Treasure Box Wednesday: The Best Things in Life Are Free

This is my absolute favorite time of year. The world has gone bright with blooms, showcasing some of the treasures in life you just can't buy.

Well, okay, yes, sometimes you have to buy them to plant them. But not always! Like these little fellows in my neighbor's yard...

I don't know what they are (anyone know? Greg?), but I love how they've just nestled themselves in her grass and then run rampant. The reason she hasn't mowed the grass yet is because of an attachment to these free-roaming little purple and white lovelies...

And who can blame her? When nature puts on a display like this, forcing it into submission just seems wrong somehow.

And here are some more rogue flowers. Little violas that have infiltrated the neighborhood, and have embedded themselves wherever there's dirt and a drink of water-- even between the cracks in my driveway...

I just can't move myself to root them out. It's so cheery to come home to a driveway populated with little purple blossoms. :) As you're probably already getting the impression, I try to roll with nature's whims a bit; I like to think we're both happier that way.

The backyard has also given forth a pretty amazing display of mossy phlox. Here they are after some morning rain, dripping down my back wall onto the plaster seat. I wish they stayed this vibrant all summer long.

Also, the bleeding heart this year has gotten large, and is loaded with hearts. No Victorian garden is complete without one!

And lastly, here you can see the front yard, filled to bursting with more mossy phlox-- and the infamous mosaiced stepping stones.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this somewhat different Treasure Box Wednesday. I think it's nice to take a step back and appreciate all the natural beauty around us now and then. It's not all about the thrift store. (Though that's fun, too!)

Oh- for those who have children of your own, or who just remember being a kid, I thought you might enjoy a post this week on my humor blog entitled, "Stealth Mom and the Mayonnaise Infiltration of 82."

  • If you've ever tried to make your kid eat something he or she didn't like-- or if you were that kid (pick me, pick me!)-- I believe you'll be able to identify. Click here to check it out.
  • Also, if you didn't get a chance to see Sunday's post on the Cottage Living forum's spring swap, you might find something of interest by clicking here.
May there be an excellent day ahead of you!

Round Robins and, er, Round Robins

A couple of times a year I participate in a decorating swap on the Cottage Living forums. The ladies there are super-nice and even though our tastes range from streamlined utilitarian to country to cabin-rustic to Shabby Chic, we all have a lot in common-- we all like a house to look and feel like a home.

So this spring "round robin" swap was a fun challenge. We were supposed to think "fresh" in our choice of items. "Fresh" as in clean air, cut flowers and newly budding trees-- and not in something designed to make the other person blush, in case you were wondering. We were also supposed to include one textile for the kitchen, one handmade item and something to help enable old-timey correspondence.

My swap partner, however, had indicated that she didn't have very good handwriting, (I know how that is myself!) and that she already had a lot of notecards she didn't use. She shared that her kitchen was in country blue and yellow, and she had a teacup border on a wall.

So this is what I went to work with.

The textile part was easy. Blue and yellow being abundant in choice, I selected a crisp new oven mit, a pretty apron in blue with yellow sunflowers, a nice hand-done tablerunner, and even thrifted a set of curtains (new in the package) with blue and white dishes on them. (I thought it might go with her teacup border, or could be used for the fabric.)

To further her teacup theme, I added four pretty yellow sandwich plates and a yellow printed cup and saucer...

You'll also see in the pic above a small blue and gold item... This is a cute little vintage address book -- perfect for a purse-- that I found and freshened up with a bit of paint. The book was a bit scratched to start with-- a bit too shabby and less chic. You can see before and afters here.

The final touch was two color-coordinated notecards, one bearing this cheerful bird friend... Yup, he's a round robin, all right.

Now because the swap itself WAS a "round robin" this meant my swap package would go to one person, but a wholly different person would be sending to me. I think the person sending to me has gotten tied up with other things this season-- it's been a really busy time of year for us all. So should anything arrive to round out this swap, I'll be sure to post.

But amusingly the swap almost didn't stop here. You see, in spite of the fact I sent my package just one state away, I waited two days... three days... four days... Still the package didn't arrive in the hands on my online friend. I was starting to think it had been rerouted to the Bermuda Triangle. Worse, I had been stupid enough to not have tracking on the package-- because again, it seemed to be such a simple transaction. Who could have known?

So because it certainly wasn't my swap partner's fault the postal service had a serious oopsy along the way, I'd started trying to pull together a second package. I thought you might enjoy seeing the cute Pyrex bowl and teacup I found for it...

I'd had no luck finding textiles to go along with them, but it turned out just as well. As when I returned home from shopping and checked my email, I had a joyous message saying the package had arrived. That was day five from when I'd mailed the thing, if you can believe it.

At least my swap partner didn't think I was some kind of fibber! :)

Well, anyway, that's the scoop on the latest swap. So like the red, red robin, it's time for me to go bob-bob-bobbin' along.

I hope you'll join me again this week for Treasure Box Wednesday. And if you missed last Wednesday, that post can be found by clicking here.

Hope spring is treating you well so far!

Treasure Box Wednesday: Cool Coasters, Covers and Carnival Glass

Oh, I was all over Tarnation this last weekend-- yep, Upper, Lower, and even Little Tarnation, I believe. And while not all of the items I'm going to show you today were thrifted, a few were. Best of all, even the antique mall goodies were had at an excellent price. How fun is that?

Well, the first of the antique mall finds, the coasters above, are from the 50s. The magnolia pattern on them, and the cheery aqua, lemon yellow and vintage pink just said to me "backyard barbeque." They remind me of the 50s pastel hotels you see on Miami Beach when the planes fly into Miami International Airport. Anyway, now I'm all set for having a very cheerful retro meal outside this summer. Wanna come? :)

Speaking of that retro meal, now I have salt and pepper shakers, to match my Hazel Atlas Moderntone Platonite set...

I've been looking for these for a while at a price I actually wanted to pay. I've seen two sets at a crazy $15 a pair, with rusted metal tops. These I found for $2.99 a piece-- MUCH more reasonable. And as you can see, they're in nifty condition!

At the Graham Antique Mall in Ligonier I found a set of six marigold colored Carnival glass dinner plates for $16...

It's not easy finding Carnival glass plates-- lots of bowls but no plates-- so I was pretty excited about this. At not quite $3 a piece, that seemed really good to me.

Hm... What have we next? Well, this hankie bag was certainly nothing to sneeze at. It came from the Jeannette Antique Mall in, er, Jeannette. (Well named.)

Oh, and I uncovered a chenille bedspread at the Salvation Army...

And lastly, speaking of the Army... well, okay the Armed Forces at least... I had a hit with two World War II pillow covers. One to good old mom,

That reads:

There's a dear little house inviting
In a dear little place I know.
And a welcome is always waiting
When to that little house I go.
For there lives the dearest lady
The sweetest I ever met.
And to-day, if I cannot visit
Dear Mother, I don't forget.
It's from Camp Lee, Virginia. The other is an airforce piece from Miami Beach, Florida and is dedicated to dear mother and dad.

The poem there reads:

Mother and Dad
You're the very best couple
That ever was paired.
Whatever was given
Alike you have shared.
Many more years
May your hearts be made glad.
And may your blessings be many
Dear Mother and Dad!

And with that sweet, sticky sentiment from the 1940s, that about puts to rest Treasure Box Wednesday for this week. Will you join me next time for the spring Cottage swap? I sure hope to see you again.

Enjoy that beautiful spring weather! The mossy phlox are ploxing here at my house. I hope beauty's in bloom for you, too.

Bringing Out the Crafty in U

A week or so ago, the folks at Simon & Schuster had asked whether I'd be interested in taking a look, and possibly reviewing, a new crafting book of theirs. Given I'm the madwoman who'd decided it might be fun to varnish Marshmallow Peeps and turn them into Easter decor, I really couldn't resist a look-see. So today, we're going to take a gander at Rosie O'Donnell's Crafty U book, a clever compilation of craft ideas parents can do with their children to while away a rainy day-- or big kids like me might use to get new crafting ideas.

Now, up-front I want to say, this isn't a paid review or anything. Just like I don't have advertising on my hobby sites, I don't do paid reviews, either. To me, it's about learning and not endorsing. So this was done just because I like to mix things up here on The Thrft Shop Romantic, and this seemed like a topic we might all enjoy.

In fact, when I got the book, I set out to examine it with a harsh, critical eye. While crafting is fairly subject to taste, how many of us haven't seen craft project which seems to serve little purpose, just isn't that pleasing to the eye, or appears to be more trouble than it's really worth? (Macrame owls come to mind.)

But this book addressed my overall concerns quite well. Projects range from simple efforts which can be done from things you'd already have around the house, to more elaborate endeavors which would likely require a trip to the craft or fabric store. We follow Rosie and her young crafters throughout the year, so projects are arranged seasonally, though many could be adapted and enjoyed year-round.

In addition to the projects themselves, the book discusses how quality craft time can help children and parents learn and grow together. It also encourages crafters not to follow plans specifically, but to use instructions to get the creative juices going. I appreciated the spirit of that.

You can see just a few of the spreads here. From Halloween costumes which involve little sewing (though some help from Mom or Dad) to science projects and cute projects which the young'uns can use to decorate their rooms, there's a nice mix of ideas here. I was also pleased to see both Hanukka and Kwanzaa were included, in addition to Christmas, within the winter holidays section.

Now because this is a cheap romantic decorating blog, I thought I'd especially share with you a couple of the crafts I think can be used or altered a little for nice home decorating projects. My favorite is the glitter shells below. How cute would these be as a part of a centerpiece for a summer picnic? Or on a package as a special little extra?

It's one of those projects I can't believe I never thought of doing myself sooner!

I liked this pounded leaf art for a wall display, too. I would need to try it out (I apologize that time didn't permit) to see if it works the way the instructions indicate. But the idea is nice and the end-product has potential to be fairly elegant.

Given a number of us here are into paper and cardboard crafts with a vintage look, I thought you all might like seeing these party pinwheels for the Fourth of July. What a simple project, and yet the effect is really festive.

Lastly, I got a kick out of these decoupaged light switches. Candy wrappers and stamps have been used in these examples, but I was thinking vintage photos, old luggage labels and any number of other bits of your favorite ephemera could be scanned, printed out and decoupaged in the same way.

Overall, I think the projects in this book are unique enough, and simple enough, that it could empower crafters-- young or old. The only drawback I can see is there may be some projects within this book that kids have already done in their arts and crafts classes in school. The painted tin cans which can be used as pencil cups, for instance. But there aren't a ton of these more common projects within its pages, and I think there's enough freedom of creative license given that even these could be done in newer ways, to hold the kiddies' interest.

Well, that's all for this Sunday. I hope you'll join me Wednesday for a new Treasure Box feature, and next Sunday I think we'll talk about the latest cottage decorating swap I was involved in-- and wonder why, why, why a package going from Pennsylvania to New Jersey took FIVE DAYS through the USPS. Good gravy!

Treasure Box Wednesday: Moppets and Wabbits and Warthogs, Oh My!

It was a mixed bag o' thrifting this week. I've been noticing that everybody and their grandmother seems to be at the thrifts lately. (Okay, well, not MY grandmother; she's no longer alive, so the surprise of THAT would be more than I could take.) But busy. Very busy at the thrifts.

As a result, I think things have looked a bit picked over.

HOWEVER, this didn't prevent me from finding some really fun things. Mostly, this week I have some cool gifts to show you.

The little sweetheart above is one of them. This porcelain doll came from the Red, White and Blue on Route 51, and I just loved her ornery expression. The moppet will go to a family friend for either Mother's Day, or Christmas-- I'm not sure which yet. The good lady collects dolls (same lady who received a pair of li'l gals LAST Christmas) and I know the wee lass will be going to a good home.

Here she is decked out in all her finery.

For myself, I found a couple of sets of nice vintage-look sheets. The Shabby Chic-styled guest room just cried out for these. And hey, at just $4.00 a set, it's pretty easy to give the guest room what it wants.

I also found the cute retro-printed purse...

But lastly, I found a few presents for my friend Scoobie's brother for his birthday. He's a good kid, and he's totally embraced the idea of thrifting. So I think he'll be tickled with these collectible juice glasses containing favs of his, Taz and Bugs Bunny. (I don't believe he has these particular ones in his collection yet, but he has a lot of character glasses.)

To complement this, he'll also receive a face only a mother could love... a mother WARTHOG, that is!

This potentially life-sized (if he were alive) Pumba from The Lion King still had his tags from the Warner Store. What is it about boys, that a flatulent warthog is just hysterical to them?

Of course, I admit I'm also going to really miss Pumba-- I've had fun putting him in various unexpected places around the house and startling my housemate. Pumba in the bathroom by the pedestal sink... Pumba in the hallway... Pumba at the front door...

Good times!

The challenge, I think, will be, how precisely to WRAP a warthog... Ah, well, I'll figure it out! Wish me luck.

Anyway, on Sunday, I hope to have something exciting for you. Simon and Schuster had asked me if I was interested in taking a look at a craft book they've just put out. So we'll be reviewing that and I think seeing, in particular, how these ideas might be applied for thrifty decorating. (Note, this is not any kind of paid review, or anything-- it's only my own little opinion. Just thought it might be fun and a little different!)

  • Oh-- and did you miss Sunday's post on "Of Buds and Blogging Buddies"? Just click here.
  • If you'd missed the previous Treasure Box Wednesday, on "The Real McCoy," click here.
Here's hoping the tax man went easy on you this year, my friends! See you soon.

Of Buds and Blogging Buddies

Long overdue is a post expressing my gratitude for the various blog awards recently passed along to me by a number of you, my fine "invisible friends" and fellow bloggers. So I thought today, as spring begins to show its fresh new colors, I would take a moment to share these awards with a few of you, as well as pass long a little of the beauty of season so far.

Thanks to SewDelish, for the "You Make My Day" award, and I apologize it's taken me this long to recognize it here. I figure if I've made anyone's day along the way, there's pretty much nothing better than that!

Thanks to Sindhoo of Under the Sun for conferring, wow, more blog awards at one time than I've ever seen. Makes a gal feel a bit like Kevin Costner when "Dances With Wolves" was up for the Oscars. :) Too many icons to even post here, but all very kind.

And thanks to Lidian of KitchenRetro for the "E for Excellence" award. She's a good egg, that Lidian-- and she can also tell you how that egg was used in about a million different retro cookbooks.

This leaves me to pass along the awards to some deserving bloggers myself. Following Lidian's example, I'm going to select ten folks who merit some attention. Of course, there are so many of you out there that deserve recognition for your blogging efforts and general camaraderie that frankly, I'd be here all day listing folks. So we're going with ten, and also, none of you need feel obligated to do anything regarding this-- just know you're appreciated.

  • Greg of The Midnight Garden. For beautiful photos, general kindness, and a terrific sense of humor.
  • Rosemary of Rose's Petite Maison. For adding sparkle (literally and metaphorically!) to vintage style crafting.
  • Sher "Grinnin' Grandma" of OldTimeMeArtist. For approaching everything with a dash of humor and a grin.
  • Ms. A over at LivingWithoutMoney. She works on a shoe-string budget, we cook with her, decorate with her and save money with her. And somehow she manages to have new posts daily.
  • ChrisMiss at This lady rides around in a caravan and blogs about her travels. You'll find her posting on from where ever she roams. I've enjoyed her insights!
  • Carrie at OakRiseCottage. She has such an eye for vintage needlework and art. It's always fun to see her most recent treasures.
  • Sujatha at Fluff-n-Stuff. A bright, funny lady who has a lot of great stories to share.
  • Lynn at the VintageNest for inspirational photography and great ideas.
Now-- as we move from the blogging buddies to plain old buds, I think we'll start here, with some recently-opened daffodils.

Here are a few of the grape hyacinth that have popped up. True to hyacinth fashion, there seem to be more each year and boss the daffodils around. :)

Here are just a few shots of the azaleas as they start to bloom. Another day or two, and these should be in full-force. The intense pinkish purple is an absolute joy to me.

Lastly, I noticed the bleeding heart seems to be leafing and happy. I can't wait until it starts putting out it's little pink garland of hearts. It's some much needed color in that part of the yard.

I hope spring is treating you all well, and I thank you all for being a part of this site, for the comments, the chuckles, the camaraderie-- everything. I love seeing what this spot has grown into-- it's a little bit like the spring garden, continually rewarding and so pleasing to see blossom.