Treasure Box Wednesday: The Thrifty Office

While inclement weather meant thrifting was a bust this week, that doesn't mean "Treasure Box Wednesday" has to be. So today I'm taking you all to work with me. Virtually. Because:

1.) So much of my office decor has been thrifted and

2.) Good help is hard to find-- Hand me that Jell-O mold so we can submerge this coworker's stapler in fruity gelatin goodness, won't you?

Now with our office prank complete--

Heh-heh, remind me to tell you someday about when I kidnapped my colleague's glass cat collection from her desk and left ransom notes telling her where to recover them... Good times... good times)...

--On to the decorating!

The building I work in dates from the mid-1800s and has been many things over the years, the last of which was a series of apartments. This means that our offices-- while professional, functional and nicely-renovated-- also have some fun, unexpected features like exposed brick, fireplaces, and an atmosphere of creativity. As a result, most of us have personalized our spaces. And you know, when I get the opportunity to decorate, it's no surprise that the thrift creeps in.

It's been a great place to showcase a few thrifted lamps and some thrift store art. Here's one thrift store painting you might recall from my Gallery of Foundling Art page-- now looking quite at home here on the chimney brick.

I placed a second painting on a floating shelf, along with a thrifted vase and brass candlestick...

Lastly, here's the one juxtaposed with a print I'd bought years ago when I was in New Orleans. I like the colors and how the peacock in the art is echoed by the stained glass lampshade.

Now on top of my filing cabinet, you'll find my "African Queen" corner-- inspired by my yearly trips to the Florida Keys where you can actually see the real African Queen boat used in the movie...

The movie poster in French (apologies, it's a little blurry) was a Goodwill find, while the photo below it was one I'd taken of the real boat, and the small giclee at right was done by a Florida artist...

The wooden container with the peacock feathers in it was a Salvation Army purchase. And the photo of Stonehenge was actually one I took when I was on vacation. (Claire, you were asking to see one of my pics, so this one's for you!)

And just so you don't think no work could possibly get done here, I thought I'd show you some of my favorite office supply containers, all thrifted and all reappropriated to the task...

The turquoise Depression glass candy dish holds binder clips, while the stained glass bowl makes paper clips easy to reach. Post-Its live in my vintage elephant, which I believe was probably used for cigarettes many moons ago. The little deco pewter dish means I always have a pen handy.

And before we go today, I wanted to introduce you to my mascot-- Bobblehead Jane Austen.

Yes, what writer under stressful deadlines doesn't benefit from a little literary levity? And actually, given Ms. Austen's quirky social satire, a bobblehead just seems to make sense. Plus, she agrees with all my ideas when some added self-esteem is needed! (I'm fairly certain that the real Miss Austen would not have been so compliant.)

So that's our office tour today-- don't forget to have your parking passes validated on the way out. If you happened to miss Sunday's post of spring decorating whimsy-- "The Big Easter Lambie Whammy," click here. As always, I'm delighted you chose to spend a bit of your time here; I know for most of us, time is truly at a premium. So thanks!

The Big Easter Lambie Whammy

Sheep happens.

It started with one planter, in a display cabinet at the Good Samaritan thrift store in North Versailles. The sheep's funny, smiling face and pink color cheered me instantly. I bought it and took it home.

The next time I visited the store, there were more sheep prancing on the shelves. In different styles and colors... All from around the 50s and 60s... And all in nursery room pinks and blues. I chose two. The nice lady behind the counter smiled as I presented my wooly friends for payment.

Over this last year, it seems more and more sheep have trailed back to my place-- like I was Mary of "Had a Little Lamb" fame, and these fine fellows were sure to go if I were. I have since become well-known at the Good Samaritan for my regular lamb procurement. I have rounded up sheep from the L&L Fleatique. I have shepherded them from the Salvation Army. I have gotten them by-hook-and-by-crook at Junk for Joy. But I hadn't quite realized just how many sheep there were until I opened my plastic tub of Easter goodies and let loose the flock.

So there are sheep on the mantle...

Sheep on the table...

Sheep carting eggs...

And sheep chaufferring chicks...

One year of thrifting, and I'm knee-deep in sheep!

And for folks who were asking how the varnished Marshmallow Peep garland fared from last year, I have to say, it's held up fairly nicely. The topcoat may have yellowed slightly, but the Peeps are all still in good shape and are currently decorating the mirror over the sheep-ladened mantle.

Next week, I hope to be finished with a brand new Peep Project I want to share with you-- one with a bit of a trash-t0-treasure spin. (No, really, it will all make sense when you finally see it...

Maybe... :)

Well, I'd probably best be off. With all this Easter decorating and sheep counting, I SERIOUSLY could use a nap. Hope you see you back here on the Blogspot for Treasure Box Wednesday. (If you missed last week's linens, lamps and lambs, click here.) And if not, then I do hope you'll be baaaaack again soon.

Treasure Box Wednesday: Linens, Lamps and Lambie Lovelies

If streamlined is "In" and frills are "Out," you can just label me merrily "outdated." After all, how could I possibly complain when we Fans o' the Frill have the chance to get beautiful doilies, tablerunners and tablecloths such as these, with absolutely NO competition for them? And at just a few dollars a piece!

Yes, the Red White and Blue came through with a number of delicate hand-done pieces-- like this white and beige table cloth...

This bright garden of embroidered roses...

And the delightful table runner below. I'd picked this one up originally because it had cherubs on it, and as you all know, I am pro-Cherub. But I never expected to get a bit of history right along with it...

I don't know if you can read it, but the print there says, "Work by Henry Drexler age 74 years old." (I've read it a couple of times, and I'm 95% sure it says, "Henry.") Was "Henry" short for "Henrietta," or was this fine needlework done by a Mr. Drexler? Does our friend Henry live still, or was this tablerunner donated upon the crafter's passing?

As with the owners of my vintage postcards, I always find myself longing to learn more of the story behind the piece. But while the tale of Henry Drexler may be lost to the hands of time, I do know I'll think fondly of Henry's talents of the needle every time I pass this on my table. Yep, a little piece of Henry is living on in linen!

Other items I found at the thrifts this last week include this courting couple photo frame. I plan to give to my friend Scoobie to go with her regal French decor...

I also discovered a shabby lamp I hope to use in my spare room...

And a sweet 50s lamb planter that is going to be part of a much larger Easter eggstravaganza I've got planned. (Grin!)

If you think this lovely lambie is cute, I think you might just want to stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for the full Easter blow-out.

Well, that's it for this Treasure Box Wednesday. I thank you each muchly for popping by to spend some time here.

And if you missed my Sunday's post of "Decorating for Denial: Beating the Winter Doldrums," you can still catch it by clicking here. Take care!

Decorating for Denial: Beating the Winter Doldrums

I don't mind struggling through drifts of snow. I can't feel the icy winds on my face. I'm blind to those grim, gray skies. And why?

Welcome to Winter Denial!-- Aloha! And surrounding yourself in an atmosphere of blissful winter ignorance can be quick and easy! Let me tell you how.

First: engage a dumptruck to pour one ton of clean sandbox sand in your front door. Spread it around to all your rooms. Mmmm... soft! (No, don't worry-- that expensive wall-to-wall carpeting will be just fine.)

Now purchase and strategically-arrange sunlamps-- one sunlamp per 3 square yards -- to give your living quarters that all-over Jamaican beach glow.

Next, engage two handsome lifeguards to patrol your beach and...

Okay-- yes, yes, I am kidding you. Don't call the dumptruck company just yet. (Though I'm starting to like that lifeguard idea...)

Still, today, I thought it would be fun to come up with a few more... er, realistic... ways to fight the Winter Blues and spread a little spring cheer around the house. Y'know, without causing our loved ones to engage a comfy spot for us in the local booby-hatch.

So how about:
  • Wafting a few fresh scents around the rooms? A tartwarmer or scented candle in a clean, fresh scent can do wonders to make a house seem inviting, and lift the spirits. I currently have a Yankee Candle Company "Country Linen" in my tartwarmer, but lilacs, lavender, and ocean breezes can help make the spring season feel like it's right around the corner, too.

  • Giving a nod toward spring colors a little early? Changing table cloths, place mats, or even place settings for a pastel or bold color scheme is a fun way to brighten up day-to-day living.

  • Bouncing a bit of mirrored light?-- Reflective objects help take advantage of the light we have in our homes, can make spaces seem more open. So things like little mirrors, lusterware, and shiny fabrics, might just do the trick to chase away those final days of winter darkness.

  • Investing in a few flowers? Whether it's an inexpensive fresh-cut bouquet or potted plant from the supermarket-- or even a snappy silk selection from Michael's-- flowers are a great reminder of warmer, brighter days. These were the cheery tulips I'd won as a result of the "Go! Smell the Flowers" blog's caption contest. It's been so nice to see bulb plants blooming inside while it snows outside.

  • Bringing outdoor items in? Gazing balls on small stands, mossy-look statuary, and tiny topiaries are all nice ways to make it feel outdoorsy inside. And no, I'm really NOT recommending that earlier sand-and-sunlamps scenario. I just figure when you like vintage, romantic decor, a few cleverly-placed tasteful garden ornaments do help carry on that quirky, spring feel.

  • Swapping in that spring wreath now? Say "Begone!" to red winter berries, pine and holly, and say "Ho-do!" to ivy, flowers, and whatever says "spring" to your taste. Will the neighbors wonder what's up? Hey, not as much as if you brought in that dumptruck of sand. Anyway, you're a confident decorator. You can handle it.

  • Picking up a few gardening magazines? Nothing like thinking ahead. Seeing all the horticultural eye-candy in gardening magazines, seed catalogues and your favorite outdoor coffeetable books really can warm the heart, can't it? Why not get excited about summer plans now?

  • Planning for Easter decor or craft projects? Due to the Retail Timewarp in stores like Target, Michaels and Wal-mart, Easter's been in full-swing since about... oh... New Year's. There are a number of cute and inexpensive items to create a cheerful Easter table. And it's not a bad idea to act fast, since those stores should be passing Easter and heading on to the Fourth of July any day now. Securing what you might want to use for this favorite of Spring holidays might just prevent regrets later. Plus, lookit the little chicks and bunnies!

Do you have any special things you do to say "hello" to the spring season? It would be great to hear from you about it!

And speaking of Easter craft projects, next Sunday, time permitting, I hope to share with you one rather amusing little craft piece I've been working on. I'll give you a hint as to what it might be: it's a sequel to last year's Peep Project. (Click here to read about THAT particular insanity in sugar form.)

Also, this coming Wednesday, we'll take a look at a few recently-discovered thrifted treasures. For one, you'll meet "Henry" and find out just what this talented septagenarian was able to do with a needle and thread. (If you missed last week's Treasure Box Wednesday feature and the Vignettes o' Thrift, click here.)

Until then, my friends, have some happy ones! I'm going to go grab the Yellow Pages and see if there are any Lifeguard Rental services out there. :)

Treasure Box Wednesday: Vignettes o' Thrift and Missing Pieces

Today I thought I'd show you where a couple of my recent thrift scores ended up in my house. Because, you know, it's always nice to have some perspective...

And also, I didn't do much thrifting this week. In part, because of this:

Yes, the picturesque landscape of a soft-sand Hawaiian Beach.

So, let's go back inside the house, leave your snow boots-- er, waterskis-- by the door, and we'll head into the entrway. Here you'll see a possibly familiar-looking tole tray.

Yes, that's right: that came from the Red, White and Blue just a few weeks ago-- along with two other not-long-ago thrifted items. This 1950s lady planter, and some crystal bird candlesticks.

I love how different floral patterns, in similar shades, can look like they actually match. Sometimes, getting the right colors together can mean everything.

Here's another little thrifted vignette I've been working on for Valentine's Day:

You may remember the pillow cover from previous thrift adventures. Well, the heart-shaped cherub planter was just $0.99 at the Salvation Army, and the sleeping cherub was about the same. The candle holder was a wonderful something I received from Gigi over at Underthewillow last year. I couldn't believe how perfectly it seemed to match the planter, roses and all. (Thanks, Gigi!)

Now the marble table top below isn't a thrift store find, but I figured you good folks would forgive me this ONE TIME, since it's from the Construction Junction architectural salvage place here in the 'Burgh. And it cost me a whopping fiver.

Yup, it was mucho cheapo, PRACTICALLY THRIFTED, and now it's sitting here, all happy, on this Eastlake-styled table base.

Lastly, this week I thrifted myself a book, and a couple of little crystal bowls that will work with my Anchor Hocking "Waterford" Depression glass. Based on my Depression glass guidebook, these weren't the original bowls to go with my set but, as you know, this gal isn't above a bit of mixing-and-matching.

Well, that's all for today. Thanks for coming to visit! And if you didn't get a chance to read my Sunday post about the little histories found on the backs of Victorian postcards, click here.

I'm going to go have a hot cocoa and think Spring!

Hearts and Thoughts: Victorian Valentine Postcards

Cheeky cherubs, the secret language of flowers, shy glances and bawdy wit... You'll find it all in Valentine postcards from the early 20th century. But this delightful vintage ephemera offers a collector more than just vivid images, symbolism and little bit of humor. It tells a story, too-- giving us a quick peek into the lives of the people who posted the cards-- those who took a moment to jot a note, share a thought, even subtly say what could not be said in person. So today, I'll share with YOU just a few cards from my collection, and the little stories they carry with them. I think you'll agree, it's a look at history and humanity, all on a 3 1/2 by 5 scrap of paper.

"To My Dearie." Oh, I love it!-- We just don't phrase things like that anymore. And on the back, we get a quick view into the social life of Goff, PA, during 1909. It reads:

Hello Harvey-
There is a dance on Friday night, November 5th at Edward Thomas. You are invited and would you please and tell Mr. and Mrs. McCurre. And if you see James Richard tell him and Allen Ruffner. Please try and come.


Did Harvey show up? Did he invite the others? Was this a casual invitation, or a subtle way for Anna to let Harvey know she wanted to see him? Did the "To My Dearie" have any relation to the message on the card, or did Anna just use whatever card she had on hand? It makes you wonder.

The front of this card , which bears a couple in close discussion, tells us:

The old, old story so often told, to hearts and souls its tales unfold.

And on its back is the note:

I arrived to Pittsburg yesterday after noon. I think always about you and how you? I am with best regards yours,


I think it's an interesting reflection of how our world has grown that the writer here makes Pittsburgh (which was spelled without the ending "h" in 1910) sound like it's a country away. When in fact, this card was sent from Pittsburgh to Alverton in Westmoreland County which is, at most, an hour drive by today's standards. In 1910, however, that distance would, indeed, have seemed like a real adventure!

Now THIS card actually IS communicating over a distance...

The card itself bears no note, just the name and address of one young serviceman-- Pvt. Wyon N. Taplain, at Bovington Camp in Dorset, England-- to one Miss Doris Wheeler. Perhaps the verse in French on its face side was meant to say it all. In French, it reads:

Au Crepuscule
L’ombre du soir descend sur la ville endormie
Mais l’ombre du passe surgit devulan mes yeux
Et j'ecoute attentive en mon coeur anxieux
Comme un echo lointain, vibrer ta voix amie
Dans l’ombre qui descend du ciel silencieux

Tapping into my dusty high school French, an online dictionary, and some very welcome assistance from Sujatha over at Fluff-n-Stuff, it translates to say:

At Twilight
The shadow of night descends on the sleeping town
But the shadows of the past spring up before my eyes
And I listen, attentive to my anxious heart
Like a distant echo, your friendly voice vibrates
In the shadows descending from the silent sky.

Did the Private make it back from his service? What did he experience during his time overseas? Is the recipient his sweetheart, or a relative? We get only a slice of the story.

The card above appears to have been used as a bit of an in-joke between two close sisters. The front says:
Love’s Token
When lips met lips
In one sweet kiss
The world seems fair
And full of bliss
You'd think this card would have been used as an expression of sentiment between a couple in love, right? But the message on the back, in the penmanship of a gradeschooler, seems to label the action shown on the front:

Billie and Grace Mind
Billie looken.

I wonder if Billie or Grace ever caught wind of this little exchange? The ornery sense of humor shines through decades later.

Now here, this one above is among my favorite cards. On the front it reads, "For my Valentine." And on the back, we see some thoughtful greetings from an aunt and uncle to their beloved niece.

To Mary
With love to a dear little sweetheart
Aunt Ettie, Uncle John

I love the "dear little sweetheart" line, I wonder how old Mary was when she received this piece of mail. I find myself picturing this ringletted Shirley Temple, bubbling over with joy at receipt of an actual piece of post for herself.

As for this card, the front is in Italian and reads:

Linguaggio d'amore
Come il Giglio
simbol di candore
tu sei per me il mio
sacro amore
Which, using a handy-dandy online dictionary and a translator, seems to say:

Language of love
Like the lily,
symbol of candor,
you are to me
sacred my love

And the inscription on the back reads:

My beloved, I received your letter of the 9th I am well, hope you are the same. The answer to it will follow this evening. I haven’t the time just now. Everything is O.K. out here. Best wishes, love and many kisses XXXX from your faithful Josie

It's addressed to Miss Mary Travaglio, and came from Houston, Texas to the Butler, PA area. Are Mary and Josie sisters? School chums? How did a card from Italy come to be used by Josie in Texas to send to Pennsylvania? We may never know.

Well, here's hoping you all enjoyed this little glimpse into the past today. On Valentine's Day, when you receive those cards from your nearest and dearest, you may find yourself wondering-- in 80 years, who will be reading and enjoying your cards anew?...

How long will these Valentine sentiments endure?

Thanks for stopping by today! And if you have an extra moment, click here to connect to last year's Valentine's Jam Tart recipe (because it's yummy). Or click here if you missed last week's Treasure Box Wednesday post featuring "Deco Delicacies, Gracious Gravyboats and Others."

Hope to see you again this coming Wednesday for a whole new Treasure Box post! Until then, take care.