Monday, January 30, 2012

Shirtsleeves, Shorts and Sandals

When I left work this evening, the outside temperature was 68. At 5:30 p.m. On January 30. In Nebraska.

Out on the street, pedestrians were in shirtsleeves and shorts. When I stopped at Trader Joe's on the way home, a couple of folks had bared their tootsies in sandals that have been buried in their closets since October.

To commemorate today's record-breaking temps, I'm sharing some photos of our vintage advertising thermometers. I think the inside temperature reflected on these wonderful old advertisements was about the same as it was outside.

Global warming, anyone?

Make it a great day!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fill a Gap--Quick and Easily

Ever need a quick solution to fill a small wall space?

After I took down a holiday wreath I had on the dining room wall, I wanted a change from the picture I normally hang there. 

Without a specific alternative to fall back on, I dug into bits and pieces of things I have around the house for a solution.

This pretty vintage gold-tone frame has been hanging on a pegboard in the basement gathering dust for ages. A little scrubbing and it looks pretty good.

A piece of medium-wide grosgrain ribbon and some luxurious, sparkly vintage rhinestone brooches create an eye-catching display within the frame.

The amber/gold tones of the glittery rhinestones and the gold frame pick up the gold accents in the wallpaper. Looks as if it were all meant to be.

So what's going on with the bulb garden in my dining room window?

Funny thing about bulb gardens: everything blooms at its own pace. The first daffodils you saw last week are waning, the second wave is now in bloom. The white hyacinth is now the brown hyacinth.

But the crocus look magnificent and a large, regal purple hyacinth is powering its way to the sunlight.

Three tulips and a second large hyacinth are budding beauties.

Stay tuned for the next wave of glorious color.

Make it a great day!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Valentine Memories; Winner, Winner . . .

First things first:

We have a giveaway winner.

Congratulations to Linda of Itsy Bits and Pieces.

Linda will receive one of my Giggles and Grins handmade ephemera journals.

Thanks to all who visited and entered my first-ever giveaway. Your visits and comments make my day.

When my husband was helping me put the Christmas decorations away, a very old, flat box in the attic caught his eye. He opened it and discovered the collection of greeting cards I had received as a child. I don't think he'd ever seen them. Even I hadn't opened the box for decades.

Birthday cards, Christmas cards, get-well cards. There's even one specifically wishing a quick recovery from my tonsillectomy. Apparently, in those days, having one's tonsils out was so common, it made sense to have cards specifically for that.

And valentines. Do I ever have vintage valentines! 

Seeing the "Baby's First Valentine" card made me realize that everything in the box was 50 to 60 years old. Oops. Guess my age is no longer a secret.

Many of the cards had eyelets to create moving parts. Those were always so much fun. The boy and girl dancing in the photo above rock back and forth in keeping with the card's "hep" dance theme.

The fuzzy ones, like this kitten card are among my favorites now.

But, I have to admit, I remember loving the space-themed ones when I was a kid. You can see a couple of them in the above photo. I was fascinated with Sputnik and smitten with anything related to the stars and the night sky (thank you Dad for enriching my life with your study of the heavens).

These are just a sampling of the valentines in the box. I must have kept every one from our grade school exchanges--up until I was nine or ten years old. Then the collection seems to end. Someday, I'll probably find a way to display some of my favorites.

That forgotten box was a terrific trip down memory lane--to a time when life was simpler, the pace slower, personal correspondence more valued. And, receiving mail from the postman made every child giggle with excitement.

Make it a great day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cool Cooler Coolest

From about mid-December to mid- or late January, estate sales are few and far between around here--the holidays get in the way. Imagine that. And, living in the Midwest, garage sales are virtually extinct this time of year.

So, a couple of weekends ago, I was thrilled to see a single estate sale advertised in the newspaper. I scored some wonderful ephemera for my handmade journals and this terrific vintage cooler ($4).

It has vibrant red-clad handles and a cushy gold vinyl top. A perfect complement to my thrift wicker settee and vintage glass shade lights, it will be great for cooling drinks on the deck in the summer. The nifty padded top will provide an additional spot for someone to sit a spell. For now, I'm storing the canvas deck chair slipcovers in it.

Also grabbed this nice, tall Thermos for $1 at the same sale. I already had a smaller version of this one in my collection.

I love that the gold cooler top coordinates so well with the gold in the gray Thermos and the fantastic Pelican cooler I scored at a garage sale last summer (for $1--can you believe it?).

Even with the mild winter we've had here in the Midwest, I'm looking forward to even warmer weather, the sparkle of my fairy lights and an ice-cold drink from my fun vintage cooler on the deck.

Don't forget to enter my 100th-follower giveaway. There's still time:  enter by 11:59, January 27, HERE.

Make it a great day!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hello, Color

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

--William Wordsworth

A few years ago, my thoughtful husband surprised me with a beautiful bulb garden to brighten a cold and colorless January. Now, the bulb garden has become a tradition, bringing a shot of warmth to the dreariness that is winter in the Midwest. 

When my husband brought this one home a couple of days ago, the daffodils had just popped their colorful heads out of the buds. The white hyacinth was just peeking through and the crocus was a mere green nub.

I hope you'll come back over the next couple of weeks and watch with me as the illusion of spring unfolds in my dining room.

Don't forget to enter my 100th-follower giveaway. There's still time:  enter by 11:59, January 27, HERE.

Make it a great day!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

An Eclectic Mix

You still have time to enter my 100-followers giveaway.

The winner will receive this one-of-a-kind ephemera-filled journal featuring vintage and found paper goods I've rescued from estate sales, garage sales, thrift stores and the trash bin. 

The cover of this pretty book is salvaged from a 1954 Reader's Digest condensed book and is embellished with a wonderful French soap graphic from The Graphics Fairy.

 The lucky winner will also find some fun surprises inside.

Enter to win here

Giveaway closes at 11:59 p.m., January 27.

In our humble abode, we recognize three home decor seasons: Fall/Halloween, Christmas and all other. When the Christmas decorations come down and return to their rightful places, I'm ready to move on. None of this winter glitter and snowman stuff. I did that for a few years when the kids were little, but no more!

This year, though, when the Christmas was packed away on New Year's weekend, I ran out of gas. Every surface in every room has looked as it did when the decorations disappeared. Naked and barren except for some remnants of glitter left behind. My mind was blank about what to do next.

Finally, I've made a little progress.

On the lighted mantel, I featured vintage books and flower frogs, along with a sweet little vintage pitcher I picked up for $1 at an estate sale.

I pulled out a few of my Abingdon Pottery star vases and incorporated them. I have several in pink, green, blue and white and haven't put them out for display in quite a while. Nice to have them back. Funny how fresh and different they look after they've been hidden away for a time.

The biscuit jar at the far end of the mantel is one of the most precious pieces of milk glass I own. Years ago, when my daughter was in middle school, she secretly walked to the end of our block to an estate sale (she'd been attending sales with me since she was a little girl), found the biscuit jar, bought it with her allowance and surprised me with it.

A grouping of moon and star pottery, flower frogs and my grandmother's doilies grace the open drawer of my little red cabinet on the hearth. 

I attached the gorgeous antique metal ornament to the thrift store basket to dress it up a bit. I found this metal piece, as well as the one in the red drawer at an estate sale. They're both versatile enough to use just about anywhere, any time.

The only remnant of winter here is the beautiful ice skating picture above the mantel, which has a special significance to our family. I'll share that story in a later post.

All in all, a nice, eclectic mix of things I love--the transition to the Spring delights ahead.

Make it a great day!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Double the Fun Footstool--A Quick Tutorial

Don't forget to enter the ephemera journal giveaway HERE 
before midnight, CST, Jan. 27.

This little footstool has been in our library for a couple of years now. It was an estate sale find I picked up on the half-price day for a couple of dollars.

It's not a total ugly duckling, but I've always intended to pretty it up a bit with a new cushion and maybe a new finish. I'm guessing this cushion was not the original. We have several travel-themed touches around our home, but this dark, postcard-y tapestry fabric is just so . . uh. . . '90s.

Recently, I've seen several blog posts about two techniques that totally intrigue me and realized I could try both out on this nice little footstool. How exciting--two major thrills in one project!

I've been dying to try liming wax on a wood piece.  This is a very simple technique using Briwax Liming Wax. I couldn't find this product in my location, so I ordered it, along with Briwax clear and dark waxes (for use on other projects), on Amazon.

The posts I'd read about liming wax all recommended using it on an open-grained wood, which this stool had. After starting the process, I could see why that was important. The wax, which leaves a white-ish residue, fills the open grain and creates the subtle aged look. If you're trying this on a more closed-grain wood, the Briwax website recommends creating an artificial open grain by running a wire brush over the wood.

The application is simple. Wearing rubber gloves in a well-ventilated area, just wipe it on with a soft cloth such as an old T-shirt. Let the wax dry a while and rub it off. You need to put some muscle behind your rubbing to ensure you remove all the wax residue from the surface.

If you want a very subtle effect, let the wax dry less time. For a more aged appearance, let the wax dry longer. I waited about 10 minutes before rubbing it off. I probably could have left it longer. I ended up with a subtle aged look--a very nice grayish white.

For the cushion of the stool, I chose a beautiful vintage image from The Graphics Fairy to transfer onto a remnant of muslin I already had.

Now for the second thrill--I chose to try the blender pen transfer method. There are several brands of blender pen available. I purchased mine from Blick's for $3.95.

You must make a laser print of your graphic. Inkjet prints will bleed. Remember to reverse your image if it has lettering on it.

I securely taped the image face down to the muslin to hold it in place while transferring. In very small segments, I rubbed over the image until the paper was saturated and the image showed clearly through. While the paper was still saturated, I burnished each segment with a folding bone (you could also use the bowl of a spoon). I had to burnish quickly, as the blender pen solution evaporates and dries quickly. And, wow, does it give off dizzying fumes! I worked with an outside door open to keep from getting light-headed.

This method is a snap. It would be a bit time-consuming on a very large piece, but it's so easy to do.

I gave the muslin a couple of light coats of stain- and waterproofing spray and covered the original cushion with it. A quick re-assembly with the stool frame and voila! A sweet little redo.

Make it a great day!