Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wanna See My Drawers?

For several years, now, the library table in our living room basically has looked like this at Christmas.

Boring, eh? (Please pardon the crappy photo.) But, by the time I had finished decorating everything else in the house, I never had the energy or desire to do anything with this table. The family photos are featured there all year round and I'd basically just add a few Snowbabies and bottle brush trees and move on.

So, this year I started my decorating with the library table. I wanted to use all the family photos in the vignette I created. The centerpiece of the display was this fabulous two-drawer oak file cabinet I purchased at an estate sale this summer--for $2. I'd been using it to display a few of my folding cameras.

Quick side story:  This piece was buried in the garage of the estate sale under a greasy, filthy old gasoline can. It was coated in a thick layer of dust and grime and had spider eggs and cobwebs hanging from it like tinsel. Because I'm terrified of spiders, I nearly hyperventilated just thinking about picking it up. I could see a price tag of $50 on it. But, I mustered the courage to look past the spider eggs and saw the $50 crossed out and $2 written next to it. You betcha I can overcome a phobia for a bargain like that!
With the drawers of the file cabinet open, I filled it with goodies: doilies that my grandmother and I crocheted, vintage lace trim, glass knobs, vintage frames, photographs, vintage jewelry, bottle brush trees and vintage Christmas ornaments. Some of the larger photographs now sit on top of the cabinet. I added a few Snowbabies around the tabletop. Underneath it all, I laid a large tablecloth my grandmother crocheted for me.

Now that I see it all put together, I wish I'd have done this years ago. Ah, well. Better late than never.

Make it a great day!

Territorial History--Shadow Shot Sunday

The clouds were magnificent the day my husband and I visited the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie, Wyoming. You can see more about our visit here and here. At the time of day we toured this beautifully restored facility on that bright fall afternoon, the entrance of the prison was shrouded in shadow.

Today, I'm joining Shadow Shot Sunday by sharing a couple of additional photos from our tour of the only prison ever to house Butch Cassidy.

Looking out at the prison's broom factory

Dental tools lined up in the on-site dental office

See more wonderful shadow shots at Shadow Shot Sunday,

Make it a great day!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On the Fence--Shadow Shot Sunday

When I saw this beautiful sight at an elementary school playground on the way to work Thursday, I screeched into the parking lot--don't worry, I made sure there were no kids or other cars in my path--and pulled out my cell phone. I was wishing I had my Canon in the car, but the shot looks pretty good with just the iPhone camera.

The timing and lighting were perfect. The early morning was brilliant and sunshiny, a relative rarity for November in the Midwest.

Make it a great day!

Linking to: 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nothing Clear About This Glass

Over the past year, I've gathered a number of glass containers and covers: a cloche, hurricanes, vases, a vintage storage jar with lid. All are thrift store finds. The most expensive was the cloche, which I purchased for  a whopping $2.98. The others set me back 49 cents to 98 cents each.

When I recently found a box of various sized bottle brush trees at an estate sale ($4 for 16 trees), I knew what I wanted to do with them. So, I pulled out some of the glass containers, disassembled the fall display on the dining room buffet and went to work.

Soon, a glass "tree-nagerie" took the place of the amber waves of glassware.

The holiday display sparkles in the candlelight, looks interesting on the vintage etched glass mirror and blends interesting shapes and sizes.

So why am I so ambivalent about it? Help!

My husband, who has good design sense, but whose style is more about simplicity, clean lines and symmetry than my style, actually suggested "froufing" it up a bit--making the arrangement more opulent. But, he said he liked the vignette the way it is, too.

When I envisioned what I'd do with the bottle brush trees, I really thought I'd love the simplicity of the display. Now, I just don't know. I don't dislike it, but it doesn't knock my socks off.

Judging from the photographs, what's your opinion?

Should I "frouf" it up?

Should I consider bleaching the green trees as Faye at Wild Rose Vintage did?

Or should I tear it apart and create a completely different vignette?

Thoughts, anyone?

Make it a great day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Going Out in a Blaze of Glory

On cue, the charming Japanese maple in our yard is going out in a blaze of glory.

Two years ago, we added this gem to our landscape. We needed a specimen tree and chose this variety mainly to satisfy my husband's fixation on red foliage. Left to him, every plant in our yard and garden would have red or purple foliage.

A nice addition to the landscape year-round, admittedly, she packs a pretty powerful punch this time of year.

Yes, when most other deciduous trees stand naked and shivering in the November wind, this hot little number shimmies and shakes in her crimson crinoline, prolonging the fall we so dearly hold on to.

Make it a great day!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Thinner Us Shadow Shot

Recently, I discovered Hey Harriet's Photography. On Sundays, Tracy hosts a fun link party, Shadow Shot Sunday. Her photography, as well as that linked by others ranges from beautiful to fun and interesting and is often thought-provoking.

I don't have anything that remotely compares to the quality I've seen at Shadow Shot Sunday, but I am linking a fun shot I got of my husband and me on a trail in Fort Collins, Colorado--just because.

If only we were really this tall and thin! Like my hubby's pinhead? Honey, I swear I didn't do that on purpose.

Make it a great day!

Linking to:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Autumn Leaves Will Fall

The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere. 
Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the  autumn leaves lie dead; 
They rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit's tread.
--William Cullen Bryant

Every autumn I reflect on Bryant's poem, "Death of the Flowers." It so aptly describes much of that time span between the ghoulish revelry of Halloween and the sparkly excitement of Christmas.

In our one-acre yard, fall presents a beautiful canvas of color and texture. And, ultimately results in many sore muscles. I'm sharing some snapshots of the yard before the first of multiple fall clean-ups.

Don't you just love the crunch and rustle of dried leaves?

Although burning leaves was banned in our  community decades ago, in my mind, I can still imagine that wonderful smell. It's an aroma I am lucky to experience every year when we travel to visit my husband's family at Thanksgiving. In his hometown, residents still burn their leaves at the curb. Ahhh, the little things.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

At the End of the Paper Trail

Since midsummer, when I acquired a captivating collection of ephemera, I've been conflicted about revealing its story. It's a compelling story, for sure. But, for me, it's been difficult to determine how to tell it appropriately.

I've been collecting since I was a child. It started with four-leaf clovers (it was a small collection), insects and butterflies, stamps and postcards and troll dolls. Today, my collections range from milk glass to amber glass, cameras to Thermos, flower frogs to pottery stars, vintage Colorado kitsch to vintage linens. And more.

Each person who feels compelled to collect does so for reasons unique to the collector. I don't know what drove me to collect as a child. Perhaps so I could have many of something my younger sister didn't have. Maybe to earn that next Girl Scout badge. Maybe it was simply because I found the things I collected to be interesting.

I continue to collect today because my collections all have special meaning to me. My grandmother gave me my first piece of Fenton milk glass when I was about 13 and she took every opportunity to expand my collection. Today, I still pick up pieces that catch my fancy.

When my mom gave me the Kodak Vigilant Six-20 folding camera she'd had as a girl, I dug my own Hawkeye Flash Fun out of storage and another collection was born.

My passion for vintage Thermos began with the beat-up model that resides in the likewise beat-up metal lunch  box my farmer grandpa took with him to the field every day. And, so it goes with me.

This past summer, I read a story in the hometown newspaper about a local woman who had been featured on one of those cable television shows about hoarders. I still have never seen one of those shows, but I've seen the commercials for them. This woman's story sounded similar to how those commercials appear.

Over the years, she had amassed so much stuff that she could barely turn around in her house. But, she had gotten help and was slowly clearing the clutter out of her life. The newspaper article noted she was having the second of two sales that weekend. (How did I miss the first? I still wonder.) I had to go.

I wasn't sure what to expect at the sale, but certainly was surprised to see the woman hosting it herself. I was thrilled to find a large selection of ephemera--just the type I like to incorporate in my handmade journals and other craft projects.

Souvenir ticket stubs. Travel brochures. Vintage drink napkins. Unused hotel stationary and envelopes. Corporate stationary and business cards. Handwritten ledgers. Old books. The selection went on and on. I quickly filled up a couple of small boxes with an eclectic collection of ephemera dating back to the early 1900s.

Today, I find most of the items in my collections at estate sales, garage sales and thrift stores. I seldom am lucky enough to learn the stories behind the pieces. So, I play a game with myself and try to imagine the secrets that are locked forever in the treasures I find.

When I presented these wonderful paper treasures to the woman to settle up, she picked each one up, gently handling it as if she knew she was parting with a piece of herself. She was a delight, telling me the story of each. Some were funny, some poignant. Most of the ephemera originally belonged to her parents or grandparents. Much had been her father's and was related to his business.

I was touched by the stories, but also a bit saddened that her compulsive hoarding had forced such a fun and witty woman to part with memorabilia that had been dear to her.

As we were wrapping things up, she asked, "Do you like handwritten papers, too?"

"Very much," I responded.

She asked her daughter to show me the handwritten letters. "The box under the table," she told her daughter. To me, "Go ahead. See if there's anything in there you'd like."

I followed her daughter across the room and, as she pulled a sealed box out from under the table, I noticed a handwritten warning on the lid:  DO NOT SELL.

But, the daughter opened the box and told me to feel free to pull out anything I was interested in. The box was packed so tightly, I could barely get my fingers in it. The contents were a collection of  personal, handwritten letters from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as a wonderful collection of vintage cards. Birthday. Christmas. Sympathy. Enclosures. Victorian. Art deco. Mid-century modern. Beautiful.

Most items had handwritten signatures, many with personal notes. All with original envelopes and stamps intact. A collector's dream come true.

When I realized what I was sorting through, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the situation. And, as I gingerly looked through some of the contents, the woman approached me.

"What do you think?" she asked.

"It's all very wonderful. And very personal," I said.

"You know," she said. "Saving these is what got me in trouble in the first place. And now I must part with it all." She gestured broadly around the large space where many of her other belongings were displayed.

As she walked away, I hesitated, but out of respect for her generous gesture, selected a few small, more impersonal cards and called it a day.

Every day, in my work room, I see these boxes of papers whose stories I do know. Paper I normally would have incorporated into several projects by now sits untouched--for the moment, too precious to use. It serves as a constant reminder that every treasure we acquire does have a story. But, perhaps it's best simply to imagine what that story might be.

Make it a great day!