Blogging at Over 10,000 Feet

Well, this is a Thrift Shop Romantic first, I must say. This would be my premiere post composed at over 10,000 feet in the air!

Yes, I'm heading home to Pittsburgh from Thanksgiving and being the thrifty gal that I am, I couldn't resist taking advantage of the free holiday WiFi on the plane.

It's this WiFi, that allows me to efficiently bring some photos of the Florida Keys to you all today. Then Wednesday I'll be back to our normal treasure-hunting and decorating with a new Treasure Box post.

Here we have some feathered friends hunkered down in the strong breeze following a stormy day...
This is in Islamorada outside the Whale Harbor Inn, a seafood buffet where my father and I enjoyed entirely too much Thanksgiving feast.

Did you know the pelicans in Florida are required by the State Waterbird Aquatic Traffic Bureau to swim in "V" formations?...
Yes, they get licensed to make sure they know the rules of the surf, and they have to have it renewed every five years. They are, of course, billed for this service. :)

Right now you can just hear the trio above saying, "Okay, Peter, Penny, you take flank. I'll take point. Let's triangulate!"

Funny that with so much wind earlier in the day, the water could be so glassy...
And this, this just made me laugh. Originally, I had only wanted a shot of the sign because of "Captain Ron." (Anyone familiar with the film of the same name starring Kurt Russell will know why it's funny.)...All around are largish fishing vessels, which tourists can charter for a day of fishing adventure. However, Dad and I soon realized, Captain Ron's boat for hire was perhaps just a little bit, um, more budget-oriented than the ones around it...Okay, maybe a lot more budget-oriented. It's not easy being a swashbuckling pirate when you're also a little dinghy...Anyway, what trip to the tropics would be complete without a few shots of Mother Nature in all her beachly glory?...
And with this, we dock yet another holiday for the year...
If you missed last Wednesday's post, with some humorous looks at vintage Thanksgiving, click here.

This Wednesday, we'll dive into some Florida thrifting and yard saling. Hope to see you then!

Treasure Box Wednesday: Turkey Temptations

There was something in the Treasure Box this week-- only I can't show it to you yet!

Yes, the power of Christmas gifting thrifting means the items I bought are for a buddy who happens to read the blog. She's getting a little nifty thrifted basket o' fun for the Christmas season, and I will entirely spoil the surprise by sharing the finds with you.

I promise to do so once the gift's been sent her way.

That said, I certainly don't want to leave you good folks-- who've come all the way over here-- empty-handed today. So since I have so many new readers this year, who probably have not perused past pages of the publication... I offer you two previous T-day posts-- both of which might give you a good holiday chuckle.

  • The first was last year's entirely made-up tour of my yearly Thanksgiving setting-- the Florida Everglades-- all of it told through vintage postcards and cheerful fibs. Yes, see how I would celebrate the holiday if I actually hung out with Seminole Indians and narrowly avoided being chomped by alligators... and in Technicolor, too! Click here.
  • The second contains cards from my Victorian Thanksgiving postcard collection. I love the images they used back then, and I believe you will, too. Click here for that.

Oh, and for those who didn't get a chance to check out my somewhat early Christmas decorating so far, you can view that post here.

That said, I will see you all Sunday with a post inspired by my holiday adventures-- where ever they may take me.

Pace yourselves on the turkey, American readers. :) And to folks outside the U.S., I hope you have yourselves a great rest of the week.

Blue Christmas and Tiny Purple Rebellions

Well, Elvis may have been sad and lonely during his Blue Christmas, but I think he may have just needed a splash of gold and a bit more tinsel. Because popping a few extremely early Christmas decorations around this weekend was entirely too tempting. And the joy it brought was... well... speaks for itself.

Just a few strands of gold and blue tinsel (Martha Stewart, it seems, gives enough in a single pack to wind around all of Graceland), some craft store velvet poinsettias in blue and gold, a couple well-chosen metal words, and some golden mercury-glass styled pieces from Target-- and I was on my way!

The little white flocked Christmas tree was a gift from a friend last year, and it came in very handy for this one!...
Add in a little mood lighting and....

Oh, what's that? You say we have to do Thanksgiving first?

Ah, well... so we do. it'll take the burden off, post T-day, anyway!Here's the top of the bookcase of the side of the room. It looks like it needs a little something, but I haven't quite figured it all out yet...
And under the painting of the overturned cherub, a nice low bowl full of pine cones has found a place...
So, on a decorating high after the blue room success, I decided to noodle a bit with my dining room display.

Some of you may remember, at the beginning of 2009, post-Christmas, I'd cleaned up on a lot of discontinued silver and purple mercury glass pieces from Target and Michael's, so I was determined to use them this year...
In the afternoon light. the metal took on a golden hue, but it's actually mirrored silver. The white pearly tablecloth was my mother's, and the chargers were ones I got years ago.
Speaking of Mom, every time I use a non-traditional Christmas color, like this purple, I snicker a bit and think how it would have taken some energy to win her over with this display.

Even though the standard Christmas colors of red and green (as well as our interpretation of Santa Claus) had actually come about because of CocaCola marketing at the turn of the 1900s, my mom just didn't feel comfortable with blues, pinks or purples in the Christmas scheme. She was a red-and-green gal, all the way!

I respect that. But I do love incorporating the colors of the room into my Christmas decor. The purple candle there, by the way, was discounted decor from Halloween. Waste not, want not...

And just a close-up of the mercury trees on the mantle. They've been waiting almost a year for their debut...
And here are a few others on the table. The ornaments in the bowl are ones I use every year, somewhere in the house...
Well, that's about the final notes of this song of Christmas decorating!

And if not, I'd like you thank you for visiting today. Thank ya... thank ya very much!

Treasure Box Wednesday: Treasured Transformations

To indulge in a little personification for a moment, my house lately must feel a little like Cinderella-- post-fairy-Godmother-makeover. In the last month, two rooms have gotten a very new look, and I'm pretty pleased with the results.

Over the weekend, I painted my bathroom that Baby's Breath Pink I showed you all on Sunday. So here's what it looked like Before...
A fresh aloe green, yes. But I was finding it very hard to match to any green accessories these days. Bathmats were more sage or avocado or mint, and tracking down items that would work was a little frustrating.
Also, I had that rich-colored shower curtain I really wanted to use for the winter. So my brain began plots of painting pinkness.
You can see the gold art nouveau styled mirrors and accessories here. These will mostly remain as part of the decor Cindy's fairytale makeover.

And here we see it in the pink!
The room now has a whole different feel, I think. Where it had felt rather open and fresh before, it feels a bit more sumptuous somehow now. Which is funny because the drapes, mirrors, and ledge shelves are all exactly the same...
Here you can see I swapped a couple of Alphonse Mucha resin plaques-- in a color too orange to really work for the room, for a mosaic vase I thrifted. The crystal items in the vases are actually Christmas decor from K-Mart from last year's post-season sale.
And here you can see the pink with the black trim and the nifty shower curtain. Everything ties together better now, I believe...
And just another last shot, by the pedestal sink.Now, for those of you asking to see the rest of the blue French room I'd been working on, here's where we are...
Most everything is back in place. I've hung a mirror here at left, which has opened things up a bit more and given it some extra shine. (And yes, I had been sitting on that sofa with a magazine... bliss!)
This lampshade I ordered through Ebay. It has courting couples on it much like the sofa cover...
You'll see it's on my thrifted alabaster lamp from a week or two ago. I wish these types of shades were a little cheaper, but even the cost of fabric would be high for something quality. I'm not currently skilled enough to make something like this myself. So this was a splurge.

Over here, I'm still working on this area...

The little Shabby Chic bookcase from Target has my Victorian postcard collection albums in it, and some books I enjoy leafing through. I'm still trying to find just the right combination of accessories. Given both of my best friends who I shop with LOVE blue, I've discovered that I don't actually have much in the way of this color. The bright blue glass shoe in the upper right was a thrift store buy yesterday, actually.

So, that about wraps it up for today.
And if not-- hey, there'll be new goodies this coming Sunday. Hope to see you then!

Choosing Wall Paint You Won't Regret

What is it about choosing wall paint that somehow ends up seeming like a deep, painful decision akin to Kennedy's pressures in Cuban Missile Crisis? I mean, it's just paint after all. Color. Something to slap on the walls, right?

And yet anyone who decorates knows it's so much more than that. It's an atmosphere. A mood. It surrounds you. And most of all... it's a commitment.

Oh sure, it's not like deciding to get married, or to move across the country. But these days paint isn't exactly cheap. So when you invest in your half gallon of the stuff, you want it to work.

So how do you choose paint that will really work for your space?

Well, I may not have all the answers. But I've learned a few things over the years that have made choosing a good color easier. And I'm happy to share them with you today.

  • Don't try to decide on a paint right there in the store. Get paint swatches... and lots of them. The lighting in the paint store is not like your home. And it's the light that makes the difference in how a color appears. So make sure your take some paint swatches home and see what it looks like held up to the wall you'll be painting. This leads to the next point...
  • See what those swatches look like in all different times of day. A paint swatch that can look terrific in morning light might look washed out at midday and take on a strange glow toward evening. Live with the colors a bit and see how they look and change. This can help you narrow down your choices.
  • Remember that what looks very pale on the swatch card might look much bolder as paint on your wall. How does it compare to the furnishings you plan to have in the room? Remember the darker the color, the closer a room will feel.
  • You can get test pots of paint made up in the colors you like. Spreading a sample of the actual paint can help you get a better sense of what it will be like on a grander scale. This won't necessarily tell you how dark or light a room will get from painting. But it will give you a feel for how the paint will look at different times of day.
  • Think about the color itself. Does it lean toward cooler or warmer tones? For instance, you might say my Baby's Breath Pink above is just pink, right? But it's actually a cooler pink-- a purple pink-- as opposed to a more orange pink. The fact that it's a little more toward the blue spectrum of things instead of the hotter orange reds means it will go better with the eggplant and raspberry rugs I have in the room. By knowing whether your color leans toward cooler or hotter tones, you will have an easier time coordinating it to other colors.
  • Once you paint, live with the color a few days before passing final judgment. A change of color -- especially if it's drastic-- can take getting used to. The room may seem cozier (or more claustrophobic!) or the color may feel like it's really opened up the room. So give yourself time to get used to the change, and really experience the color in situ itself.
The world's a bright beautiful place-- too beautiful to live without color. So don't be afraid. We all get a little nervous when it comes to making a paint selection. (You can click here to check out the tale of paint panic I had the first time I tried to paint a room!)

Just take your time. Think about your colors...

And then carpé paintbrush!

Wishing you good fortune and great color for all your future painting endeavors.

Treasure Box Wednesday: the Road Less Traveled

In Sunday's post, we talked about how the Victorian look isn't particularly popular right now, so those of us who love romantic decorating can find some pretty amazing things at thrift stores.

This post will explain where some of that idea came from.

Saturday's thrifting was a late start for me, as I'd met my buddy Scoobie in the Strip District of Pittsburgh (no stripping involved!) for lunch and some wholesale food shopping.

I had thought, given I was hitting the stores in the late afternoon instead of mid-morning, that the thrifts would be as picked clean as road kill in vulture territory.

I have no problem admitting I was wrong.

The first thing I spied at the Red White and Blue thrift store was this small, deep Victorian pickle dish...
Made in Austria and partially handpainted, I had a hard time believing this was just sitting on the shelf with the bakeware and serving bowls, and not nestled somewhere safe on the shelves behind the counter.

Guess our scantily clad nymph was a bit much for the locals...

Anyway, it was a surprise find, and needed to be rescued.

Heading down to the second level of the store, that's when I came across this large alabaster table lamp...

Ones at 2/3s the size of this go for around $100 at antique malls, and here I found this much larger one-- in pearlescently beautiful condition-- in a thrift store. It was the second find to blow the mind just a bit. It was 3:30 in the afternoon. How could it still be there waiting for me?

And then was my "inkling" find at the Goodwill. By now it was about 5:30 in the evening and I was heading home. A shelf of planters revealed this pretty leaf planter which I had a very good feeling about...
It reminded me strongly of two McCoy pieces I have-- taller ones, but a similar glaze, similar style and color. It wasn't marked on the bottom, but at $1.99 I didn't really care whether it was or wasn't McCoy, because I thought it would look terrific with the other two.

I had a sneaking suspicion, though...
Here you can see it with its buddies.

Upon going home, I sat in my favorite chair and reveled in my good fortune. And then I pulled out my McCoy collector's book. Boy, it never hurts to have good reference books for the things you collect!-- And I was rewarded. The unmarked vase was, absolutely, the real McCoy.

Right now it sits on my mantle, looking very much at home with its cousins. Yee-haw!

Oh, and lastly-- just because I'm finally feeling happy about it (largely because the hard work is done), I wanted to show you all the finished mantle in my one spare room...
All the bits of plaster and grouting and the newspapers and painter's tape (and frustrations) have been wiped away, leaving me with a lovely, calm and quite French sitting room. The cute little blue lamps on the mantle came from the L&L Fleatique in Adamsburg/Jeannette, and the mantle mirror was an Ebay find-- it's a new piece, not an antique, but I think it tops everything off pretty nicely. I'd wanted something that was already painted so I wasn't defacing any antique pieces.

Well, that wraps it up for this Treasure Box! So, here's hoping as you choose your path in your treasure hunting travels, you uncover the things no one else wants-- but which you absolutely love.

Sometimes being eccentric has its benefits!

And maybe I'll see you folks on Sunday. That is, if you aren't out scouting for buried treasure.

The Victorians Might Have Loved Thrift Shopping

As I came away with a bundle of unique goodies from the Red White and Blue thrift store this weekend, I realized: the Victorians might very well have loved thrift shopping.

I mean think about it: they enjoyed changing up things in their homes regularly, and transforming hard furnishings with layers and layers of textiles...

They were big on mixed and matched furniture-- particularly those in the middle class who couldn't afford full sets, but who still wanted their modest homes to feel elegant...

Along those lines, these were folks who, if they couldn't afford an expensive bronze statue, were able to mass-produce a similar spelter or plaster one, at a fraction of the cost. They tried to evoke a mood in their homes, and did it cleverly within their budgets.
I see careful needlework tablecloths and tablerunners, and imagine them being snapped up by Victorian ladies who loved to layer, blown away that they themselves would not have to spend hours tatting that delicate edgework.
I picture ladies in rustling skirts scoping out the furniture section and wondering whether that tea trolley, with a lick of black lacquer and some careful decoupage, would look Japaned.

Or perhaps standing there considering whether a few souvenir plates from around the country would properly display that famed Victorian love of travel.

I envision silver trays and serving pieces being bought for so-civilized future get-togethers. "Imagine all of this," they would say, "and we don't have to wait for it to arrive from the Sears Catalog!"

And then I see them getting in their carriages and popping off to somewhere like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Tuesday Morning, or even Pier One... Debating on which plaster bust to choose, what mirror, which rug.

I see them pondering things inspired by-- or made in-- countries halfway around the world. The selection! The possibilities! And so much of it so reasonable! You could travel the world and still never leave home!

Of course, today we can evoke the same decorating principles in our homes of our Victorian ancestors and not have to wear corset while we do it. Right now, those tablerunners wait for that one person who loves detail to come and give them new life...

And the silver sits in stacks, hoping someone will someday have the time and inclination to give 'em a good polish and allow them to shine once more on the dinner table.

So many folks prefer streamlined surfaces now. Most of us don't have the time to dust all the things that would go into a a Victorian home.
So for those who love romantic decor of this type, you may just find there's very little competition for the things you adore. And that's funny because given today's economy, thrift stores are busier than ever, with people in every aisle contemplating their treasures-- no matter what those treasures might be.

Even younger people seem less afraid of the stigma of buying used. I heard a couple of teenagers in line behind me yesterday talking excitedly about how they found a particular designer item of clothing that, "you couldn't even touch this in a regular store during a sale... not even during a really good sale...This is crazy!"

So while the economy may be bad, in a way, it's a fortunate time we're in, folks. Those veterans of buying secondhand finally get a chance to openly say, "Hey, I knew about the wonders of thrifting all along!" Dare I say, we might even be on the cusp of being...(gasp!) trendy.

The Victorians would have liked that, too...

Though I imagine the carriage parking would be a serious pain in the bustle.

And as for this coming Treasure Box Wednesday, I'll show you why an unusually late start in day's thrifting seems to have made absolutely no difference in my treasure-hunting success!

Treasure Box Wednesday: Hot Cup o' Good Fortune

After a few errands on Saturday, I set out on that gray, blustery day a-thrifting down Route 30.

Why does it seem when winds do howl and rain does pelt against the windows, there's comfort wandering around a brightly-lit thrift store or quiet antique mall? It's one of those times where, even if I found nothing, it's just fun to look.

But find things, I did! And I managed to hit a couple of really good sales, too. Like the 50% off of these already well-priced Carnival glass pieces at the Ligonier Fleatique...

I'm not sure how old they are, but you can't beat the rainbow of colors on them!

Speaking of colors, how about these excellent lusterware teacups from the Salvation Army? ..

Seeing them there together, I just knew they had to have come from the same lady's collection. Do you ever ponder things like that when you shop? What place the item held in someone's life before it arrived at the store?

At the Good Samaritan thrift store in North Versailles, I uncovered this pink 70s French glass serving bowl to match my set...

I like it because it looks so much like Depression Glass. And this time I was doubly thrilled because I'd missed out on this very style piece once at a different antique mall; they wouldn't sell it to me because it wasn't priced, which I totally understand. But the guy running the desk also didn't want to call and bother the dealer to find out how much it would be. Needless to say, it was a disappointing "No Sale" that day...

But it's all balanced out now!

I also got a great big bag of Shiny Brite ornaments from the Good Samaritan. It's really never too early to pick these bright li'l fellows up!...

At the L&L Fleatique in Adamsburg, I bought a nifty gift for one of my friends (I'll show you all that post-gift-giving, so as not to ruin the surprise for her.) And I got myself a small McCoy planter-- which was also on sale!

And lastly, following the grand tradition of my father's, which involves buying things he doesn't know what they are... I bought...


Something I don't know what it is.

It's definitely styled like my downstairs light fixtures, so it's probably from the Depression era. And it's done in the same airbrushed colors. But as for its function?...

Here is the back...
So what do you folks think? Did it come from some other light fixture? Or perhaps part of curtain tiebacks or rods?

Any and all suggestions appreciated and ready to be taken for consideration! As the thing was just seventy-cents at the UFO in Greensburg, I figured it was worth that just for us to mull it over.

Anyway, it's pretty, and you all know me-- I probably can make use of it somehow.

So that's it for today's Treasure Box Wednesday!

Well, it's not precisely wrapped up, but I'll give you something non-fireplacey to read about on Sunday to mix it up more. I imagine that will be a relief to all of us. :)

Have a great week, friends, and I hope to see you Sunday.