June 27, 2012

Ties that bind

How did it get to be nearly the end of June which = half the year already? As hot as it is here, perhaps there is a certain amount of brain melt going on. If only it worked on the exterior body parts as rteadily too!

I had no intention of not writing for so long, but a bad virus has laid me low for a while since the first of last week. It's slowly moving on, thank goodness. How sick was I? So much so that I haven't felt ike going tol a thrift shop at all in two weeks, the horror!

Since everything on my body is responding equally slowly, it seemed a good time to share another of my collections with you. This one is aprons. Do you use them? Did your mothers or grandmothers and aunts? I find them very helpful when working in the kitchen, especially those with a bib and at least one pocket. 

Before Hurricane Ike we lived in a house with a small room one step down from the kitchen. It seems likely that it had been a back porch made into a room. It had long, low windows on one long and one short wall, in an L. Instead of curtains I hung vintage aprons on these windows. Unfortunately, that's also the main spot where the giant sweetgum tree that fell on the roof pierced through, so those were lost to the storm. There are only a few left, but I still find them at thrift shops once in a while.
This is a sweet one in a flower print  with blue piping. I love how it has kind of a square collar effect in the back.

This one has darling hand embroidered flowers.

This has no bib, but who could resist that jaunty red piping trim?

This is made for a child out of a dainty floral print, edged with violet rickrack, how cute is that?

This Valentine beauty is clearly for show, made of organdy with a hem of heart handkerchiefs.

I also have everyday, workhorse versions to use.

This has the advantage of  being made of oilcloth, so splashes and spills can be wiped off, plus it's bright and cheerful.

This one has a bib and a nice big pocket as well.

Some are  for holidays. You know I couldn't resist that sweet orange kitty.

Or these carrots and orange rickrack at Easter with multiple pockets.

All of these came from thrift shops; most cost less than a dollar. The vintage ones make me think of the women who made them, often by hand, and wonder what their lives were like, what sorrows and joys they experienced.

How about you? Do you protect your clothes with aprons, old or new?

Have a good one!


June 16, 2012

Summer Reading

Not the required list for school, but books that are fun. I keep a running list of  all books read. Here's a list of some titles you might enjoy:

A Tangled Summer by Caroline Kington


Beyond Summer by Lisa Wingate - set in Blue Sky Hill

Driftwood Summer  by Patti Callahan Henry - three sisters and a secret

The Beach House by Georgia Bockoven- young widow's decision to sell her summer place affects a number of others

The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry - intertwining stories about a family's long association with a special summer place

The Fifth Summer by Titia Sutherland - a communal holiday in Italy that goes wrong

Just for the Summer by Judy Astley - families heading for Cornwell don't find their holidays  as relaxing or fulfilling as hoped

The Last Beach Bungalow by Jennie Nash-contest to buy the last beach hut

The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher - 3 generations in the south of France one summer

Sea Music by Sara MacDonald - family ties and secrets from WWII - super book

The Summer House by Marcia Willett - multiple generations of family and secrets

Summer Light by Luanne Rice

Summer at Seaside Cove by Jacquie D'Alessandro - family follows Jamie to the NC shore

Summer  Rental by Mary Kay Andrews - three old friends  meet up one summer

Summer  of Roses by Luanne Rice - intrigue and lost relationships

Summer in the South by Cathy Holton - young woman from the big city uncovers plenty of intrigue visiting an old southern home one summer

Summer Things by Josephy Connolly-just picked this up and haven't read it yet

Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler -  grandmother, daughter and granddaughter go to Italy after receiving a letter about a mysterious inheritance

The  Summer We Came to Life by Deborah Cloyed - friends meet in Honduras after one of their group has died

Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax - three women find their savings gone with the single  asset left of a beach house they decide to restore to sell

That Summer in Sicily by Marlena de Blasi - a couple finds themselves in a strange and compelling setting one summer

Three Weissmans of Westport by Cathleen Schine - take off of Sense and Sensibility in a Connecticut beach cottage

Maybe you can get some ideas to while away the hours in a hammock or a porch swing among these seasonal stories. 

Happy reading!


June 12, 2012

Beach Dreams

We are starting off June with a heaping helping of hot and humid here. Some ocean breezes would be a welcome relief, and if you live in Houston, that means going to Galveston  Island.  Since that's not possible right now,  maybe creating a few Gulf vibes at home is the next best thing. The second post on this blog was about a great yard sale in walking distance of our house. One of the items from that is incorporated into a small vignette: 

It's the galvanized wire basket that holds some bottles of sand and shells, a vintage travel poster card in a thrifted frame and a Scrabble sentiment. There is also a wreath with shells by the front door, and this:

They may not show up too well in the picture, but there are several large shells in nice condition picked up at a local thrift last week for $3.00. The  end table by the sofa  has more:

My favorite  part is the picture. The thrifted shell frame contains a snapshot taken around 1925 at the beach with my mother as a small child in the front. 

The dining room also has a summery centerpiece:

The  layered trays, starfish, footed glass bowl, contents and the large cloche are all from various thrift adventures. No matter what you're looking for, I'm convinced it will show up at a resale shop or yard sale at some point.

I know some people don't change their decor seasonally this way, but it helps me deal with the frustration of not being able to do major changes in this house. Next on my to do list: figure out when we might get the fifty miles to Galveston and enjoy the real thing, as Mr. B's schedule allows.

See you soon,


June 10, 2012

Who knew?

Earlier today I went to http://raggygirlvintage.blogspot.com/where Tracey asked about the wicker accessory trend She got a really cool vase and showed it full of beautiful roses.

I hadn't thought about it till reading her blog, but perhaps this constitutes yet another collection, although it hadn't occurred to me before:

There seem to be seven wicker trays, no wait. The one on the coffee table didn't get in that picture.

Eight wicker trays. I don't have any vases or covered bottles yet, but clearly wicker will fit right in here.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Michele, with it in spite of herself

June 9, 2012

Fairy Garden

I have been thinking about making a fairy garden since first seeing  one Brenda from Cozy Little  House made in a wagon, but never got it together till this morning. After getting this:

at a thrift shop this week to replace a very shabby one the project was on its way at last. The beat up green chair went to the front yard. Mr. B and I went to the nursery this morning for plants. After getting home he put holes in the bottom of the container and we started planting and setting it up. Here is the finished product:

And one more  view:

The house, gnome and mushroom all came from thrift shops; the pebbles and sand for the path from the dollar store. You can see how much of a number the cats (I'm looking at you, Butterball!) did on the arms of the chair. We're hoping some stuff  I've sprayed on the replacement will keep this from happening again.

Thank you, Brenda, for being my first inspiration, although I've seen many others on recent blog posts.

Happy gardening to you this weekend!


June 8, 2012

BBFF - Best Book Friends Forever

Is June a busy month for your family? Ours has no birthdays or anniversaries this time of the year; no one is getting married or graduating in 2012 either, so it's fairly quiet here. It's  good to stay inside and hide from the heat and humidity except in early morning or evening if possible. Because the heat is extreme for so many months of the year, my usual habit is to run errands as early as I can and get home before it cranks up in the afternoon. A lot more time should be spent cleaning and organizing, but it's hard not to succumb to the lure of books--maybe  a throwback to childhood and the library book club each year? I went downtown to the Central Library and got a huge load Wednesday, so am set for a while. I read mysteries and fiction mostly, with occasional forays in essays or nonfiction. This summer also has been the start of a re-read of Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles herb mysteries. The first one was published in 1992, so the early books in the series are but dim memories. I really like this writer (she's from Texas!) and the way the main character changes  and develops through the years. Other favorite Texas authors of mine are Bill Crider, Susan Rogers Cooper and Leeann Sweeney. 

I get recommendations from friends, GoodReads, Amazon and by sheer serendipity. Finding a new author whose work is wonderful; it feels like hitting the jackpot at a casino. Or maybe not--I'm not a gambler but it seems a similar whoo hoo moment. Yet when all is said and done, it's hard to beat old favorites, the ones you've read over and over till they're practically memorized. I have a lot of those. One author I've been reading and collecting for decades is Kathleen Norris. Not the one living now who writes on theological issues, but the one born Kathleen Thompson in California in 1880. She later married Charles Norris, brother of Frank Norris.They are captivating romances in part because she was great at writing descriptions. Above is a small part of my collection of her books. Most are in a plain black "Triangle" edition hardback, but I've found a few with wonderful vintage covers. She wrote over 80 novels, numerous short stories and was the highest paid female author of her time, selling over ten million copies of her works. Her works could be considered unbelievably old-fashioned by a younger generation, yet still have enthralling characters and engrossing plots.

With only seven titles, the Williamsburg books by Elswyth Thane are fewer in quantity but offer a captivating look at two families who meet and intermarry before the Revolutionary War through the generations; the last title takes place during WWII. Gripping characters in difficult times and places are the rule for Thane.

The second shelf holds the Thane books. The first one is home to another old favorite, D. E. Stevenson. This Scottish writer wrote gentle stories of people mostly set in Britain. Some of the characters appear in more than one book. She wrote around 45 novels and I own 30. They are great comfort reads when life is difficult or you're felled by illness. I especially like the series about Mrs. Tim, written in diary form about the life of a woman with a husband who is a career army officer and the books about Barbara Buncle, which start with Miss Buncle's Book. Her adventures continue in Miss Buncle Married and The Two Mrs. Abbotts. Some of these have been recently reprinted, so perhaps they will introduce dear Dorothy Stevenson to a new generation. Like Miss Read, her books are full of engaging, endearing characters with interesting challenges and quirky friends and relatives.

Other long time friends are Elizabeth Goudge, E. M. Delafield and Nevil Shute, Betty MacDonald and Laurie Colwin. Who are your author friends, never met outside the pages of their beloved works? Do you keep books you re-read or ruthlessly divest yourself after the last page is turned?

Stay cool and happy reading!

June 2, 2012

A Hot Week

I'd planned to do more blog posts this week, but life got in the way. Wednesday the morning was spent taking Freddy to the vet with a turnaround after returning him home again to go directly back to the Target in the same center. Freddy is the black kitty in the middle. By the time the errands were finished it was afternoon, when it dawned on me that hmmm, the house seemed awfully warm. That was because the ac had quit working. Sigh. A repairman came out and worked, pronouncing it fixed. Except we woke up the next morning and it was hot as ever. Thursday was spent trying to move as little as possible while waiting on his return, which didn't happen till late afternoon. This time it  was more successful, and the house is cool again, thank goodness! Friday was spent playing  catch up on laundry and other chores abandoned in the heat, so no decorating or crafting got done, but an effort from the long weekend is shown below:

I have a modest collection of globes and used a few in this small display. The banner is made of vintage maps from an old calendar. The top of this small chest isn't large enough to include the larger, full-size globes, but these seem like a fun way to celebrate the summer season of travel. Who knows where that gnome plans to roam? Do you have plans to see the country or the world this summer? What getaway appeals to you most, a visit to relatives, a cabin in the mountains or cottage on the beach? Or will you stay closer to home and go on mini-trips?

Enjoy your weekend!