Having a Blast with Victorian Fourth of July Postcards

Small children handling explosives... People in powdered wigs... And young George Washington cutting down the cherry tree with his widdle hatchet... These are the images of patriotism in postcards from the early 1900s. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you today, as well as a special downloadable Fourth of July present for you. But we'll get to that later!

Just look at this kid...

The cherubic face, the knee socks with sandals, the knickers and about a half a ton of crackers and rockets. This fine fellow is prepared to do some serious damage. Why, he even brought a cannon. He's been saving up his paper route money for MONTHS to buy this celebratory stash. And is he ever going to get noticed at his parent's Fourth of July garden party-- oh yes! Mother will never forget THIS holiday.

Following the theme of small unsupervised children with things that go "bang," here we have Buster Brown and his sister...

At least this seems like a more manageable amount of firecrackers. The card itself reads;

With Freedom's soil
beneath our feet
And Freedom's banner streaming o'er us.

The definition of "freedom" is: blowing stuff up loudly, apparently.

Now THIS little guy, he's not only got a firecracker larger than himself, but he's armed with a sword...

I guess if I were a little boy wearing a powdered wig, I might feel the need to be armed, myself; oh, the teasing! The teasing! And kids can be so cruel. The caption reads:

This is a day of memory
T'is freedom's jubilee

I love the colors on these cards-- vibrant, but with still a soft watercolor or goache quality to them.

Now here, possibly more appropriate for President's Day than the Fourth of July, we see young George Washington explaining to his dear old dad why the family property is now minus one cherry tree...

The caption reads:

"Father, I cannot tell a lie. I did it with my Little Hatchet."

The card doesn't explain WHY exactly George turned to deforestation, but he does get points for honesty.

Now let's meet "Miss Columbia..."

No, she's not Columbia's contestant in the Miss Universe pagaent. She's the embodiment of the land that Christopher Columbus was said to discover-- the United States.

Here we see her proudly brandishing the American flag while carelessly carrying the cornacopia of prosperity along the way, likely leaving fruit behind her all along the parade route. She also seems to have some foot trouble... One goes forward, the other turns a bit at an unnatural angle. Well, hopefully it's not going to be a very long hike.

Lastly, we have Arm and Hammer Baking Soda's lesser known product Arm and Flag...

It never really took off as well as Arm and Hammer, and eventually was cut from the product line.

Okay, I'm kidding you. It's the strong arm of America showing patriotism in honor of the Fourth. The card reads:

Our Flag, the Flag of Liberty
The flag that flies for you and me
United by Right from day to day
The Stars and Stripes are here to stay!

Now I'd promised you a treat today, didn't I? Well, I've taken a few scans of these cards and made them into a downloadable PDF so you folks can print 'em out and use 'em for projects of your own. Decoupage? Mixed media? Whatever you choose.

Just click here to download the file now.

Me, I have a friend coming to visit for the long Fourth of July holiday, so if I'm a little late in posting next weekend, never fear-- the post is coming. It might just take me a little longer.

Hope your collective Fourth of Julys are a blast, my friends!

Treasure Box Wednesday: Shellfish and Not Sho Shellfish

If you put your ear to this shell, you can hear it say how cheap it was. "Baaaargain...." it whispers. "Baaaaaargain."

And this weekend certainly was good for those. In addition to several pieces of Pyrex shared with you earlier this week in the Pyrexia post (click here for that one), I found one gift for someone, and a number of goodies for me, too.

But first, let me say, on a sunny summer day, when everyone else was tanning themselves at the community pool, or riding down The Three Rivers in a boat, what was this pasty red-head doing? I was hitting the thrift stores and taking the road less travelled!

Why, if thrifting were like driving on the Autobahn, this weekend's shopping would have been Varvegneugen. The aisles were clear, and something happened which has never happened in this history of my going to the Red White and Blue on Route 51-- I got a parking space out front! (Normally I have to drive down an alley, over a bridge, and up an incline just to find a spot.) It was amazing.

But enough of that. On to the good stuff! So let's talk gifts. How about another dolly for my family friend?

This little gal reminds me of the character Mary from "A Secret Garden." And I'm thinking if I can find a nice copy of that book, and some flower seeds, it would make a really nice gift basket.

Speaking of books, there were a couple of those, as well. My shopping buddy on this adventure, Scoobie, well, she's a book-a-holic. Virtually any thrift, and she comes away with a stack of good reads. And this time, she found two for me, too, that thoughtful gal did! One from my friend P.G. Wodehouse, and one by Alice Hoffman.

Also uncovered was this great stack of eight old sandwich plates, and 2 platters, all in a thistle-purple color.

These seem to be from around the early 1900s (judging by their style, similar to the whiteware calendar and portrait plates I collect.) But I had no idea they made ones like this as dinnerware. So this was a fun find.

And speaking of fun, I came across one more World War II souvenir pillowcover. Another from the U.S. Army, devoted to "Sister." This one I think will work nicely in to my red-and-green living room.

And lastly, I'd wanted to share with you this cute little vintage bear planter. I don't know that he's necessarily of value -- other than to me, because I thought he was charming...

It was one of those things I just knew I'd feel bad about if I left it there in the store. And at a couple of bucks, the price really was right.

So, that's what was inside the Treasure Box. I found a couple of other things, but they are Top Secret at the moment, because they're going into a basket for an online friend who reads the blog. I promise I'll come clean on that later, though. I just don't want to ruin the surprise.

Click here if you missed out on the mania o' Pyrex from Sunday.

And, for everyone else-- thrift happy!

Pyrexia: Addiction to Pyrex

Pyrexia. It's the irresistible need to purchase cheerful bowls, casserole dishes and refrigerator containers made by the Corning company. It affects one in ten.

How does it start? Oh, it's often hereditary, but it can sneak up on you over time. It might start when you spot one bowl at a thrift store or yard sale that reminds you in a flash of the very baking bowl your mother or grandmother used for her special tollhouse cookies. And at a price of a buck or two you buy it. It's worth it for the fond memories, as well as the functionality.

Then you realize how good it looks in your kitchen. How durable it is. How versatile. And when you spot that refrigerator container that matches it, well, you rather like that, too. And that comes home.

Three years later you have 20 different pieces in five different patterns and you're looking around wondering exactly how it came to pass.

According to the company web site, Pyrex was invented in the early 1900s by Corning Glass Works, originally as a shatterproof, weather-resistant glass for railroad lanterns. But in 1913, when Bessie Littleton's casserole dish was unable to withstand the high temperatures and broke in the oven, she asked her husband-- a Corning scientist-- to bring home a replacement dish made of the same durable glass he worked with every day. And Pyrex ovenware was born. By 1915, Pyrex bakeware was in the Boston-area Jordan Marsh department stores.

It is estimated that nearly 75 percent of all U.S. households own Pyrex products.

Because of Pyrex's great durability, it's easy to find vintage pieces in good condition second-hand, in a wide variety of patterns. And the more I pay attention to it, the more it seems there's something to suit just about everyone's style. From florals, country and early American themes, to pop art and streamlined looks, the choice is amazing.

Me, I tend to stick to the few patterns of pink Pyrex-- called Gooseberry and Pink Daisy-- but I recently got sucked in with these bright green and butter yellow bowls. The patterns are Spring Blossom and Butterfly Gold respectively.

Prices for Pyrex vary greatly, so it's good to check around. I've seen antique malls selling large Pyrex vintage mixing bowls for as high as $30. But I've seen the same bowls as low as $5 or $10. Smaller pieces, like refrigerator containers and casserole dishes might run from $1-$5. (I recently got my lidded Daisy patterned dish with lid for $3.) So if there's a particular piece you like, it's not a bad idea to get a sense of the going price before shelling out the dough.

If you visit TheThriftshopper.com forum, you'll see whole threads dedicated to collecting Pyrex:

And the PyrexLove web site is entirely devoted to the line of products, with an excellent page identifying popular patterns. So if you were curious what the name of that old Pyrex bowl you have is, this is a great way to find out.

Pyrexia. Currently, there is no known cure. But then again, you'd also have to WANT to be cured. And no one I know is really seeking out help for this kitchenalia addiction. Are YOU Pyrexic? Feel free to discuss your mania. :)

  • Missed Treasure Box, er, Thursday of this week? See the recently thrifted goodies. Click here.
  • And check out Wednesday's post regarding a couple of very special emails I received regarding 30s actress Curigwen Lewis! Click here.

Treasure Box Thursday: Cool Finds on a Hot Day

After a couple of weeks of either staying home to get chores done, or attending happy events like my friend's wedding, it was really great to hop in the car and head down Route 30-- one of my favorite treks-- and do a bit of thrift-'tiquing.

The item above wasn't a thrift find, but was too amazing to pass up. This came from a booth at the L&L Fleatique in Adamsburg, and is a 1940s/50s ice crusher in original pink and absolutely amazing shape. You can see the box right there-- printed as bright and clear as if it were yesterday. I had eyed this up during a few of my visits to the Fleatique, and finally caved and brought it home with me.

Pink must have been on the brain a bit, because I also found this vintage lidded Pyrex casserole dish in pink for $3.

Amazing to find the dish and lid intact. I have to say, when I do dishes and wash up all these pink Pyrex bowls, it is just one really charming dish drain.

(Heh- not that anybody else ever sees it, really. But still... atmosphere!)

Lastly at the L&L Fleatique, I picked up a small blue vintage pottery vase. I just really liked its lines...

I guess by the time I made it to "Junk for Joy" in Jeanette, PA, the pink bug had fully gotten me. But what a fun 1950s/60s pink cookie jar...

And just look, the original label is still on it.

It reads: "Lustro-Ware! Elegante-- Guaranteed unbreakable for one year"... It must be the extra "e" in "elegante" that makes it so very durable, eh?

At the Good Samaritan Thrift Store and Goodwill I found some sheep planters.

I think most of the vintage lamb planters used in my Easter display actually came from the Good Samaritan. It's become a fun running joke with the nice lady who runs the shop. She saw me coming to the register with this one and started chuckling. I imagine she knew what I'd be taking home the moment I stepped through the door! I need to print some Easter pictures out for her sometime to show her the flock.

I also found a nice book of interesting Victorian-influenced floral wrapping papers. I'd gotten some of these a few years ago at a Barnes and Noble outlet, so was glad to find this. Great for birthdays, mother's day, etc.

And before we go today, I wanted to announce that The Thrift Shop Romantic has found its Official Blog Flower. Or rather, the flower has found the blog... and let me tell you why!

My blogging friend Claire is a talented hobby photographer. While usually she takes glorious landscape photos on her hikes, she recently has been hitting the gardens around her England home for inspiration. When she posted this lovely...

...I asked her the name of it. And she came back laughing, telling me it's name is-- get this-- ARMERIA Nifty Thrifty.

I kid you not. And honestly, because dear Claire is a bit of a kidder herself, I wasn't entirely sure she wasn't pulling my leg. But no, Bluestone Perennials confirms it. And therefore, I dub it the Official Flower of The Thrift Shop Romantic!

Thanks a million, Claire, for uncovering it, as well as for letting me use your great photo. You're, as they say, a star!

Hm-- I've got that ice chopper. Sounds like it's pina colada time! What do you all say? Who wants one? :)

More on Actress Curigwen Lewis: Connections to the Past

(Curigwen Lewis as Desdamona, in what appears to be a very dire predicament.)

Our regularly-scheduled "Treasure Box Wednesday" post will be Thursday of this week, because I'm excited to share two very special notes I'd received-- and I think you'll enjoy them!

Many of you might remember a post I did about a month ago regarding vintage postcards featuring actresses from the early half of the 20th century. One of whom was that of a lovely little Alice in Wonderland, as played by a young actress named Curigwen Lewis.

Well, last week, I had the unique pleasure of hearing from Curigwen Lewis' granddaughter-- artist Blue MacAskill-- who came across the post regarding her beloved grandmother and contacted me. That is the amazing power of the Internet for you! I'm not over-stating it when I say it absolutely made my day.

And just as wonderful, Ms. MacAskill has kindly given me permission to share with you the information she shared with me. So here I will reproduce her two delightful emails.

I've also included them in the comments section of the original post (so any future readers can enjoy them, too), and have enhanced that post with her great extra information.

Okay, here we go...

Email One:

My name is Blue MacAskill, I tried to write on your blog, but I am no Google emailer.

My granny is that fantastic young women you have playing Alice in Wonderland, around 1936 in Bristol and then on tour.

She was completely brilliant in every way, and I miss her loads. Born in Wales in 1905, she went to RADA [Royal Academy of Dramatic Art] when she was 16, and went on to great things.

I am an artist and am working as artist-in-residence at The National Library of Wales, near to where she was brought up in Llandrindod Wells.

Hope you find this interesting, we loved your site.

Best Wishes
Curigwen's grand daughter
Blue MacAskill

Email Two:

...She told a fab story about being Alice. It goes like this.....

"When I was doing Alice on stage and it came to the scene when I had to fall down the hole, I started saying my lines, 'Ahhh, I'm falling!!....'

"And one night, one of the stage hands must have stopped concentrating for
a second, because he yelled across stage, 'It's alright, Miss Lewis, we've got you!'

She would hoot with laughter, and I think when she gave up acting, she really missed it. And when she told us her stories, you could she was there re-living the whole play, night after night...

I am sitting at my little desk, researching an article I am writing with the paper about my work and finding an article about my granny in the collection here. It is a great resource: http://www.llgc.org.uk/

All the best and hope you continue to have a great day!


You know, even though I work in online marketing for my real job, it still seems just beautiful and remarkable to me how a single post on something a blogger's cares about can start at one machine and wing its way around the world to connect to others-- even to those directly related to the subject matter.

The world has gotten smaller, my friends... And thanks much for being a part of mine. :)

The Future's So Bright: Inside the 1950s Total Electric Home

"Imagine this: Total Electric Living... where electricity does absolutely everything: heats, air conditions, cooks, preserves food, lights, entertains, encourages hobbies, makes it the easiest way ever for you and your family to be happier, healthier, to live fuller lives."

I uncovered the booklet featured in today's post at the Ligonier Fleatique in a Ziploc baggie marked "Bag of Old Papers." To me, there's something enticing about papers of the past. The calendars from 1907. The motion picture ads from 1940. The vaudeville fliers of the 20s. The forgotten. The disposable. All these things and more were in "Bag of Old Papers."

But it was the moment that I spied this large booklet from Westinghouse, "The Total Electric Home... new and wonderful living for you and your family... today," why, I knew you folks would enjoy looking at the pasts' home of the future.

The book instantly called to mind Epcot's "Spaceship Earth" ride, that big golf-ball-shaped tour of technology in the center of the theme park. There we see dioramas of animatronic people and their shifting lifestyles as technology becomes an increasingly greater part of their every day lives.

And here, here we have the Westinghouse corporation of the 1950s, based in my hometown of Pittsburgh, giving Americans of the era a glimpse of a very functional, very luxurious, very futuristic and yet very "today" look at what life could be like through the wonders of electricity.

We begin, as the host family-- we'll call them the Happy-Homeowners-- welcomes guests to their Total Electric Home.

Planes overhead should easily be able to spot this household, as it appears every room in the entire house is currently illuminated.

The caption reads:

"First impression? Warm and friendly. When guests approach your Total Electric Home, a soft glow of Rayescent (TM) lamps along the entrance path guides them up to the entrance. Additional lights go on automatically as they come near. Bright, cheerful entrance lighting and dramatic interior illumination extend a gracious invitation to your Total Electric Home.

"When guests arrive at the door, a television camera takes their picture and transmits it automatically to closed-circuit monitors located throughout the house. As you view your guests, you'll be able to welcome them over the voice intercom."

Zowie! This was VERY advanced for its time, wasn't it? Can you imagine the startle that Mr. and Mrs. Guest had when they came down the walk and all the lights came on with no one around to be seen? And then that voice coming over the loudspeaker? Gosh, they probably needed a gimlet or two just to calm down after that terrifying ordeal.

Ah, but it wasn't The Haunting-- it was The Atomic Age.

And the Atomic Age family had a lot more time at its disposal due to the wonders of time-saving technology. So what did the modern family do to amuse itself? Why, for one, they enjoyed their Entertainment Center.

The caption tells us:

"Here, the signs and sounds of the world are at your fingertips, ready to match a mood of the moment. Where are they? Built into that handsome sweep of cabinetry on the far wall.

"A 24-inch television, in a center niche, pivots to catch the eye anywhere in the room. To the left, you'll find an automatic record player with a generous supply of a hundred 45 rpm ready to play recordings. Room to store an additional three hundred 12-inch records, too.

"And what Entertainment Center would be really complete without a variety of AM radio, and the clear, faultless voice of FM? Tape recordings are on hand, of course. These, and your records, seem to come alive over a special 3-speaker stereophonic sound system. Just as vivid will be all the memorable occasions you filmed, because there's a movie projector and film storage built-in, too...

"One more convenience, too. The lights and movie screen are controlled from the same coffee table. But don't think that all this fun is fantasy. Every bit is possible, with Total Electric Living."

Well, I'm sold! Not only AM but that wonderful, clear FM radio! And I could play all sorts of 45s. PLUS, reel-to-reel tapes. PLUS, practically blind myself by the enormous 24-inch television screen.

I am a little concerned about that home movie capacity, though. Particularly if I were Mr. and Mrs. Guest. Because we just KNOW that this guy, Bob Happy-Homeowner is s going to be inflicting ALL SORTS of home movies on us every time we come to visit.

Mr. and Mrs. Guest will have to see that fishing vacation a thousand times. And that stupid Christmas tape where everyone just stands and waves in front of the Christmas Tree. Can't we just play canasta, Bob? Can't we? Please?

So how does the family of the future dine?

Well, it's not a dining room now, but a Dining Center...

"If you wonder what part electricity plays here, think of this: a rainy-morning breakfast made cheerful, an afternoon buffet with an outdoor touch, an evening meal with an added sparkle. Versatile, variable lighting can do all that-- and more. The lights brighten or dim down to an intimate atmosphere. The upper lighting and drop lighting work independently, and work wonders-- in the softest tints of aqua, pink or candle-light, combined with white. Just touch the new Fasion Plate (TM) wall switches to control them.

... And have you ever seen an Appliance Center? This compact marvel powers any of today's small appliances. Toaster, coffeemaker, and electric fry pan can all work from here automatically, without overloading the circuit."

There's nothing like pink or aqua lighting to set a mood. And gee, every meal is a happy one when the electric outlets haven't caught on fire!

Food itself, we learn, also has its special place for storage. See Betty Happy-Homeowner here as she obsessive-compulsively stores her frozen veggies, sponsored by Birds-Eye.

It's the kind of beautiful, right-angled, uniform sort of arrangement that the TV detective "Monk" might really appreciate.

After we've had a nice meal, and spent a few hours enjoying the Entertainment Center, it is time to retire. And to where? No, not the Bed Room... It's a Sleep Center...

"The ultimate in comfort. The ultimate in convenience. And only a Total Electric Sleep Center can give them to you...

"Slip into bed, adjust it electrically and its comfortable contour makes your book or remote music that much more enjoyable. You barely need reach, because the headboard control panel is at your fingertips. Touch a button to make a ceiling panel slide back, discolosing a crystal-clear plastic dome. Music under the stars!...

"In the morning, you wake to your clock-radio and the aroma of brewing coffee. If this is your day to "sleep in," bring up your portable electric tray-cart. It's adjustable for bed or chair side use, tilts for reading, even has a warming surface for breakfast in bed..."

Talk about ahead of their time! They had the precursor to the Craftmatic adjustible bed... They had skylights for music under the stars. They had trays that popped up for breakfast in bed. The only thing they were missing was Rosie the Robot to MAKE the breakfast, double-beds, and some more fashionable sleepwear for Mr. Happy-Homeowner. Still, even here in 2008, I'M sucked in by their marketing.

Well, surely the bathroom can't be terribly space-age, can it? Oh, but it can!

Except, we don't CALL it the bathroom. Nope-- it's the Health and Beauty Center!

"Each day starts here, right and bright. A Rayescent (TM) wall of light... still in the experimental stage... is combined with decorative thermoelectric panels to provide illumination, plus heading in winter, cooling in summer...

"A duplex design gives a man a separate area where he can shave, bathe and take the sun-- under lamps built from the ceiling. And when the mood strikes, or the diet demands, he can choose his workout with an exerciser, exercycle, or rowing machine, then top it off with a massage-- all of them electric.

"Meantime, on the other side of the duplex center, a lucky wife sits in front of her electric vanity, where hairdryer, massager, vaporizer, and shaver are kept."
It goes on to share that there's a voice intercom, so you can chat to others within the house while you're in the Health and Beauty Center-- since you're probably never really going to want to leave there anyway. There's also another washer (separate from the laundry room) and a sun lamp.

Think of all the money you'll save on not having to go away for vacations, which you can spend on your astronomical electric bill!

And when things need to be fixed? Mr. Happy-Homeowner has all the items he needs to do the job right. With his Home Workshop Center.

"Imagine what Total Electric Living can offer to the do-it-himselfer! An opportunity to have all the electric tools that make such short, fine work of even the most difficult home projects. For example, the key to any siccuessful set-up would be the multi-purpose electric power tools.

"Diagonally across the way is a paint spray booth with infrared baking lamps. Lawn furniture and bicycle fenders get a new lease on life from this hobbyist's dream...

"Mr. Fixit will spend many an hour out here. Note the hot plate to heat metal and parts-- or even fix a snack!"

Mr. Happy-Homeowner will also enjoy being on the intercom circuit in this room, so he can talk to his family for those brief times when he isn't in the bathroom... er, Health and Beauty Center.

Lastly, I thought I'd show you the Weather Control Center. Here we see Jimmy Stewart channelling Jack Nicholson in The Shining as he tells young Danny about how the operations of the Total Electric Home work.

"Perhaps you can't turn on the sun and turn off the snow, but you will be able to meet the whims of the weather head-on. You can control all of your electric heating and air conditioning from this one location.

"A glance at the gauges and you note the inside and outside temperature, too. Wind velocity and direction, and relative humidity, are continually indicated. Barometric pressure is recorded."

And in the NEXT model of the Weather Control Center, a local meteorologist pops out of a special panel and translates this information for you-- whenever you need it. All you have to do is continue to feed the meteorologist through the special Weatherman Nutrition Center, and you'll get years of use out of this unique facility.

Well, that concludes the tour of the futuristic Total Electric Home of the 1950s. I hope you enjoyed your visit today. Donations will be accepted on the way out to pay for the Happy-Homeowner's sky-rocketing utility bill. Thank you. :)

Ah, but for those of you who happen to have an extra moment--
  • Perhaps you might want to check out last Treasure Box Wednesday and discover why donating is as much of a treasure as discovering. Click here.
  • Or visit last week's page on tips for thrifting. You may already know all these special hints, but there may be some new to learn for you, as well. Click here.

Hope your family has a happy Father's Day! And happy Father's Day to my dad, too, should he happen by!

Treasure Box Wednesday: The Circle of Thrift

Summertime, and the thrifting is measly...

At least at the moment, anyway. But truth be told, if anything, I need to apply myself more wholeheartedly to getting rid of unnecessary things, instead of acquiring more.

I made a good dent in that this week, by going through old clothing and coming up with three jigunda Hefty garbage bags of donations for Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

And it felt so GOOD. Watching those three-bags-full, to borrow from the nursery rhyme, head on their way to brand new homes, where someone else will really enjoy them....

It made me realize how many of my personal belongings come full circle... From thrift to home to thrift again. There's almost something poetic about that.
Or dizzying.

Other items, I am debating between putting on Ebay or Etsy (I'd love to hear from folks who have inside knowledge on the processes, in favor of one venue versus the other). I believe I mentioned this last fall, and never got around to it due to the craziness of the holidays. But I have a number of items that I think would make fun and lovely vintage gift baskets once they're put together. I also have a lot of mismatched china that's surplus to requirement. So this summer, I plan to develop my game-plan and finally take the time to place these items.

For those who joined my mailing list, to be notified when these items are listed, I've kept your information safe, and will still notify you when I start selling. If anyone additional would like to join that list, just let me know. My email address can be found through my Blogger profile...

And please, no spammers.

That said, I did go thrifting a little this week. I mean, when you drop off donations to the Goodwill and Salvation Army and you're right there anyway, it only makes SENSE to stop inside the store. You know, to be truly ironic.

But, while I saw some interesting things, I just didn't need any of it. Then on Saturday, in between a friend's wedding ceremony and reception I had a few hours to kill. And what did I happen to be near? Why, the Red White and Blue thrift store. And there, that's when I got this lovely embroidered tablecloth...

And this Victorian style shower curtain...

Only at a thrift store can you arrive with very little cash and still come out with some goodies, and change to spare.

Well, I'm afraid that's really all I have in the Treasure Box for this week....

Here's hoping you're staying cool and comfortable in all the heat and humidity. Drink plenty of iced tea, lemonade or any other refreshing beverage of your choice-- preferably overlooking a tranquil landscape. And maybe I'll see you Sunday? If not, have a wonderful rest of your week.

Helpful Tips for Better Thrift Store Shopping

Now I know many of you who visit this site are veteran thrifters... garage sale mavens... and flea market officianados. You already know how to spot a bargain at sixty paces, and find just the right thing for any occasion.

And that's why I'd love to hear anything you have to contribute to the list of tips I'm about to share for better thrift store shopping. In a time when gas prices are soaring, thrift store shopping makes a lot of sense for the average household. And there are some general guidelines to use that can help make it more effective, fun and economical.

1.) Know the thrift stores in your area. Every thrift store has its strengths and weaknesses. Some are better than others for certain things. And prices can range broadly, even between stores of the same chain. A good place to start is at TheThriftShopper.com, which maintains a database of charity thrift stores for the entire United States, searchable by zip code. Attached to these entries, are visitor reviews-- and by simply registering with TheThriftShopper.com you can add reviews of your own. This offers are really solid starting point. And if you know of a thrift in your area that's not listed in the database? Let 'em know about it. They're looking to make their listing as complete and accurate as possible.

2.) Thrift regularly. Once you find the stores in your region, keep in mind that going regularly really increases your chances of finding some treasures. Merchandise moves quickly in many thrift store locations-- it's a little like shells that wash up on a beach. So by visiting your favorite thrift one or more times a week, you're much more likely to find real goodies. Also, don't be disappointed if you don't find something you can't live without the first time you go. It's all subject to what and when people decide to donate.

3.) Know what you like and can use. The better you know your own taste, the better you're going to be able to find thrift store items you're really happy with. If you're decorating using thrift store items, keep in mind the colors and styles of the rooms you'll be working with.

4.) Don't forget some helpful tools of the trade. It may sound silly, but it's not a bad idea to carry with you a small tape measure, as well as a notebook and pen. I can't tell you how many times the tape measure has come in handy for measuring small furniture. (No fun buying something if it doesn't fit in the car, or won't be useful in the space you have available at home.) The pen and notebook is great for marking down the books you may have found in a series, pieces of glassware you have, or are still looking for, sizes of spaces, or sizes of clothes. Thrift store shopping can get overwhelming, but a notebook can be a handy asset for your quests.

5.) Know your prices. Thrift store prices vary a lot. And while you can get some great bargains, some items end up being on the high side. Also, for newer items, you might be able to get the item new, cheaper than the price the thrift is charging. So it really helps to know what the things you want cost, and what you're willing to pay for them. Be strong about it, unless you need the item right away. I have this theory that eventually EVERYTHING shows up at a thrift store. If you're willing to be patient, you'll very likely be rewarded.

6.) Don't put an item down if you're still deciding you want it. I've mentioned this before, I think. Thrift store shopping can be rather competitive. So if you're not entirely sure you want an item, don't walk away from it. Take it with you until you decide, and then put it back if you determine you don't want it. This will eliminate the regrets. I can't think of how many people have said, "Oh, I was going to buy that" when I'd be in line with something. More often that not, that person was mulling it over in some other part of the store. While I can certainly sympathize, thrift store shopping is a first-come, first served sort of process. And as there is often only one of a particular item, it's better to be safe than sorry-- hold onto your treasures. And hone your decision-making.

7.) Think of what an item COULD be, and not just what it is. Certainly when decorating with thrift store finds-- particularly furniture-- it's helpful to think creatively. Paint, stain, decoupage, reupholstery-- all of these things can really change the basic look of an item without a lot of pain or expense. For instance, mismatched thrifted furniture can be tied together easily with a good lick of paint-- particularly if the styles are similar. So if a chair or table is in good condition, but isn't quite the color you'd want, consider how it could be changed. Often it's absolutely worth the effort.

8.) Knowledge is power. For collectibles, know the going rate in antique stores and on Ebay. For decorative items, know generally what the styles are and general time periods. This will help you a lot going forward to make good decisions on your purchases. I know this might seem like a lot of trouble. But by knowing that a style of a table is, say, the streamlined art deco from the 1920s and 30s, you'll be able to avoid trying to put it with, for instance, an elaborate French roccoco piece which might make your room look disjointed. By knowing that a certain milkglass vase came from the 70s and is pretty commonly found at thrift stores, you'll be able to price shop a bit, and ensure you get that vase for something you feel comfortable with.

9.) Thrift with serendipity. While it's always good to keep in mind the items you're looking for, there's a certain amount of serendipity when it comes to thrift store shopping. It's very hard to thrift on cue for something, and I almost would recommend not being too specifically goal-oriented when you shop. Some of my more favorite thrifted items were not ones I set out to find that day-- they just showed up. And I think that's one of the most enjoyable aspects of thrift store shopping. You just never know what's out there, waiting.

10.) Have fun with it. I've heard some folks speak with frustration, saying they never find anything when they've gone to thrift stores. Thrift stores do vary a lot by region, and some areas are just better for finding certain things than others. But that said, it really helps to just be a bit fancy-free when you go thrifting. Don't take it seriously. Have fun. And I guarantee, the more you understand yourself, your own interests and the creative possibilities of even the more mundane-looking thrift store items, the more you'll begin to feel there's just no end to what you can do on the cheap.

Do you have a tip you'd like to add? Just leave a comment and share your wisdom! And for newbie thrifters?-- Questions are always welcome.

Thanks for joining me today, dear friends!

Treasure Box... Thursday: The Rose Parade

Well, folkses, thanks for bearing with me regarding the delayed Treasure Box Wednesday post. I really needed this extra day to get myself together.

And you know, it's very lucky I did. Because this morning's rain afforded a few more photos. Flowers love nothing better than to mug for the camera, and when they're covered in drops of rain, doubly-so. (It's like their own special performance of Flashdance.)

So today's post is mainly designed to let them show their stuff. I've been longing for days where I could look into the backyard and see big beauties like these. Like these Helen Hayes roses...

Each one has different colors, depending on where they are in their lifecycle. I love it.

This red rose just opening speaks of promise...

And these Miss America roses get sassy...

This Joseph's Coat is new to me this year, but I think once it gets established, it will be lovely...

In addition to our friends the roses, the foxglove thought they'd put in an appearance...

There are two kinds here. One Camelot in a purple, and one sort of a pink.

This columbine planted itself in my front yard, and having never seen one quite so red, I've left it where it chose to be...

This Sweet William was another one which planted itself. I love the zingy pink color.

The irises are just about done...

And the nigella are just beginning...

I can think of few greater treasures than these...

Well, maybe just having you stop by today as you did. Thank you!