Treasure Box Wednesday: Missing Pieces, McCoy, and One Embarrassing Broken Promise

You know, I wasn't even going to go thrifting today.

Really, I wasn't. It was cold, windy... the kind of day when it's easier to just sit at my desk for lunch.

But then I realized the needle on the gasoline meter was heading toward the danger-of-breaking-down zone. And, hey, what's right near the gas station but my favorite Salvation Army?

So I hopped in my car cruising on fumes, and boy-- was I rewarded!

See this lovely little flowerpot?...

One look at that ornate beaded pottery, and I had a good feeling about what it might be. I popped it off the shelf, turned it over and...

Voila! The real McCoy! I had that in my shopping basket pretty fast.

I got a good laugh from the following notepad...

Fans of The Office will know which character this little "While You Were Out" pad is supposed to belong to. Do you think Corporate should be made aware that Ryan is either reselling or outright donating Dunder Mifflin corporate merchandise? :)

I got these Araroc pink cups and saucers-- still with the stickers on, for half price!...

I have a number of pieces to this set already, but it's always nice to find different ones. And while they're not actually Depression glass, the pink is the same shade and they do work well with real Depression pieces. I was pretty excited. Especially at $0.50 a piece.

I also got recently a cheerful tin which will be perfect for wrapping gifts in for friends who also like vintage...

Oh... and this is the part of the post where I have to confess to you all an ugly, ugly truth.

(Deep breath...)

You know how I'd promised to you all at the end of 2008 that I was going to try not to buy any more vintage lamps?...

Well... um... did any of you actually believe me?...

I'm so embarrassed. (Well, maybe only a little because, y'know, I still really like the lamp.)

And with that, my head hanging in red-faced humiliation, I must take my leave of you today. I know, now none of you will trust me on anything ever again, because of my shameful lamp indiscretions...

But I hope you can see your way past it to forgive me... perhaps in time.

Otherwise, I hope you can manage to get over the breach of trust enough to check out The Thrift Shop Romantic again on Sunday. Cheers, everybody!

Toy Story: Children's Merchandise Vanishes from Local Thrift Stores

Stepping into the toy section of the local Goodwill thrift store, shoppers quickly discover the shelves are empty. No longer do dolls, puzzles, games, and action figures fill their surfaces in jumbled reverie.

But far from Buzz Lightyear and Woody the Cowboy simply being off on exciting adventures, this toy story, unfortunately, has a much sadder side. It's a tale of new government regulations for lead testing on children's products. Of difficult decisions for resale shops. Of a loss of much-needed sales for thrift stores. And the absence of treasures for the children who shop them.

The Consumer Product Safety improvement Act of 2008, to go into effect February 10, 2009, (but now has a partial one-year stay of testing and certification for certain products), was designed to prevent the US sale of children's products with lead content of more than 600 parts per million. (Consumer Product Safety release: . Citizen Times article:

Thrift store and resale shops were left hanging about how this applied to them until recently, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission stated resale shops and thrift stores would be exempt from testing lead and chemical content. But those shops are still asked to avoid products likely to have high levels of lead.

In a January 30th, 2009 Pittsburgh's Tribune Review article, spokesman David Tobiczyk for Goodwill of Southwestern PA is quoted as saying, "While we are exempt from testing, we're not exempt from the ban on selling children's products that exceed the lead limit. If we don't test it, we can't sell it, if we don't know about it. People will have to throw out (children's toys and clothing)." (Tribune-Review article: )

A USAToday article on the topic indicates that testing is prohibitive for these organizations because of its cost-- as high as $400 for a small item. (USAToday article: )

While Goodwill's web site doesn't indicate that it no longer accepts toys, the Goodwill in Monroeville, PA, is not currently carrying children's items. And a Thrift Shop Romantic reader in the state of Indiana has indicated that her Goodwill Thrift Stores, too, are not stocking toys and other items for kids since the February 10 deadline.

The Saint Vincent de Paul thrift stores and Salvation Army thrift stores of the Western Pennsylvania area still do seem to be selling the children's products-- but for how long, we'll have to see.

So my suggestion for folks looking to donate these items in question is to contact your local thrift store prior to donating them, and find out whether they are accepting toys and kids' clothing and what their policies are.

I'd be happy to list that information here on the blog, for others' reference, if anyone would like to share the policies in their region.

Child safety is, of course, an important concern. Yet, the new regulations thrust resale shops, crafters of children's products, and even individuals hosting yard sales question what this wide-reaching policy means to them.

Somehow I am left with the feeling that childhood just lost a bit more of its innocence.
Stay warm, friends! And I hope you see you again soon.

Box Office Treasure Wednesday

"Fasten your seatbelts, it's gonna be a bumpy night!"

Okay, not really. But I got your attention, didn't I?

And this Treasure Box Wednesday is all about movies that grab the ol' attention and keep it. I was thinking about what to discuss for today, and in addition to curling up with those good books, another favorite winter pastime is spending a few hours with a great old film.

And there really are some gems out there, too. Ones, I was thinking perhaps, not all of you lovers of the vintage have gotten a chance to see.

Like how about All About Eve, the tale of a fading star, a rising starlet and treachery?

Or Sunset Boulevard, with another aging screen diva-- Nora Desmond-- tries to recapture her fame anyway she can?

Maybe To Kill A Mockingbird is more your style-- a beautiful adaptation of Harper Lee's book starring Gregory Peck...

Or perhaps you might enjoy The Philadelphia Story. You get Jimmy Stewart, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, to boot!

Mr. Grant makes another appearance in Arsenic and Old Lace, a screwball comedy about murder, old aunties, Teddy Roosevelt impersonators and the criminal element.

And if you think you're seeing 6-foot-eight rabbits before your eyes in Harvey, well you won't be the only one. Just ask eccentric Elwood P. Dowd, likebly played by Jimmy Stewart.

Some other screen classic suggestions include:
  • Bogart in Dark Passage with Lauren Bacall (very film noir) or The African Queen with Katharine Hepburn
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, the original film on which the TV series was based.
  • Fred Estaire and Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face
  • And one of my favorite Hitchcock films, Rope-- based on a play and shot as if all experienced in one long scene.

And for some more modern pictures to while away the hours? How about:

  • A Little Princess, based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's book (always makes me cry, unfortunately)
  • Chocolat, starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche
  • Or a modern take on the classic Wizard of Oz-- the Tin Man miniseries. While more sci-fi than the original stories and very much its own picture, I thought this was very nicely done

Well, that should be enough to get you started, anyway! If you have any movies that are favorites of yours for cold and snowy days, I'd love it if you'd share them with our readers in a comment.

Until next Sunday-- happy viewing!

Visit the Funny Farm with 1950s Farm Journal ads

With the 1950s Farm Journal, you were guaranteed plenty of corn-- and not all of it on the cob, either. Nope, there were bushels of it in every page of ads.

So lend me your ears, my friends, and we'll take a look back at the crazy, kooky, corny ads of April 1953. Here's hoping you'll find it crisp, fresh, sweet-- and easy to digest!

First, actor Tyrone Power gets personal...

He tells us why he changed to Camels cigarettes-- and why you should, too. And he's determined to do it in a way that's bound to capture your heart.

So... how do you feel about cowboys, ladies?....

Tyrone is thinking the Maverick look might be just the thing to catch your eye and change your mind about Camels. Doesn't the rakish tilt of his Stetson make your knees quiver and make you want to reach for a Camels cigarette?...

What, you don't smoke and you say studies have shown smoking causes cancer? You say you'd sooner kiss Tyrone Power's horse than old Ciggy Breath here?

Oh. Um...

Well, then how about his wealthy playboy look?...

After all, what woman could resist a man in a burgundy velvet smoking jacket and bowtie?... How sensuous... how daring... how...


Hm... That's not working for you, either, huh? Well, then this. This is sure to grab you...

He's posing seductively on his desk for you, ladies. With his open collar and blindingly-busy houndstooth blazer... Do you not see him there, enjoying the pleasure of Camels? Waiting for you?

A no-go, hm? Disappointing.

But maybe this fellow is more your type...

This is an excerpt from the original "Walk Like an Egyptian" music video. Did you know that song was recorded well before the Bangles did it in the 80s? Yes, yes, it was.

In this case, it was performed by "John Deere and the Ploughsmen." A minor hit for them, which got up a bit of a dance craze for two weeks in 1953.

But then that darned Chubby Checker came along with The Twist, and that was it. No more posing like ancient hieroglyphs. No more outbreaks of impromptu dancing at showings of Karloff's "The Mummy."

The end of an era, really. That's why we're fortunate to have captured this little slice of history here.

And speaking of history... unnaturally hip, wise, and communicative babies didn't just begin with eTrade Superbowl Commercials... Not at all! Just check out this little tyke for Colgate dental cream...

Ah, Mom and Dad are arguing again, but what about?

Yes, when you love a man, it's easier to fight him than them tell him he stinks. I believe Aristotle came up with that little nugget of philosophy.

But the grievance finally has been aired. So Dick goes to see his dentist about his bad breath problem, and the dentist tells him, "Yes, Dick, your wife is right. You have some of the worst breath I've ever experienced in my 30 year career of dentistry...

"In fact, I've been fighting with you myself these last three visits because I was unwilling to bring up the topic of your putrid breath. Didn't you notice how frosty I was to you when you came in? And how I made snarky comments about your car, neighborhood and family dog?"

Dick had been wondering why he'd been having arguments with his dentist, secretary, mailman and elevator operator these last three years.

It was suddenly all coming together in his mind. He'd better get some Colgate Dental Cream, fast!

Yep, no more of that blah-blah-blah from the little wifey. No more jabs about his Olds, tract home and retriever from the dentist, the elevator operator, and the secretary. "Peace and quiet reign supreme, since I use Colgate Dental Cream."

And you'll need Colgate Dental Cream after you dig into this meal!...

Ah, where to start.... where to start? Well, the beige tiki-mask there on the right isn't actually a tribute to any South Pacific deities... Nope! It's a Mustard Mold with Cabbage Slaw!

The magazine tells us:

"A 'chop-chop' salad of this kind goes best with a meat or main dish that has definite form: roast chicken, ham loaf or sliced corn beef!"

Just combine eggs, gelatin, French dressing, heavy cream, peanuts, cole slaw and pimiento! Mmmm.

And I know you're just dying to find out what those oozing pustules are on the left, aren't you? Well, they're "Frozen salads in Orange Shells." Just use fruit cocktail, mayo, cream cheese, vinegar, mustard, and heavy cream.

Mustard goes with everything in the 50s!

Now after you've had dinner, and dripped mustard gelatin all over the front of your shirt, you might need to do a little laundry. And has Tide got you covered!...

In fact, Tide is so exciting, you'll apparently break into a dance routine. Not the 50s "Walk Like an Egyptian" because that is SO two weeks ago... But a perhaps a free-form Degas can-can dancer-inspired number of your own.

"When science brought you Tide, it gave you the greatest cleaning power the world has ever known... a cleaning power that got clothes cleaner than any other washing product you had ever used! Till Tide came along, you never had it so clean!"

Yes, a Tide of enthusiasm has broken over the household. Will washing clothes ever be the same?

Thankfully, once we come down off the high Tide, we can focus a little better. Like on Grandmotherly Wisdom and Unsubtle Product Placement...

"Did you ever stop to think that we'll most likely never meet up with anyone else who'll give us as much trouble as ourselves?" Grandma asks.

We ponder it a moment. We nod. Ah... yes... how true! Except for cousin Elmer who owes us $500 and keeps calling to be bailed out, we ackowledge the verity of this homespun philosophy.

So then, disarmed, the ad decides to hit us with the real purpose of "Grandma's Sayings."

"I may be a grandma in years, but when it comes to cookin' I'm completely modern. Yessir! I allus use Nu-Maid, the modern yellow margarine. Nu-Maid is modern in taste-- so pure and sweet: modern in texture-- so smooth spreadin'. Suits me fine!

Out of nowhere has come this Aunt Jenny-styled folksy grandma telling us, not little proverbs, but getting all chatty about her margarine! Ah, well... Grandma's old. She's hard to keep on-topic these days, I guess.

So we forgive and read on...

"Strikes me the folks that keep recallin' how far a dollar used to go forget to what lengths they used to have to go to get one."

Again we nod. True dat. Very true. Thank you, Grandma, for that great reminder not to live in the past.

And then we get hit with the next one...

"Talkin' about the 'new look' brings to mind the new package for Nu-Maid Margarine..."

And we see Grandma has a dire margarine fixation.

Perhaps she is using margarine to distract herself from the pain of being flat-chested!...

But now, with the Inflation Bra from Formfit, Grandma will have the "natural, rounded 'Under-Look'" she wants...

As long as natural and rounded means "pointier than a highway roadcone," of course.

Well, I'd like to thank you all for visiting me today, and I hope you enjoyed your trip back to the 50s.

I'd also like to thank all the folks who have subscribed, or who have chosen to "Follow" this blog through Blogger. I know we're all busy these days trying to make ends meet, and I really appreciate that you care to spend some of your limited time here at The Thrift Shop Romantic.

And if you must be off, then I wish you a great week and hope to see you next Sunday for more thrifty, thrifted goodness.

Treasure Box Wednesday: Cabin Fever Thrifting

After weeks of below zero temps and snow, this last Saturday threw us a curveball with temperatures in the 50s. So, emerging from my igloo and tossing off the mukluk, I gave the sled dogs the day off, and took the car for a spin down my favorite thrifting route.

It was one of those odd treasure-hunting days where it seems like anything you might collect was just there waiting-- and for a great price. My favorite item of the day was this unusual carnival/opalescent glass corn vase from the early 1900s...

Yes, it looks clear, and with a vague milk-glass opal sheen to it from some angles. But hold it up to the light and...

Pow! The corn reddens up as if it's ready to pop right there on the cob! From a little online research I did, the vase was made by the Northwood/Dugan glass company, which appears to have changed hands by about 1908. They did a number of these corn-shaped vases in different styles and colors. Mine is missing a little of its "husk" on the right-hand side, but I think it's still quite pretty.

And where do you you think I found this little gem? Well, at the Goodwill Thrift Store in Greensburg, PA! It just goes to show, you never know what you'll run across at a thrift.

I also found some Jeannette glass carnival bowls, a cup, saucer and one dinner plate, all in the "Anniversary" pattern I collect.

All of the pieces but one bowl came from the Goodwill in Irwin. The fourth bowl I picked up for $1 at the L&L Fleatique in Adamsburg.

I found this Imperial Glass centerpiece bowl in a Depression glass pink at the same Goodwill as the carnival plates...

I really had my hands full!

At the L&LL Fleatique I also found this excellent McCoy swan vase...

It goes well with some of the other pink vases I have from that time period.

And from the UFO in Greensburg, I got this nifty be-crystaled centerpiece bowl. I was looking for a more narrow one like this before Christmastime for my mantle, so next year, I'll be prepared. It matches some candlesticks I have.

Lastly, from the Good Samaritan Thrift Store in North Versailles came this nice wooden deco-style standing picture frame....

I have some ancestor photos (my real ancestors, actually) that I think would be nice in here.

So that was my productive weekend journey! I hope you all got to enjoy some warmer weather, too, and were able to give your resident huskies a weekend off. I don't think we're quite out of the North Pole yet, but it's been a nice reprieve.
Otherwise, I hope to see you again soon!

Responsible Crafting

Those of us who love vintage things tend to be inspired by vintage items in our crafting, too.

Whether it's the look of a Victorian post card... a quaint ancestor photo... the turn of an antique chair leg or the cheerful graphics of a 50s cookbook... we might just work a little bit of the past into our modern crafts and decorating.

With interesting old items, we see not just the item, but the possibilities for those items-- transforming them with fresh ideas, decoupage and a lick of paint.

But when we get swept up in the creative moment, the tricky part is still keeping in mind the following important points:

  • "What exactly is the value of this item I'm using?"
  • "Am I actually destroying something that I should be trying to preserve?"
  • Or even simply, "wouldn't it be nice if I could reuse this image again and again, instead of just working with it for a one-shot deal?"

I bring this up because every now and then, I'll see a decorating magazine where an article encourages the reuse (and consequential destruction) of something which might actually have monetary or historical value on its own.

For instance, Country Living (a magazine I really tend to like) had a craft project where Victorian postcards were crafted into billfolds. While the end product was lovely, the article never took into account something which worried me greatly-- the value of the cards themselves.

I mean, yes, there are a ton of postcards out there. But how rare cards are (and their value) varies greatly.

In reading the article, I admit I had a small panic attack-- having visions of well-meaning crafters out there, hole punching, cutting and gluing rare Santas... one-of-a-kind cherubs... and prized artists' artwork... all for the sake of crafting. How do you know if you're ruining the last of its kind? How can you be sure you aren't taking something wonderful from the world, with your craft? It may sound silly when you're in the creative zone, but it's worth a moment to think about it.

I admit, I also get minor heart palpitations when I hear about decoupage projects snipping away at the beautiful illustrations in vintage children's books.... or old cookbooks... or antique magazines.

I've seen so many antique books pulled apart at their bindings so people can remove and frame (or resell) the illustrative book plates. How many Maxfield Parrish illustrations have been taken from their original tomes just to be displayed or resold? The book's value goes down. Intact books become a rarity. And without careful attention to the remaining ones, they may be lost to time entirely.

I find myself thinking the loss is all of ours.

The good news is that today's technology allows these items to be used and enjoyed-- but safely. Quality scanners and color printers can be had cheaply these days-- and they replicate vibrant colors well and are ideal for decoupaging.

Not only does it mean the ephemera we love will be around in its original state, to be enjoyed for years to come. But it means as crafters, the scanned images can be used again and again. That way, it's possible to develop a large, versatile image library in no time!

At the risk of being preachy (which is certainly not my intent), I do urge crafters doing this kind of work to at least consider investing in a scanner and printer to preserve the ephemera which inspires you. I think you'll find that while it's a little more work up front, the collection of images you'll develop will be well worth it in the long run.

In the same vein, thoughts of preservation cross my mind when I see antique furniture being painted. Paint can do wonderful things to freshen a piece of furniture. But giving a new look to a drab vintage piece of without a lot of value is quite different than covering the finish of an antique heirloom.

Good questions to ask when faced with the question of painting, can include:

  • Do I know the age of the piece?
  • Is the finish on the piece flawless or would paint help cover over something that would be difficult to restore?
  • Do I know the value of the piece?

What is that old saying about how you can't go home again?

I guess I feel the same is basically true with vintage items-- they're from a time past, and they become the tangible embodiment of their time period.

Once these things are gone-- barring a swift trip with time traveler Doctor Who-- we simply can't go back.

As crafters, we're responsible for bringing the imagery we love-- the designs that inspire-- to life again for new generations to appreciate. But we're also custodians of the items themselves.

A little responsible crafting can go a long way toward preserving the beauty of the past. And making the art of creating a fulfilling, rich and beautiful experience.

I appreciate your taking the time to read my thoughts on this today!

I'll be having some myself today! Hope you all have a great week ahead of you.

Treasure Box Wednesday: Chili Days

Because it's been so chilly lately... in a slight departure from our normal Wednesday posts, I thought it might be chili, for you folks, as well.

Chili con carne, that is! With my mom's world famous (well, okay, it will be now that I've posted this online) recipe.

So, as the winds howl and the snow flakes down, I hope you'll find warmth and comfort with a nice steaming bowl of goodness.

Mom's Chili

  • Ground beef (1 lb)
  • Minced onion 1/4 cup
  • Kidney beans (3 cans)
  • Crushed Italian Style tomatoes in puree (1 can)
  • Hunt's Tomato Sauce (3 cans)
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Paprika
  • Grated Parmesean/Romano Cheese

Brown the ground beef and onions in margarine. Drain on papertowels. Place the beef-onion mixture in a Crockpot or large pot on Low heat. Drain the kidney beans and add to the pot. Also add crushed tomatoes in puree, and three cans of tomato sauce. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and basil to taste.

Cook about 6 hours, or until desired consistency.

After chili has cooked down, add grated cheese to taste.

I will be making some of this myself this weekend.

Hope you all have a terrific week.

Love Gets Cheeky with Funny Victorian Postcards

When we look back into the past-- particularly around the Victorian era-- we tend to envision stuffed shirts and rigid corsets... lots of black and grim faces.

But during the Golden Age of Postcards, there was a whole genre of communications that were as playfully colorful in tone as they were in design. Witty phrases, sly puns, and bawdy romantic situations arrived in the mail with a wink and a snicker. And the senders themselves added personalized flair to them, with some clever allusions of their own.

Like this bathing beauty postcard from 1913.

The card reads:

"Those bathing costumes make you ladies look awfully short."
"Yes; but they make you men look longer."

Queen Victoria would have been turning over in her grave, I think. Look at those shameless ankles!

And speaking of ankles, the card below has them in triplicate!

"Having an El-leg-ant time in Poke Hollow."

I got a good kick out of the message on the back, from "Maggie."

Oh you Orlo:
How are you since you went to Vinco with Myrtle. I hear something and wondered how you was. We miss both you boys an awful lot, especially at church night. Goodbye.

I don't know if Maggie was a friend, a sister or some other relative, but it's funny to imagine sending this card to Orlo and then chatting about church.

Now here, we have:

A clerical error

If you look carefully in the margins you can see the editorializing the sender did.

"These are some of my family."

On the back, the sender wrote:

Hello May:-
How is the weather in the M.T.? It came- yes, the rain
Har Har Get busy and do your duty. Don't talk to the Boys so much HA HA
Answer soon
Judging from the sense of humor displayed by May's friend, I suspect she would have found this card pretty funny, as well...

It reads:
"Where is the page, Mary?"
"He's helping me to clean up after the plumber."

I see he is!

And it looks like some clothes are going to need some cleaning after this next postcard, too...

"I have a kind of Hay Fever," the card proclaims.

The back reads:

Hello Edna
How are you. I received you postal. I will have to tell Moses you have another down there. O you postal cards.


I love how these cards often carried simple well wishes and random thoughts, in the same way we might use Twitter or dash off an email today.

The one above reads:

Dear D:
Have had a lot of hard work lately
Will write soon
Don't worry!
Yours S

The S written into the blank is Sara, who had this to say:

Hello. I had a post card this morning from Walter. He said he left Washington 9am Saturday for Raleigh. Would arrive there at 5pm Ida came out Sunday morning and she said she got 6 postals from him. Sally is mad that she didn't get any to-day. She is saying all kind of Sunday School words. Did you get any from him? If you hear from Walter please leave us know. If you wish come up Sat. eve.

Ah, the more things change, the more things stay the same. Six cards? Sounds like Walter is fond of this Ida. I hope Sally eventually got a card from him!

Some humor of the era does seem to be lost to the pages of time. "Chickens"?...

Everybody loves a Chicken
But Three's a Crowd.

The "Three's a Crowd" was handwritten in by the sender, who also seems to have numbered this card as one in a series.

Given it was from Paul to Emil and no other message included, I'm guessing it was a not-so-subtle way for Paul to tell his friend to back off on some young lady they both liked.

I get a laugh from this next one, not only from the comedic imagery...

But from the message written in big, childlike letters on the back:

Billie and
Grace Mind
Billie looken


And this card gives me a smile with the kind of phrasing you just don't hear much nowadays...

Unless you're, possibly, watching a Bogart film...

Kid, you've got some eyes

Lastly, we have one of my favorite cards...

Not only do I love that gorgeous velvet Victorian settee, you can't beat the sentiment.

"Some people spell parlour-
"Yes; but how much better it is with U in it."

Thank U, er, you all for hanging out with me in the parlour today. I agree, it's always wonderful to have U here.

And thanks for stopping by, my friends-- it's been a real card!