Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Destined for Greatness

Throughout the late spring, summer and early fall, I focus on treasure hunting at garage sales. Then, when garage sales give way to frigid temps, ice and snow, I move my hunt indoors to thrift stores. Estate sales are a year-round gig for me.

I haven't hit as many sales in the past couple of weeks as I would like, but I did pick up a few fun items that will assume new identities in the future.

Before I move on to my newest finds, though, I have to finish a great little project I'm working on for my son's birthday. What do you get a 24-year-old graduate student who's taken up cooking and repurposing vintage furniture? Well, you'll see after Sam's birthday in October. Don't want to spoil his surprise.

So, here are a very few of my recent finds. And, while my vision for each isn't yet fully formed, I'm certain each is destined for makeover greatness.

These rusty, vintage industrial pulleys are, in a word, SWEET!  Kinda steampunk-y. Sam has dibs on the two on the right. He has his own ideas for repurposing those bad boys. Because he lives two states away, he'll have to come pick them up. I'm not mailing these heavy suckers. 

I think I know what I want to do with the vintage brass mailbox that is now a perfectly aged verdigre and the newer, but charming, hinged fireplace matchbox.

 What would you do with these beauties? Send a comment to share your ideas.

The fact that both boxes sport lion heads was purely coincidental. I really wasn't going for a theme. The lion head on the mailbox is particularly nice. And I love that the mailbox has the hooks underneath for holding a newspaper. Those will be fun to incorporate into the redo!

 Stay tuned for the transformations.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Turkey Crossing

On the drive to work this week, a little more than a block from our house, I turned the corner and saw up ahead what I thought was a tree that had come down in the previous night's windstorm and was blocking the street. As I looked straight into the morning sun, the obstacle appeared large enough to make me contemplate a short detour.

That is until I noticed the mass was moving! I quickly realized I was driving toward a flock of wild turkeys.

Turkeys are not strangers to our midtown neighborhood. In fact, we have our own small flock of up to seven who roost in the trees in our backyard, feast on the insects and seeds in our lawn and garden and use our acreage as a pass-through to wherever turkeys go during the day.

"Our" Tom strutting his stuff

What I hadn't previously seen in our neighborhood was a dozen--yes, 12--turkeys at a time. On this warm, sunny morning, they took their time crossing the street and as I waited for them to pass, a form of the childhood riddle ran through my head: Why did the turkey cross the road?

In the year-plus since our own smaller flock appeared on the scene, I haven't figured out where the turkeys go during the day--and why. At night, they roost in the trees along the back of our property, which sits at the top of a steep ravine that drops steeply to a small, shallow creek.

Every morning, like clockwork, they fly down from their roosts, have a light meal in the yard, work their way to the front and eventually cross the street and disappear through the neighbors' yards. They return at the same time every evening, have another meal and, on queue, fly one by one into the trees to retire for the night. The hens roost together. The Tom roosts in another, nearby tree.

Dinner on the lawn

Heading home to roost

Goodnight, turkeys.

During mating season, a second, younger male joined the flock. I'm told he'd be called a Jake. For a while, he hung back--around the fringes of the flock. Slowly, he began to make advances toward some of the hens. He and the Tom put on a grand show of full regalia every day.

One evening I was in the house and heard what I thought was a car wth the sub-woofers booming away. But, the sound didn't move on, so I stepped out to have a look. Unbelievable! The two males were going at each other like Sumo wrestlers, flapping a few feet up into the air, bumping chests and crashing to the ground. That was the booming sound I'd heard. They kept at it a while, bumping, biting, fighting, squawking and hissing. Eventually, they called a truce and limped out toward the back of the yard. I was so caught up in the spectacle, I simply stood there frozen--too engrossed to think about grabbing my camera.

After the smackdown, I noticed three deer taking in all the action from the edge of the ravine. The hens of course, also looked on, as did our black lab from a nearby window.

Over the past year, we've spent countless hours observing, chuckling at and cussing the turkeys. They're interesting, quirky, funny and grandiose. They also scratch and peck up the lawn and garden, leave poop everywhere and snack on my grape tomatoes. Argh!

For a short time after mating season, our flock disappeared for a while.  I worried about them, missed seeing them go through their routine and watching the pecking order play out. And, then, as suddenly as they disappeared, they returned before winter set in.

 What's a little snow?

Shake a tail feather!

The flock is down to three this summer--Tom and two hens. Wish I knew what happened to the others. Perhaps they were among the dozen crossing the street this week. With that morning sun in my eyes, I couldn't say for sure.
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A Southern Daydreamer

Monday, August 22, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

My first month of blogging has been really fun and exciting. And, it just got even more exciting. A big thank you to Brit from Free Things By Britney for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.

After accepting the Versatile Blogger Award, the blogger must:

1.  Thank the person who gave the award and link back to them in your post
2.  Share seven things about yourself
3.  Pass this award along to 10 recently discovered blogs

Here are seven things about myself:

1.  My personal motto is "above all, be flexible"
2.  I believe the thrill is in the hunt--for vintage finds, that is
3.  I love the Rocky Mountains
4.  I look forward to gardening every winter. In the scorching heat of summer, I can't wait for winter.
5.  Baseball is the only sport I follow
6.  I'm really proud of our three adult children
7.  But, I enjoy the empty nest with my hubby and our black lab

Now, here are 10 blogs I've recently discovered that I hope you will take the time to visit:

1.  Cheerful Thrifty Door
2.  Domesticated Nomad
3.  Helen and Her Daughters
4.  My Vintage Whimsy
5.  Little Dotty Bird
6.  A Little Bit of Everything
7.  Tammy Loves Dishes
8.  Life With Boys
9.  Chickadee Garden
10.  Jacque's Soda Parlor

Sunday, August 21, 2011


On a recent thrift store visit, I unexpectedly came across a find that caught my eye, grabbed my heart and held its grip. And, not just because it was $2.98.

My discovery was something I wasn't even looking for. The seemingly ordinary, vintage wooden folding chair had numerous surface blemishes, but the bones were good, as they say. I didn't really need it, but I snatched it up anyway.

Why? Because this was the same type of chair that my grandparents' country church used for its gatherings in the basement and on the lawn. Fredericksburg Lutheran Church was one of the beautiful, white country churches with the steeple that could be seen from miles away. Over the years, I sat on what could have been that same chair for a multitude of social gatherings, wedding receptions and funeral lunches. I just couldn't pass up this bit of nostalgia.

This honey of a chair deserves a second chance and will be nice to have around when we need extra seating for guests. So, I decided to make it fun with a great Victorian hand graphic from The Graphics Fairy.

I sanded and primed, then painted the chair with two coats of Gray Cloud, which I got free with a coupon from my local hardware store. Then, I distressed it all over.

After printing the graphic on plain paper, I rubbed the backside with the type of soft-lead pencil contractors use. Getting a good transfer requires rubbing in all directions--horizontally, vertically, diagonally. It also helps to put a magazine underneath to provide a little padding. The paper picks up more graphite when rubbed on a semi-soft surface than on a hard surface. 

Next, I trimmed the paper closer to the image shape and size to make it easier to work with. I taped it to the chair--image side out--and traced hard on the actual image. The image transfers to the chair so it can be used as a guide for painting.


I painted over the rubbing with charcoal paint and, after it dried, distressed the images slightly so they would blend well with the previous distressing. I finished it off with a satin sealer.

And, would you believe me if I told you Barney can read? Sit, Barney, sit.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

All That Glitters

In the cozy space of our porch, evenings are accentuated with the sparkle of light from my version of the Victorian fairy lamp or night light. Repurposed glass chandelier shades make my fairy lamps larger than the Victorian version, but they create the same welcoming atmosphere.

I've collected a couple dozen glass shades over the years--the ones that caught my eye in thrift stores and at yard sales. Some are vintage, others just pretty. In the summer, I place battery-operated tea lights under a few and put them on a nice stand I found at a garage sale. In the winter, I line the front walkway with the glittering lanterns when we have holiday guests. The variety of cut-glass patterns adds delightful sparkle in the crisp winter night air.

This past week the weather here broke and I was able to do something I've been wanting to do for a long time:  reclaim the porch from a dastardly weeks-long heat spell. Cooler temps and lower humidity made the porch the inviting space it was meant to be. And, we made good use of our covered retreat reading, talking, relaxing.

Ours isn't an HGTV porch. In fact, it's very modest. Everything--yes, everything except the loveseat cushion and tea lights--are vintage or reclaimed thrift finds.

I snatched up the wicker loveseat at a garage sale for a song. The plastic lawn chairs and their pretty, buttery slipcovers, along with two vintage wooden tables were estate sale finds. I came across the metal zinnia tray and the rustic stars at Goodwill. We even rescued Barney from the animal shelter.

This is the Midwest, so we're sure to have some lingering hot spells over the next month. But, as for prolonged scorchers, I think the worst is over.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Princess: Meet Paperdoll

This weekend, the princess is making a quick visit home. We won't see much of our daughter, as she and some friends are coming for a music festival. But, we're excited we'll have her here for a while and look forward to being a youth hostel to five twenty-somethings.

Molly and I will get a small slice of personal time together, though. She's promised I can take her to a wonderful little local shop: Paperdoll Vintage Boutique. Kelsey, the proprietor, is a young woman with a vintage vision, who, like Molly and me, has a love affair with vintage clothing, accessories and housewares. She hand picks every item in her sweet boutique and artfully stages the inventory of clothing, shoes, purses and small housewares. On a recent visit, I fell in love with a sassy green dress (not my size) and a vibrant Flower Power swimsuit (too bad I don't wear swimsuits). I could have walked away with nearly anything in that store and been a happy camper!

I'm so looking forward to introducing Molly to Kelsey. Molly practically grew up a vintage girl. She's been drawn to vintage clothes since she was in middle school. Today, she collects vintage owls, egg plates, state plates and still loves vintage clothes.

Here's Molly, 12 years ago, in her prom dress--a vintage beauty made of satin and netting. The satin underskirt is a rusty peach color, topped by a soft green net skirt. The cropped satin jacket is especially pretty.

I just know we're going to have a great time at Paperdoll. After all, when you have vintage in your veins, nothing could be more fun than to shop and share with others who understand you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Snow White and Alaska Fancy

What do Snow White and Alaska (Fancy) have in common? They're my new favorite tomatoes.

They taste as good as they look!

The Snow White tomato is a mild, sweet cherry type that starts out a creamy white and become more yellow in color as it matures. Good enough to eat like grapes. Alaska Fancy is a wonderful small variety (about 2-2.5 inches in diameter) that has a mellow, almost old-fashioned flavor. I created a delicious recipe (below) that this winner works well in.

I have my daughter, Molly, and her boyfriend, Aaron, to thank for these delightful garden morsels. When I visit my daughter in Kansas in the spring, I like to shop for herb and vegetable plants at a locally owned nursery there. Something about the veggies being greener on the other side of the state line, I guess.

This spring, they took me to a different nursery. One about 15 miles outside of town. I'd liked the one we'd gone to in the past and was a bit skeptical of the change. That is, until I saw the place!

The Vinland Valley Nursery is a vintage fanatic's fairytale come true. It's a charming hodge podge of outbuildings that have been added on to, decorated in kitschy fashion, added on to again, embellished some more. And, did I mention added on to? Best of all (besides the fabulous organically grown plants) was the landmark beside the driveway leading into the nursery. When we visited it was raining, so I didn't take pictures. Darn. But, you can see the landmark HERE. If you like vintage anything, it's worth a peek.

Now for my tomato salad. I use the Alaska Fancy or Flavorino tomatoes. But, any small (not grape or cherry) variety will work. This is also best with garden fresh green or candy onions and fresh basil (I use Thai or cinnamon basil from my garden, either of which are a nice complement to the sweeter tomatoes). Try this with dinner tonight:
Ann's Tomato Delight
6-8 small variety tomatoes, sliced thin
4-6 green or candy onions sliced
2Tbs olive oil (I use Sicilian flavored)
1Tbs chopped fresh basil
2Tbs bleu cheese (optional)
Sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together and chill half an hour or more before serving.

 I serve this over baby arugula. Yum.
Bon Apetit.

Linking to:
An Oregon Cottage
Designs by Gollum
Ekat's Kitchen

Saturday, August 6, 2011

By the Light of the Silvery Moons

As the daughter of an astronomy buff, my eyes have been well trained toward the sky. Hardly a night goes by that I don't look upward hoping to catch a glimpse of familiar friends such as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia and Pegasus, Andromeda and Orion. And, of course, the familiar face of the Man in the Moon.

With the news of scientists' most recent theory that Earth may have been orbited by two moons before life even existed here, I've been imagining how different things might be if two moons remained today.

For instance--

How would this eerie scene appear with two moons hanging in the sky? More eerie, I'd bet.

Would this vintage arrangement

Handmade by my great-uncle, Ted, in the 1940s.

become this?

Would Doris Day's 1953 movie have been called "By the Light of the Silvery Moons?"

Would Margaret Wise Brown have written Goodnight Moons?

Which of the two moons would couples romance by?

Courtesy of  The Graphics Fairy

Would the cow have jumped over the moons?

And, what about Pink Floyd? Would their 1973 album have been "Darkside of the Moons?"

Would my grandpa have picked his corn by the light of the harvest moons?

And what of my dear Man in the Moon?

Courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Would he be accompanied by Mrs. Moon? Or would it be Sister Moon?

At the very least, this latest theory gives a whole new meaning to moonbeams.

(You can hear more about the two-moon theory from National Public Radio at

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sew Simple Box

Repurposing a wooden box has to be one of the simplest and most practical projects a treasure collector can take on. Wooden boxes of all shapes and sizes are available for pennies at thrift stores and yard sales. Here's one I recently completed.

I didn't take a "before"photo of this totally nondescript box I picked up at a thrift store. It was one of those unfinished jobs you can find at any local craft shop.

I painted the box a creamy color called "Chicken Broth" and distressed it. Then, I gussied it up with pieces of a sewing pattern, thread spool labels, vintage buttons from my collection and a stunning advertising image from The Graphics Fairy.

To give the box a more special feel, I added feet--painted wooden thread spools.

When I picked this box up in the thrift store, it was in near-perfect condition. Since then, thanks to the relentless humidity we've experienced in the Midwest this summer, the top warped enough that it won't close completely on its own. That was easily solved with the addition of a couple of vintage metal bobbins and a piece of vintage lace I can use as a tie if desired.

My new sewing accessory box is the perfect size for storing seam binding, bias tape and all the colorful rick rack I've collected for my sewing projects.

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