December 31, 2012

Goodbye, 2012

Hello, friends. I hope you all had wonderful holidays. It is hard to believe it's the last day of this year, at least for me. The past twelve months have been challenging at times, but with plenty of good points, too. We got more rain than in 2011, thank goodness, and while it was hot (this is Texas, after all), it wasn't as excruciating as the previous year. High spots for me include starting this blog and beginning to walk regularly again. 

Here are the last finds for 2012. My favorite  below is a birdhouse that is made to look as if it's constructed of old cookbooks. The perch broke off, but Mr. B says he can fix it. Also seen is a book called The  Good Citizen's Handbook, a new with tag ME bag, one each of three Georges Briard  fruit mugs and three German red heart mugs, two little gnomes and a decorative box. One of Mr. B's gifts, the His Lordship mug, and the sad remains of a snowflake pitcher. Bought in Austin for $2, it got knocked on the floor as soon as it was brought in the house here and lost its handle. The little box has a hinged lid and is decorated inside as well as on the exterior.

A new toddler cup with tight lid from Starbucks.
Today from the Sand Dollar, a long wicker basket to go on the back of the toilet tank, two mugs from La Madeleine, a book featuring a Siamese cat for my oldest daughter, who owned one for many years and a new jar of peppermint soap. 
Here's a view with Freddy included.
Somehow the jar of soap migrated into the Austin scores. Those were actually the little bench, the flowered suitcase and the snowflake pitcher. I've already started experimenting with a a spring vignette in the suitcase but it's not exactly right yet.  Maybe because it's still December, if only for a few more hours, and a way to go before time to start thinking in that mode. 

Have you taken down your decorations yet? Ours usually stay up until 6 January, so that's still a week away. Do you have a major thrift score or roadside find this year?  Mine would probably be a tie between the easel for Mr. B and the terrarium found at Goodwill. 

I've very much enjoyed starting this blog and look forward to more finds and posts in 2013. 

Happy New Year!


December 21, 2012

Thrifty Art

Are you saying TGIF, or are you hoping it isn't because you're not ready for Tuesday? That would be me, for all you efficient folks that have everything done and dusted and ready to go. It's not as if I haven't tried, but rather that the stores I've gone to haven't produced the gifts being searched for. Progress has been made, but it feels glacial. Thus, it seemed writing a blog post about thrifted art would be a welcome distraction, at least to me. Here are a few of the things decorating our walls from second hand sources:
These bird prints were found at a Salvation Army store on the other side of town a couple of years ago. They were $4.94 each and hang in the dining room now.
These are two vintage photographs that were made into greeting cards, received at different times. Two matching frames from a thrift shop made them a pair.
These prints of cherries and plums hang over the back door in the kitchen. Near them is this:
In the living room we have:
This folk-art looking barn and rural scene was $2.00 at a yard sale in Ft. Worth, when we were there one weekend and stayed with an old friend of my oldest daughter.
This big, colorful tray came from the Guild Shop and hangs next to the front door.
This large picture was a yard sale find for $5.00, probably thirty years ago. It is in the living room, over the bookcase where there is temporarily a winter scene in a suitcase for the holidays.

We have a few more that will have to show up another time, because of lighting issues.
Isn't it nice when you find pieces that speak to you, that can be enjoyed daily, yet are easy on the budget?

Mr. B. will be home for the next week or two, so I may not post till after Christmas, when we get back from Austin. I hope you all have wonderful holidays, filled with family, friends, food and fun. Remember, Keep Calm and Merry On!


December 20, 2012

Same song, second verse

This is going to be short and sweet, because I am so far behind with things left to do for Christmas, eek! Apparently, the best description of me could be one-trick pony. If you recall, my friend Tricia received this for her birthday in October:
It's a runner for her dining table, made out of doilies. When Christmas rolled around, clearly still in the grip of a doily fixation, I started with this:
and made her a snowflake bunting. These are tiny doilies, meant to set inside coasters for glasses.
Here's another shot:
I starched and ironed them after taking that picture before folding it up to mail to Tricia. She has installed it on the famous baker's rack in her kitchen, where it may be seen if she does a tablescape anytime soon at where she blogs at The Dull and the Dutiful. This was a small but satisfying project but thought it was worth sharing with you. It's going to show up on Metamorphosis Monday at Susan's blog, Between Naps on the porch, too,

Now I have things to wrap, laundry to switch and rooms to clean.

Have yourself a thrifty Thursday. 

Merrily, Michele

December 19, 2012

Latest Loot

Hello, and happy Wednesday to all. This is just a quick post to show you a few things recently found. 
Here are a few more paperbacks for us to read, a new book of holiday crosswords, a red velvet heart-shaped box, a mug with H for my daughter, ditto monogrammed snack plate with server, new, red leather purse, new, as are the packages of Cath Kidston emery boards and hand creams, from a variety of thrift stores. The baking trivet is from Home Goods, but was just $1.00 in their clearance  section, as was the cupcakes book at HPB. Not in the picture is a cupcakes calendar to go with those. The red and white miniature lunchbox will hold something, as will the Pfalzcraft mug with seasonal design. 
Last week at the Assistance League I got this gingerbread-look china house to use in the fairy garden for the holidays. I hope they approve.
This isn't  new, but  is one of my favorite things  to set out in December, a very old vintage tin. It's pretty shabby by now, but I love the candle and floral design. 

I am deep in the throes of last-minute shopping and wrapping as happens when you don't get things done ahead of schedule. It's hectic, but fun, so I'm not complaining! I love to try and figure out what the perfect gift is for family and friends; coming up with an idea and finding the item is a challenge, but always a pleasure, too. 

What don't I like this time of the year? Music in stores. It may be different elsewhere, but here it seems as if the only two songs ever played are White Christmas and Winter Wonderland. Which are both okay except when they suffer from constant repetition!

Are your favorite parts of the holiday the preparation days leading up to it or the day itself?


December 18, 2012

Attention! Free! First Ever Giveaway

Hello, Blogging Buddies,

Yesterday my followers reached the nice round number of fifty. To celebrate, I will give away a mystery box full of surprises. In order to be considered, all you need to do is post a comment between today and December 31. On the first day of 2013 there will be a  drawing to see who gets the prize, so plenty of days to try for it.. You'll get as many chances as comments made during this period of time. My assistant, Flossie, has graciously agreed to announce the winner.

Good luck!

December 17, 2012

It's HOW long till Christmas?

Hello, friends!

Oops, it looks as if the first half of December went by like a bullet train while I fiddled around with various less than fabulous attempts at decorating. It's probably time to stop fooling around and shop, unless that Mayan calendar thing is right, in which case, there's little point. 

Anyway, this is a quick post because of a hitch in my daily walk. About 15 minutes from our house a little cat approached me, seeming in some distress. She was sopping wet, every bit of her body except her head soaked. There were four houses in the vicinity  of where she showed up, all with at least one if not more cars in the driveways, but no one answered at any of them to see one was her home. I called the number on her collar and arranged to meet her owner back at our house, since they didn't live on that street at all. Luckily, I carry a cotton bag with me in case acorns or anything else turns up while I'm out, so was able to wrap her in that and get her a little dryer while heading back the way I'd come. Her owner turned up; he'd left work early to take her to the vet so that worked out well. I'm happy she's reunited with her own family, but it did throw my day's plans even farther behind. 

A few things done since last week:
I got that long basket with the pointy bottom at the Sand Dollar recently and the silver flowers and picks at Dollar Tree. The little fawn with the wreath round his neck moved into the copper container of faux boxwood, to put him out of the way of any cats who might think he looks like prey.
I put some more little trees on a candle holder under one of those cloches that started out as a dome over a clock with some fake snow. The greenery and flowers associated with this time of the year is one of my favorite parts of the holidays. 

So, definitely not much of a project to report, but being Rosie the Rescue Person took up time not budgeted in this day. Let's hope tomorrow sees a huge efficiency front blows through Houston while I'm outside to get the full effect!

Meanwhile, keep calm and merry on!


December 15, 2012

Another confession and a holiday upcycle

Good grief, we're on a relentless march towards Christmas, aren't we? I'm going to show you something I made for my oldest daughter, but the back story will include information that will shock and horrify many of you; consider this an apology in advance.

Deep breath. All right, here it is: although I read them all during my childhood, the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Little House series were never my favorites--I know, heresy to millions of loyal Laura lovers--put down your pitchforks, please! As an adult, I realized this reaction was a result of disliking the characters of both Ma and Mary, which admittedly may be unreasonable, but still, first impressions stick. It was a recent discovery that mine was not the only negative reaction towards this beloved series in my own family. This revelation came when Hilary, my oldest daughter, informed me she read them by mistake. She got home from the library and realized she wasn't about to read Little Horse on the Prairie, much to her great disgust. I found it hilarious, not to mention comforting, to not be the only person on earth who doesn't worship at the shrine of LIW.

Then, a couple of months following this shocking disclosure, on a counter with other postcards and announcements at Texas Art Supply, the following turned up:
It seemed an ideal vehicle to wish the horse lover/house hater a seasonal greeting. So, I took the notice and tweaked it a bit, till it looked like this:

After adjusting the title, I used embellishments, rickrack and part of an old card to cover the bottom section, then wrote  a verse which was printed and is on the reverse side. 

Meanwhile, to go along with it, discovered in a tub of mostly Happy Meal toys at Sand Dollar I found:
Sorry, I forgot to take a picture before lashing a tree to his back and giving him some holiday decor. He is a  small, plastic horse with dapple gray spots and mane. Flossie thinks he might be a fun toy--for her! No, Flossie, you're not going to grab him to bat around the floor in your own version of horse hockey.
Still, she's keeping her eye on this intriguing pony figure:
The light seemed better in the living room, so I moved in there. 
Here is his Christmas neck wear, a cinnamon dough star and jingle bell. They are threaded together on stiff cord, tied in a bow. The tree is lashed on with narrow green ribbon.
I'm going to link this to Met Monday at Between Naps on the Porch, which is here:Met Monday. One last look before this little fellow heads to Austin and my daughter's mailbox next week. What do you think? Will she be surprised?

Till next time,

December 14, 2012

Thrifty gifts

Hello and TGIF to all folks looking forward to the weekend. 

I thought I'd write today about buying gifts in thrift shops. No doubt some people would think that equates to a miserly cheapskate of a giver, but that's really not always true. For one thing, those who don't shop in resale stores are probably not aware of how many items of all types are donated brand new, often still bearing a tag or in the original box. I've found all manner of linens, clothes, candles, decorative items and just about everything imaginable for a fraction of the cost in a retail store. Example: around October I got a Yankee candle with holiday sprig of berries on it with a sugar cookie fragrance for .90 cents. A couple of weeks ago I saw the same candle at the grocery store for $6.99. There was the S-shaped cat scratcher toy at a yard sale for $1.00 seen the following week at Target for $19.99. We refinished the ugly formica counter in the bathroom of our previous home with an unopened kit for that purpose bought and lugged home from Baton Rouge after a trip. People buy things and change their minds, they receive presents they don't  like, or have to move and discard large quantities of possessions because they can't lug everything in their current home to a new location. So, things are not necessarily old, worn, shabby or used at all.

Another aspect of thrift shopping for gifts is how well you know the person who's going to receive it. Collections are an obvious example. If your mother/aunt/best friend loves milk glass and you find a piece that's lovely she doesn't already own, will she care if it came from a thrift store or upscale antique emporium? If you know someone who loves civil war history and you find an old, intriguing book on the subject at a library sale will the location where you stumbled upon it matter? Probably not. Thus, it's my opinion that a thrifted gift isn't necessarily the sign of a stingy giver.

Some people use thrift store items as part of a theme gift or in a basket made specially for an individual. Very specific kinds of mugs, for example, or containers for candy, nuts or other treats are nice, but candles, coasters and other items are often available too. I like to find unusual ways to package gifts; some of the recent ones include an ornate cardboard purse that had soap and a scarf in it this summer and an envelope-shaped fabric bag that held the doily runner made for my friend's birthday in October.

I've been thinking about the subject lately because of the approach of Christmas. For my youngest granddaughter, a charm bracelet seemed like a good idea. Here is a picture of it:
It's actually from a regular store, but I switched and added charms to it. It came with a pair of binoculars which I changed out for the whistle. I took apart another that had three dangling from it to add  the skull on one end (this was around Halloween, which must have been an influence) and added the L for her initial. Doing this minor project was fun and led me to think about my own charm bracelet, given to me decades ago. It is gold, though, and after lo these many years, still had only two charms on it, a locket and a baby ring.* 
With the price of gold what it is, the chances of receiving more charms seemed remote. But, my thought continued, that really didn't matter. If the metal is gold or just gold colored, either is fine. Thus began a hunt for more things to put on it. Included are the face of an old watch, single earrings and a lot of miscellaneous. Now it includes an umbrella, a feather and heart, sunburst, religious medal, fleur de lis, red bicycle, as well as the locket and ring. Some of these weren't gold to start with, like the fleur de lis,but a paint job with nail polish took care of that problem. I love the way it's turned out and look forward to finding new tiny pieces to add in the future. 

Have you ever given things bought in thrift shops? Is that something you do routinely or would never consider in a million years?

Later, Michele
 *What's with rings for newborn infants, anyway? Why would anyone think that's a good idea?

December 13, 2012

More tiny tweaks

Hello, everyone, and how are you this fine, sunny Thursday? It is a beautiful day here, too bad a doctor visit used up most of it indoors and left me disinclined to be productive once finally home. 

When I showed a picture of our headboard area, I mentioned two nails still in place from the former room arrangement. Here is what I do at Christmas:
I string that felt flower garland between them. 
To the left  is the cat who seems likely to be re-named Bitter, in light of her personality. The orange  and white on the right is Butterball, and of course, Miss Flossie needs no introduction. 
Oops, no need for that messy night stand to have its picture taken!
Here you see Trixie and on the mantel, Butterball's brother Junior. I also moved the cat bed and green cushion so the other pillows can be seen. The throw pillows, pillow cases, folded quilt at the foot of the bed and Good Night sign are all thrift store finds. The long needlepoint cushion is a favorite, with its leaves and red berries.
There are a couple of the usual prime suspects when a crash is heard somewhere in the house, those two and the elusive Tilly, sister of Butterball, but a million times more scared. 

The dark red quilt is from Pottery Barn and looked brand new when purchased at the Assistance League shop for $15 a couple of years ago. I don't recall exact prices for the pillows, but they were all from Sand Dollar, so probably under $3 each. There is little holiday flair in our room, because the furry friends can access most of the furniture and it probably wouldn't last long. I'm still mourning my attempt to decorate the dining room light fixture with garlands. Freddy thought they were special kitty grass just for him and was happy to stand like a meerkat nibbling on them endlessly. The bathroom fares better, since holiday hand towels don't have the same feline appeal, evidently. 

Do you decorate only in your public rooms, or all over your house? 

Until tomorrow,

December 12, 2012

Mid-week report

This is not the post I intended to make. That was derailed when the camera quit working with several photos left to take, so let's just move along to Plan B. The last few times this has happened it's worked fine the next day, so crossing my fingers this is how it goes tomorrow, too.
Here are a few recent goodies, nothing remarkable. A couple of mugs--the one in the rear says Las Vegas and has "Sin City" down the handle. The cute little red fossil box looks ideal for a small gift. A stack of tee shirts and another of books. The brass reindeer and sleigh came in a bag of other stuff,  none of which I wanted, so it went back directly to be donated after the noble stag was removed. There is another of the black-on-white items I collect, not exactly a dish since it says SOAPS, but still useful. It may go out in the utility room where a tall, rectangular box that says LAUNDRY is lonely on a shelf. The upright wicker organizer works well with the big divided tray from a while back, and who can resist red, sparkly snowflakes at <$1 a package? Not me! Since we've had unnaturally warm weather until day before yesterday those tee shirts are needed and being worn, even in December. 
Here you see Flossie checking it out. She reminded me to add the small camera bookend, another .80 cent purchase from Sand Dollar. Since Mr. B has taught basics of photography most of the three decades + we've been married, it seemed destined to come home with me. 

Today I stopped at a store a little outside our neighborhood on the way back from leaving something at church. All their holiday decor was half off, so I picked up a few tags and a tin and other small items for very little. Too bad the real camera won't cooperate so you can see those too! 

Where are you in your holiday plans? I've bought few gifts so far, although most of the ones that need to be mailed have gone out, with just one left. Most of the cards are sent, except for a few, and most of the special snack mix has been given to regular friends in the community, like the folks at the post office, feed store, beauty shop and garage. Still, there are lots of nagging, niggling, dangling ends that still need to be finished. Are you all done, or still muddling along like me?


December 11, 2012

Hi, how's your Tuesday so far? This is another drive-by posting. My day is mainly occupied with taking Freddy kitten to the vet for a re-check. To catch him and secure his sleek black self in the carrier was a horrifying experience for both of us this morning. He'll probably go into deep hiding once home again, after all the drama and trauma he's experienced today. 

Although we still don't have a tree up, that doesn't mean everyone is doing without. Here is the fairy garden, spiffed up for the season:
I got some little trees in a bag of assorted stuff at Sand Dollar recently. The ones flanking the house in the Fairy Garden are cones covered with chenille pipe cleaners, pinned in place with buttons and other colorful small charms, with little wooden stars on top. I expect this new festive addition meets the approval of all the fairy types who may drop in, don't you think? If any more tiny items turn up in the holiday stash, they'll be candidates for the fairies, too. Maybe they'd like a little pond to skate in, if it snows there. . . . hmm. Food for thought!

I hope your day goes well and doesn't include a nerve wracking trip to your local vet. Wish me luck getting my poor boy home without scarring his psyche permanently. 

Till next time,

December 10, 2012

Literally found

This is just a quickie to show off a couple of items from a nearby pile on the curb for heavy trash:
That is a giant 21-quart stock pot on the left and an ice cream freezer next to it. Obviously, I don't know if the freezer works, but the pot is in good shape, aside from needing to be cleaned after sitting out all night. They were by a house near us with a for lease sign on it, so perhaps they're culling things they don't want to move.  If there is   ever the need to cook for a crowd, we're all set. 

Now, if we just had room for some of the good furniture waiting to be rescued, I'd be even happier!

What's the best thing you ever found on the street? 


December 8, 2012

Grab a book and rest for a few minutes.

Hello, everyone. I have been really busy this week, but still need the quiet and comfort that books supply better than anything else. Movies are tremendous fun, but more of a treat, while reading is daily bread-and-butter recreation. Here are a few holiday books collected over the years:
It's hard to beat the Brits, and Nancy Mitford is in a class by herself. 
Miss Read writes from a gentler perspective, but is always a delight to dip into.

Rosamunde Pilcher offers a big fat Aga Saga in this engrossing story of disparate people who are thrown together during the holidays.
Sister of the Angels is by an English writer who deserves more attention, in my opinion. This is part of a trilogy, that includes The Blue Hills and City of Bells.

Another from across the pond, filled with engaging characters dealing with the lead up to the holidays.
This tale of marital misery and disharmony comes from the author of  Auntie Mame.
Here is the eighth in the series of books written about Mitford by Jan Karon, another endearing entry in the holiday stories lists.
Of course, mayhem and crime go on year round, too. Here is one of many wonderful mysteries set at this time of the year by my favorite Texas author, Susan Wittig Albert. Other seasonal goodies I don't own now include No Holiday for Crime by Dell Shannon, Relative Love by Amanda Brookfield, Last Christmas by Julia Williams, The Chorister at the Abbey by Lis Howell and many, many others. 

Do you like books set during the holidays this time of year? Is there a favorite you bring out  to re-read, besides the Nativity story and A Christmas Carol? I hope you have time to curl up with a book at some point this weekend and get away from the hustle and bustle of real life!

Till next time,

December 6, 2012

Decor for the Lazy, Take Two

Hey, how's it going? My day has been a little discombobulated so far. I'm hoping things settle down soon. 

Last year I found this box for under $2.00 at one of the local thrifts. The color was perfect, since red is my favorite. It did have a little curved piece on top, which would have been okay, but it had an angel on it. The kind that's usually described as "kuntry angel" so ick. Not cute at all. The top thing came  off easily though, so well work the $1.91 for this:
To gussy it up for the holidays I just scoured the house and put anything small found in one of the sections. The result was:
There is a miniature tree, a wreath, pair of mittens, tiny basket with berries, a reindeer napkin ring, a gift tag, and more. So, cute and easy. Oh, if that were only the end of the story. After taking the picture I set it on one of the small chairs near the front door. Then did not leave well enough alone and put another item near it. Which managed to fall and knock over my red crate, breaking things and making a ridiculous amount of mess. The little snow globe was tiny, about the size of your thumb but apparently also magic, like the Tardis. It seemed to spill at least a quart of water on the floor when it smashed. Naturally, the noise attracted the cats who were sure they should get involved. The water spilled and wet the stack of cigar boxes nearby, so at least the bottom one is damaged. 

The moral of this story is probably don't try to do things the easy way, since it's all too likely to go terribly, horribly wrong and take more time to clean up than is imaginable. 

So that's been my day. How about yours?