Treasure Box Wednesday: Modern Pre-Raphaelite

I may not have thrifted anything to share with you all this last week, but I never like to leave my lovely guests empty-handed.

So I thought today would be the perfect opportunity to share with you the new web site that artist Michael Thomas passed along to me.

I have three of his paintings, each of which are done in a very Pre-Raphaelite style-- the lone medieval maiden with the flawless face and wistful expression-- and his skilled work enchanted me from the start. It was Rapunzel here which I originally spotted on Ebay that drew my attention to his work...
And now he's got his own web site here at:

He does a variety of paintings, often with a storybook illustrative or fantasy bent. I notice he has some prints available of the original painting I have here, "Pisces"...
Anyway, I just thought you folks might enjoy a little mental journey to far-away lands through his work. I look at his paintings every day in my William Morris styled livingroom, and I figured the enjoyment was worth spreading around.

Take care and have a nifty thrifty rest of your week!

Secondhand Fur

Had you going with that title for a minute, didn't I?

But no, I hadn't gone mad and decided in this oppressive summer heat that what I really needed was a thrifty fur jacket. I'm referring to my new cat-- my first furred pet ever, actually-- Alice. I got her from Animal Friends, a no-kill shelter, and while things didn't work out with her first family, I'm delighted to give her a home this second-time around.

At the price of a donation, she was a bargain! (And by now you all know how I feel about bargains.)

Alice has been very well-behaved around the various collections I have-- she knows to admire glass and bisque vases but not to touch, which I appreciate. And while we're still working through a few things when it comes to textiles, I feel confident, we'll get it right in the end.

I thought you folks would get a chuckle seeing that, yes, her scratching post has a red ball on it to match my red living room, because yes, I am that sort of person...

It's a sickness, really. But I'm okay with it.

I also got her a red velvety cat bed, which she's finally decided might be of her taste...
This is really so she'll be less interested in my red velvet sofa. It doesn't react well to biting-- which is why I stopped doing it myself after a week or so. (Heh.) So I'm hoping some cat-prevention tape and some anti-scratch spray will make it less tasty for her.

At least she has a comfy view of the neighborhood...

And most of all, I think she's a bit of a thrifty lass herself. I mean, while she does love a good feather-on-a-stick (okay, so maybe that's really for me)...

...Apparently a balled up wad of newspaper, a cardboard paper towel tube, and the plastic ring off the milk bottle are the Best. Toys. Ever.

The best things in life really are free.
Here's hoping your upcoming week will be up to scratch!

Treasure Box Wednesday: Kitchsy Kitchen Coincidence

We've talked about this sort of thing before: regular thrifters know, you can't control what washes onto your shores in the tidal wave of thrift. You might bob and take direction in the surf of goodies based on so many factors. And yet, when your eyes are out there scanning the jetsom, and your brain is in a particular mode, sometimes it seems everything that crosses your path is just what you might be looking for.

It was oddly themic this way for me this weekend, almost as if the Thrifting Gods were determined to give me a few finishing touches for my Alice in Wonderland themed kitchen.

My favorite item is actually one I didn't find myself. And I have my buddy Scoobie to thank for it! On her separate thrifting travels, she recalled I'd been looking for a red metal napkin holder they had once sold at Target, and now don't seem to have anymore.

At the Red White and Blue in Bellevue, Scoobie came across the very item I'd been searching for and snagged it for me...

I was absolutely delighted when I met her for lunch Saturday and she asked, "Hey, did you want this?" AGHHH! Yes!! Yes, I do! Yippee!

Lucky am I to have a buddy with such a sharp eye and good memory! So, thanks again, Scoobie.

At the Salvation Army Superstore, I came across a couple other items to coordinate with my kitchen theme. Like this Alice in Wonderland collector's plate...

Amazingly, it still has its original box and collector's certificate...
And last, some playing card style snack set trays were simply too fun, and had too much potential, to pass up...
Just a few along my upper shelf added a little extra something, I think. Not quite what the manufacturers may have intended and a far cry from weekly cribbage night, but hey, whatever works!...
I hope your thrifting adventures take you to fun destinations, too, this week!

How To Get (and Stay) Motivated for Crafts and Do-It-Yourself Projects

Think you can't paint? Never tried a particular craft before and need that kick to get you going? Want to try a new project but feel a little bit daunted?

Don't worry- we all feel like that sometimes. So I thought today, I'd share some tips I use to get motivated to dip into the arts, crafts and home improvement projects I haven't tried before.

  • Set reasonable goals for yourself. So, for instance, if you want to decorate a piece of furniture and you're not sure of your painting skill, choose a design that suits your skill-- and don't expect to replicate the Sistene Chapel on your TV armoire. :) Consider tools like stencils, transfers, decoupage, or simply scaled-back artwork. This takes the pressure off while setting more reasonable expectations.
  • If working on a project in stages, take photos during the stages not only so you can see how far you've come, but so you can go back to where you were before if there were any Oopses along the way. I did that with my TV armoire, taking photos of my first attempt at decorative painting, and it gave me added confidence.
  • Know that there are going to be times during almost any project that you're going to wonder whether you're doing the right thing-- and that's okay! Even fine woodworkers and great designers get confronted with problems during projects that test their problem-solving abilities. Don't be afraid to stop and take time to regroup. Take as much time as you need to think it through again.

  • Remember that even if something should go awry, this is all a part of a learning process. So while the end-product might not be just what you wanted right away, you can fix it, and you will also have gained the knowledge to do things differently in the future. That's invaluable!
  • Sketch your design out in advance, or do a few practice pieces to see how your technique will work out before attempting your work in its permanent spot. This gives you a chance to see how your materials will handle in a safe setting.
  • If working in paints, acrylics wash up with water and make it a lot easier to cover up any mistakes.
  • Remember that you'll never know whether you can do it, if you never try. You might just be surprised what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it. But you have to take that first step and start!
  • Patience! (This is the hard part for me.) Realize it doesn't have to be perfect the first time. The success is in the learning, not necessarily in the finished product. Choose to take a short break from it, rather than give up.
Here's wishing you joy and success in whatever projects you tackle!

Treasure Box Wednesday: the Alice in Wonderland Kitchen

Given this particular Treasure Box Wednesday, I have nothing newly-thrifted to share with you all, I thought I would instead show you a room I hadn't really taken pictures of before.

Many of you folks were "with" me as I spent time creating my "Alice in Wonderland"-inspired faux stained glass window. (Thank you for your patience over that lengthy process!) But I never got a chance to show the big picture, and just why this particular theme had taken over my land of cookery.

It was the joy of finding Fiestaware, and integrating that into my otherwise Victorian house that left me trying to blend the streamlined art deco style of the dishes with the William Morris, Arts & Crafts red and green livingroom that the kitchen opens onto.

And one day I got looking at my collection of bright Fiesta candleholders and vases here...

...Thinking, "These Fiesta folks are completely mad! Look at those crazy shapes!"

And that's when something in my brain said, "Hmmmmmm...."

I already had a strange number of pottery hearts hanging around...
And then at Tuesday Morning, I uncovered purely on accident some odd-and-assorted plates, bowls and cups from a British-designed Alice in Wonderland dinner set. Each one had a quote from the book-- and being a writer and a huge fan of the tale since childhood, that was just too much for me to resist!

The timing was right!

Fiesta, it turns out, also made some heart-shaped dishes, a number of which I found in their outlet discount area.

Add to this things like a Humpty Dumpty teapot I had thrifted long ago and put into action now...

And a McCoy rabbit pottery pitcher, well... the whimsical theme has worked surprisingly well without being impractical for kitchen use.
The colors transition nicely from one room to another now, even though the kitchen is a lot more kaleidoscopic than the rest of the house. The pops of red, and an Arts & Crafts rug, really tie it together.

I also had fun with a little, er, prop...Anyway, that's the Treasure Box for this week. Hope the rest of your week is filled with wonders!

Closeted Creativity

I've never been the most organized person in the world. Sure, when it comes to meeting deadlines, following through on what I promise, and planning things out, I'm pretty on-the-ball. But if it involves sorting, folding and filing-- it just doesn't come naturally to me. I struggle.

But what I've learned over the years is that even I, Miss Toss-It-In-a-Pile or Hide-It-Under-the-Bed can get life organized into easy-to-use systems-- the key is in taking the time and having the right tools!
This last week, I've been working to get my closets in order. When you thrift as often as I do, it's important for me to have a good clear-out now and then, to really take stock of what I love, what I need, and what I no longer use (and what I can pass along to someone who will truly appreciate it!).

So my linens have seen a good purge, and all extra sheets, table runners, curtains and fabric whatnots that are surplus to requirement are right now sitting bagged and prepped to head on back to the thrifts.

In their place, a couple of assemble-it-yourself shelving units have been set up, and a few packs of hangers have helped to make this closet work so much better....
I love seeing all the pretty colors and patterns on my vintage tablecloths, and choosing what I want when I want it is now so easy!(I admit, I left the door open for a while so I could stare at the Joy of Surprising Organization.)

Plus, the lightly flocked hangers really work well-- they're pleasant to the touch, but linens don't slide off.

Now, too, I can see all of these nicely embroidered tablerunners together.
And fresh vintage sheets are always available for when company comes...
Inspired by the progress, I also tackled the hall closet, where I store dress clothes and my winter shoes/boots...
A build-it-yourself shoe rack from Target fit the bill (or rather the boot) here.

I liked it so much, I got one for the the coat closet in my entry way, where casual shoes now live for easy access...What's nice is, I not only now can see everything I have, I won't again fall into the rut of having four pairs of black flats all in about the same style.

Consistency of taste is nice, but it also takes up a lot of space with redundant footwear! (Imelda Marcos might beg to differ, but then she probably didn't have to organize her own closets.)

Anyway, that got me wondering-- what's your favorite organizational tool? Are you organizationally-challenged like me? Or does everything always have its place?

Take care, and I'll talk to you next on Wednesday... If I'm not too busy still staring into my newly-tidied closets. :)

Treasure Box Wednesday: Out With the Old, In with the Also Kinda Old

Thanks to the beauty of thrift stores, I feel lucky that I don't really need anything. Oh, sure, I might keep my eye out for certain items I enjoy collecting, but I've also been going through old stuff that's truly surplus to requirement and donating it back.

It's the Circle of Thrift.

Though I suppose, this week, these are technically the circles of thrift...
I'd been keeping my eye out for some glass spheres to put in a bowl. The print behind them is Waterhouse's "The Crystal Ball," where a medieval maiden peers into a glass sphere to see, presumably, the future.

I'd been picturing the bowl filled with glass spheres in my mind for a while, as a nice decorative tie-in. But you'd be surprised how expensive these things can get!

As workarounds, I'd considered using fishing floats and Christmas ornaments, but didn't spy any that would work at the right price. Until I found someone's paperweight collection at the Red, White & Blue on Route 51 this weekend.

And all nice and plain and not engraved with, say, the name of a tourist location. You'd be surprised how many of those are out there, too. I just don't think the medieval maiden would peer into a ball with a dolphin etched into it reading "Fort Lauderdale," do you? :)

I also uncovered this nice little unmarked mint green pottery flowerpot...

I really like the shape. I don't think it's unmarked McCoy, but it looks nice with McCoy and Hull pieces.

And lastly, at the Goodwill in Indiana, PA, I uncovered a beautiful rose-printed luster bowl...
It actually had a good layer of dirt on it when I picked it up. But knew a moment or two with some suds would do wonders!...
So today, I have two big bags of donations I must remember to give back to the thrifts. I'm working to organize some closet space, and I'd like to send the unused items to the one place I know they'll be appreciated.

Hope you all had an enjoyable Fourth of July. For today, I guess it's time now for me to roll on out of here.