Best Wishes for a Restful and Rewarding New Year!

Maybe your New Year's Eve guests look a bit like this after bringing in 2011 with a bang... 

Or maybe a little rest and relaxation is in order to start the year off right. 

Either way, The Thrift Shop Romantic would like to wish you a very happy, safe and contented holiday. 

I will be back in the new year with more thrifted goodies, more treasure hunting roadtrips, more funny recipe books and decorating, more craft projects of varying success levels, and-- don't worry-- not TOO TOO many photos of kittens. :)
My cat Alice, however, would like to take time out of her kitten coma to remind you all to please not drive and drive this weekend... If the coppers get you and you lose your license, you won't be able to get to the store and buy your pets kibble.

Thank you. :)

Treasure Box Wednesday: Treasured Humor

I had kinda of an amusing incident at the Goodwill the other day, and I wanted to remember to share it with you folks.

I had taken my lunchbreak at a local Goodwill branch and found a couple of goodies to my joy, one of which was a CD with some tunes I'd wanted to add to the 80s mix on my iPod.

The sign above them read that the CDs were kept in the back, to prevent theft. Totally understandable. More thrifts are keeping the discs safe in folders at the registers, so items don't just "walk away." I've gotten a lot of decent CDs this way.

So I continued shopping and then took my purchases up to one of the store's two registers just like any old time.

First, the cashier and I commiserated on the choice of music, she sharing a fondness for 80s tunes, and having owned the album herself in her youth. All perfectly normal...

And then she grabbed the store PA microphone:

"Cyndi Lauper-- She's So Unusual. That's Cyndi Lauper-- She's So Unusual, could someone please bring that CD to the front register, please? Cyndi Lauper..." 

Her words echoed throughout the entire store like the voice of a very efficient, very music-savvy deity.

The woman behind me in line looked as startled as I was and we both broke out laughing. 

It's a really good thing I'm not shy about sharing my music tastes, though I have to say, I can think of very few albums I'd really want to have announced over the loud speakers to the Wide World of my fellow shopping Goodwillers.

I imagine they did this because they have two registers and wanted the disks in neutral territory, for easy access from both, but I think there has to be a slightly better way.

Anyway, I hope all of you fine readers celebrating the Christmas holiday find yourself merrily in tune with the season. Thank you all for making it such a great year here at The Thrift Shop Romantic.

I'm Dreaming of a Shatterproof Christmas

IIIIIIII'm dreaming of a
Shatterprooooooof Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the bright orbs glisten
And kittens listen
As IIII'm pleading, "No! Down! Noooooo!"

I had a sneaking suspicion that decorating the tree this year was going to be a bit... different... than other years.And I had barely assembled my nifty artificial tree when-- "BOINK!"-- Harry the Five Month Old Kitten appeared within its branches to demonstrate the reason I had thought going "shatterproof" in terms of Christmas ornaments this year was a pretty darned good idea.

It was nice of me, he felt, to put up this giant climbing wall for him.

"Tree kittens? I don't see any tree kittens! Where?"
Then there was the little question of adding the garland. I had some... um... help this year, but I suspect this kind of help will be more useful when it comes to taking down the tree instead of putting it up.
However, what I didn't suspect was that after a certain amount of requisite batting and climbing and biting, my furred buddies would lose interest entirely in favor of a few empty ornament boxes and a bit of Christmas ribbon. And I would be allowed to actually decorate the thing, and keep the decorations on...And it's still standing this morning!

I know. Shocking, right?
My optimism led me to decorate a tiny pink tree to put on top of my refrigerator, out of the reach (maybe) of touchy-feely paws.

I had found at Tuesday Morning some glass Alice in Wonderland ornaments from the same artist that did my dishes. So with them, and some mushrooms, top-hats and teapot ornaments K-Mart had had (completely unrelated to any Alice theme) I pulled this colorful little jobbie together.

You can see the White Rabbit, Queen's card men and a jingly little mushroom here...

And the Hat, Alice and the Cheshire Cat dressed as a snowman here.

Lastly, one of the teapots and the Hatter himself...
After all this, I guess I don't need to tell you, we were all pretty tired out...
Thank goodness for Trader Joe's shopping bags. They have a million and one uses.

Take care folks, and I hope you all aren't shattered from too much pre-Christmas activity.

Treasure Box Wednesday: The Vintage Christmas Decorating Blow-Out Post

I've been meaning to do this for a while for you all-- to gather all of the major vintage Christmas decorating posts I've done over the years into one nicely-wrapped package o' convenient fun.

So if you have a minute and wish to take a gander at some sparkle, some trial-and-error, and some off-beat Christmas tablescapes, mantle decor, an insane amount of little decorated Christmas trees, and general whatnot, this might be the post for you! Just click a link below to unwrap the joy:

Tonight I need to spend some quality time Christmas wrapping. How much do you all want to bet that my kittens will want to "help"? (Translation: everyone will be receiving a quantity of kitten hair along with the tape on every package.)

Keep warm, folks-- it's cold out there!

Treasure Box Wednesday: Victorian Decorating at the Frick Mansion

I love it when it's possible to share with you all some of our architectural and decorative treasures located here in Pittsburgh, and one of my favorite local gems has been the beautiful Victorian mansion, Clayton, which had been home to the Frick family.

So I was truly delighted when I found this detailed tour of Clayton, and the Frick museums. I hope you'll have a moment to enjoy this video-- get to see the amazing textiles, learn more about how the Fricks lived, and learn more about the Victorian era.

I've done this tour a number of times-- both in the Christmas season, and during summer, when the flowers are in bloom. And there's a knock-out cafe there, too, which has become a favorite place for friends and I to go on special occasions.

And the best thing about this online tour? No fee necessary and you can take all the time you need to look around. :)

In an Octopus' Parlor

"I'd like to be...
Under the sea
In an octopus' parlor
On a tree..."

Okay, so maybe that's not quite how the lyrics go. But the humorous little aquatic themed Christmas tree I put together for my Dad did add a splash of festive color to the Pop's apartment at assisted living.

Since retirement, Dad has studied the sounds underwater creatures make. When you hear the recordings he's done with the hydrophone (underwater microphone/recorder), you'd be surprised how noisy it can be under the deep. Clicks, crackles, groans and boops are normal discourse down there.

So I thought Dad might enjoy a little bit of the tropics up here. Though he insists the fish typically don't wear earrings and carry handbags...

The ornaments came from Target, and as soon as I saw them I knew what I had to do.

Jaws might have turned out a bit different if the lead shark were wearing a hula skirt, hat and carrying a beach bag...
Still, this flamingo better look out if the underwater buffet isn't replenished by the cabana boys quickly enough.
I particularly couldn't resist choosing the crazy blue tree. I figure, if you're going to have an underwater Christmas, you might as well do it up right!

Anyway, that's all there is for today. I hope you'll join me on Wednesday for our next exciting blog post o' decorative and thrifty treasures.


Treasure Box Wednesday: Secret Christmas Treasures and the Biggest Thrift Purchase Ever

The Treasure Box might look empty this week, but that's only because most of the things I thrifted were not, in fact, for me. Post-Christmas I'll be able to share with you all the thrifted goodies I found for some friends who appreciate cool vintage stuff, either as stand-alone items or as part of thrifted gift baskets.

For me, I really only uncovered the nifty 70s blue carnival glass piece above and a couple of CDs. This was from the Salvation Army Superstore in West Mifflin.

My shopping buddy this day-- Dad-- however, went on to thrift what I believe was the most monumental item I can recall us thrifting in our lengthy history. At the Goodwill on Pittsburgh's South Side, Dad managed to get himself a very nice Dell laptop computer-- in great shape, running smoothly, and with all the bells and whistles he was looking for.

That branch has the only computer store in the region, and the guys who helped him seemed to really know their computers.

Dad was additionally floored because he got a 10% senior discount on the thing-- not something you get when you buy from a retail computer store, necessarily-- and a free laptop bag to boot!

So he's been having a great old time, using the laptop for all his computing needs, plus playing DVDs, enjoying a brisk game of computerized Solitaire, etc.

And me, I need to finish Christmas shopping. Somehow the holidays just keep sneaking up on me. You blink and there they are, waiting for you!

Tell me, how are you folks doing on your shopping this year? Are you close to done? And do you thrift any of your presents?

Christmas Lite: Diminished Decorating for Curious Paws

Longtime readers of The Thrift Shop Romantic know I tend to go all out when Christmas comes around, with decorated theme trees in most of my rooms and no surface left undecked.

But this year, with the addition of my kittens Alice and Harry (particularly Harry) I am unsure how delicate decor will fare under the attentions of curious paws. For to them life is bright and new and terribly, terribly battable.

Yes, Harry, I am talking about you...

So I'm planning on doing Christmas Lite this year, with only one main tree in my livingroom and decked in shatterproof Christmas balls-- just to be on the safe side.

I'm trying to keep most temptations up off the floor and away from tasting tongues and poking paws.

I'm going with a sort of candy-colored theme this year in my diningroom... layering red, mint-green and pink onto my table and mantle...
My opalescent Moonstone Anchor Hocking china seemed a frosting-like contrast to the sweet colors.

And it gave me a chance to display some cardboard houses that look tempting, but likely taste a bit bland...

You can see a close-up of those here...
Shatterproof balls in a bowl feature as the centerpiece...
And three different colored tablecloths get a tiered petticoat look when secured with a vintage pin...This allows me to have red in the usually pink and mint-green color scheme of the room, without it being too dominant.

In the entryway to the room's left, I've swagged some simple garland along with bottlebrush wreaths from an end of last season clearance...

And my usual transferware pieces on this shelf are replaced with more cardboard village pieces...
Ah, but still, even with the best laid plans, you cannot predict what will happen when Godzilla rises from the deep to stomp the Christmas village...
Fortunately, all the villagers seem all right-- just suffering from a little post-traumatic stress.

Now I'm wondering what it will be like when I set up the tree...

Wish me luck!

Turkey Tray Wednesday: TSR's Thanks, Tips and Travel Humor

Since the Treasure Box for this week isn't full of any thrifted goodies-- what with there being no time for thriftin' fun-- I thought I would leave you this Thanksgiving holiday with a great big helping of holiday humor from my humor blog Of Cabbages and Kings.

Savor 'em one at a time, or devour 'em in one big bite. But just keep a few antacids on hand, because even the most savory Cabbage can do a number on ya if you chew too fast.

  • Giving Thanks, Cabbages-Style. I've put together a very special list of the things that I've been grateful for in the past year which are actually 100% unrelated to things like turkeys, family, or parades where giant Snoopys stomp Manhattan like beagle-shaped Godzillas. Perhaps you might even join me in a few of them! Click here.
  • Tips to Liven Up Thanksgiving. At every family get-together, there's always that one person who makes a real statement. Like Uncle Joey who brings a case of beer he drinks himself all before half-time and then begins to regale everyone with the history of the combustion engine. Or Aunt Clara who isn't speaking to Aunt Betty since the Chestnut Stuffing Schism of 1987. But this year, why not make that memorable party guest... you? Click here.
  • How Not to Annoy Airport Security. Making your life easier with helpful tips for getting through airport security without annoying them-- and molesting you. (Amusingly, I wrote this two years before this year's Dave Barry groping incident.) Click here.

And while I have you all here, I'd like to wish my American readers a very happy Thanksgiving, filled with all good things. I appreciate each and every one of you for stopping by this year.

(And to paraphrase Arlo Guthrie in Alice's Restaurant, I hope you have a Thanksgiving dinner-- or two-- that couldn't be beat!)

Treasure Box Wednesday: Sales and Surprises

This past Sunday, my dad had some errands to run, so we decided to wrap them around a short trip to one of his favorite antiquing places, the L&L Fleatique in Adamsburg. He's found some "guy stuff" goodies there in the past, so there was no reason not to give it a whirl.

It turns out, a number of their vendors were having sales, up to half-off. So this pink French salad bowl-- part of a Depression glass-style set I have from the 1970s-- ended up being 50% off...
And this cute cast iron doorstop featuring kittens with strange noses was also on discount!
On the way back, that's when we noticed the Goodwill Outlet Center in North Versailles was open. "Do you want to go?" asked Dad with a bit of a glimmer in his eye.

Oh yes. Yes, I did. :) And that's where I found this lusterware teacup...
And this pretty tin, printed with scenes illustrating the four seasons which my cat Alice is kindly showcasing for you all...
All in all, a very fun, successful thrifting week!

So, that about puts a lid on this Treasure Box. And as always, thanks for joining me on my thrifting journeys. I appreciate you stopping by and being a part of it!

Goodwill Outlet Store -and- Wild About Harry

Well, it's been a very merry weekend-- for two reasons.

Let's go to the real thrifty news first.

Now in North Versailles, PA, across Route 30 from the location of the Good Samaritan Thrift Store, Rossi's Pop-up Flea Market and-- to speak in legitimate Pittsburghese-- "Where the Old Ames Department Store Used to Be," is a brand new Goodwill Outlet Store, which just opened November 10.

It's a huge building where everything that didn't sell at their stores in a certain time is sold by the pound. Housewares, furniture, clothes, etc. (I believe there is special pricing for things like electronics.)

Anyway, for local folks who miss the Goodwill that used to be there in North Versailles, across the street, I think you'll find this a pleasure. I'll have to get some contact information for it and update my Thrift Store Listings for the area.

I'm curious, for folks not in our region, have you ever been to a Goodwill Outlet Store? Are there others across the country?

Anyway, next-- I brought home something secondhand of a different nature... Four-month-old black-and-white kitten, Harry, from the local no-kill animal shelter, Animal Friends.

My resident kitten, eight-month-old Alice has been unnaturally grateful to see me when I return home evenings. This seems to have happened after a month where my Dad was there during the day keeping her company. While I love that she misses me so much, the fawning, over-relieved attention she pays me seems a little unhealthy for her. (Or perhaps she's a dog in disguise.) So I thought she might benefit from a little buddy.

Harry has much of Alice's personality-- friendly, happy and playful. So far their initial introductions have gone very well.

I have been informed by friends that two cats doesn't yet make me a Crazy Cat Lady. Crazy, perhaps. Owning cats, yes. But Crazy Cat Lady has apparently an Exceeding Two Cats threshold.

I'm apparently on the brink. :)

And for those who are curious, yes, Harry was named for Harry Potter. It just seemed to balance out well with the other kitten, named for Alice in Wonderland. I tried other literary names, but kinda thought "Atticus Finch" was a little too much nobility to weigh on a four month old kitten.

To all you thrifters and crazy cat ladies and secondhand pet adopters and all my other beloved friends out there, have a great week until I see your shiny faces again, perhaps, for Wednesday's post.

Treasure Box Wednesday: The Vase with No Name

"I've been through the thrift store for a vase with no name
It was good to get out of the rain
In the thrift store, you'll be glad that ya came
'Cause there ain't but one vase, yup, no two's the same"

--With huge apologies to the band America's "Horse with No Name"

Yesssir, on Treasure Box Wednesday here at the Thrift Shop Romantic, you not only get to see thrifted goodies, you get really bad takeoffs on popular 70s music, too!

Aren't you glad you stopped by? :)

Actually, I was really glad I stopped by the Salvation Army Superstore in West Mifflin over the weekend-- a brief trip between errands-- because I came across this pretty, old, art nouveau influenced pottery vase...

(The one on the left.)

With its celadon color and matte finish, I had a sneaking suspicion it was unmarked McCoy...

And a check of my McCoy collecting book proved that was true! A piece from around 1935.

While I was taking photos this morning, I thought I'd also show you the other side of the top of that same tall, built-in cabinet. Two more McCoy styled pieces live there. The red one on the left is also unmarked, and it came originally from the Goodwill in Irwin, PA. The green piece on right is marked McCoy, and it came from the L&L Fleatique just down the road from Irwin, in Adamsburg...
I didn't get them at the same time, though. :)

Anyway, it just goes to show, if you like something and it's at the right price, you don't necessarily have to worry about the manufacturer... Make sure you have the right resource books and consider taking a chance.

You might just find you have an even bigger treasure than you expected!

Treasure Box Wednesday: Treasuring Bad Art

To follow our recent kitsch theme here on Treasure Box Wednesday, I could think of nothing more likely to put a smile on your face and a snicker on your lips than a little trip to the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA)-- America's collection of well-meaning yet not-quite-right works on canvas. Above is just one example-- the MOBA's Mona Lisa of sorts, "Lucy in the Field with Flowers."

Because YouTube wouldn't let me embed the file, I will include the link to this tongue-in-cheek art exhibition here:

Having commited a few examples of bad art myself-- (I am particularly proud of "Moody Blue Pepper in Otherwise Monochrome Still Life")-- I can completely identify how good intentions can go wrong... so very, very wrong.

Hope your week goes very, very right-- and I'll see you perhaps again on Sunday!

Arts-and-Crafts, and Cams and Cambolts

The projects your blog hostess has been working on lately have actually been more in lending a hand to my buddy Scoobie than anything pressing of my own. Her place is under full-on decorating attack. It started with updating the kitchen I showed you a week or so ago, and now it's been adding some arts-and-crafts style furniture.

This is where that extra hand has come in: unwieldy pieces of lovely wooden assemble-it-yourself furniture which assumes you not only have that hand to spare, but an extra couple of feet, a six-foot stature and possibly a mechanically inclined hunk at your disposal.
At the moment, there's just me.

(Disappointing, all around, I know. :) )

But so far, we're managing. Once you put together one flat-pack assemble-it-yourself piece, you begin to figure out how those tech writers think when they come up with the instructions...

You start to get inside their heads....

You begin to take for granted all the things that are not implicitly stated as steps toward finished furniture. Like just because they SAY to do a certain thing, doesn't mean they really, really, really mean to do it right then. Or just because they don't say to do it, doesn't mean it doesn't need to be done.

Their heads are a scary place to live sometimes. I know, I used to be a tech writer myself.
Anyway, you can see Scoobie's completed sideboard here. She's still arranging the decorative goodies on it, but this is an early draft sample of what it might look like.
Note, those peach curtains are on their way OUT. While nice, and while matching the wallpaper circa 1990, they were left for her from the previous owners. Scoobie plans to remove the wallpaper and paint the walls a nice lights arts-and-crafts green, to tie in her red-and-green William Morris rug.

Here is a display cabinet she assembled all by herself, no hand or hunk-to-spare involved.
And this is the barrister bookcase we assembled last weekend. It took a few hours, and then we both took some Advil. But it looks pretty sharp!
I'll be excited to see how her office will take shape. And when it does, with Scoobie's kind permission, I'll share it with you all, too.

So everybody sing: "Cam bolt's connected to the... locked cam! The locked cam's inserted into... Side B! Side B's connected to the... Top A! Top A's connected to the... Wood peg...."