Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Yard Sale Groove

The other day my husband had a hankering for a bookcase so off we went to an estate sale.

On the way there, we happened upon two elderly women parked on the roadside selling things on the grass and sidewalk. They just picked a well-traveled spot to set up shop. Their sale was a funny mishmash of things--half home office supplies and half gifts never used and some odds and ends (that doesn't add up to 100% does it?). I picked up a wooden office in-box, packages of unused post-its (almost time to buy school supplies), two pads of paper, and a very tarnished silver meat fork. My total investment was about $5 in 5 minutes.

On to the estate sale. The house was an adorable modified Cape Cod and needed a little TLC. It turns out that a 92-year-old widower recently moved into an assisted living facility and he didn't need the house or its contents any longer. Somehow I tend to think of Mufasa's voice from heaven in The Lion King talking to Simba about the cycle of life, but then I stop feeling wistful and get on to the goods!

Here's what we picked up (minus the bookcase-we found one, but it dwarfed everything else):This house had lots of books. Scary topics like calculus and probably quantum something (note my earlier math problem). I gravitated to topics I understand, which is why I bought the homespun and painting by Churchill books. Yes, the PM was a painter. We found a very nice linen runner with faded pink embroidery, a large roll of ivory ribbon, ironstone butter pats (I should have bought all of them), a couple of mini vases, etc.

Feeling good about finding the bookcase and our other finds, we headed home. Not two miles from the estate sale, we came across a yard sale. Hit the brakes! That's where I found the red flowered cross between a hat and a headband from the 1950s. The woman said it had been her grandmother's. Instead of asking her, "why are you selling this," I asked, "how much?" Sold for one dollar. Truly, one woman's trash is another woman's treasure (for crafting in that case).

A successful estate sale stop is one thing, but a street-side sale and a yard sale to boot? That's what I call Yard Sale Groove....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Leesburg, VA--The Grand Tour

This morning, the girls headed to Leesburg, Virginia. I hadn't been there in years. To many residents of Maryland, driving into northern Virginia is not for the squeamish. There is the capital beltway to negotiate, lots of traffic, and an occasional semi that tips over with lots of messy cargo. But a Sunday late morning seemed like a good time to go. The boys (with a friend along, too) were heading for other amusements. Leesburg was ours!

Leesburg is west of Washington, DC. It's quaint with well-maintained historic buildings lining the streets. All shops we visited are either on or adjoin Route 15 (AKA James Monroe Highway). Some of them have blogs that you can access via their web sites. I know that you're dying of suspense, so let's take a look at some of the goodies we brought home.I was pretty tired when I took this picture and it shows!

Our first stop was The Cottage. This shop is in an old house with two floors of charming rooms decorated with vintage pieces in different themes and colors. Really cute. We bought a piece of ironstone, a small handpainted china dish, and some great lotion and other sundries. This was on the second floor:I loved the colors in this room.

We stopped next door in Rose Cottage (I think this is the right name!). We met the nicest lady there; she recently moved her business from Great Falls to Leesburg. Very pretty things here, too! She had a to-die-for gold-painted chair with a gorgeous green toile cushion, but it was out of my price range and it wasn't quite the right style for my house. Still....

I'd given Sue of Vintage Rescue Squad an e-mail alert that we were heading over to Leesburg. We missed each other last week at Chartreuse, but we met today! Here she is foofing her boof (this is Sue-speak) at Leesburg Antique Emporium:She is extremely nice. To me, she's a blog celebrity and has been blogging and selling her fun finds for a couple of years. Sue has two spaces in this mall; the newest is VRS al fresco. Very cute garden-related things. I bought a brown transferware ironstone platter from her.

Adjoining Leesburg Antique Emporium is Four Shabby Chicks. Nice things to tempt you here, too, like the pink wooden basket and two new toile-patterned storage doohickeys we bought (to organize our craft supplies we rationalized). I began thinking I was going to be out of money before I got back home. And we had a few more places to hit. We asked for a recommendation for a good place to eat lunch (as it was midafternoon) and these nice ladies recommended South Street Under, which was just a few blocks away. Our sandwiches were wonderful, but we did pay a tiny premium for not having McDonalds instead (we actually never saw a McDs)!

Before we left downtown, we stopped in Ekster. This shop has had a lot of press and we thought it was a cool place. Very European. The clever check-out area:
Dining ideas:
Garden delights:
We drove on to our next stop several miles north of town--On a Whim. They didn't allow photographs there, but go to their web site for a look. The pink silo with black polka dots is a great landmark (maybe that depends on your point of view). It saved me from flying right by. Inside, we found an antique oval picture frame with old portrait and the very fun vintage tin with handles. I have to admit: seeing the tin was an OMG moment and the price was right.

Last, but not least, on this Grand Tour was Lucketts Store. This place is amazing and overwhelming. The main building is a three story house with warrens of rooms. I was dizzy with the views. Beautiful colors here, too. We bought a few small pieces of ironstone, two small glass domes, and cold drinks. Outside are numerous small buildings loaded with more stuff. It began to sprinkle and purplish clouds were in the west, so we conceded that it was time to head home.

The boys loved the rollercoasters and we loved our country ride. With that, I could face the laundry ahead :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


My mother-in-law died 5 years ago today. We still miss her terribly. Elaine was an incredibly generous lady and dearly loved her seven grandchildren. But since my children were 6 and 9 years old at the time, their long-term memories of Marme (as they all called her) may be hazy. What she gave us in life and what she left behind are tangible pieces of her and her memory that my husband and I are keeping in trust for our children.

When we became engaged in 1990, we received a beautiful heirloom that had been in my husband's family since at least the 1850's--a large coin silver spoon signed S. Kirk. It had the monogram of three couples on the front and two couples on the back. Ours was the last set. Wow. This was something.Steve's parents had four of these spoons; as each of their four children became engaged, the new couple received a spoon with their initials added on to the previous four generations. Steve's father had died in 1986, but Elaine carried on the tradition of presenting a spoon to us.

Over the years, we have used the spoon for every special occasion meal and we were glad to have had Elaine there for many of those gatherings. She gave us other pieces of family silver over the years, but the initials spoon always seemed most significant.
When Elaine died, her four children, their spouses, and the grandchildren went to her place to be together (there were four sets of viewings at the funeral home, then the funeral); we began the process of going through her things (which took awhile).

We didn't take many belongings with us at first. I think that we were too sad and unfocused. But among the things we did take home were more spoons--these humble kitchen spoons--a circa 1950s ice cream scoop and a set of measuring spoons missing some of its mates.I guess we took them because they're useful, like our fine spoons, but also because they were hers. Elaine was a great cook. She'd probably had these spoons since she got married and she used them. So to us, the kitchen spoons are in every way heirlooms, too.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Our Backyard Garden

Like making lemonade when life gives you lemons, turn a few hours of weeding into an opportunity for a blog post! Among the features that we really love about our house are the screened porch and its view of the backyard. They are an extension of the home in so many ways. Walking out on the screened porch, it seems like you are enveloped in greenery and privacy. You can see one of our two ponds in the lower left of this picture:
When you step off the deck steps and turn into the yard, you are in shade and feel like you are moving into a new, expanding space. Early in the summer we had lots of rain, but lately it's been dry. The lonely sticks of grass under the trees are now a memory.The metal bench is a favorite spot in the shade across from the sugar maple and next to the Japanese maple.

We have several small concrete and stone garden statues/figures throughout the yard. This little bunny sits on a faux bois tree stump next to two mushrooms. These things don't have to be proportional, do they??Further away, you can see the urn and column (the latter we bought last year from Jeannie Trammell) that we love.

We have spiderwort growing around the upper pond (our yard has a slant). We find that the blooms get heavy for the stalks and they gradually fall over from the weight. The colors are purple, magenta, and white. The little praying cherub, like the previously-mentioned urn, are from Surreybrooke Gardens in Middletown, Maryland. At their home page, click on the "gardens" link to see many beautiful pictures.
Our ponds have fascinated us every year. Usually, we have goldfish, shubunkins, comets, fantails, and other fish, but they have always been too attractive for great blue herons. The herons had never completely wiped them out until last fall. I miss our fish! Meanwhile, we are enjoying our developing amphibious life. On the leaf is the tiniest baby frog I've ever seen. Its length is about the diameter of a dime or nickel.In the water you can see other frogs in their tadpole/pollywog progression.

A couple of chairs are always welcome for sitting and just staying put--especially after weeding, hacking branches, and other gardening duties.Here's to rest and enjoying the results!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another Successful Outing--Chartreuse and Co.

Today, I was fortunate to find more antiques and vintage stuff--pretty ironstone and painted metal! I also picked up 2 new cloches, 2 moss balls, and a wire mannequin to hold jewelry. I thought that was it, but we went back in after taking all these things to the van.Should have known I'd find something else; an old, white painted ice cream parlor chair called out to me. Another exchange at the checkout counter and the chair made it into the van, too.

Chartreuse is a winner to add to the list of super stops! My friend Lydia told me about this place some time ago; it is a group shop in a few buildings behind a private home out in the country. Open once a month for a weekend, my junior shopper and I finally made it over to a sale today.

In a way, Chartreuse reminded me of a hybrid of a couple of shops we went to a week ago. The outside has a mix of cottagey furniture and salvage materials and the insides of the main building and the little cottage are very put together and inviting. In other words, something for everyone.

When you enter the main building, grab a wicker shopping basket and see this:

Upstairs in the barn loft of the main building:And this is only part of what there is to see.

The darling kitty who is at home everywhere:A very sweet experience all around. You, too, can be part of this if you're in the MD/VA/DC/PA area. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Christmas in July!

You'd think that I'd have been satisfied with the trip to St. Michael's last Friday, when what did I spy in the area classifieds, but a yard sale the very next morning at 3 Chevy Chase Circle. What?! That's All Saints' Church, where I was married a number of years ago. All Saints has a thrift shop and they were putting on a yard sale. Had to check it out.

So daughter and I high tailed it over to the sale Saturday morning. As you might expect, there were women's clothes, household linens (nice ones), the ubiquitous baskets from years of floral arrangements, toys, and-- hold onto your Easter bonnets-- VINTAGE miniature Christmas decorations and assorted other dollhouse furniture and accessories. Multiple baggies full of them!Some decorations were MIP (mint in package for those who don't follow collectors' acronyms). Not everyone's cup of tea, but we found some little gems in there. I was salivating; they gave me a box to load everything in.

My favorite is the little bag of Santa's surprises circa 1950s. It took awhile to actually get the bag's opening loose, but what a thrill to find inside: wood and metal harmonica, metal clackety toy, plastic whistle, wooden yo-yo, play money, and plastic charms. Love those fab cat-eye glasses!When I first saw all this, my thought was, "lots of crafting potential." But, how can I break up Santa's surprise bag? Seems wrong after those mini toys being together for so many years! Plus, there are tiny candy canes, felt tree skirts, a tiny bottle brush tree with its own tiny tree skirt, mini stockings, tiny wooden snowmen, and more. I have a feeling that I have the makings of an elaborate Christmas shadowbox in my future.... And if that doesn't pan out, Emma actually has a large dollhouse that we got a few years ago at the Pink Cabbage (where else?)!

Last but not least, we found a couple of other worthies at the All Saints sale. We loved this vintage tin and really vintage deck of child's size playing cards called "Fauntleroy."

What great graphics these cards have! Look at the back with the picture of "The Earl." The deck's missing just one card-a joker! It's finds like these that are so unexpected and fun. Another great time on the yard sale circuit!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A day in St. Michael's - a vintage treat

If you haven't been to St. Michael's, Maryland, before or in a long time, try to visit. This is the home of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, restaurants featuring crabs, and shops galore! Our purpose yesterday was shopping, although we were there all day, so meals were also on the agenda....
First stop, Antiques on Talbot--sorry for the blurry picture. I hadn't been here in 2 months; didn't find anything I had to take home with me this time, but I'll be back.

Bags Aloft is a long-time St. Michael's shop that I've visited many times over the years. My son still uses a duffel bag we bought there at least 10 years ago. This time, we were tempted by Vera Bradley!

New discovery--Take Me Home. My first reaction on entering this shop was "OMG!" Regina has had her shop here since February and I don't know how I missed it on my last trip to this town. It is a beautiful, restful shop, with great things, including one of my faves-garden furniture. Calgon, take me away! (Only ladies of a certain vintage get that one :))

The blue stool with the glass top went home with us!Run, don't walk, to this store!

An interesting visual counterpart (in every way) to Take Me Home was Oak Creek Sales, a short drive from St. Michael's in Royal Oak, Maryland. We found this complex (it's 2 jam-packed buildings with spillage into the yards) on the way to the Bellevue/Oxford ferry and made a stop. The girls found some small treasures for craftmaking inside, while our driver had a refreshment at Bella Luna next door (more on that later).
Waiting for the ferry in Bellevue at the tiny beach:Oyster shells in abundance!

Cute little replica building on the other side of the ferry in Oxford:
We only took the ferry one way and drove around Oxford. So many charming homes for sale that it was shocking. Too bad we're not near retirement! We drove back to Royal Oak and ended the day with a wonderful dinner at Bella Luna Restaurant and Market:
Everything was delicious! The bruschetta was especially memorable.

So get out your planners and schedules and find a way to fit this area into your vacation time. BTW, I offer all this information free and without obligation to the places mentioned!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Recent Vintage Finds

While in Ohio, I made a little time for some antique and vintage hunting. Here are my finds:In the last few years I have developed an interest in painted vintage hangers, hat stands, and paper-covered boxes. I've loved antique Christmas ornaments for years, especially the mini ornaments for feather trees.

A close-up of the Christmas ornaments:Aren't they cute?

Our northern Ohio destination was Cedar Point, oldest amusement park in the country (I think). After two days of rides, we got a little wanderlust and drove around. One of the towns we visited is Milan, Ohio (pronounced MY-lan; almost nothing in Ohio that exists as a name somewhere else is pronounced the same way--Versailles is VER-sails-no kidding; New Concord is New Con-CORD, etc.). This is fairly amusing for my east-coast husband! Milan is the birthplace of Thomas Edison, so naturally we had to pay a courtesy call. How adorable is this house?
We discovered some antique shops on and near the village square. I found the pink hat stand at Milan Inn-Tiques. Then we found Sights & Sounds of Edison:This shop had the round paper-covered box and the Christmas ornaments. If I'd had more time, I could have spent hours in that shop. It was a curious mix of Edison memorabilia and American antiques. I didn't notice that the two shops are apparently owned by brothers! I picked up the business card at each shop and both are owned by couples named Gfell. Milan is a nice little historic town--check it out!

We also spent a day at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. This was my second visit--it's a great place. We saw a beautiful sunset over Lake Erie. The R&R Hall of Fame is the triangular shaped building to the left of the sun.Lots of great ephemera on display that would make great art projects--ha!