nursery.   Thank you, Justin and Alyssa!  Baby will love it, too, I am sure.

little ole rocking horsie: $2

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In Interweave Knits, Summer 2009, Robin Orm Hansen writes about a somewhat forgotten Danish tradition of knitting a dozen small, plain cotton undershirts for a newborn baby.   In the following edition of Interweave, she shares the pattern and explains that it can be worn “as a cool summer topper or as a toasty-warm winter undershirt.”  I was taken with the simple construction and sweet design, and though not planning to knit a dozen for our own newborn, began thinking about making at least one.

little sleeveless for a little baby

With soft cotton yarn unraveled from a thrift store sweater and US size 7 dpns, I knitted as much of the sleeveless as possible in plain cream.  An interesting aspect to knitting with thrift store finds is that when you run out of one color, it’s done.  That’s it.  You can’t just hop over to the yarn store and buy another skein.  This forces the knitter (me) to improvise and try to be creative.  When I ran out of plain cream, I finished the rest of the top in light tan (this can be seen on the back yoke, pictured below).  I then incorporated leftover scraps of plain cream to finish the armholes in a single crochet stitch and brought light tan to the front of the sleeveless by using it for the double-crocheted collar.

back of sleeveless

By this time I was dangerously low on both colors, so decided to sew the drawstring from fabric scraps (remember my recent fixation with shades of blue?).  To complete the fabric-on-knitting look, I sewed a leaf and button motif of similar fabric on the back right shoulder.  The fabric scraps, embroidery thread and mother of pearl button are all thrift store finds.  In fact, I think the tiny rust-colored flowers on turquoise fabric is actually an ancient cloth napkin.  Too fun.  I’m feeling that this just may be one thrifty baby.

leaves and button on back shoulder

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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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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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Two of my great aunts, my grandfather’s sisters, once owned a beautiful antique store in downtown Grand Blanc, right on the main street.  The store was in a large, old purple house and inside I remember used and mostly forgotten toys, interesting vintage prints, and fur stoles from another era.  I’m not sure when they closed up shop, but it was long before my appreciation for things vintage had begun to develop.  The store itself is gone but it’s essence remains.  My grandfather’s sisters all have lovely homes, elegant style and impeccable taste.  And they have regular garage sales.

These garage sales are a tragedy to miss.  They feature antique store items and trinkets from quiet corners of my aunts’ houses at garage sale prices: pennies.  I am sad to be marooned in Virginia when these are held.  But sometimes (just sometimes) I happen to be home and can stop by, like last November.  When my two great aunts had a garage sale in Michigan in November.  I think I mentioned this before.  Some of my most favorite finds are detailed below, finds of which I can’t really take credit for, as their garage sales are always full of things I love and must take home.

tiny cup to hold spare coins

I’ll begin in the kitchen.  Years ago I came home from a garage sale with a little blue/green cup.  This adorable Fiesta-ish cup led me to choose light blues and greens, deep reds and pale pinks for our current kitchen; anything to look more 1940s and 50s.

perfect little mixing bowl

My great aunt Marynel confessed a certain addiction to mixing bowls and casserole dishes and was letting go of the above and below.  She kindly let me purchase them and now they are treasured helpers in my I-bake-way-too-often kitchen.

folk art casserole dish and brownies from scratch

kitchen linens on a shelf in a cupboard

Half aprons, embroidered table cloths, tea towels and patterned napkins: a number of my treasured kitchen linens are from Aunt Carol, including my all-time favorite half apron (large faded grey/blue gingham print with red-centered flowers and small pockets; not pictured).

salt and pepper shakers

When I saw this salt and pepper shaker set, my heart melted.  They resemble a tiny cream and sugar set; how charming is that?  I discovered them one summer when I was home from college and garage-saleing with mom, who conspired with Aunt Carol… the enchanting set ended up in my stocking the following Christmas.  I love them very much.  I hope it’s okay to love things.

strawberry mug

This is the mug I drink from every other morning.  I would probably use it every morning, but it often finds itself on the drying rack, underneath a pile of dishes.  The vintage motif, the reds and greens, the berries and flowers, the tea and coffee stains inside… what more could a girl want from a mug?

sewing supplies from years gone by

Last time I went to my great aunts’ garage sale, there was a shoebox full of very old sewing and crafting supplies.  So of course, I stocked up.  You can see thimbles, packets of needles, tiny safety pins, small wood spools of subtly colored thread, and other trinkets organized in the above shadow box, if you look closely.

aged ivory lampshade

Having once worked at Restoration Hardware, I know what an average American is willing to spend on a well-made, high-quality lampshade.  I also know what it takes to be a well-made, high-quality lampshade.  Not that I ever was one, but I did spend many hours among them.  When I found this lampshade for fifty cents, I jumped on it.  I’m surprised I didn’t crush it.  But, you know, it’s well-made.  The aged ivory color works well in the room while the lampshade is in perfect proportion with the lamp itself (which Ryan and I found for $2.00 at a garage sale not far from Aunt Carol’s a few summers back).

hook for holding notes and bits of important paper, now used to hold keys.

joni mitchell vinyl

white owl and old books

I told the history of this owl in a prior post.  He sits near ancient and slightly crumbly books, each of which cost us fifty cents.  He sits on a shelf of a cupboard that my father made for Aunt Carol, which she passed on to me when it was no longer needed in her kitchen.  Turns out I needed it in my dining room (to house things found at garage sales and antique stores).  I love that it was made by dad and used by Aunt Carol for years and years.

cupboard my father made

worn finial standing near a photo of my grandpa

Finally, a finial.  This sits on our mantle along with other odds and ends from long ago, like the camera my Grandma Case used when she was young, the snapshots of grandparents’ parents I never knew, a milk glass teacup doubling as a tealight holder, a few random mirrors, and, as you can see, a photograph of my Grandpa Blakemore as a young man.  He is still very handsome, but not quite as young.

I am grateful for my great aunts, their constant kindness to me and the example they have set to live fully and deeply and to love others.  I appreciate their beauty, vivacity and talent for amazing garage sales.  They have nurtured a tender place inside me for family, history, and the little things that make a house a home.

Christine, I will be on the look-out for cow creamers the next time I’m fortunate enough to be home for a great aunts’ garage sale (if, in fact, you are wishing to grow your fantastic cow creamer collection).

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I debated whether to share a number of fabulous (to me) items I stumbled upon in the past couple of weeks or bring you up-to-speed on some of my most all-time favorite projects ever.  The projects will have to wait.  I’m too thrilled about these finds!

  1. less of a mug and more of a cup from the Queen’s Silver Jubilee (which, I’m thinking, must have been a big British to-do marking her 25th year on the throne).  $2.50 from Indianapolis’ Midland Arts and Antiques Market.

    cheers and God save the queen

  2. tiny earthenware dish with blackbird, currently home to my wedding & etc. rings.  $1.00 from The Painted Cupboard.  If you are traveling on I-77 in West Virginia or Ohio, happen to be either a quilter, knitter or rug-hooker and find yourself just seconds away from the Ohio river and wishing for a new adventure, you may very much enjoy a quick peek into The Woolen Willow.  Luckily, this is right next door to The Painted Cupboard.  You will probably like both.  Also, the downtown of Marietta is enchanting.  Good place to stop and eat lunch.

    blackbird, rings, bathroom sink

  3. Our new friendly white owl became white after a few coats of paint last Saturday.  It was purchased for 10 cents at my great Aunt Carol’s garage sale in Michigan in November.  Yes, I know.  A garage sale in Michigan in November.  Anyway, I include this owl in “finds of the month” as it reached its full potential when it turned from avocado green and rust orange to pristine and perfect white.  More on Aunt Carol’s infamous garage sales in a later post.

    smart owl guarding our books

  4. ancestors.  This Christmas Ryan and I were given a number of very beautiful, very old pictures of his relatives.  You can see them here, on our mantel in the living room, watching out for us during the day (but not at night b/c we don’t sleep in this room).  Old Beuthin/Langer/Dice photos and tintypes to go with the Durance/Lee/Blakemore/Case ones we already own?  Free.  Oh, maybe I should give Deb (my mother-in-law) the credit for finding these.  Deb, you get credit!

    Grandma Langer as a baby, her mother in Gibson girl hair. And yes, I use twigs in my decor. All the time.

  5. lastly, four signature sorts for typesetting from some Indianapolis newspaper company that is either closed or definitely no longer typesets.  50 cents each, also from Midtown Arts and Antiques Market.

    signatures of past Indianapolis citizens

End of post update: I was slightly feeling rushed when writing my original conclusion, which is why I’m now deleting and starting over.  Ahem.  As you may see from examples above, I believe in clothing the home with one-of-a-kind thrifty trinklets, a use of strong darks contrasting with stark lights, and painted backgrounds of  soft woodsy colors (like pale mushrooms and foggy mosses).  And an unrestrained use of twigs and branches wherever possible.

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