Monday, October 31, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 31: Thrifty Hallowe'en

Not too much thrifting this weekend due to the number of concerts and services in which the family was involved and me feeling poorly. On Thursday, my husband was told that the orchestra were expected to wear costumes for the Family Adventures Concerts on Saturday and Student Matinees today and tomorrow. Since he is required to play his instrument while in costume there are certain possibilities that would be out of the question i.e. anything that limits movement or the ability to hold the instrument, restricts vision or causes difficulty sitting are off limits. This year he did not have enough lead up time to really get creative but recently I found an Aussie cowboy hat that looks really good on him. On Friday we went to the closest Sally Ann looking for cowboy boots and found them! I really thought it would be a long shot but there they were.

Here he is showing off the hat while hiding behind its big, black brim. I suppose it wound up at the thrift store as a discarded tourist's souvenir just like all the beautiful Australian tea towels that I find. I have another Aussie 'drover's' hat that belonged to my Nanan. She regularly visited Australia to see her sister and her family and her older son. She loved to wear hats and encouraged my love at a very early age so I am thrilled to have her hat as well as this one.

We are really starting to feel the chill and the furnace is on at least a little bit everyday so I was happy to find furnace filters at the thrift store for less than half of their price at the hardware store. The crafty/nesting urge has brought me into our family room to do some handwork. This handwork basket is a recent find and has just the right amount of 'Granny Chic" to make me happy! It is the perfect size to put my felted sweater projects while I am working on them.

Since I found it, I have seen similar work baskets that have been made over but I am quite happy with the way it looks as it is and will give a full view in a future post. I have quite a few other projects on the go, including another sewing basket/stool so it is a relief to find thrift store items that do not require alteration. After searching for a long time, I have not been able to find a good craft/reading/task light when thrifting so we ended up buying retail this lamp. While the company makes a dedicated craft lamp, this one was less expensive and suited the room.

The youngest two 'shopped' for their costumes in our house. The youngest decided to fuse a clown costume with a skull mask which created the creepy, scary result he desired while his older brother opted for a 'nerd' costume. I really appreciated how creative they both were, working with what we have. It was a much more stimulating exercise than going shopping, even at the thrift store, for stuff that we will not need after Hallowe'en.

For other thrifty inspiration check out all the blogs that have linked with Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 30: Almost There But Not...

Well, Blogtoberfest is almost coming to a close; I am happy to have been posting almost everyday, but it has been a bit challenging this weekend, as I have been under the weather health-wise and I was frustrated by my adhesive disappointment. Here are the decoupaged pieces, which I am pleased with, save for paper that won't stick to the paint! Given that I was feeling poorly, I hoped that this project would boost my mood, but that was marred by the lack of adhesion, grrr. I think that my only option is to try using the 'modge podge' and hope for the best. I am really pleased with the combination of flowered papers. With Halloween tomorrow, other activities will be my focus.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 29: Work in Progress

Back in September, in preparation for the urge to nest and craft with the cooler weather, I sanded, primed and spray painted these wooden office organization pieces. I needed to prepare the surfaces for decoupaging them with pretty papers. Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph them in the intermediate step of paint only and launched into applying the paper today.

Here are some of the vintage wrapping paper I have found while thrifting in the last year or so. My plan for the storage pieces is to use a mix of pattern and I quite enjoyed choosing and cutting the paper today. I was so inspired by how the project was coming together that I went ahead and braved the crisp air outside and applied the the spray glue to the wood and stuck on the paper. Generally, I was pretty pleased with the results and went inside to let the solvents of the glue dissipate for a few minutes. I retrieved the pieces a little later to let the glue dry fully indoors but have ran into a frustration: the adhesive is not providing a consistent bond! I do not think that I can lacquer them if there are parts of the paper not sticking to the wood, I am not sure that I can try white glue or 'modge podge' when there is already spray glue applied and I do not have enough paper to start again. Help!!! I do not remember having these issues the last time that I tried something like this and I am not sure how to rectify this situation. Any suggestions?

On a more successful note I was very happy that I had brought in all my geraniums and fuchsias into our sun room the other day as we have had frost at night. The sun room is only a three season room and the plants will need to come inside for the winter but it does serve as a quarantine zone where I can apply insecticidal soap and make sure that the plants are pest free before I expose them to my houseplants.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 28: Patterning My Dreams

Many vintage sewing patterns that I find while thrifting are uncut, supporting my belief that dreaming about making certain garments is as important as making them. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting at the pattern catalogue counter turning the pages and dreaming about the dresses. Playing dress-up was a favourite occupation and this was just a mental extension of that activity. Other sewers must also feel this way, that possessing the actual pattern is a way to grab onto that dream just a little more securely, with the expectation of it being attainable. The pattern for the dress and coat combination pictured is cut, but the sew-in label that was available with the pattern was not used. I love the seaming details and would like to make it but that would require grading up the pattern size.

This outfit also suits my tastes and is fairly close to my size. As usual, I am a sucker for a jacket especially if it has three-quarter sleeves! The notched collar on the jacket would make a perfect spot for a standout vintage brooch. A brocade, lace, linen or raw silk are all fabric suggestions on the back that fire my imagination.

I cannot decide which view I like the best of this Vogue "young fashionables" design, styled for the young woman who emulates an older woman's elegance. This is somewhat the opposite of current trend of middle-aged women seeking to be fashionable often choosing styles that, at best, erode their elegance.
While in high school, I longed for the time when I could make and wear couture-inspired suits and gowns. This style features darting from hip to bust which was a common detail for fitting a figure before the prevalence of lycra.

The controlled fullness of the skirt would be easier to wear than the above sheath. Although it has bridal and bridesmaid's view, this pattern is also suggested as an evening or cocktail gown. The simplicity of the figure-flattering bodice, self-fabric belt and softly pleated skirt would showcase the beauty of the fabric without overwhelming the wearer.

This apron pattern from the 1940's would be a good place to start turning these pattern dreams into realty, the charm of a vintage design with the practicality of full coverage. It only requires 2 yards and I am sure that I have some great rick-rack for the trim.

Which designs are your favourites? These come from my collection of vintage patterns. I have more than a few collections that I have linked with Vintage Velda's collections post.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 27: Outings and Thrifted Outfits

This week has been full of outings with my eldest. I was able to borrow two museum privilege cards from the library: The Museum of Science and Technology and the duo pass for the War Museum and the Museum of Civilization. With such a good deal, I have made several visit to each. I find that it is very easy to take the easy, comfortable route for wardrobe when home keeping and creating in the studio but that usually spirals into a not so good place for me. When an outing is in the plans, a little fashion inspiration is an excellent thing. With my extensive thrifted collection of clothes, getting dressed is another opportunity for creativity. I had planned to post several outfit photos but was unable to upload them to the blog. More than a little frustration has led me to conclude that today's blog post will not have any photos. I hope that everyone has a wonderful evening and I will try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 26: Pin Cushions and thrifted sewing basket

If you sew, even occasionally, you likely own a pin cushion which is this week's theme at Punky and Me's My Place and Yours. I have several in my possession: the one I have owned since a child, the vintage one that came in the pictured sewing basket and the magnetic one that I have used since my Mum bought me a sewing machine when I was 21. Ubiquitous as it is, the tomato pin cushion is actually very practical: some have an elastic wrist strap and the little attached 'strawberry' contains emery which keeps your needles and pins sharp and clean. When I was in second grade, my parents presented me with a Singer Junior Miss sewing machine along with the pincushion and scissors shown in this picture. A lot of doll clothes were made using that machine before I start using my Mum's Singer four years later. I have come across them at the thrift store and wonder if I should own one now? I am happy that I still have the pin cushion and scissors.

I did not buy the sewing basket for the basket, but for what was in it. I love vintage sewing supplies and this basket contained items that were definitely older than the basket. This photo shows darning wool, hook and eyes, pins and needles, a pin cushion, thimble and bodkin. The needles were all made in England in the town of Redditch which once produced ninety per cent of all needles in the world. The pin cushion had some hidden, slightly rusted needles, which I will see if I can clean up and I like its petite size which should be perfect in my chair-side kit in the family room. The bodkin is made of bone or ivory and is used for threading ribbon or elastic in a casing or eyelets and I am sure it will be more pleasurable to use than the plastic ones available now. I think about the former owner transferring all the vintage sewing supplies into the 'new basket'.

The yellow thimble is an early plastic, likely celluloid and fits me perfectly. I am looking forward to using it. With a fine level of finish and depth of colour it is very different than a modern plastic thimble that you might find in a cheap sewing kit. The fabric colour and design of the made-in-Japan sewing basket suggests the late 1970's or early 1980's and I think I will fill it with supplies for my daughter who is starting to show an interest in sewing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 25: Clothing Care Secrets and More ThriftyFinds

Clothing care is an important part of any one's wardrobe. While most store-bought garments have a garment care label, it is really only a guideline. When you make your own clothes or you have bought used clothes, a deeper knowledge of how to care for them is required. Most, but not all, can be laundered if proper care is taken. The "dry clean only" recommendation is purely a recommendation and is certainly not necessary for all garments. Jodi at Couture Allure has just posted an excellent tutorial about washing vintage silk scarves which is a happy coincidence. I would use the same advice for washing silk blouses. My intended post for today was touching on spot cleaning. The photo here shows a chocolate-brown linen skirt with a mark, which I believe is chocolate. While travelling in Europe this past summer with the choir in which my boys sing, I learned a new method while wearing the same skirt. The wife of one of the men in the choir, a long-time wardrobe mistress for musicals, operas, ballets and theatres, noticed some marks on the back of my skirt and said that she could take care of it. She grabbed a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and applied it directly to my skirt and rubbed it in with her hands. Within seconds, the mark was gone and within a minute or two, the spot was dry, without a trace of a mark.

Here is the same spot shown in the above photo after using the same method. You may wish to do a spot test in an inconspicuous spot on the garment, but as I understand it, most fibres will not be harmed by the hand sanitzer. From an environmental perspective and frugal slant this method wins over the spot treatments available to the home consumer or through the dry cleaner.

Now for a little thrifting: Here is a lovely pink melamine bowl. It is not vintage, but I have a soft spot for melamine and this shade of pink should work well with my vintage pieces. This pink is a happy colour for me and with some rather grey days in the last week, it gives me a boost. I am also very excited about this ribbon which is also not vintage but drew me in with its colour.

I love using wooden hangers for clothing care and these will work well for skirts and jacket. Good shaping through the shoulder or waistband require a solid hanger that offers enough support. When it is not necessary to launder a garment, hang the garment and allow it to air out, to dissipate the heat and moisture from your body, before returning it to your closet. This photo shows a packet of craft magnets and two hem clips along with a package of suction cup spiders to aid in Halloween decoration.

I also found pyjama pants for my husband and a long-sleeved polo for my eldest along with this somewhat homely stool. I have been inspired by the lovely Tif Fussel at Dottie Angel rambling on about dumpties. I love all of her crafty world and would like to stay there for a while. I hope that my stool will live up to the magic of Tif's inspiration. I found the Dottie Angel Blog through Sophie at Her Library Adventures but immediately recognized its style having seen it in Mollie Makes and Uppercase magazines. Her blog is fabulous and I am linking this post to Flea Market Finds.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 24: Not a lot of Thrifting but Thrifting All the Same

With our eldest's birthday on Saturday and our activities on Sunday, this weekend did not leave much time for traditional thrift store searching. It did get me thinking about how I 'thrift' in settings other than a traditional thrift store (Salvation Army, Value Village, church nearly new), garage sales or flea markets. I read about many bloggers that attend estate sales and come home with wonderful vintage finds. I would be game to give it a try but there does not seem to be many or they are not well advertised in this city. Any tips of how to get into that loop? One place that I do not consider a thrift store but will occasionally shop at is a consignment shop. I generally find that their prices for clothing is too high for me compared to what I can find at a charity shop and the home goods are not often in keeping with my vintage tastes. I have had my best luck at this type of store with some books and a few select pieces of Pyrex. For instance, I found three of my Butterprint Cinderella Bowls to match the one that I already had and made a set of four. What was particularly gratifying is that those bowls were at their final marked down price just as the cache pot pictured here was. Although not really vintage, I have a small collection of this type of R.B. Bernarda piece from Portugal. I love the botanical drawing style which is similar to some of Portmeirion's patterns. We have as small amount of Variations which as its name suggests is a variant of the hugely popular Botanic Garden Series. I also cannot resist an attractive cache pot.

Another alternative to thrifting is getting something for free! I have a number of not so small pieces of furniture that were picked up curbside or simply offered to us by friends or neighbors. Because we have four children, we have often benefited from the generosity of others when it comes to hand me down clothes. This has been most helpful as all but the best quality or infrequently worn clothes usually do not make it to the wardrobe of the third boy. This weekend was especially exciting because our youngest was passed down a sweater and a pair of jeans that have never been worn. I suppose that we have all missed the opportunity to return a garment that does not fit but it was especially appreciated by our youngest who almost always wears what someone else has worn before.

We frequent our local library and take out DVD's, CD's,and museum passes along with our latest must-read book. It is pretty exciting to visit the amazing museums in this city without being required to pay the admission fee or membership. We have been family members of almost all of the possible institutions in this city but it would be very expensive to maintain memberships for them all. There is thrifting opportunity in the library too. Most branches of the Ottawa Public Library have a selection of books,magazines and CD's, either donated or discarded from the stacks, that are available for purchase. This past weekend, I was able to buy 5 CD's (including 2 complete opera box sets) for $1 each and 2 hardcover books for $2 each. I have found it very convenient place to donate my old magazine which some one else will be able to buy for a dime.

The treasures that I found today will be posted later this week but if you need to see more of the amazing finds that you can find at a thrift store, check out Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blotoberfest Day 23: An Afternoon Out

Today I went to hear the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestrawith their music director, Valery Gergiev, play two Tschaikovsky symphonies. As the wife of an orchestral musician, I have the opportunity to experience many fantastic concerts. Today was special not only because it was a world-renowned ensemble with a superstar conductor but because my husband got to enjoy the concert with me. I have noticed at concerts that there is a wide variety of fashion choices and that very few people take the effort to make it an occasion to dress up. Of course, the reason to go to a live performance is to hear the music, so I do not mind what others wear. But, I enjoy dressing for the occasion.
Today's outfit was not 100% thrifted! My dress and belt were bought on sale for more than 60% off at an after-Christmas sale.

The shoes, handbag and cardigan were all thrift. The handbag is blogged about here and the shoes and cardigan were found at my favourite Nearly New Shop. The cardigan is a lovely thin and lightweight silk and cashmere blend that is the perfect layer with a sleeveless dress. The brooch was also thrifted, but I cannot remember where I found it. I love the combination of mother-of-pearl and stones.

The headpiece, or fascinator, is one that I purchased when I went to New York City as a chaperone with my sons' choir. The Men and Boys sang a Sunday morning service at St. Thomas' Fifth Avenue. Outside of the church was a vendor who had a variety of feathered headpieces and jewellery, all of which she crafted herself. I love to bring home locally-made items as souvenirs. This headpiece is great to wear to a concert as it does not obstruct anyone's view as various hats can do. The boys also sang an Evensong today which we were also able to attend, although our eldest had had enough and got the giggles, literally a laugh track by the end of the afternoon.
Lots of music!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 22: Twenty-one Today

Twenty-one years ago I gave birth to our first child, a little boy who put us on a slightly different adventure than we had anticipated, but one still filled with joy and wonder. This picture was taken within days of bringing him home.

Here he is at two years old, shortly after he had been very sick. This photo won a "cutest kid" contest (with the prize of a camera) sponsored by a local camera store.

Here is a photo of the two of us taken this past summer at Long Beach on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the same familiar smiles for both of us.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 21: Thrifting Week in Review

When I was a school-age child in the 1970's and early 1980's, Friday night was a pizza in front of the t.v. evening where we ate home-made pizza and watched our local PBS station's line-up: Crockett's Victory Garden, Washington Week in Review, Wall Street Journal and Masterpiece Theatre (which was also on Sunday night but my parents judged it too late to stay up for a school night). I remember being fairly attentive for the gardening show and Masterpiece Theatre but less so for the two programmes in the middle of the line-up but I am sure that I had a much better understanding of the oil embargo, the Iran hostages, crazy gold prices and rising interest rates than all of my school peers. It is possible that all that exposure prepared me for the economic world of today and embracing the thrifting life. Tonight we had home-made pizza but not in front of the t.v. because my husband had a concert so, instead, I will review some extra thrifting finds that I have not already posted. The rose patterned tea towel is at the back and was not actually thrifted but found at HomeSense at $2 for a set of two. At a thrift store price, I could not resist these towels, a Roy Kirkham rosy design that was made in Portugal. It did get me thinking about our changing buying habits and the success of discount stores like HomeSense (part of the TJMaax chain) and our appetite for a deal! I wonder if we, as consumers, have some responsibility with the decline in quality of almost all consumer goods. Collectively, we are unwilling to pay for the materials and labour involved in making something to last. As thrifters we are responding in two ways: we often seek out vintage, or simply second hand, items that were made before this retail business thinking was prevalent and we are channeling our desire for a 'good deal' towards pricing that represents, although somewhat arbitrarily, what society believes is the actual value of an item. I also believe that thrifters are more likely to value hand-made goods and recognize truly well made products. Whether it is enough to change the trend of cheaper and cheaply made products remains to be seen.

The clothing items seen here are: Gap boys pyjama pants and two pairs of Talbot's tailored, wool pants. The pyjama pants where around $4 dollars with no signs of being worn and the wool pants were both on the 99 cent rack. The ones at the front are flattering while the other pair I will re-work into something else. The two lampshades are Laura Ashley which was my go-to store in the nineties. I carefully purchased fabrics and clothes on my limited budget and waited for the very reduced prices at their semi-annual sales. I still have many of those clothes and household items that I made with the fabric which I believe attests to the quality of the company at that time. As Laura Ashley no longer has stores in Canada, and I only briefly looked in England last summer, I am not sure it is still the same.

Here are two cups that I also found this past week for 49 cents each! Both of them are in my favourite vintage shade of blue and go with things I already have. The cup of the left is made by Melitta and would have been sold with a coffee or tea set in the 1950's. The Melitta method is my favourite way of making coffee and this cup would not hold enough for me but I know that I will be able to put it to good use. The cup on the right is vintage Grindley which is the colour and pottery that started me collecting Utility China. I like a thin wall for my tea so this will also be repurposed in my kitchen.

This Friday, I am joining the party at the Thrifty Groove: 'Thrifty Things Fridays' as I love seeing what other bloggers have found almost as much as finding my own treasures.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 20: A little Last Minute Thrift

Sometimes the opportunity to thrift comes in little snippets of time and quite often results in finds as exciting as longer sessions. This evening, with less than 45 minutes of time before closing, I took the opportunity for a quick quest at the closest Sally Ann. My first find is pictured in the centre, a bulb planter which is seasonably useful. I have always dug holes for bulbs with a small spade but I am interested in giving this a try. The next find was a sad Pyrex fridgie rather faded from dishwasher cleaning. It does not look too bad in the picture but its finish does warrant trying the oil trick to restore the finish that I used here. The two turquoise melamine plates made in Canada by Duraware will be a fabulous addition to my vintage melamine dishes. On the plates are six skeins of tapestry wool and a package of white rick-rack. Behind the plates is a white Royal Art Pottery bowl which will augment yet another collection of utility pottery. While some pieces pre-date the Second World War. Utility China was designed to fill the household needs of everyday Britons during the days of austerity during and for a while after the war.

The American versions of this kind of dishware were produced by Homer Laughlin, Fire King and Lu-Ray among others. This saucer is by Lu-ray and is in my favourite vintage blue with platinum bands. Behind the saucer is a chrome toothbrush holder made by Restoration Hardware. This is a design that I have been interested in for quite a long time but the catalogue price of $45 has deterred me. I guess, if you wait long enough your thrifting dreams may come true. Behind these two items are two books: Imperial Russian Style and a reproduction dot-to-dot made a local Almonte (one hour west of Ottawa) company, Algrove Publishing, that specializes in reprints and reproductions of old and out of print books. The founder of the company also founded Lee Valley Tools. Their Early Christmas Gifts Catalogue, which has long been a favourite, arrived today. I will be asking Santa for this.

The final find of the short session was this petit point silhouette of an 18th century couple. This would seem to contribute to yet another collection that I seem to be creating. The tin with the crinoline lady and gentleman was a recent find. The musical trio was a gift from my sister who purchased it from the artist, Steven Gu. I love Scherenschnitte and found this blog that celebrates it in all its intricacy and whimsy. The silhouette on the extreme right is one that I did 25 years ago for the poster design for my first flute recital where I used a photo of me playing to create the image. In the frame is a scanned image from the poster; I do not know where the original paper cut is now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 19: Displaying Tea Towels

After posting pictures of two vintage tea towels in beautiful Autumn colours, a follower, Gardener-b, asked if I had any ideas about displaying tea towels that I liked too much to use for their intended purpose. I understand how some towels might hold sentimental value or are just so fantastic a design to see them fade with use. I answer that question with this idea: use a vintage, wooden pant/skirt hanger to hang it on a wall or, as in this case, the side of a pantry cabinet at the entrance of my kitchen. Another idea that would be fairly simple to execute would be to use strong, simply designed magnets to display it on your refrigerator. This would not work for our family of six as that magnetic surface is in use as a command/information centre. Other possible ideas can be found here and here. If you do not mind sewing them, a cushion or an apron are good possibilities -I have used a new Christmas tea towel from TAG to make a cute holiday hostess apron. I particularly like this idea because you can change up your favourites and even have clothes pegs that could work. Any other ideas out there?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 18: Weekend Thrifting Thrills!

Starting with Friday, I would say that I have had a rather stellar weekend for thrifting. This past Friday, as I have done for the past ten years, I had my hair done by a hair stylist who lives and works outside of the city in the community of Embrun, which is about 25 minutes east of Ottawa. I started having her do my hair when she worked in an upscale salon in the city. When she had her second child, she decided to work in a studio set up in her home which allowed her to pass on some savings to clients and gives me quality service at prices that I can live with. About a year ago I found a second hand store in Embrun which, for the three to four times a year that I have my hair done, I have added to my thrifting path . When I walked in last Friday, I saw these mixer/processor/blender bowls and blades without the motor for $10. These belong to the Braun 5 in 1 machine which is the type that I have had for almost 18 years and have spent more than $10 dollars when replacing a lid, blade or bowl. The parts are no longer available to order in North America as Braun is now distributing only its personal care products in North America. My Mum still has the predecessor, the Braun KM32, to my machine. It first came out in the 1950's and my Mum purchased one in the 1970's. She was pleased when, last year, I found a unit for her at the thrift store to use for parts. It has only needed minor repairs over the years but with parts unable to be ordered buying a unit at the thrift store becomes sensible so I was happy to do the same for mine. Both machines were designed and produced before the wide-spread practise of planned obselence over-whelmed the kitchen appliance market: With this quality in construction and design it is worth trying to repair them. At this store, I also found a small white with black enamel saucepan, some small, vintage Swedish candles and a little bit of trim in ivory and orange just waiting to be used on a Autumn themed vintage style apron.

The next morning, I was off to the Fabric Flea Market which is held every year to benefit a downtown public school. The vendors are made up of home sewers reducing their stash and professional re-sellers. Just in from the entrance, I rummaged through a table that had hundreds of patterns, sewing books, fabric remnants, buttons and laces and trims. This table was run by the public school that benefits from the whole event and is stocked by donations. The first thing I picked up to buy was a bag of about 10metres of this 1950's printed ribbon/lace. There were a few more bags of this same trim but I felt that I needed to set some personal limits from the start.

The next two bags contained various ribbons. The really wide ribbons(on the upper right hand of the photo) are vintage hat ribbons while the rolls are mostly gift or bouquet ribbons along with twill and seam binding.

The next picture is one of aged and stained bits of lace. Not everything in the bag is shown in this photo. I will wash the bits and pieces and try to remove the stains but try not to whiten them. That may take a little research but I suspect that a bar of Sunlight soap will be involved. Oxyclean might remove the patina of age and, if there is any silk, destroy some of the fibres. Even tea staining does not get the same subtle tone as simple age.

This fabric will likely be made into an apron. I collect vintage aprons and I have almost too many to count but the ones that wear out for me are the full ones. I love beautiful clothes and I have a busy household to run so full protection is a must! The dominant colour in the kitchen is blue with mostly red and yellow accents depending on the season and which direction you look. All of the colours in this fabric are found in my china on the plate rack which is Laura Ashley's Hazelbury.

I bought this fabric from a lovely lady who had all sorts of vintage fabrics and some vintage clothes including some made with Liberty fabric. This piece is likely from the late 1940's and is artificial silk, mostly likely rayon. I love the colours and I think that I have enough to make a sleeveless blouse to wear with a suit. She also had a vintage floral bedspread that was exquisite. It was the colouration and type of floral pattern that inspires Cath Kidston and Cabbages and Roses. I kind of wish that I had asked how much but I was pondering a bigger purchase. I also regret not getting her contact information as she was the type of vendor who is obviously in it for the love of the textiles and I would love to get know her.

Here is the artificial silk again with a little tray cloth/place mat that should look great with my aqua and pink Pyrex and a fascinating December 1939 magazine from England with a Canadian insert. I cannot wait to explore its pages in depth. I was acquainted with at least half a dozen of the vendors but did not have the chance to really chat with any of them. I also ran into people that I know from other interests. The mood was very happy with most buyers not looking to haggle and the vendors did not seem competitive or pushy but just there for a good cause and the love of fabric and everything fabric related.

The bigger purchase that I was pondering was eight 1.2 x 2 m panels of this vintage Gabrielle Cie. upholstery fabric to update the look in our family room. Some of the upholstery that I have already done has some of these colours already and the feel of the room is mid-century modern so this 1950's design will be fabulous. Recently I found a great deal on two upholstered chairs at the Sally Ann and since then I have been looking for suitable fabrics for slip-covers. I was glad that I had limited myself to that point as it was easier to make a bigger purchase when I discovered this material. The analogy of 'kid in a candy store' could not be more apt!

On Sunday the Thrifting Fairies called me again and some of the family made a late afternoon visit to Value Village where I was justly rewarded. The beautiful printed corduroy (1950's ?) and vintage Anchor Hoching Sun Tea jar were waiting for me! The colouration and design are amazing and look great with the two pastel pink platters, stamped Morn Glo, and Ice-o-matic that I found at the Salvation Army on Monday morning. Join the sharing excitement with Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday. I love to see what everyone finds.

Blogtoberfest Day 17: Test post

I am having comment difficulties, please stay tuned!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 16: Autumnal Tea Towels and Menu

Part of the pleasure of change of seasons is experiencing little decor and menu changes. With the change of colour outside, I bring out of the linen closet tea towels in the rich, warm tones that echo those of the falling leaves. I have probably stated before that I use tea towels regularly and very rarely use paper towels. The tea towels tend to fall into several categories: old and worn ones for mopping up all sorts of messes and spills, clean and slightly faded towels are used to dry off freshly washed produce or slightly dampened to provide a temporary cover for dough, extra absorbent towels such as terry or waffle weave are usually reserved for drying clean hands, pretty and decorative towels are used to dry my hand-washed china and Pyrex with linen a must for glassware and crystal, and, at the end of the list, are the tea towels that I find so attractive or decorative that I cannot quite bring myself to actually use. I know, from the number of tea towels that I find at the thrift store, that many people do not use the tea towels that they have had in their possession. There are often very utilitarian designs alongside the souvenir towels. I suspect that they were received as gifts by people that do not actually realize how useful a tea towel might be. I am not really complaining when I get to bring home what they have not used but I am concerned that quality and quantity of tea towels has diminished. How often will you find an example like this one in 100% linen from Ulster Weavers named 'Tibbles and Woo"?

This example still has the paper label stating that it was made in Hungary with the pattern called 'Love Birds'. When I travel, I sometimes see souvenir and decorative tea towels but they are rarely made of linen and tend not to have the same quality of graphic design. I was tempted to compare these two vintage examples with modern, Autumnal themed towels that I also own and I have to confess that they were not interesting enough to bother photographing them. I do know that orange and brown were really done best in the late 1960's and early 1970's when these tea towels were probably made but I am sure that manufactures now could do a better job than they tend to do. Fortunately, great designs are available from some crafters on Etsy and other hand made market places. I am also thrilled to have found that Emma Bridgewater has re-issued some of her mother-in-law, Pat Albeck's amazing designs. Pat Albeck really is the mother of graphic tea towels and I will do a post about her shortly as she is so inspiring.

I mentioned menu changes above. This is a wonderful time of year for soup! Most recipes make enough for generous servings and left-overs which are perfect for lunch. Today, I made Tuscan Butternut Squash and Cannellini Bean Soup with Swiss Chard which I found in Fit Pregnancy magazine over ten years ago.

Tuscan Butternut Squash and Cannellini Bean Soup with Swiss Chard -serves 6

3 slices bacon or 2 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried rosemary
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 (15 1/2 oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained
1 lb. squash, peeled, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups Swiss chard, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon; cook for 2 min.
Add onion oregano, and rosemary. Saute for six minutes or
until onion is soft. Stir in broth, beans, squash, and garlic;
bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 min. Stir
in Swiss chard and cook for 10 min. more or until squash and greens
are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Nutritional information per 1 cup serving: 210 calories, 3.5 grams fat,
21 % protein, 7 grams fiber.

I rarely use bacon and today used turkey instead of chicken stock. I had slightly more squash, stock and Swiss chard than the recipe called for but that just meant there will be leftovers for lunch. With it we had a simple Bruschetta made from day old baguette(much thriftier way to buy bakery bread), 1 tomato diced with about 5 cloves of garlic. After slicing the bread, I drizzled the slices with olive oil, spooned around a teaspoon of tomato mixture on each slice along with a small amount of mozzarella and bake each slice on a baking sheet and rack for about 5 to 7 minutes at 350 F.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 15: On the Shelf

I have accomplished a recent bit of rearranging to display some of my evening bags on a shelf in our dressing room. A dressing room you say! It is not as fancy as it sounds and was fairly common in houses of this age (late 1960's). It is quite compact with room only for a built in vanity and chair with our actual closet also very modest in proportions. We also have an en suite bathroom but it is nothing like the huge en suites that many new houses contain. However, this post is really about what is on this shelf and I will show more of the dressing room some time in the future.

I collect vintage evening bags and since I do not often have occasion to use them, I really love seeing them on a daily basis. I will create a more detailed post about the individual purses with better detailed photos and as much information as I can find. Also on the shelf are photos of my four children when they were much younger, a little Limoges miniature and some headpieces and costume jewellery on a counter-top towel stand. The towel stand makes a perfect storage rack and adds height to the overall display is a re-purposed thrift store find.

Since this post is about what is 'on the shelf', I thought that this shelf on the bottom of the plate rack in the kitchen is an important addition. This collection of red-handled kitchen gadgets is also one that I like to see every day. Some of my collection are usually on display in this spot although I have also displayed other things here. The kitchen tool collection also warrants a more detailed description or maybe a series of posts. To view what is 'on the shelf' of other bloggers, go see the meme My Place & Yours at Punky & Me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 14: Autumnal China On the Table

Usually my taste does not favour the colours of the Fall for linens and china. All of that goes out the window when the leaves actually are bright gold, orange and red. Growing up on Canada's West Coast I did not experience the dramatic changes in the colours of the foliage as the season changes. While I find the dramatic extremes of temperature difficult, the show of Fall colours helps me find enjoyment in this climate. Our dining room is often the focus of my seasonal vignettes. With the room used for occasional eating and, often homework, it is a struggle to keep the large expanse of table clutter free. Regular change of the linens and other decorative items helps a bit, just like inviting people over usually prompts us to put away the little bit of clutter to which we are accustomed. The pumpkin tablecloth is a rough woven linen from Sweden. I purchased it from a former neighbor at her garage sale at least 15 years ago. The tin canister I blogged about last week along with the red Pyrex bowl. The squash and gourds are on a large cake plate that was my Grandmother's. I will post more detail about it soon!

The cream pitcher and bowl were found on separate occasions at different thrift stores! They are marked Leda, Wedgwood & Co Ltd with information indicating that they were not made by the more famous Josiah Wedgwood Company coming from this fascinating UK site: I love these pieces but not so much that I would commit to it being my only set. Fortunately, bits and pieces work very well with other similarly coloured china.

The small beeswax candle in the first picture is held by this saucer made by Alfred Meakin. The stamp on the back indicates that it was made after 1937 and that the pattern is 'Marigold'. While it would be lovely to have the matching cup, the little candle works well. Beeswax candles are suitable for indoor air quality which is especially important as the weather cools and we are indoors with the windows shut. The antique brass candlestick was a gift from a former neighbor and I believe was hand made in Nova Scotia. The beeswax taper was thrifted as was the large pillar candle in the centre of the arrangement. I could not believe my luck finding such a large beeswax candle at the thrift store. My Father kept bees and my Mother made candles with the beeswax. I remember how precious the wax was and how many hives it took to produce such a substantial candle. I love the sparkle that candlelight brings to the shortening days and follow the Scandinavian practise of adding that sparkle to late afternoon as the daylight fades. Another important addition to air quality is the use of houseplants. Chrysanthemums are especially noted for reducing indoor air pollution so they are not only decorative but useful. Buying a locally grown flowering plant is often less expensive than cut flowers and, with qualities good for our health, seems like a very thrifty purchase.

I am again joining the "Show and Tell" hosted at My Romantic Home where other bloggers give us a peak at their treasures.