Saturday, September 22, 2012

Catch me on TV!

Hi all, just a quick note to say that I will be performing the National Anthem for the Philadelphia Phillies/Atlanta Braves game this afternoon with my brass quartet. It's a nationally televised game on Fox at 4 pm, so you might catch a glimpse if they decide to show it.

Me (on the right) at the game last year.

I'm super excited, and probably even more so for my son, who is going to a Major League game for the first time to see his mom on the Jumbotron, hehe...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Radioactive Red Fiestaware Find

Last weekend was our community-wide yard sale. My son (aka "Eagle Eye") and I had been looking forward to this for weeks, and it didn't disappoint. We were up and at'em by eight and many people were still just setting up their stuff. Perfect- we didn't miss anything!

At the first group of sales (in the churchyard) I bought this flamingo pink Pyrex casserole for $1. I love this size and to find one in pink was sweet!


I also bought these two awesome light-up religious icons. (I seem to have cornered the market lately on religious kitsch!) They're headed to the antique store booth.

 So is this Stangl ashtray:

I bought this vintage ring box from the same lady. I paid $5 for both the ashtray and ring box.

These 2 sets of salt and pepper shakers were $1 for both.

Remember my Kustom bathroom scale project? I found another one to work on this winter. It's all there and works fine, and as you can see, the price was right. I'm thinking about doing this one black and silver. 

But this was the find of the day:

This orange pitcher caught my eye. Of course, I picked it up and turned it over and noted that it said "fiesta Kitchen Kraft" on the bottom. Now, I know next to nothing about Fiestaware. I have some, but it's modern. (And truth be told, I actually like the HLC Riviera line stuff better, if I was going to collect it.) But my instincts told me it was going to be worth a lot more than the $3 price the lady had on it. I immediately walked over with money in hand (didn't even try to haggle on it) and she asked me if I wanted the 2 little pitchers as well. She was asking $3 for all three

The 2 little guys are not Fiesta and aren't in the greatest of condition, but are cute. But once I got home and did some research on the pitcher I knew I had a gem. It is a 2 pint covered jug, produced a few years after Fiesta was first launched, in about 1938-39. As you can see it is a bright red-orange color. This color was produced by HLC in the late 1930s using uranium oxide to develop the color. It contains a radioactive isotope and there are a couple YouTube videos out there that prove it with a Geiger counter. (More info here.) It is safe to use, and certainly won't hurt me sitting pretty on its shelf. But apparently, once the radioactivity of these pieces became known in the 70s and 80s many of them were destroyed, which makes this quite rare. I'm happy with my find, and it's a perfect color for fall. I think I'll keep it a while!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How I lost my (Auction) virginity, or What Goes Around comes Around.

OK, now that I've got you all excited, let me tell you a story.

Back when I was 5 or 6, my parents went for 2 weeks to London. For some reason (this is very much out-of-character for my mom, but hey, it was the 70s) my parents hired a nanny to watch my brother and I while they were gone. The woman they hired ("Mrs. T") apparently came very well-recommended from some other parents in the neighborhood, and they must have felt comfortable leaving us with someone they had never really met before.

I don't remember very much about her, except that she had a blue 1974 Nova, was in her 50s, and impressed me as being fairly strict. We did not like her. So much so, that one day after kindergarten, I went home with another boy from my class because I didn't want to go back to Mrs. T. I stayed for lunch and played for a while (I guess I assured the other mom that it was OK for me to do this- remember, again, this was the 70s) until a police officer knocked at the door and brought me back to a very anxious Mrs. T.

I guess I kind of scared the hell out of Mrs. T; maybe that experience with me began to lead her down a dark path to becoming a hoarder...

...Fast forward about 30 years, to last week, when the fabulous MaryDeluxe asked if I wanted to accompany her to an estate auction in my old home town.

"A True Hoarder's House!" went the auction listing, with vintage clothing, jewelry, Lionel trains, ephemera, and 400 box lots. Looking at the photos, I thought yes, this may be a great time to lose my auction virginity and go to one. Plus, something about that neighborhood was very familiar.

I couldn't tell exactly from the map which house was the hoarder house, but I had a feeling I was about to step back 30 years in time and pay another visit to Mrs. T.

Sure enough, bright and early Saturday morning, there I was, standing once again in Mrs. T's driveway. But this time it was filled with a giant dumpster, hundreds of boxes and years of dust, mildew and mouse poop. Well, I said, "Mrs. T, I'm back! And this time I am here to buy your stuff...." and I proceeded to do just that.

It was a very productive auction for the both of us. Since I was an auction newbie, I probably overspent and overbought little bit, but there was so much good stuff I couldn't help myself. (See, it's a short road to becoming a hoarder!) And since we both have Etsy stores and a booth at an antique store, we needed the merch.

Besides, with stuff like this- and you all know how hard it is to get good vintage clothing for a good price anymore- we were almost obligated to buy Mrs. T's old clothes!

Check out my part of the haul- MaryDeluxe got a bunch of great stuff too- 14 dresses from the 1930s-80s (mostly 50s), plus two skirts, a skirt/top set and a 2 piece playsuit set. And a beautiful Persian lamb coat with a mink collar- for $5. I think I spent about $175 on all of it. It's hard to tell from these pics, as I have them out on the clothesline, but the clothes are all in great shape- shocking, really, considering the condition of the rest of the place. If you see anything you like, email me ( for a pre-sale deal or just wait for them to appear in the shop.

I also scored some Pyrex in the box lots- a yellow and green primary mixing bowl, plus a pink fridgie- the black Rooster dish was a thrift find later the same day.

This is the rest of the stuff from my box lots- all freshly scrubbed! 

I have about half a set of Steubenville Fairlane (including the butter dish and some platters) there, some misc glassware and a bunch of chalkware Madonna and Child images. I got a MCM vinyl stool for $1 that also came with a gigantic vanity mirror. I don't know what I will do with that yet, but if anyone needs one...

There's still a whole box of bird figurines in the garage I have to go through, but there are some really neat pieces in there amongst all the junk. Some of it will be donated back to a local thrift store, but I will certainly make my money back- I don't think I spent more than $15 total on the box lots. (I spent the remainder of my $ on some items for my son's Lionel train set- another really good deal, as it has so far kept video games out of our house.)

So for my first auction, I think it was a great, if somewhat bizarre, experience. What goes around definitely does come around.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My $50 Country Living Bathroom Makeover

A lot of you have asked to see more photos of our "cabin" in upstate PA that we recently inherited from my inlaws. I haven't really obliged you yet, in part, because there wasn't a lot about it that would be interesting from a 'vintage' perspective. I wish it was a rustic old Adirondack-style cabin built in the 1920s, but it's not. It's a 2 bed/1 bath house built in the 1980s, and remodeled by my inlaws about 10 years ago. It's thoroughly new and shiny in every way. (My MIL used to decorate bank lobbies for a living, so that gives you an idea as to the style.)

Also, we tend to spend the majority of our time there outdoors, so spending a lot of time/money on decorating the inside isn't a priority right now-at least for my husband, and he has a lot of say over the money and muscle required to do it! :) And because of that, there are a lot of things that just aren't going to get changed, like the color of the carpet (teal...), the kitchen countertops (green laminate...), etc.

So I am left to do what I can with a limited budget and a few hours at a time. The best place to start was probably the bathroom, because there is a lot you can do in there with accessories. 

For reference, here is the kitchen. All I have done is add a few things around the top of the cabinets (like Pyrex) in place of fake ivy. Someday, I will change out the lighting (I already have it) and cabinet knobs for bin pulls.

The living/dining area. The giant TV/entertainment center we moved up there from our house when I re-did our living room (another post on that to come). The woodstove does heat the whole house which is really nice and cozy. The taxidermy-averse should look away at this point!

This is actually the kids' room and used to be our whole family's room back when the inlaws were still living there. We declined to remodel it when they did the rest of the house, so the wood paneling is a relic from the 80s. The whole place used to have the same paneling and had yellow-ish brown textured carpet as well. 

I've added vintage touches like the kids beds and linens, but there is not much to say about the rest, other than I hear that taxidermy is hot right now. Guess we're way on top of that trend. 

Anyway, on to the bathroom! I neglected to take a 'before' picture of the shower area, but there is not much to show. Imagine plain walls and a plain white shower curtain, and you've got the idea.


The shower curtain is brand new from Target. That was probably my most expensive single item, at $20. It has a blue bird print on it, which I thought was appropriately cottage-y without getting too cute. The vintage bluebird artwork I bought last week at the thrift store for 99 cents. The blue bird ceramic wall pockets (on left wall) I had for years at home.

I did manage to get a before picture of the vanity area. The lighting was definitely not my style. I do like the mirror, although I am considering replacing it with this vintage one I trash-picked a while ago. And for some reason, the lighting was never bright enough.

This is the "after"! I am so happy with how this turned out. I bought some brushed chrome sconces with frosted shades at Lowe's for $15 each. After waiting for months (since April) for my husband to put them in, I realized that they weren't going to get put in unless I did it myself. And what do you know- they work!

I also put in a brushed chrome towel ring and accessorized it a bit with things I had on hand. The windsor chair is there in part to help my kids reach the sink ;).

I think it turned out really well- wouldn't it just fit right in Country Living magazine?