Hull and Hobnail Happiness

Forrest Gump had that line about life and chocolates. But I think life's more like a thrift store. You have a wider range of serendipity. A little humor. A little "what the heck is that?" And junk or treasure, it's all in how you look at it.

Anyway, this week's Treasure Hunting took me and my shopping bud, Scoobie, around Pittsburgh's South Hills. I had had my eye on a type of Depression glass from the 40s by Anchor Hocking called "Moonstone" and this was the weekend I managed to snag a few pieces at a good price...
I'd like it noted that this was from the very same antique mall where I showed you the, um, unique example of Big-Eyed Portraiture on Sunday. Proving, I think, the truth of that adapted Forrest Gump adage I was just talking about. :)

And underlining the bit about serendipity, at the Salvation Army Superstore in West Mifflin, I came across my very first thrifted Hull vase...
Scoobie and I both spotted it at the same time and gasped, knowing full-well how expensive Hull is in any of the antique malls.

Now, I'm not going to kid you-- it does have two chips. You can see one of them on the right hand side. But honestly, sitting up on top of my china cabinet, its soft matte-finish pastels look just right in my dining room. I looked it up and the pattern's called Wildflower. I figure no one visiting will be inclined to pluck the vase from its spot and "tsk-tsk" over the chips...

And if they do-- heh-- I probably should invite them over less.

Lastly, I snagged two bright green Depression glass candlesticks at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Castle Shannon. They don't look quite as intensely green in this pic as they are in real life...
They came out to be $5 for the pair.

Now, before I forget-- one of the Thrift Shop Romantic's regular readers, Debbie of Debbie-Dabble, had asked to see a closeup of a table in my spare room, based on a previous post. So Debbie, my friend, here is more of that sewing stand...
It's from the 70s, a Singer cabinet, which I two-toned with some of the same cottage white paint I've used elsewhere in that room. Its top wasn't great, so after I painted it, I put a Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic placemat over the top and glass over that to keep it tidy...
Here you can see the Colonial knobs were exchanged for glass knobs, and I'd added some wooden appliques to fancy it up.
Thrift stores often have old sewing tables without the sewing machines in them, and the tables still make great sidetables, with a little bit of work.

Anyway, that's it for this Treasure Box Wednesday. I hope to see you again on Sunday for our next post-- and have yourselves a chocolate-box-worthy remainder of this week!

Big Eyes, Big Ears and "Beautiful Junk"

Window shopping in second-hand stores has joys all its own. While regular mall shopping might reveal the toddler having a pre-nap meltdown, seniors out for exercise, or teens tracking down the latest fashion, it’s at thrifts, antique malls and flea markets that stories, histories and memories really come out to play.

Even if you’re not in the market for anything in particular, a quiet afternoon stroll perusing the shelves of a thrift or the booths of a flea market can be free, whimsical entertainment. And it promises everything from humor and happiness to a certain amount of comfortably kitschy horror. All you have to do is open your eyes and your ears.
You might hear cheers, as someone reunites with the same dishes they remember Grandma serving on 20 years ago.

Or like this weekend, a woman on her cell spent time describing in patient detail a series of vintage copper Jell-O molds to a friend. “Are you still looking for some? They have a really nice aged look to them... And there’s a crab, a fish, and some grapes... Oh, wait! Here are three more small ones! Do you think you’d want them? I’ll buy them and bring them right over...”

You might spy that couple who stands before a booth, weighing every purchase together with the gravity of international peace negotiations... Where a single kitchen canister gets the same attention and deep consideration that buying a car or signing a nuclear arms treaty might.

Walk around one of these merchandise meccas of Memories, and you might even become inadvertently educated about the unexpected. For instance, I had no idea until recently there was actually a special tool-- small wooden tongs-- to be used specifically for removing toast from a toaster. Me, I had always left it up to chance, dexterity and the electric company.
Sometimes, you'll discover others like you, wandering the aisles in wide-eyed wonder. At the UFO in Greensburg not long ago, I passed a lady going the opposite direction down their overspilling dollar shelves. Vintage glass shone with possibility. The woman turned and smiled, knowing she'd passed a kindred treasure hunter. "Beautiful junk," she said to me. It was as if it were part of some unfinished thrifting Haiku.

And I had to agree, as I scanned the milk glass, the crystal, the aged bottles; it was. Somewhere, someday, someone would give it a home.

And of course, sometimes thrifting and other secondhand stores reveal the strange and unusual. In the last week, I've seen two plaster courting couple plaques that I will not-so-regretfully fail to decorate my French blue sitting room with... Their clumsy figures and awkward paint job would probably have made Boucher reconsider the cheeky shepherd genre.

Later, I did a double-take on a baby-doll with a lamp harp jutting out of her head. Many a tot may have found mental trauma in some of the toys that have made their way to secondhand stores.

And, then there's the virtually inexplicable. Is this a human? A beloved dog? Why is it wearing Carol Channing's hair?Perhaps it is Sir Elton John in his thin days without his big glasses. Here, I'll give you a closer view so you can truly immerse yourself in The Art.
Questions abound!

(And no, I didn't buy it. I have left it at the Ohio River Boulevard antique mall for others to spy out of the corner of their eyes, stop dead in the hallway, and drag friends over to see.

Which leaves me with today's questions: have you ever overheard something entertaining at a thrift store or other treasure hunting place?

And what, do you think, this last painting portrays exactly?

Inquiring minds want to know! :)

Treasure Box Wednesday: Easy Being Green

Sometimes friends and I hit the thrifts and antique malls and come away with a trunkload of treasures. And other times-- like recently-- the goodies are few and far between. But that doesn't mean the finds we did uncover were any less appreciated... Or, in the case of this week, green.

Not "green" as in environmental either (though buying resale isn't a bad idea for that). Just green.

Like my favorite item of the day, this terrific chenille bedspread...
As you can see, it's already washed up and on the bed in my spare room. No rips or holes, chenille spreads like this always remind me a bit of a fondant cake with icing. Just makes me happy to look at it!

Then there was this cute little green McCoy planter from the Fleatique in Ligonier...
I hadn't seen this particular style before, and as the price was right, I snapped it up. These are a great way to both display a collection and showcase some true greenery.

I found this interesting aqua pottery candlestick holder at the Good Samaritan Thrift Store, keeping the green-toned theme....

But, then I kinda blew it with this wholly non-green transferware shaving mug and brush...
But at just $2.99 for the both of them, I didn't end up shelling out a lot of green for it, anyway. (Ha, see how we tied that green theme in there?...

Hey, it's 5am for me, and I'm just caffeinated, so I'm grateful for what minor brainpower I get... )

So, that's our Treasure Box for this week!

There are some fascinating folks who visit, and I think we can learn a lot from each other. Once again, I'd like to thank everyone for their time and their personal stories! I've really enjoyed reading what you're interested in.

Getting to Know You: Survey Says?

I know I blab on a lot each week about the sorts of things that I get all excited about when treasure hunting-- but I've been wondering what makes you all happy.
And so I thought it might be fun to just chat a bit about the kinds of things that make your hearts go pitty-pat when you spy them-- the way you decorate with them, and the kinds of places you go to uncover them!
  • What, if anything, do you collect? Do you have a favorite piece in your collection?
  • Do you have any preference between thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales, antique malls or any other sources for your treasure-hunting?
  • Is there anything you get particularly excited about when you spot it?
  • Do you craft much? And if so-- what's your favorite craft?
  • Do you decorate your home in a particular style? (Say, Victorian, colonial, 70s retro, mid-century modern, etc.)
  • Is there a particular color that you gravitate toward?
Just to get the ball rolling so no one feels shy, I'll start--
  • I collect a number of things, including McCoy pottery, figural bisque pieces, Carnival and luster glassware, Fiestaware, and early 1900s transferware pottery. I also have a small vintage Pyrex problem. And I love retro cooking, decorating and crafting books-- particularly if their photos have a "what-the?!" factor. I have favorite pieces, but choosing among all of them would be like picking a favorite child. They all make me happy when I see them.
  • While I enjoy all forms of secondhand goodies-searching, I tend to go to thrift stores and antique malls more than garage sales and flea markets. It's a drive for me to get to flea markets, meaning I'd have to get up super-early in the morning just to be there at a decent time. And given my area's confusing, winding topography, tracking down garage sales isn't always easy. I might end up irretrevably lost-- and no, I haven't thrifted myself GPS yet. :) I should probably work on that.
  • I get really excited when I see what might be an interesting, possibly hand-painted lamp at a thrift store. Longtime readers know I have a lamp problem. I should have probably listed that above in the collecting area, but doing so would mean I'd have to admit I actively amass them. And I'm not ready for that step in the Lamp Addicts Anonymous program yet.
  • Re: crafting, I really enjoy painting; the success of it, however, is always teetering a fine line between half-decent and candidate for the Museum of Bad Art. And which way the project will veer is never obvious from the beginning.
  • My home is decorated in a combination of Victorian and Shabby Chic, with a bit of Eastern Indian and 50s retro thrown in for good measure. I like the idea of the house being usable and comfortable, so I aim for an atmosphere more than strict period styling.
  • Colorwise, I realize I seem to have some shade of green in almost every room. I find it soothing somehow. I'm not big on orange (I think I was scared by 70s harvest colors as a child), but I've grown to realize almost any color can work beautifully under the right circumstances.
So, those are my answers. What thrifty, crafty fun brings you joy? I'd love to hear about it!

Treasure Box Wednesday: Tiny Treasure

This last week was a bit of a slow one for me in terms of Treasure Hunting. The fact fine weather has led most folks outside to merry gardening, sunning and not-donating... well, new goodies on display were somewhat slim. But another part of it for me was need. In the midst of doing a clean-out myself, there really wasn't much that struck me as needing to come home to my house. I had particular things in mind I was hoping for which were just not meant to be this last week.

But I'm glad to share with you all the tiny treasures that did come my way. One of my favorites was this gorgeously blue hobnail salt dish...
It's only about an inch, inch-and-a-half square. Years ago, this was how guests to a dinner received their salt-- individual little dishes. For me, it's perfect to sit on a window sill and reflect the light. And what color!

At Junk for Joy in Jeannette, I got this nice Smith Glass lustered heart-shaped trinket box...
I have a lot of Smith Glass-- I'm drawn automatically to it because not only does it come in beautiful colors, but it's one of the few surviving glass companies from Westmoreland County's glass heyday. The style of their pieces are much the way they were back in Victorian times. And for me, you just can't beat that!

Lastly, at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, I was drawn to some very cost-effective stacks of vintage knitting magazines...
Technically, these are for you folks, for future posts. At $1.99 a bag, retro humor, questionable fashion sense and crazy modeling scenarios are pretty well bound to be between the covers of at least one or two pieces. And it'll be fun ferreting these out! I'll donate back the ones surplus to requirements.

Oh!-- and one piece of business before I go today! In case you didn't get to see yesterday's spur-of-the-moment post, The Thrift Shop Romantic is now on Twitter. You can join me here-- -- for discussions on thrift news, decorating, humor, and really just general chatty topics. Don't worry, I won't spam you or, worse, spend my Tweets telling you about how I need to clip my toenails or what I'm having for lunch (you'd be surprised how common that sort of non-info seems to be in the Twitterverse) :)

I hope to see you there! I'll follow back anyone who isn't a spammer, trying to show me pictures of themselves in their birthday suit, or hoping to enlighten me with some motivational course. :) (Again, more common than you'd think.)

Cheers, gang!

The Thrift Shop Romantic's All a-Twitter!

Just a quick announcement to let you folks know that The Thrift Shop Romantic is now on Twitter!

I've been Tweeting on Twitter under my own name for quite a while, but this new account-- is designed specifically to talk thrifty ideas, decorating, crafts, and other home-related topics.

So, if you happen to be on Twitter yourself and care to join in the fun, Follow Me there. I'll follow back folks who aren't spammers, aren't trying to get me to buy motivational courses, or show me their nekkid photos. :)

(Plus, Tweeters from the Pittsburgh area who love thrift, I thought this would be a great way to get to know each other.)

Hope to see you there!

Thrifty Decorating Identified

This week The Thrift Shop Romantic has the number of thrifty decorating-- literally! It all came about as I was enjoying a cup o' that magical coffee bean concoction one morning in my blue sitting room. And as my eyes began to finally open, and I started enjoying the view, I realized that even though the room has an OldWorld/French/Paris Apartment sort of vibe, virtually everything in the darned place either came from a thrift store, a craft store or was an inexpensive gem at an antique mall.

Have you ever looked at a decorating magazine and fallen in love with a particular rug, wallpaper or piece of furniture? Then have you done a little research and proven that item is definitely, absolutely not easily-accessible, or even remotely in your price range? (Y'know, without having to promise to sell your first born child to get it.) Ah, the disappointment!

So I decided it might be a fun and educational little exercise for us to do this on a more budget-conscious scale. I'll try to add prices where I remember what I paid. (Some of these things I bought a long time ago and put away for future use.)

Anyway, here we go!...

1. Courting Couple Vintage Tapestry Chair, Jeannette Antique Mall-- on sale for $35
2. Blue fringed shade bought on Ebay specifically for thrifted lamp
3. Cherub lamp- thrifted! Salvation Army Thrift Store for, if I remember correctly, $6
4. Tole side table- Linens n Things
5. Needlepoint footstool- thrifted! St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store. $4.
6. Blue French style drapes. TJ Maxx. $16 per pair.

7. Etched Italian-style mirror. Lowes Home Center.
8. Framed Italian tapestry picture- thrifted! Salvation Army Thrift Store.
9. Set of two vintage prints of French sitting room-- thrifted. Probably around $6 for the two of them.
10. Pink and white cherub lamp- TJ Maxx.
11. Pink velvet loveseat cover (two pieces)- thrifted! Red White & Blue Thrift Store
12. Pastel courting couple printed comforter- thrifted! Salvation Army Thrift Store
13. Courting Couple Tapestry Pillow- Linens N Things Going Out of Business Sale

14. Art nouveau painting of maiden and cherub- Ebay
15. Candlesticks and bowl, originally from Target, but candlesticks bought at the Goodwill- $6
16. Fake dried-looking roses- Michaels

17. Two blue frosted art deco boudoir lamps- L&L Fleatique- $32 for pair
18. Beaded and be-crystalled candlesticks, Michaels Craft Store, 30% off
19. White Shabby Chic style Mantle Mirror- Ebay
20. Rose garland- Michaels Craft Store, 30% off
21. Wooden mantle- bought in separate pieces at Lowes and assembled, tile also from Lowes.
22. Metal fire surround- Construction Junction Architectural Salvage
23. Torchiere candle holders (2), Michaels Craft Store sale christmas decor
24. Faux dried flowers, Michaels Craft Store
25. Plaster Victorian-styled garden container, Linens N Things (had this thing forever, too!)

26. Tapestry wall hanging- thrifted! St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, about $12
27. Pink fringed lampshade- thrifted! Red White and Blue, about $2
28. Bisque antique cherub lamp, many cherubs playing instruments- Construction Junction Architectural Salvage- $20
29. Pink lace table runner- thrifted! Red White and Blue thrift store- came with two others and might have been about $4 total
30. Gold Music Cabinet- thrifted! Goodwill, about $15

This next wall below I'm still working on. I think I would prefer one large artwork on the wall (or another hanging tapestry) instead of the multiple smaller items, but we'll see what I uncover in my adventures Anyway, here's how it stands...
31. Crystal beaded wall sconces- TJ Maxx
32. Antique mirror which needed some TLC- Junk for Joy in Jeannette, about $5
33. Still life and landscape art- thrifted! Don't remember where exactly.
34. Art nouveau plaster bust, handpainted- Pottery City Antique Mall, $8-10
35. Roses still life painting, L&L Fleatique, $20 (was half off that day!)
36. Blue frosted glass hurricane lamp- Salvation Army Thrift Store, half price table, $2
37. Blue English marked dry sink pitcher- thrifted! Had this for ages, no longer remember which thrift store
38. Shabby Chic bookcase- Target online (it was just the size I wanted, too!)
39. Courting couple writing desk- thrifted! St. Vincent de Paul thrift store

39. Here's that writing desk again from above
40. Needlepoint vintage French chair- thrifted! Salvation Army thrift store. Probably about $40. I had a heckuva time fitting it in my car, but it was worth it!

42. Tole style candleholder. Got it at Linens N Things at the same time as I did the little table in the first pic. It was a sad day that store closed. Many goodies were found there, cheap.
43. Lyre coffeetable with brass feet. Meadows Flea Market (also no longer with us!). $10

44. Looks like I accidentally relisted that TJ Maxx pink lamp. But it's a good one, so it probably deserves that second listing.
45. You can see the thrifted velvet just a bit closer here. The sofa underneath is a black couch that I got from Ikea about 15 years ago and is getting a new life under cover!
47. Lyre endtable-- thrifted! This looks like it came with the coffeetable, but actually came from the Goodwill, along with a twin brother. I think it was about $12 for the two of them.

So there you have it! Lessons learned?

  • Large pieces of romantic-style vintage furniture can actually be thrifted, as can decorative tapestries and art.
  • For specialty items like fringed shades, you might be able to find one at the thrifts now and then, but Ebay comes through for specific needs (note, these are not cheap-- so it's good to shop around).
  • Check antique malls for sales, and for more common items, don't forget to price compare between vendors in the same mall.
  • And don't forget craft stores for decorative items. Often, these stores put out half-off coupons, so you can pace yourself to maximize your discounts!
Hope you enjoyed today's thrifty decorative history, and each and every one of you has a nifty, thrifty week!

Treasure Box Wednesday: Adventure! Excitement! Thrills!

"Well, Mistah Allnut, what shall we thrift today?"

Okay, so, maybe Kate and Bogie weren't loading up the African Queen, about to go on their most exciting thrifting adventure, but of the three of us, at least one of us did this week. A three-day weekend was a prime time for antiquey-thrifty fun, so one of my shopping buds and I hit Route 250 to New Philadelphia, Ohio and uncovered some treasure.

One of my very favorite pieces was from the Route 250 Antique Mall-- this excellent McCoy teapot.
As you can see (or may remember) I found the matching creamer at the Salvation Army just a few weeks ago, and hadn't had a lot of hope to find one of the other pieces so soon. Usually these items are found as a part of a set. So finding the teapot solo was amazing.

It was filthy and tucked on a bench partially under a table, but it still called to me. A little soap and water and it's good as new.

At the same place, I also found this unmarked McCoy pink butterfly planter...

It never hurts to look through collectible books and note items you wouldn't mind finding someday. They stick in your brain so when you come across and unmarked version-- voila!-- a great piece at a good price!

At the Riverfront Antique Mall in New Philadelphia, I got these terrific framed African Queen movie promo cards...
I'm not sure how old they are, but I chose two of about seven that were there depicting stills of the movie...Longtime readers may recall, I've gotten a chance to see the actual African Queen boat down in the Florida Keys, and have decorated my office at work with photos and some artwork related to this theme, so these cards will add to that grouping.

The only other item I picked up at the Riverfront Antique Mall was this Homer Laughlin tree-printed mixing bowl...

I'd thrifted a much smaller one of these about six months ago, and loved the Arts & Crafts style to it. I may fill it with fruit and display it in my livingroom along with my more green and leafy McCoy pottery.

And last, this came from the Salvation Army a week or two back, but I forgot to take photos...
My friend Scoobie spotted these moonstone Anchor Hocking sherbet dishes. I'm lucky to have a shopping bud who actually remembers some of the stuff I'm interested in-- because these totally would have escaped my sight.

So that about docks this voyage of Treasure Box Wednesday. And happy sailing to you through this week! May your metaphorical waters be calm and clear. (And without leeches.)

Humorous Hand-Knit Hunks of 1940s Red Heart Wools

While many of us may have our minds drawn toward Easter bonnets and frilly dresses, today we're going to take a look at knit menswear from the 1940s. Because:
  1. These fellows would look pretty silly in frilly dresses and flowered hats and
  2. The sweater marketing is funny enough that I simply couldn't wait until Fall to share.
The Chadwick's Red Heart Wools sweater instruction booklet assures us that:
"These are the sweaters Mostly Likely to Appeal to Men of Success. Here are the sweaters for every taste and temperament--"
If your man's temperament includes the perpetual accessorizing with pipes, booze and books.

Let's start with what our booklet dubs the Young Modern. Yes, this has to have been what David Bowie was thinking of when he wrote his song Young Americans. Except the lyrics need just a little tweaking...
"With his Red Heart worsted knit
He lays it down
He frowns
Gee my life's a funny thing
Like wool, life's too spun?"
What girl doesn't love the deeply philosophical type?

In Streamline Design, this young man practices romancing the ladies, Maurice Chevalier-style, on his T-Square ruler-- the closest he's likely gotten to dipping a dame.
"Oooh, la-la, mon cheri, you are so slim, so straight, so fully-flat... I love you like I have never loved anozzer... It is the Red Heart Worsted I wear which beats for you..."
Er, let's leave give those two a little privacy and move on to Executive Material. After 25 years loyal service, this fine fellow was working on a persona that would earn him that coveted in-office nickname. He was aiming for "Smiling Bob"...
Little did he know, the unnerving, forced quality of even his most pleasant expression had inspired everyone in the office-- from the copy boy to his secretary, Miss Tibbs-- to call him, "Creepy McCardigan."

Fortunately, he had not heard this whispered gigglingly over the mimeograph machine.

Maybe he would have enjoyed more personal rapport if his wife had knitted him the Good Mixer. Yes, the Good Mixer is the man who knows wearing striped pants and a checked sweater can only be truly set for Sexy when it's topped off with a big ol' bowtie...
The kittens will just be dying to touch it, to straighten it, to let him buy them a Rob Roy, to light their smokes. He's got the swinging society eating out of the palm of his hand-- the hand he casually tucks into his pleated trousers which is now losing feeling at the elbow because he's struck this pose for the better part of an hour hoping one of the girls would notice his panache.

Now, the Stag at Ease (and no, I didn't make that name up just to be funny) knows that nothing is more manly, more devil-may-care, more virile, than a dotted Swiss fluffy sweater.

Yes, friends, nothing more clearly says, "I'm single. I'm available. I'm the son of a mother who still makes all my clothes" than the Stag at Ease.

Why, this young buck defied his mommy this very morning-- manly-style-- by wearing the dotted sweater, yes, but with completely different trousers than the ones she laid out for him! Mother would be horrified. But the Stag, he doesn't care. It's a statement. Its his way or no way. And he's a real American rebel.

Here we have another free-thinker through wool fiber. Meet the Rugged Individualist. He stands out from the crowd because of his... er...
He's different from all the other guys wearing suits and vests and ties and carrying pipes because of... um... well...

He has a special creative flair as demonstrated through...

Er. Okay. So, yes, he looks just like every other 40s old dude with a pipe. But sometimes knowing when you need to blend in with everybody else shows your deep inner strength.

Yeah, that's it. He's just keeping all that ruggedness and individuality under wraps for now. Otherwise, well, who knows what would happen?

The Crew Captain, on the other hand, is dressed appropriately for his active lifestyle.Yes, time on the water has shown his ability to adapt to any situation. That's why his striped wool sweater has short sleeves instead of long. And he wears thick wool slacks and a watch that is not, in fact, waterproof.

He knows that a single capsize will leave his sweater sagging to his knees, his tweed pants soaked and itchy against his legs, and his wristwatch entirely ruined. Which gives him that added incentive not to fall in.

It's Iron Will and a Fight Against the Odds at its most spectacular!

Now we go from the local lakes and rivers to the icy shores of ancient Scandinavia. Because here we have The Viking...
Contrary to what historical documents would have us believe, Vikings apparently were very big on skiing in turtleneck pullovers. And we're in luck! At this very moment, Olaf the Mightily Mittened is preparing to go on an expedition to find new lands, plunder, pillage and... well... enjoy some s'mores and hot cocoa at the post-pillage party. (Don't forget the whipped cream. Vikings love extra whipped cream.)

Now I know what you're thinking. But there is an alternate version of the woolly cap where you can knit up some horns. Olaf just didn't go for those because they affect wind resistance.

And that, dear readers, about unravels the last of our look into the hand-knit hunks of Red Heart Wools.

I hope you'll join me on Wednesday, when we peer into the thrifted Treasure Box for this last week.

I'm going to hop off for some Eastery edibles now. I believe there are some candy eggs with my name on them.

Have a lovely day!