Thursday, November 30, 2006

Vintage Christmas Swap

"Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other, gold. Across the land, across the sea, friends forever we will always be." (Old Girl Scout song)

I had such a nice experience with my last swap that I decided to sign up for another one, even in the midst of Christmas craziness. This one is part of Vintage Swaps, and the theme is (surprise, surprise) Vintage Christmas. Yesterday I got assigned my swap partner, and I'm excited to say she lives Down Under! (OK, so shipping will be more expensive, but I like having international friends!) Her name is Sarah London and, after reading her blog, I've surmised that she likes funky vintage with clean lines. Hopefully I'll be hearing from her to get a better idea of what she likes. Meanwhile, I have been collecting a few vintage Christmas items in my thrifting shopping of the past few weeks.

To help out Sarah, I've borrowed this getting-to-know-you Christmas list of questions from Lucy at Sweet Repeats:

1) Egg nog or Hot Chocolate: Egg nog
2) Does Santa wrap presents or sit them under the tree? In the stocking, unwrapped.
3)Colored lights on the tree/house: White, white, white!
4)Do you hang mistletoe? If I remember to buy it.
5)When do you put your decorations up? After Thanksgiving.
6)What is your favorite holiday dish? Cookies and candy.
7)Favorite holiday memory as a child? Seeing Santa Claus running away from our house.
8)When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Kim Erbach told me about the Easter Bunny one Easter and I extrapolated about Santa.
9)Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? All of them.
10)How do you decorate your Christmas tree: In silver, gold, and crystal ornaments, most of which are gifts from my godparents, Betty and Mike.
11) Do you like snow? Love it, but then I don't have to drive much in it or shovel it at all.
12)Can you ice skate? Not as well as my mother!
13) Do you remember your favorite gift? Mmmm. I'm hoping for it this year: my referral from Vietnam of Sam!
14) What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? I like the theme of waiting during Advent and the message of the Incaration at Christmas, that God came to earth and became like us. But also the whole family thing, too.
15) What is your favorite holiday dessert? Oh, I love all our cookies, but I think cranberry cake with butter sauce has to win.
16) What is your favorite holiday tradition? It's not really gifts. But I like all the preparation: getting a tree, decorating, parties. Probably Cookie Baking Weekend (this weekend!) is my favorite tradition, in part because it was a later development that took into account our changing lives.
17) What tops your tree? A silver star from Ikea.
18) Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving. But receiving is nice, too.
20)Candy Canes or Chocolate Covered Cherries? Candy canes, I guess.
21) Favorite Christmas Movie? Probably "It's a Wonderful Life."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Weekend in Wisconsin

"So in this month of Thanksgiving, we can be thankful for the trials of the past, the blessings of the present, and be heartily ready at the same time to embrace with joy any troubles the future may bring us." (Dorothy Day, By Little and By Little: The Selected Witings of Dorothy Day)

See that turkey? I did nothing but debone it after dinner. My mom (left) cooked a wonderful TG meal, including homemade pies (see photo below), both pumpkin and mincemeat. I did cut out those cute leaves for the top of the mincemeat pie.

Ed and I had a nice relaxing visit with my parents over the long weekend. My mom and I did a little craft shopping on Friday (I usually like to support the Buy-Nothing boycott on Black Friday, but does crafting supplies count?) We also hit the big Craft Fair USA, which was decent though not wonderful. I got some homemade soap that has Leinenkugel's beer in it. My mom got some cute cutting boards made out of Corian and shaped like the state of Wisconsin.

This is what the men did after Thanksgiving.

And there was knitting. I decided to finally try knitting a sock. I always like to have a project that my mom can help with when I go home. I got as far as "turning the heel" (not as hard as I thought it would be) and now am knitting down to the toe. I figured I'll do the toe next weekend, when I'm once again home for Cookie Baking Weekend.

We came home Saturday from Wisconsin. (See adoption website later tonight for the latest addition to our family. Hint: it's not a child.) I spent the rest of the weekend making "Purse-onalities" to get ready for the house show this Sunday. I'll post more photos of those tomorrow.

And details about Cookie Baking will be coming soon. Let me just tell you this: Thousands of cookies are baked.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


"We hold the key to lasting happiness in our own hands. For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful." (Brother David Steindl-Rast, Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer)

Things I'm thankful for:

1. My incredible husband.

2. My family, including in-laws!

3. My friends, old and new, including those I've met through craft blogs.

4. My adoption agency and the Vietnam government, both of which will help us have a child.

5. That the people I love are healthy.

6. Time for creative projects.

7. A career I still enjoy.

8. A Democratic Congress.

9. Our new (used) car, thanks to my parents.

10. A God who has given us all these blessings.

Those cross-stitched pilgrims were made by me about a decade ago and grace my mom's table every year. (Check out her blog and see the cute sweater she's knitting for Samuel.) And the ceramic salt and pepper shakers were made by my sister (long ago in my Aunt Pat's ceramic shop).

Today we enjoyed a wonderful meal of all the traditional foods: turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes with brandy, watermelon pickles, and mincemeat and pumpkin pie. Yum!

Tomorrow, my mom and I are planning to hit Michael's in time for the 25% coupon (6-9 a.m.), then off to a huge craft fair at State Fair Park in Milwaukee. In other craft news, I started knitting my first pair of socks today. I thought it'd be good to knit them while home so my mom can teach me to turn the heel.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

When will I learn???

"In the winter it was easier for me to believe in God, and I suppose it had to do with the new weather, with the color of leaves clinging to trees, with the smoke in the fireplaces of big houses in opulent neighborhood where I would ride my bike. I half believed that if God lived in one of those neighborhoods, he would invite me in, make me hot chocolate, and talk to me while his kids played Nintendo and stabbed dirty looks over their shoulders." (Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz)

Look at that beautiful plate! It--and a whole set of dishes like it--could have been mine. But noooooo, I made the cardinal mistake of thrifting once again: I hestitated.

It was about 10 days ago, during my first visit to the Mt. Sinai Thrift Shop on Diversey. This is a nicer (and more expensive) shop than, say, the Salvation Army or Village. I was attracted to the dishes because I love anything with fall leaves. When I turned it over and saw that it was a Franciscan pattern, I thought: This might be worth more than the $15 they're asking. Maybe I should buy it and sell it on Ebay.

But I decided to wait and go home and check if it is collectible. Of course, it is. A platter (which was included in this otherwise incomplete set) sold on Ebay for $15 alone. So I decided to go back when I could, which was last night. Of course, it was gone. I was so sad! I looked all around and asked the clerk, but she thought it had been sold. I bought a few other things because they were having a 50% off housewares sale (will post photos later) but couldn't stop kicking myself for passing this up. Of course, I had since decided not to sell it on Ebay but to keep it for myself! Now I will forever be looking for Francican Whirl-a-gig pattern china. I guess we all have our stories about the "ones that got away." What are yours?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


"Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart." (Desert Father Abba Poeman the Shepherd, 4th century)

I've sold my first Purse-onalities! My friend Delia purchased two: one as a gift, and that pretty pumpkin-colored one above for herself. I gave her a slight "friend discount," but still, I made money! Yea! The inside fabric for those two above is this cute comic sheet. I like the fall colored ones the best.
But it's a good news/bad news thing: The good news, of course, is that they sold, but that also means my inventory is now down to four, and I'm trying to have a bunch to sell at a house sale sponsored by a friend of a friend on Dec. 3 here in Chicago.

So of course because I have to crank some out, my sewing machine went on the blink. I carried it two blocks to the nice sewing machine repair shop in my neighborhood (it's heavy!) and the nice man said it needs a service, which is going to cost $60. There goes my profit from selling the purses! Oh well, that's a good thing to spend it on.

I can pick my machine up on Saturday, and you can bet I'll be cranking out a bunch of Purse-onalities this weekend. Do you think I can finish six?

Looks like I'm not going to have time to make the felt leaf garland. Nor the cookie sheet Advent calendar (lots of Advent calendar ideas at two peas). I'll have to save those ideas for next year.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Christmas planning

"We can have the best eyes in the world, but in pitch-black darkness our eyes are of little use to us. We need light in order to see our way. Advent is a season for Christ, our Light, to break through our spiritual darkness." (Joyce Rupp, Welcome the Light: Daily Devotions for Advent)

Blogger finally let me post this photo of the vintage tablecloth I found at Value City last weekend. I don't have a round table, but I love it.

Everyone else is blogging about all their Christmas preparations. I tend to be a pretty organized Christmas person, if only because I don't like the stress of leaving everything to the last minute. I've been knitting these for over a month now, and even delivered some of my packages during my visit to northern Wisconsin for my Grandma's birthday. (Though lately my crafting time is spent knitting baby gifts and making Purse-onalities.)

I tend to do my gifts in groups: first all my extended non-kid relatives and friends (aunts, godparents, grandma), then my godchildren and families with kids (Misiewiczs, Korths, Etten-Bohms), then my immediate families (mine and Ed's) and finally a few close friends in Chicago. I already have Group 1 done and delivered, and my goal is to have Group 2 done by the first weekend in December. I like to get the ones that have to be mailed done as soon as possible.

I'm lucky that I get all my baking done during Cookie Baking Weekend, except for the tons of batches of toffee I also make as gifts. More and more, I like giving people food. Everybody has too much stuff anyway. I'm trying to get my family to exchange gifts of themselves: Last year my best gift was my brother, who gave me the gift of installing my new kitchen lights. This year we'll have babysitting vouchers on our list!

The only Christmas task that always trips me up is cards. This year, I may hold off to see if we have a referral by New Year's. I'd be great to send a photo of our new son with our cards this year. Fingers crossed.

Friday, November 17, 2006

More purse-onalities

"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." (Theologian Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking)

So I've been very, very busy: felting sweaters, cutting them up, deciding on pocket trim, picking out buttons, trying to match lining fabrics and tie handles, hand and machine sewing them all together. I now have three new "purse-onalities." Two are this fun bright green chartreuse color. This first one has a fun striped outer pocket but I forgot to do the inner pocket. But it does have the metallic clasp. The lining fabric is a vintage royal, aqua and green floral print, and the vintage tie echoes the bright blues.

"Purse-onality #2" is not from the same sweater, believe it or not, but a similarly colored one. (The striped pocket on #1, above, came from this sweater.) This bag (more of a tote, as it is bigger) has stripes on the from bottom as well as the pocket, which is sewn down the middle for two little pockets. The lining is this green and aqua geometic decorator fabric and includes an inside pocket. I did not add the metallic clasp, since this is more of a tote bag. A light blue vintage tie makes the handle.

"Purse-onality #3" is a heathery brown with a tan stripe at the bottom and three little pockets of a blue/orange/green/brown stripe, each big enough to hold a nice lipstick or chapstick. The lining fabric is a brown and blue vintage geometic, and the brown and blue vintage tie coordinates. This has both an inner pocket and the metallic clasp!

I have decided that I am for sure going to be selling these. First, the few Chicago friends who have expressed interest will have first dibs. Then, a friend of a friend, is hosting a home party where many homemade items will be sold. It will be from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at a home in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. If you're interested, email me and I'll send you the address. Although that is Cookie Baking Weekend, I may try to get home early to be at the sale. If not, my purses will be there. Whatever doesn't sell then will be my very first etsy offerings! (One question from crafty readers: How important is the metallic clasp, do you think?)

What is Cookie Baking Weekend, you ask? Oh, are you in for a treat! You'll see soon...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Weekend thrifting

"Mankind has to get out of violence only through nonviolence. Hatred can only be overcome by love." (Gandhi, a few hours before he was assassinated)

The only estate sale of interest this weekend was way out in the western suburbs of Forest Park, which would have meant two buses and a train, so I decided to pass. But I did take one bus to one garage sale, which was supposed to be a resale shop going out of business, but was really just the junk. I did get one gold curtain panel, which should match the trim I bought two weekends ago. Maybe pillows?

Since the Village Thrift was on the way home from this particular sale, and because I needed more vintage ties for the recycled sweater "Purse-onalities" (photos of my new ones to be posted soon), I planned a quick stop, where I once again scored.

First, I found another chenille bedspread, this one in perfect condition, not sure how old, for $4. This fabric has "man" written all over it: sports, TV, beer and pretzels. Sexist, but kind of cute.

This is a coverlet, pieced but not quilted. I love the bird fabric but not the country-ish heart border. I may cut it up.

Finally, sweaters galore. The ones on the left are already felted. That argyle will be a cool purse. The three on the right still need to go through the washer. At the rate I'm buying sweaters, I should have about a dozen purses soon. I've got two more cut out and ready to go...

There also was a gorgeous vintage Christmas tablecloth, but blogger won't let me post it, so I'll have to show it later...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cuban clutches and Delle's "home-going"

"In fall, nature knocks you down with color. A little goes a long way, too. How beautiful some endings can be!" (my friend Delle Chatman, who died last week at 52 of ovarian cancer)

This is my bedroom dresser (sorry for the bad lighting), which used to be piled with junk but is now very serene and zen, thanks to my neighbor Leigh Ann (whose birthday we celebrated at a fun party Saturday night). Leigh Ann makes cigar box purses and jewelry boxes. I finally bought three of them to organize all my jewlery.

Look at how pretty that is! She lines the boxes with ultrasuede fabric, and lately has been using these fun animal prints. Each jewelry box has two levels, so you can store lots of stuff. Leigh Ann really takes her time to make it all look very neat and professional. And she collects the coolest different cigar boxes to make her purses and boxes out of.

I'm not a huge jewelry person; in fact, I'm lucky if I remember to put on a pair of earrings each morning. But, thanks to some really nice gifts from my husband, family and friends, I've really amassed quite a nice collection. I have a decent number of cool vintage pieces, too, many from my grandmother.

While you're looking at these nice photos of my newly organized dresser, I'll tell you what else I did on Saturday, before Leigh Ann's party--I went to the most amazing funeral I've ever been to (although Patty Crowley's was pretty cool, too.) It was for my friend Delle Chatman, quoted above, who died on election day. I first met Delle when I interviewed her for the story that got me in trouble with the Vatican.

Eventually I ended up at her parish, St. Gertrude's in Edgewater, where she regularly preached. (Yes, a woman preaching at a Catholic church.) She was one of the most deeply spiritual women I know, and I was lucky to call her a friend. We will all miss her dearly, none as much as her almost-12-year-old daughter, Ramona, who sang this amazing song at the funeral and gave a eulogy. She is a chip off the old block. In leiu of flowers, Delle asked that we spend quality time with Ramona. One of Delle's last emails had this P.S.: "Brothers and sisters, either we believe in eternal life or we don't!" Amen, sister!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rice Lake thrifting

"The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?" (Spanish cellist Pablo Csals)

Am I celebrating the Democrats' big win? You betcha. My sister worked especially hard, making calls for I made a few myself. I've been reading lots of craft blogs this week and am happy to see that many of my creative sisters share my sentiments about the current administration and its direction or lack thereof.

I'm playing catch-up today, posting some thrifting goodies from last weekend. My sister and I arrived in Rice Lake only a few hours before my grandma's birthday party last Saturday, but cousin Stacey helped us squeeze in some quick shopping at a cool vintage store. They had very nice stuff but it was marked up past my comfort level. Aprons: $5-7, if you know what I mean. And here I thought a smaller town might mean bigger bargains.

My sister was nice enough to drop me at the St. Vincent de Paul's right near our hotel for a quick, 15-minute sweep while she hit the nearby Shopko to get a birthday card and cold medicine for her daughter. They had a nice craft section, but I got the feeling that others had combed it before me. (It was late Saturday afternoon.) But I found the apron (above) for less than $2 (it had a stain and is soaking in Oxyclean right now). Someone handstitched "The Lord Bless and Keep You" in a color a little too close to the fabric color. I also grabbed some pink bias tape or 50 cents, two cool Christmas napkins (not vintage but cute fabric) and an AWESOME already felted purple sweater (background but hard to see) for $1.50 on clearance. Not bad for 15 minutes. And always nice to come home with something thrifted while out of town.

On Thursday after work, I stopped at the Mt. Sinai Thrift Shop on Diversey here in Chicago, which is right of the Brown Line, my train. I've walked by this hundreds of times but finally figured out that they're open on Thursdays till 7 (and Tuesdays, I guess, too). They had some cool stuff. Here's what I didn't buy:

  • Two nice striped sweaters for felted purses (They were $5 and $7)
  • A gorgeous vintage floral tablecloth in pristine condition (It was $25!)
  • A small white pitcher with a lemon on it (shoulda...)
  • A set of Franciscan dishes in the pattern Whirl-a-gig, with sage green leaves. I loved it and there were bunches of pieces, including a platter, all for $15. I tried to justify that I could probably sell it on ebay, then talked myself out of that, and then came home to check and realized, yes, I probably could. Problem is, I like it, but I have no business getting more dishes. I might go back and get it.

The only thing I did get was this $3 sheet in bright green polka dots. I love that the edge was finished with three different fabrics. Already finished edges are great for purse linings.

While I'm making lists, here are few cool things I've seen on the 'net recently:

  • Baby bibs from washcloths from Jinjur
  • A list of patterns for knitting food, including a ham sandwich and a tofu pincushion. I kid you not.
  • Wool leaf garland by Shanna of Pink Trees posted at Scarlet Tanager. I am so going to make this.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Creative lineage

"We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies." (Shirley Abbott, author of The Bookmaker's Daughter)

As someone who is about to adopt a child who is not biologically related to me, I've been doing a lot of thinking about nature vs. nurture and heredity. Also, last weekend my sister and I (and her three kids) traveled to northern Wisconsin for my Grandma Doris' 95th birthday. One thing that runs in that side of the family (and also in my mother's side, now that you mention it) is longevity. Another trait that seems to be in the genes is craftiness and creativity. Apparently, it's mostly an X chromosome type of thing.

This photo from the party is of me with my cousin Stacey, who isn't a big crafter but is a wonderful cook and super creative decorator, especially with vintage things, many of which she got from our grandmother. I'm wearing a vintage dress of my grandmother's, I think from the 60s. She made it herself, with fabric she bought and watched be hand-printed in Key West, Florida.

My Grandma Doris (blowing out the candles on her cake presented by my dad) was a home economics teacher who made everything from her own granola to winter coats for her children from my grandpa's old suits. She also is a notorious packrat, which I also inherited from her! Many of the cool vintage things I have (coats, dresses, hats) belonged to her first. I remember visiting her home in Durand, Wisconsin as a kid and going through all her goodies in her sewing room or her basement. I have this vivid memory of her making these red and white striped stuffed horses to sell to raise money for an Indian reservation. She is the creative matiarch of our family.

Her daughter, my Auntie Sue, is the next generation. She is also super crafty, a big stamper, sewer, decorator, and now knitter. Her beautiful old house in Rice Lake, Wisconsin if full of cool things, many of them vintage. People tell me I look a lot like my grandmother and my Auntie Sue, and I think I inhereted more than looks from them.

Not to be outdone by my dad's side of the family tree, my mother also is a craft woman extraordinaire. She sewed most of my clothes growing up, is the architect of the Schlumpf Women Cookie Baking Weekend (coming up!), and has her own knitting blog. I love that we share simliar hobbies and can talk for hours about our creative endeavors. I believe her mother was creative as well (weren't all women of that generation?), although I didn't know her as well as my other grandma. I have some beautiful hand tatted Christmas ornaments that my Grandma Werrell made.

My mom's sister, my Aunt Pat, is an extraordinarily creative women who ran a ceramics studio out of her basement when I was little, complete with kiln and everything. We used to love to visit and paint ornaments, toothpick holders, and ceramic baked potatoes to hold sour cream. At 80something, she stioll sews, stamps, quilts, and now is starting to sell stuff on ebay!. She is a regular reader of this blog, and I hope she launches her own soon.

My sister thinks she's not crafty, but she is a very creative cook and has, at different points in her life, taken up somecreative projects. Come Christmas, I'll post a photo of one of her most ambitious endeavors. I think her children are her greatest creaive project so far!

But in the end, I'm not really sure if creativity is an inherited trait like blue eyes or blonde hair, both of which also run in this family! But I do know that if I hadn't been exposed to all the creativity of the women in my extended family, I might not have become the craftaholic that I am today! And that's what I hope to be able to offer my son and daughter: They won't have my genes (or Grandma Doris' or Aunt Pat's), but I do plan to teach them both how to knit, sew, cook, paint and to expose them to whatever particular creative outlet they seem interested in. I want to pass on this creative lineage that I have been so lucky to have "inherited," however that happened.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall." (Larry Wilde, quoted in At Home with Our Faith)

As you can see from the photo, the assembly line is in process for the mini mittens. I've been knitting them for a month or so, and last week sat down and did the felt cutouts and buttons. I think I did seven pair. Already, four pair have been delivered as Christmas gifts. Yes, I'm delivering gifts already. Although I save lots of $$ by making gifts, I spend so much in postage, because so many people on my list are out of town. So I try to at least save by hand delivering to relatives when I see them in the fall, which I did last weekend for my Grandma's 95th birthday in northern Wisconsin. (More about that in a future post).

Although I hate to skip over Thanksgiving, which is a lovely holiday and which I plan to spend with my parents this year in Wisconsin, I do have the Christmas spirit already. It's fun to see all the other bloggers starting Christmas gifts and decorations. I won't go overboard this year, as we have a lot of other stuff going on with the adoption. We're just learning about all the preparation that goes into being ready to travel by January or February. Lots to do!

Anyway, here are some other cool Christmas crafts I've seen from other bloggers:

  • Rebecca's yo-yo and wooden spool Christmas trees. Adorable and easy!
  • A tutorial on raggy Christmas garland from Norththreads. Probably too country for me, but looks easy.
  • I finally signed up for the Vintage Christmas Swap. Should be fun. I don't have tons of vintage Christmas stuff, so I'd better hit some thrift shops this weekend (and of course I kicking myself for not picking up some stuff at the estate sale I went to last month. There was TONS of vintage Christmas.)

I voted!

Did you? Don't forget to vote!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

New purse-onalities

"'Help' is a prayer that is always answered." (Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith)
So this is my first recycled sweater purse. I was so proud of it that I took it "up north" to my Grandma's 95th birthday party (more about that in a subsequent post) to show it off to my crafty mother, aunt, and grandmother. They were impressed!

It helps that this sweater is from some cool fall colors with a nice pattern. Those two small pockets are made from the the sleeve ribbing, blanketstitched and topped with vintage buttons. The inside is that cool Japanese scarf fabric I found at a garage sale for $1. And the solution to my handle dilemma? Vintage ties! This one is my grandfather's, but I've since hit the thrift stores to add to my stash.

I've got three more of these cut out, and I've purchased, ahem, "several" (meaning "tons") more sweaters to make some more. People are expressing interest in them so I may try to sell a few, on etsy, to friends, or even at a possible open house craft sale sponsored by my friend who does cool cigar purses.

I need advice, though: How much would you sell this for? Or more importantly, what would you pay? It's about 12x18 inches, my materials cost about $7-8 (including magnetic closure), and they take me about three hours, complete with handsewn lining. I'm thinking $35 or $39. What do you think? I think a lot of crafters have a hard time pricing their work. It's hard!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Saints alive!

The world needs saints who have genius, just as a plague-stircken town needs doctors. Where there is a need, there is also an obligation. (Simone Weil, quoted in Kenneth Woodward's Making Saints)

Happy Belated All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and current All Souls Day (Nov. 2). Who is the patron saint of thrifting? I don't think there is one. But whoever it was, he/she was watching over me on Halloween night, as I had much vintage linen shopping success at the Village Thrift on Lawrence. Check out that cute apron. Only 60 cents! I kid you not. Almost didn't see it, as I had been picking through linens for a half an hour and was getting bored. I love the stair-step shape.

Remember the story from last weekend about how I didn't pick up the chenille bedspread right away at the garage sale and lost it. It was $10. Well, at Village I found one for $4. A nice white, twin-sized one with only one tiny hole. I'd love to cut it up and make it into something but that seems criminal when it's in such good shape. We'll see. Not sure how old it is. It's not the fuzzy chenille (like the blue one that got away) but the plainer kind. Still, a great find. (It's in the background of the next photo.)

But look what's on top of it! Counterclockwise from the top: a set of placemats and napkins with roosters and other cute, Eastern European looking motifs. Not sure how old these are but they are in near-perfect condition, maybe even never used. Then the hand-stitched owl towel. Any major owl collectors out there? I might be willing to sell it. Then this cool fabric--two dishtowels and a napkin, I think--with the Chinese restaurant motif. Love it. Finally a Irish linen tea towel with bars of Ireland on it. Looks newish, but excellent shape. Less than $10 for all of it.

Then I picked up all these emboidered linen towels. They're small, probably for a guest bathroom? I can't tell if they're old or not. Anyone have any guesses? They look hand embroidered and are kind of starched. The napkin in the top righthand corner is definitely vintage, and the hand embroidered doilies look old too. All this stuff was 40-60 cents each.

Finally, I found some decorator fabric in some cool greens. The one on the left will work for lining a sweater purse I'm working on. I also found a pillowcase (not pictured) that will work for another sweater purse. And I picked up two ties for handles for sweater purses. And last but not least, of course, some sweaters for felting. I'll show those in another post

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

First rule of thrifting

Do not think of what will happen tomorrow, for the same eternal Father who takes are of you today will look out for you tomorrow and always. Either he will keep you from evil or he will give you invincible courage to endure it. (St. Francis de Sales)

So you would think that garage sales would be over by late October in the Windy City, wouldn't you. Well, they were sparse, but they're still happening. Last weekend I only made it to one, but it was a good one. Three neighbors were pooling their stuff, and one of them clearly was an amateur (or professional) antiquer. They all frequented estate sales. I got so much stuff that I could hardly get it home on my bike (and this was way up in Rogers Park) but I made it.

I did break the first, cardinal rule of thrifting. When I first got there I saw a beautiful light blue chenille bedspread marked $10, which is a steal, but would have been half my usual garage sale budget. So I decided to look around. Enter two professional guys, making their sweep. The one guy says under his breath, "Chenille" and the other guy grabs it. I guess I had to relearn the hard way: Don't walk by something. You can always change your mind and put it down, but not vice versa. Oh well.

The biggest score was two huge jars of buttons. He took $12 for both and there are TONS of buttons, including some really interesting ones. There also were lots of nice big ones, which look like they're from coats and that will be great for my sweater purses.

Other finds included three very cool Japanese scarves, one of which I've already used for a purse lining. They were $1; a huge thing of vintage gold fringe trim ($4 but there's lots there). The gold matches my living room walls perfectly. I also got two books: a big hardback called "Stamp Decorating" and the "Fix It and Forget It" one I've wanted for awhile. $1.50 for both.

This is where I confess that I used to collect cows. But I didn't go overboard (some might argue) because I limited it to cow kitchen stuff. Well, awhile ago I got a little tired of the moo motif in my kitchen so I saved only a few precious items: my cow tea kettle and a few cow salt and pepper shakers. At Saturday's sale, I found this cute S&P set for $2. I think it says "Barbe Moo" or something like that. And then this cool tin, shaped like a barn, and with the adorable decorating inside. I picture Sam putting his blocks in there or somethingl $4.

By the way, the St. Francis de Sales quote was shared with me by my Vietnam adoption coordinator Therese when I needed help believing I could get through all this. We're thinking of her today because she had some (minor) surgery. We pray for a speedy recovery.