Monday, 30 September 2013

Holiday thrifting

New locations mean new op shops and new chances to find and forage in the junk, vintage, retro, antique and recycling domains of another place. Whee! Can you feel my excitement?!!  

On the second day of our coastal holiday the weather wasn't good. Oh no, the kids whined, we can't go to the beach. I tried to look sympathetic. I tried to share their pain. I was secretly doing a little hop, skip and a jump on the inside. 

We headed straight to the local Salvo's Family Store. We met some old holiday friends there. Arch found a huge Tonka fire engine ($2 made it hard to say no) that had him shouting happy Nee Naws all around the shop. I would have worried about how to fit it in the car for the final trip home, but he and the nee naw were instantly inseparable. We'll work something out.

Then I found these in a cabinet.

I felt like Euctace and Polly in the Magician's Nephew! Remember the tray of coloured rings? Which one to choose? At $1 each, I chose them all. Even if they don't transport me to Narnia (and so far, no luck) one can never have enough plastic finery! Two fit me and the other two fit the girls. Perfect. 

Then I spotted this. 

It is a little botanical specimen under a dome of glass. It must be vintage. Does  anyone do this stuff any more? I love it. It was $3 and I'm wearing it all the time. Just have to remember to take it off while washing up. If the glass fogs up I'll have ruined it. 

Later, while trawling through one of the vintage/antique stores, to choruses of: Can we go now?
The sun is coming out! 
It wasn't.
I swooned over the old china.

Can one ever have enough vintage floral tableware? I'd like to scream NO, obviously, but my family appears to be drowning me out on this one. 
Oh well. Back to the beach we go. 

The shell collection is coming along nicely.

There'll be another cloudy day soon, I just know it!

(I meant to say too, I'm posting via my phone. So apologies if the layout is a little wonky.)

Thursday, 26 September 2013

I See Red

Instagram is proving quite addictive.
It's making me see things through a camera lens, albeit a phone camera lens, which my husband will tell you, is not the same thing.

Still, I'm enjoying the artistic emphasis it is putting on everyday life. Framing ordinary moments and objects (Arch is neither of these, but you get my meaning) with artistic vision. It's cool. I have fourteen followers. 

I feel so urbane...

and R E D is a pretty constant theme.
I don't know why. I'm sure it has nothing to do with anger issues. I prefer to see it as looking for the vibrancy and colour in life. Red lifts us out of the mundane, or the monochrome. (Not that there's anything wrong with that..)
anyway, i just like it.

r e d  j u m p e r  o n  A r c h

r e d  f  l o w e r s

r e d  l o u n g e  c o v e r  +  r e d  t a b l e s

r e d  b e r r i e s  r e d  b o w l  r e d 
b e r r i e s  r e d  b o w l

r e d c u p a n d s a u c e r

p e r s i a n  r u g

p i n o c c h i o


V I n t a G e  s H o e S

Cool Spider web roof thing

The Smell of the Sea

We are officially on holidays, down the South Coast, smelling the salt and sea in the air. Bliss.

"If only you hadn't been so stressed about getting here." My loving husband pointed out, as we soaked up the sun and the view and were, I thought, just concentrating on loving life.

Grunt. That was my response. 

Okay, so I find going on holidays stressful. Maybe it has something to do with having to pack for four children plus myself at a time of year when the weather could be freezing cold for two weeks, or boiling hot or bits of both and we're trying to fit everything in the one car.. Anyway, we are here now and it is beautiful. 

And I have only had to go to Target Country store three times in two days because inexplicably (no, I don't know how it happened) Jesse only had two tee shirts and no swimmer top, Ellie had no shorts that fit and Mim had no jacket or singlets on the freezing first night that followed the summery first day!

Deep breathing all round. Smelling that wonderful salt spray air...

..And drinking coffee, lots of coffee.

Monday, 16 September 2013

A Spring in our Step

Spring arrived early this year, after one of the warmest and driest winters on record. It meant the magnolias and blossom trees bloomed quickly, and then disappeared just as we were starting to enjoy them! There's still some late bloomers around, and we're making the most of them.

Here's a close up of our crab apple, which for its first year looked like little more than a stick. I was quite rude about it in the beginning, but it has slowly started to take shape. This year I'm pleased to report it looks now more like a tree, displayed a highly respectable number of blossoms, and had a pleasing mix of the pink/white/red flowers that confirmed for me that one day (probably when we've all moved on..) it will look truly fabulous.
The warmer weather has meant that we've enjoyed lots of time outside, walking and visiting parks. Actually these photos were taken by my niece when she took Arch to the park. I take my role of chief delegator very seriously.

Do you have a child who never tires of swings?
Who yells "Push Me!" over and over and over again until you're begging for mercy?!
Yep, me too.

We've even dropped in on a spring fair or two. What better way to wile away a sunny Saturday than by strolling through school grounds with kids excitedly discussing whether choc top ice creams are better than ones with sprinkles; admiring craft  stalls and taste testing gourmet jams; marvelling at beautiful vintage cars and sprawling on the grass to watch brass bands, and singing and dancing shows. 
I just love a good spring fair!

Thank goodness we remembered to take hats. Spring is actually feeling like summer already.

Hmm, what to do with a toddler who is insisting on walking (hence empty stroller being pushed by Mim) and refusing to wear a hat?

We even got to meet a few "stars" (the Bananas in Pajamas for those not in the know). Arch is a big fan, though lost his nerve at the last minute. Think he was alarmed at their inability to blink..

Monday, 9 September 2013

Linen and Lace

I picked up a flier recently at one of my local op shop haunts for their annual Linen and Lace sale. I'd seen these advertised before, but hadn't ever gotten around to going...until last Friday.

I ambled up to the door with Arch in tow at 9am (pays to be on time, I thought). Actually it pays to be early, as it turned out the doors had opened some minutes earlier. Inside and up the stairs was an octogenarians fuelled frenzy of fabric fervour, lacy longing and sewing sensationalism as the doyennes of doilies oversaw the heaving masses in one hot under- ventilated room. There were hoards of women, of which I was under the average age by at least two decades. I surveyed the crowd. I felt good. I felt I had a natural edge. I also couldn't coax Arch up the stairs in to the fray, so I left him downstairs with the toys.

My photo doesn't do it justice - there was actually about twenty women fighting over lace and ribbons behind me.
I could see I had gained access to vintage fabric heaven. Yikes.

There were racks of table cloths of all sizes and fabrics. Win! I'm always looking for good quality and attractive cloths for the table. Here the choice was vast: round, rectangle, square, plain, coloured, patterned, gaudy and classy. I got caught up in the damasks but there were so many to choose from I was getting overwhelmed. I moved on, unable to concentrate on one thing. 

"What about this one?" I heard one woman who looked uncannily like my Mum ask of a much older woman (her Mum?) standing next to her. The older woman glanced at the tablecloth being held up for her perusal. "Machine made!" She sniffed. Her scorn obvious.


I grabbed a gorgeous cream cloth with pale blue stitching and cut out patterns which I'm sure there's an official word for. I don't know what it is.

Was it machine made? I couldn't tell. It was only $15 so I tucked it under my arm and kept moving.

I found a large basket of pure linen vintage tea towels. The weighty woven fabric and vibrant colours in pristine condition were fantastic. Check out Pinterest for the fabulous things that can be done with them,  like bunting, or cushion covers, clothes or even upholstery.

Mine will probably end up stuffed in a drawer, but that didn't stop me rifling through. I found a few treasures.

Against the wall were long shelves covered in doilies and napkins, runners and piles of gorgeous embroidered bits and pieces. This was where the bun fight was really on for young and old. Mostly old. I wasn't up to it. I grabbed a few small pieces and dropped back. I couldn't keep up the pace.

Here's what I found. A lady told me what this stitching is called and even the name of this fabric. There was no time to write it down. Now I've forgotten. Still, it's adorable, isn't it!

"What do you do with them?" I asked another lady next to me whose ample arms were loaded with beautiful pieces. She appeared to have nabbed some of the best embroidery, flowers and leaves in vibrant hues spilled out from her stash. I couldn't help but admire her achievement.
"Oh I give them to friends, I put things on them around my house. I just love them!" Her enthusiasm was genuine and sort of touching.
I smiled and moved on.
"How long did it used to take?" I heard someone quizzing a beautifully dressed elderly woman who appeared to be overseeing the embroidery shelves in the manner of a hospital matron, but more serious. "Oh we used to work on the train to and from work", she said. "It depended how fast and good at it you were as to how much you got done."  I got the feeling this woman would have had no trouble producing exquisite pieces without any trouble at all.
I bravely stepped forward with my own question. "How can you tell good damask from bad?" It seemed a reasonable question, but I'm 99.9% sure I saw her roll her heavily made up eyes. "Damask is always beautiful." She exclaimed. "Beautiful quality and hard wearing on any table." Then she seemed to take pity on me. "All the cloths here are good, we've culled out the worn ones. Just remember to take it off the line when it's still damp to iron out. Then it will really look lovely."
Good advice I'm sure. I realized later I'd really meant to ask how you could tell good old damask from perhaps the cheaper newer fabric. But anyway, I made my way back to the tablecloth rack and grabbed a glistening white 230cm cloth that had 12 matching napkins pinned to it. $30! Win!
close up of the damask
Then those words every mother longs to hear rang across the room. Not. "Has anyone lost a little boy?"
Doh. I tried to see my watch but my arms were too full. How long had I been up here anyway?
"He'd be mine" I said, dumping my pile into a shopping basket being helpfully held out to me at the door as I made my way back down the stairs to where a concerned posse of grandmas were surrounding a non-plussed looking Arch. I could sense a judgemental vibe so fixing my eyes on his golden head I announced brightly, "He wasn't interested in vintage damask so I left him down here with the toys!"
Scooping Arch up with mumbled thanks, I made our way quickly back upstairs to the fray. My basket was handed back to me and I had one last rifle through a button basket before calling it quits.
Here's what I ended up with when we arrived home.
Loving that pink doily by the way (Why did I only buy one? Why? Why?). It is so sweet.
And here's my fabulous quirky find from the depths of the button basket! Hoping no deers had to die to make these buttons....but um, obviously, they might have. Oh dear (Sorry, just had to put that in. Sad I know.)
I am trying not to love them, though they are super soft and really amazing and quirky and ...  
Bambi RIP.

Not that it makes up for it really, but judging from the card and original price tag, the deer's demise happened a long time ago. They are vintage dead deer buttons.
Does that make it any better?

Anyway, can't wait until next year's sale now!
The annual Lace and Linen event is definitely a must-attend!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

I found a chair..

Sometimes treasures can be found at times and in places where you least expect it. I've known this for a while. Op shopping/thrifting addictions give you this rather magical knowledge. I'm always on the lookout for a good chair to sit and read in. We have chairs of course, and I spent a long time searching for the perfect lounge suite, but a good armchair has always eluded me. It's one of the things I keep an eye out for in my op shop trawls.

But nothing is ever quite right.  Too big, too small, needs work, clashes with everything else... And while I know treasures can appear out of the blue, a couple of weeks ago I wasn't expecting our normal school run route to yield anything more than a stress headache. It is that kind of drive. Trying to make sure everyone has their hats, jackets, homework and lunchboxes while I keep my eyes on the road, listen to the afternoon radio news program and give motivational speeches about how your siblings should be your best friends and NOT your sworn enemies.

But suddenly as we neared home, on a rather desolate grassy verge, I spotted a potential treasure. A great arm chair. No two great arm chairs. Actually an entire lounge suite! Of modest but shapely proportions, this was my kind of antique setting. Carved heavy timber and totally solid, the springs seemed in good condition (I know because I got out and checked, ignoring the LOUD groans of four hungry children who were desperate to get home for afternoon tea). Great style with the woven cane panels in the sides and back. Not too big, not too small. The shapely burgundy cushions (burgundy, my favourite!) were as heavy as lead, possibly made with horse hair, I was guessing. A sign of great quality.

While I sighed and walked around and around the set, umming and ahhing, the kids remained unimpressed.
"We've got nowhere to put it Mum!" yelled Eleanore sticking her head out the car window, ever practical.
"Dad won't be impressed." Jesse assured me.
Yes, thanks for that.

I reluctantly drove on, trying to tell myself that it was not for us. "I hope someone who really needs it picks it up!" I declared, only a tad resentfully.

The next morning as we turned down the road alongside the local railway line, we craned our necks. The grassy verge was its usual scraggly self. And completely empty of chairs.
"All gone!" Archie declared a little sadly as we drove morosely by.
I turned up the radio volume on Classic FM. Funeral music. Excellent.

Ah well, it wasn't meant to be.

Or was it?

Forty minutes later as Archie and I again drove up the street, having safely delivered the older three kids to school, I screeched (sort of, carefully, you know what I mean) the car to a halt. One of the armchairs had miraculously reappeared on the side of the road.

Ahhhh. I looked in the rear vision mirror and smiled at Arch.
He smiled back at me.

Some things just ARE meant to be.

Chair now safely ensconced in our back room. TICK.
Timber polished and shining. Cushions vacuumed and plumped. TICK.
Matches everything else perfectly. TICK.

Me excited at amazing second chance to get new/old piece of furniture. TICK.

Husband grudgingly accepting. TICK!

Kids learn valuable life lesson that indeed treasures can be found alongside the road. 

Do you have a favourite roadside find?
What piece of furniture have you found or inherited that you absolutely love?