The holiday shopping season is upon us and it's sure to be crazy out there this weekend. I much prefer to avoid the crowds and shop online while relaxing in my favorite armchair with a cup of tea by my side. If you're like me, then be sure to peruse my Etsy shop on Friday for the start of a 20% off sale. There, you'll find a little bit of vintage everything.
Retro Christmas items are always nostalgic and fun. They are selling really fast this year.
A vintage personal-sized teapot with a matching handmade tea cozy is a thoughtful gift for the tea lover.
Vintage fun! I always stock an array of old toys in my Etsy shop, with even more coming soon.
Rustic relics like these make great gifts for guys.
Vintage aprons are both sweet and practical presents.
Kitschy canine collectibles are popular gifts for pet people.
Small vintage items make great stocking stuffers. In my shop, you'll find little mending kits, swatch portraits, a tiny children's book, miniature paintings, curtain tie-back holders, a Shawnee Pottery mini vase, metal tip trays and more.
My Etsy shop 20% off sale will run for five days. It begins on Black Friday, November 28 and goes through Tuesday, December 2. In order to receive the discount, you must use the coupon code SAVE20 at checkout.
I'll be listing additional items chock full of vintage appeal throughout December. So please stop back again!
John and I spent last weekend with friends on Cape Cod. While perusing a local antique shop, I came across a fun find — an American Airlines postcard from the 1950s.
Depicting the main cabin of a DC-7 Mercury, this 365 mph passenger plane provided non-stop service between Los Angeles and New York. Back then, air travel was a special event and folks wore their very best clothes for the occasion.
A quick Google search unearthed an image of the DC-7 as well as an AA promotional film about their cross-country service, below.
Warning: it's rather lengthy, and this is only Part 1. Part 2 and Part 3 can be viewed here and here. In its entirely, the promo is 30 minutes long — a bit of a snooze-fest, unless you're an aviation buff.
Google also dredged up an advertisement about this flagship service. Coast to coast in under eight hours, and that was three hours less than existing flight times. My, we sure have come a long way! Something to think about as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, undoubtedly the busiest travel time of the year.
I never pass up tattered old books with beautiful covers. Why, you may ask? Because I like to repurpose them into spiral-bound notebooks brimming with vintage appeal.
Here are my latest rescued relics . . .
Sunny Bunny, a darling children's book from 1918, sports an illustration of the title character playing a flute on the front and a group of his friends on the back. The inside has pictures of Sunny's family in the garden of their adorable pink cottage.
The First Book of Magic, a fun children's instructional book, was originally published in 1953. With a graphic of a top hat and magician's wand on the front, it also has magical illustrations on the inside front and back covers.
Heidi, this classic children's chapter book by Johanna Spyri, was published in 1954 as part of Doubleday's Junior Deluxe series of kids' books.
This Dana Girls Mystery Stories chapter book is from the 1950s. I like the illustration of the Dana Girls holding a holding a flashlight on the green tweed front cover, as well as the drawings of the sleuthing duo on the inside.
In 1931, The North American Almanac was considered the aristocrat of almanacs. It features a wonderful illustration of Viking ships at sea on the front and back covers.
These reclaimed books-turned-journals, along with other items made by me, can be found for sale in my Etsy here.
Ever wonder what to do with orphaned parts from vintage board games? At estate sales, I often come across ones where there's just enough of the game missing to render it un-playable. However, I rarely pass them by if they have usable pieces that can be up-cycled into something else, like Scrabble with its little wooden squares that creative folks incorporate into mixed media art. Or these cardboard letters, below, from an old game called Dig that I found at a recent barn sale.
The game had seen better days, but I knew its letter pieces would be fun to use in crafty ways. In a nice shade of Jadeite green, several have areas that have faded to a soft brown color. Shabby perfection.
Yesterday afternoon, using red and white baker's twine thread through a large embroidery needle, I began stringing together letters to make a little message garland. Sitting at my work table with my favorite music on, this simple project was very relaxing. Fun, too.
I think the finished garland is super sweet, perfect to place across a mirror, on a wreath, or just about anywhere. When time permits, I plan to make more with different messages like Happy Holidays, Welcome, etc. Then I'll list a few in my Etsy shop to see if they are sellable.
Any ideas as to what else I should spell out? If so, please let me know . . . Thanks!
Lately, my brew of choice (beside Susan's Blend) is green tea. So when The Republic of Tea recently contacted me asking if I'd sample a few of their premium teas, I chose to try an array of their organic green teas.
How lovely to find a package with these three varieties on my doorstep: Spice of Life Green Tea combines green tea with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and pure honey flavor. Their Organic Dancing Leaves variety is a full-leaf loose green tea. And Double Green Matcha Tea combines organic green tea powder (matcha) with organic green leaf tea.
I really like The Republic of Tea's round, unbleached tea bags. They stack neatly in those well-designed cylindrical tins and nestle comfortably inside the teacup. For the loose tea, I used a mesh stainless steel tea ball which is perfect for brewing one cup.
I fired up my tea kettle and when it whistled its tune, the brewing began. Using a timer left over from my tea room days, I steeped each for a full three minutes. Then it was time to sip...
When brewed, each variety had a distinctive color and taste. The Spice of Life blend was complex and a bit sweet. I definitely could taste the cinnamon, turmeric and ginger. The Dancing Leaves loose tea was hardy and rich with smoky tones. And the Double Green Matcha was simpler and quite smooth.
All three teas were yummy, but I had a clear favorite: Double Green Matcha. Many thanks to The Republic of Tea for sharing!
Belonging to folks wishing to pare down their stash, the items shown below have somehow found their way to me. To lend a hand, I have offered to sell them in my Etsy shop. Perhaps they will inspire someone to start a new collection . . .
Art Deco anyone? These 1940s delphinium blue Hall Pottery pieces were made as an accessory to Westinghouse refrigerators.
It takes a village. These glittery little cardboard buildings from the 1950s are chock full of Christmas kitsch.
Industrial chic. These vintage porcelain glove molds, in an array of sizes, can become quirky and sculptural home decor.
Preserve the past. These blue Ball mason jars came straight out of an old red barn from an estate that was once a dairy farm.
Gosh, lots to list! You know what I'll be doing for the rest of the month . . .
Hope you have a terrific weekend!
I recently found two old globes that are ripe for repurposing. Both are in rough shape and no longer geographically accurate, making them perfect for some crafty projects.
A vintage primer, titled We Are Neighbors, provided the images for my upcycled globe on the left. It features charming illustrations of friendly children at play in an active neighborhood. This fall, I think I'll use these images, once again, to transform my newest finds into earthly art.
I enjoy getting crafty every once in a while. How about you?
I've never been afraid of a little dirt, which is a good thing because you wouldn't believe some of the estate sales I attend. Many take place in neglected houses that are grime-encrusted from attic to cellar. But to find the good stuff, you have to be fearless.
I often purchase things which haven't been cleaned for decades that most estate sale goers pass by. My latest find is a case in point: this darling doll dresser, the kind of endearing item that usually sells within the first few minutes of a sale.
I guess its schmutz must have turned people off. (Or perhaps it was just waiting for me.)
Caked with dirt, this charming relic was in desperate need of a new home — and a good cleaning. A little elbow grease really brought it back to life.
I even lined its two small drawers with pretty vintage paper making it all ready for its Etsy debut.
This little dresser looks so happy now. If it could, it would be smiling.
I have a favorite new decorating book! Written by best-selling author Mary Randolph Carter, it’s titled Never Stop to Think... Do I Have a Place for This?
I have long admired Carter's approach to decorating. She embraces living stylishly while surrounding herself with massive collections of treasured things. Way to go!
Here’s what publisher Rizzoli has to say about the book:
Mary Randolph Carter's newest book indulges our desire to surround ourselves with belongings that impart beauty and meaning to our lives. Whether you are passionate about flea market thrifting, have a collection of pedigreed antiques, or simply find inspiration among the castoffs in your attic, this book is a tribute to making artful interiors with your acquisitions.
With her trademark style and love of heirlooms and beautiful old objects, Carter delves into the interiors of real-life tastemakers (antique dealers, fashion designers, artists, and boutique owners) to explore how our homes are the perfect canvas for our self-expression. In these pages, Carter curates a variety of unique interiors, from a couple who restores and displays antique textiles and china to an anglophile with an incredible library of vintage books to an artist who lives with the old photos and maps he uses in his work to an antique dealer known for having multiples of everything. Carter muses delightfully on the universal desire to acquire while imparting her philosophy and tips for living creatively and integrating our passions stylishly into our decor. Chock-full of ideas and inspiration, this book exalts in the beauty of bounty and is sure to delight Carter's legions of fans.
If you are an incurable collector like me, not only will you find this book inspiring, you will find yourself in very good company. And when that next vintage flea market find shouts, Take me home!, you just may no longer stop to think... Do I have a place for this?
Remember my inspiration book?
Filled with tear sheets of wonderful rooms from my favorite shelter magazines, it really came in handy over the past year.
When we moved to our new house last fall, it was the first place I looked for kitchen ideas. I have been saving pictures of kitchens with a vintage vibe for years, not knowing I'd ever get a chance to design one from scratch.
Our new home gave me that opportunity. We are thoroughly enjoying our new kitchen, which I believe is just as lovely as any of the ones in my inspiration book.
What do you like to pin?
That is the question. You see, even though I no longer have my tea room, I still get requests for tea. Every so often, someone calls my cell phone asking to book a private party or make a reservation for afternoon tea. I hate to hear the disappointment in their voices when I tell them my tea room closed six years ago.
Other times, I am contacted by someone wanting to try one of the teas offered at my former establishment. Just last week, one of my lovely Etsy shop patrons from New Hampshire was curious about my former tea room, so I suggested she peruse the Once Upon a Tea Room category on this blog to see the posts I wrote while the shop was still open.
A week later, I heard back from her. She said, “Thanks for the link to your blog. It's easy to get lost in there! I've enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading the stories of your tea room, and regret that I did not get to experience it in person. Do you sell your loose tea blends? Your Susan's Blend is one I would like to try.”
I called my tea purveyor to see if they could create a fresh batch of my namesake tea, a delicious Rooibos mixed with ginseng, blackberry leaves, orange peel, rosehips, chicory, ginger root and a hint of cinnamon. Luckily, they kept the Susan's Blend recipe on file all these years and kindly made some for me to send off to my customer in New Hampshire.
Since then, I've been pondering whether I should offer some of these loose leaf teas for purchase in my Etsy shop.
Hmmm, to tea or not to tea? Not sure what I'll do . . . But in the meantime, I would be happy to take order requests for the varieties shown in the list above. Feel free to contact me via my website's email form to discuss your tea needs.
365 days ago, we became the proud owners of a house brimming with potential. From the very first time I set eyes on it, I knew this humble abode had everything I wanted. All it needed was a little TLC. Well, maybe more than a little...
Over the past year, I've shared our vintage home's top to bottom improvement projects with you — its new roof, garden, paint, floors, kitchen, dining room, family room, living room — and let's not forget my new studio. Yes, it has been a lot of work. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. I hope you've enjoyed seeing the progress as we brought this 1925 charmer back to life. Thank you for coming along.
Is this finally the cottage of my dreams? You betcha!
And finally, presenting “Part III”. . .
. . . a Little Miss toy sewing machine, pair of crochet dress pot holders, Ransburg Pottery sugar bowl and creamer set, instant collection of thread in a cut glass jar, children's book titled That's Why Stories, R. Atkinson Fox cottage print, pastel chenille crib quilt, floral water pitcher, set of Hazel Atlas cobalt blue glasses with white sailboats, fabric tote bag with vintage plastic handle, Susie Cooper Patricia Rose plate, and a sturdy footstool with yellow paint.
These appealing vintage goodies will be trickling into my Etsy shop over the next month. As always, if something in the last three posts has caught your eye, let me know and I will be happy to place it on reserve just for you.
As promised, here is “Part II” of what's new . . .
. . . a teapot-shaped salt and pepper set, tea time apron, red metal shelf, three lots of 1940s greeting cards, Syracuse China flower pattern berry bowls, Pretty Maid toy sink, Onondaga Pottery Company (OPCO) personal-size diner teapot and matching cozy, vintage flower basket with tin liner, set of four ivy tip trays, woman's woven hat with flowers, and a Syracuse China restaurant-ware individual teapot and matching cozy.
Stop back tomorrow for a peek at “Part III” packed with even more vintage goodies destined for my Etsy shop!
All day long, I've been busy photographing my latest vintage finds to ready them for their Etsy debut. A few have already made an appearance in my sweet little shop. The rest will be listed very soon.
Here is “Part I” of what's new . . .
. . . a porcelain dog figurine, Japan covered pitcher, old school abacus, Nasturtium flower lampshade, Sunny Bunny reclaimed journal, Steubenville China Russel Wright seafoam green serving bowl, iron table lamp with winter scene lampshade, pair of sad iron bookends, woman's velvet hat, wooden tray with carved lilies, personal-size Hall China diner teapot, and a set of six small aluminum trays.
Please stay tuned for “Part II” tomorrow!
To ready my Etsy shop for a busy autumn and holiday season, I did some shopping myself last weekend. On Saturday, I visited an estate sale at this historic house, below.
Unoccupied and shuttered for over 20 years, this three-story home is in complete disrepair and has plaster literally falling off the walls. Even though it has been sorely neglected, it was also chock full of interesting and wonderfully obsolete objects.
I have been to estate sales in some really scary houses. But this one was particularly frightening. Sometimes you gotta be brave to find the good stuff!
On Sunday, John and I took a stroll around the annual flea market on the grounds of the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, CT.
There were several sellers there with an array of interesting vintage items, so I was able to find a few more fun things for my shop.
I'm spending this week photographing my finds to prepare them for their Etsy debut. There's lots to show you, so I'll devote my next three posts to my latest discoveries. Stay tuned!
You may have noticed that I am a fan of using vintage objects in new, creative ways. Always on the lookout for inspiration, I love to meander through Etsy shops and stumble upon talented sellers who dazzle me with their upcycled products. Here are a few of my latest discoveries.
Rodger Thomas of Atlanta is a masterful re-purposer who stocks his shop, Benclif Designs, with innovative lighting. Two of my favorites: a percolator lamp (complete with floating coffee cup) and his electric fan table lamp.
Indianian Peggy's shop, Salvage Relics, is chock full of vintage goodness. I particularly like her re-purposed set of faucet handle photo holders, shown above.
Manfred Maiers of Minneapolis offers unique, eco-friendly accent pieces, many of which use vintage cameras. These two, and many others, can be found in his shop called Light and Time Art.
Love this magnetic Air Race Globe, brought to you by Sandy of Michigan's Vintage Homegoods shop.
Ingenious dollhouses, large and small, are crafted from recycled containers (suitcases, match boxes, cigar boxes) by Australian Marisa David. These little works of art can be found in her Suitcase Dollhouse shop.
Last but certainly not least — the whimsical and weird "Air Plant Boy." Brooklyn's Ursula loves to give new life to unexpected beauties. This kinda creepy creation, and many more curiosities, can be viewed in her quirky shop called EarthSeaWarrior.
Check out this car I spotted a few weeks ago in Oak Bluffs! Being a Prius owner, I always thought I had a "green" car. But this vintage, ivy-encrusted Volkswagen Beetle is even greener.
Speaking of my Prius . . . John and I have decided the time has come for a new car. I must say, I have thoroughly enjoyed my Prius for the past seven years. But our new home is located in a rather hilly part of town — good if you want to avoid flooding from hurricanes — bad if you want to go anywhere on a snowy day.
Last winter, we had lots of trouble navigating the rolling hills around our lovely cottage. After going to the gym one snowy morning, we couldn't even make it home. We had to leave the Prius at the bottom of a hill and walk back. And that wasn't even my Prius! John drives a company car and it is a Prius, too! Therefore, after last year's super harsh winter, we vowed to get a new car that would get through most anything.
Having been spoiled with the Prius' gas mileage, we began our new car search by looking at Hybrids. The criteria? They had to have All Wheel Drive, be affordable and fit in our smallish garage. Unfortunately, they are few and far between.
Next we focused on fuel efficient AWD vehicles. Want to know my favorite? The Mini Countryman. What a crazy fun car! But it is also crazy small and we deemed it unpractical. Time for a Subaru . . .
We finally settled on a Crosstrek, their zippy, smaller AWD. It even comes in a hybrid version. However, that model costs several thousand dollars more and only gets an additional five miles more to the gallon. So the standard Crosstrek, a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV), would do just fine.
In a few short weeks, we'll be going from being a two-Prius to a one-Prius family. I'm sure it is for the best as then we will be ready for the winter to come. Bring on the snow!
It has been a while since I've blogged about my new studio. Hard to believe that I've been in the space for seven months already! As time marches on, I continue to tweak my lovely new workroom, making small changes and improvements that keep me happy and organized.
I love to spend time in this special room where I am surrounded by cheerful things brimming with vintage appeal. These whimsical relics never fail to inspire and make me smile.
Do you have a smile-provoking place in your house that is all yours? If so, I'd love to hear about it. If not, see if you can find one. You'll be glad you did!
What a magical night! I will be forever grateful to my sweet son Jacob for letting me tag along on his spur of the moment getaway to Martha's Vineyard.
BTW: the morning after this glorious event, I rode my bike to a gym in town for a work out. Afterward, I strolled through the MVCMA for one more look and to my surprise, there wasn't one lantern in sight. Everything was back to normal and I found myself thinking — Was that a dream?
Grand Illumination Night is the annual summer event that is most emblematic of the magical Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. This historic community in Oak Bluffs, MA, has over 300 charming homes embellished with gingerbread trim and painted in every color of the rainbow. One August day each year since 1868, cottage owners retreat to dusty attics and unpack Asian lanterns and umbrellas, many as old as the homes themselves, to embellish their picture-perfect cottages even more. Come nightfall, these lanterns will be lit en masse to the oohs and ahhs of thousands of appreciative onlookers.
I spent the afternoon before Grand Illumination last week riding my bicycle around this area so that I could watch as the cottage owners prepared for their showiest night of the year. The result is the photos, below.
Aren't they wonderful? Just wait until you see them all lit up — in my next post!
Enjoy the holiday weekend,
Last week's unexpected visit to Martha's Vineyard was such a treat. Here's how I was able to go back a second time this summer to my most favorite place on the planet...
Before returning to college, my son and his girlfriend were planning a last minute trip away. MV was where they really wanted to go, but it can be very tricky finding a place to stay and getting a spot on the ferry with such short notice. Luckily, there was space at a camp site and I helped them secure a ferry ticket. (The only boat available was at 7am!) I then checked an online calendar to see what was happening during the three days they would be on the island. When I saw that they'd be there for Grand Illumination Night, I was beyond jealous. I have always wanted to witness that lovely spectacle. So, Jacob kindly invited me along! Now I just needed to find a place to stay.
I'm not one for camping, nor did I want to horn in on Jacob's trip, so I was bound and determined to find a room for two nights near the action in Oak Bluffs. Plus, to further stay out of Jacob's hair, I was going to use my bike to get around. I searched every inn and hotel to no avail. They were all booked and had long waiting lists. I was just about to give up when I came upon a listing for a room at a tiny place in O.B. named Seashell Cottage. To my delight, it was available!
In order to get to Wood's Hole and catch the 7am ferry, we began our journey by the light of the moon at 1:30am. I offered to drive and with almost no other cars on the road, we arrived at the ferry landing in record time — so early, in fact, that we were put on the 6am ferry. How lovely to watch the sun rise as we made our way to our beloved island.
By 6:45am, we docked in Vineyard Haven and headed to our favorite place for breakfast, The Art Cliff Diner. Eating there generally involves a 45-minute (or more) wait for a table but it's always worth it. This time however, we arrived just as they opened and didn't have to wait at all. (I guess 7am is the time to go. By 7:20, every table was occupied!)
After a delicious Art Cliff breakfast, we drove over to Seashell Cottage and met Carol who graciously rents out one of the bedrooms in her darling house. We also met Birdie, her adorable blue-eyed Cocker Spaniel rescue.
Seashell Cottage sits high above Lagoon Pond and is adjacent to a path that leads to a small neighborhood beach. With a white washed beadboard interior, this little cottage oozes with charm. Have a look inside.
Isn't it sweet? And best of all, it's walking and biking distance to Oak Bluffs. Bicycles are a popular and perfect mode of transportaion on Martha's Vineyard because there are miles of paved bike paths that are safe and separate from the road.
Please check back for more about last week's blissful MV trip. Next time, I'll share pics of the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association cottages as they prepare for their showiest night of the year.
Talk about spur of the moment... I have just taken an unexpected trip to Martha's Vineyard. Again? Yes!!! And it was all because of an opportunity that arose that allowed me to be there during an event that has been on my bucket list for decades: Grand Illumination Night.
I returned home late last night, so once I have a chance to catch my breath, I'll be sharing more about my three days of bliss on MV.
A concrete birdbath seemed like a good idea when I acquired it over a decade ago. For years, it resided in our garden under a shady tree. In all that time however, I never once saw a bird bathing in it. They preferred to splash around in random puddles on our driveway after a soaking rain. Every now and then, a neighborhood cat would drink out of it, but other than that, the birdbath sat idle.
When we moved, the birdbath came along, but I was reluctant to fill it with water. So it sat in our basement until this summer when I decided to use it for something else entirely — a planter.
The birdbath is somewhat shallow, so I figured the only plants that would thrive are tiny succulents and rock garden plants. Luckily I found a few small varieties at a nearby garden center. I planted them and then used recycled glass rocks to improve drainage and cover the soil.
I placed the birdbath on a shabby vintage table in a spot that gets lots of afternoon sun on our front terrace.
This welcoming outdoor area features a couple of wrought iron chairs, my favorite broom that was handmade in Appalachia, a primitive cottage painting on the wall, and now — our birdbath-turned-planter.
Look what I found . . . a 1960s Singer sewing machine in a pretty shade of blue!
This classic machine had been very well kept, so a little oil and a quick dusting was all it needed to ready it for a small sewing project. Doesn't it looks right at home in my studio's sewing area?
As a test, I used it to sew up a couple of kitchen towels out of a vintage tablecloth with issues. When I find a less-than-perfect old textile with a pretty design like this one, I work around its flaws (holes, stains, etc.) and turn it into dinner napkins, tea towels, embroidery hoop swatch portraits and more.
I embellished these towels with two types of vintage trim. I'm happy to report that my new Singer handled sewing through bulky layers with ease, much better than my other machine that dates back to the 1980s.
My new (old) Singer is a bells-and-whistles-free, bare bones, straight-stitch only, low-tech workhorse of a machine.
A funny thing happened to me. Recently I was told that my collections are not large enough. Apparently I don't have enough 1950s picnic tins . . .
Or enough hand-tinted antique photographs . . .
Or enough colorful 1940s tablecloths . . .
. . . or even enough vintage art pottery.
Let me explain. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a wonderful magazine in the UK. Every month, they write about a collector and feature twelve photos of their collection. The magazine's editor kindly requested a sampling of my stash and I sent them the above photos. Upon reviewing my submissions, I was told that I don't have enough stuff. That was a first!
Oh, well. But how lovely to be considered. :)
Don't you just love a good "Before and After"? Me, too! So have a look at what our vintage cottage looked like when we put in a bid to purchase it last fall.
And here is what it looks like today . . .
Top to bottom, this home underwent a subtle, yet much needed transformation. First off, we took down several menacing trees and put on a new roof. Then, we selected exterior colors, had it painted, installed new garage doors, and settled in for the winter to work on its interior reno.
Come spring, we resurfaced the driveway, replaced the gutters, and seeded the lawn. And just last month, we put in a new garden, moving and/or saving existing shrubs where possible.
And of course, let's not forget the icing on the cake: a historical plaque officially naming the house after its original 1925 owners, Harold and May Wilson.
Ten months after it became ours, the work is finally done. And I couldn't be happier with the end result. It was so enjoyable and satisfying to bring this lovely abode back to life. Now it most definitely has earned "cottage of my dreams" status.
Have you seen the movie Chef? In a nutshell, it's about an uber-talented chef who loses his restaurant job. In an effort to regain his cooking mojo, he restores a broken-down food truck, which also restores his confidence and family ties. Great flick.
Seems like food trucks are all the rage these days. Here's a vintage one I came across that is just my cup of tea . . .
Isn't it divine? I want it! Wish I could peek inside. I wonder what was on their menu.
Anyway, hope you have a wonderful weekend,
Over the past two weeks, I've been hitting up local estate sales and the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market to search for fun items brimming with vintage appeal. I've even rooted though my personal collections to assure that by September, my Etsy shop will be overflowing with even more happy, colorful, whimsical items.
Here's what you can look forward to . . . miniature paintings, an English candy tin, a still life oil painting, a handmade tack board, a wooden magazine rack, a crewel embroidered cottage picture, several children's primers, Hardy Boys books, tole trays, personal-size teapots with matching cozies, a globe pen holder, a 1970s lunch box, a set of four field guides, a vintage file box, a few old cookbooks, a rolling pin, a glass Nasturtium-pattern pitcher with matching tumblers, gobs of travel sewing kits (great for party favors), a vintage Japan teapot, a Marx Pretty Maid toy stove, a Kayanee toy sewing machine . . . and more!
I've been busy photographing these vintage goodies to ready them for their Etsy debut. Some have already made an appearance in my Etsy shop. The rest will be listed in August. As always, if there is something here that catches your eye, let me know and I'll place it on reserve just for you.
When we first moved into our cozy cottage last October, our living room did triple-duty. During the home's four-month-long renovation, it served as our family room, kitchen/dining room and studio. Then, once the construction was complete, the living room went back to looking like this . . .
Last summer, we sold virtually all of our living room furniture (e.g. the 1990s busy floral tapestry sofa and loveseat) at our former house's estate sale and I was excited to start fresh. I longed for classic neutral pieces that would be more timeless and go with everything.
We opted for Bassett Furniture in Westport, CT, where Robin, one of their designers, kindly came to our home and measured the space. She helped us select fabrics and order the appropriate size sofa, occasional chairs, pillows and two upholstered benches. Each was custom-made and delivered within 30 days. We even found the rug there. Robin, thanks for your help. Truly great service!
Once we had those basics in place, I began to look for a chest of some sort that would provide us with much needed storage. I found a pine one, below, at Knock on Wood in Norwalk, CT. We placed it against the long wall across from the sofa and chairs. Perfect! Then it was time to hang something special on the wall above it.
I chose to create a gallery wall using my collection of hand-tinted landscape photos from the early 1900s. Many of them were shot by Wallace Nutting and a few are by his contemporaries. I adore these old pictures. They have just the right vibe for our 1925 home.
Finding a coffee table became my next task. I wanted one with a glass top so that the lovely medallion in the center of the rug would be visible. After much searching, I finally found one I liked at Wayfair.com. The small, white table between the chairs came from there, too. Even though I had to put both of them together myself, they were so reasonably priced, it was worth it.
Next, I focused on smaller home decor pieces. For the coffee table, I found a rustic wooden tray on Etsy from a seller called Cupola Vintage.
Homegoods provided the glass bell jar that sits on a galvanized tray from Terrain. This cloche displays rocks and shells found on our recent trip to Martha's Vineyard. An old photo of Edgartown Lighthouse serves as a backdrop.
More MV beachy finds reside in a green glass bowl from Spain that was discovered at Marshalls.
This oak secretary was one of the few things we kept from our old living room. Filled with white pottery and old books, a chair from Goodwill completes the vignette.
Of course, I had to find a spot for our beautiful dollhouse . . .
And our collection of heart-shaped rocks . . .
The very last piece of the living room puzzle was finding lamps. I envisioned a matching pair of floor lamps for either side of the pine chest. I am so darn picky — it took me forever to find them.
After an extensive search (thank you, John, for your patience), I found two very affordable ones at Wayfair's Joss and Main. They just arrived, so I took a quick pic of them for you.
And there you have it . . . our finally furnished living room! We love it. What do you think?
Yikes! Where is the time going this summer? I have so much to share with you, but it has been crazy busy. So please bear with me. I promise to bring you up to date on what's new here very soon.
Like our new cottage garden . . .
Our finally furnished living room . . .
And yesterday morning's perusal of The Elephant's Trunk Flea Market.
I found several vintage goodies at The Trunk that will make an appearance in my Etsy shop before long. I'll share them with you, along with other items ready for their Etsy debut, as soon as time permits.
Thanks for your patience. Please stay tuned!
One last detail was added to the exterior of our cozy cottage last week. A Rowayton Historical Society plaque was installed. We are officially living in the Harold and May Wilson House!
The RHS plaque program calls attention to the historic character of Rowayton and gives recognition to early buildings and to the people who built or resided in them. Along with our new plaque, the Historical Society provided us with a list of every owner since 1925, as well as drawings showing how the property lines have changed over the years. We learned that when the original owners Harold and May lived here, the house stood on 30 acres. Wow! Today, this sweet little abode nestles on .39 of an acre. And that is just the right size for us.
There is finally light at the end of the renovation tunnel! This week, we've embarked on our last major project: transforming barren and neglected flowers beds into a lush cottage garden.
This very skilled landscaping crew put in over 80 shrubs and perennials for us today. And even though it may not be the best time of year to plant, lots of irrigation will ensure that everything will thrive.
A couple of things were unearthed while the guys were digging: an old red Matchbox car and a teeny tiny real live toad, no bigger than an inch long. A friend for Spike perhaps? No way; he would eat the little guy.
Stay tuned! Once everything is mulched and looking extra pretty, I'll be sure to share more pics of our lovely new garden with you.
My vintage toy sewing machines are featured in the July 2014 issue of Homespun, an Australian publication filled with beautiful handmade textile projects, clever craft ideas and articles on all things crafty. Homespun magazine is a place of inspiration created by a team of leading craftspeople throughout Australia and the world. Each issue features step-by-step project ideas and accompanying patterns sheets for a variety of crafts like quilts, bags and more, photographs of fantastic finished products plus interesting reads to engage and entertain. My original photographs of the many tiny sewing machines that have sold in T-Party's Etsy shop are part of Homespun's Pin Interest, a sourcing section of the magazine that offers a feast of fabulous ideas from the best creative minds.
(Image credit: Homespun)
My dear friends Leslie, Kiki and Annalisa and I enjoyed beautiful weather for our very first Out of the Yardinary sale on Saturday. In fact, it was picture perfect, just like this wonderful photo of my pennant banners shot by the talented Leslie Rottner of Abbey Road Photography. Many thanks to Leslie, Kiki and Annalisa for collaborating on the sale with me. What a fun day!
Did you know there are no chain stores or malls on Martha's Vineyard? So when I shop this lovely island, I get to enjoy browsing distinctive wares collected, crafted and carefully curated by merchants with talent and vision — the way shopping should be! Here are two of my MV shopping favorites:
Sylvie Bags are stunning one-of-a-kind creations. Beautifully handmade by Sylvie Farrington from authentic 1940s barkcloth, each handbag and pillow artfully combines different patterns, multi-colored zippers and vintage buttons. They truly are little works of eye candy.
This year, I treated myself to one of Sylvie's Brooklyn Bags, a new cross-body style sporting an adjustable webbing strap and lots of compartments and zippered pockets. I'm wearing it in a photo HERE. It's the perfect summer bag!
Another shopping favorite is Mix, a store that is true to its name. Filled with vintage and modern items including clothing and housewares, the store's whimsical displays entice shoppers with an endless variety of yummy goods.
Owner Emily Milstein features a meticulously selected array of vintage treasures, many offered in multiples in case one wants to start an instant collection.
Mix never fails to inspire. A fun idea I came away with this visit was Emily's use of vintage matchbooks with kitschy graphics. She has loads of them displayed loose in a bowl for sale. Others she arranges in neat rows and frames them en masse inside shadowboxes. Super fun!
Last week, we spent our days exploring the island's many natural wonders. One of the most spectacular is the Aquinnah Cliffs which we admired from the observation deck near Gay Head Light.
For an even better view, we headed over to nearby Moshup Beach, a destination for geologists and beach enthusiasts alike.
Moshup Beach offers stunning views of the Aquinnah Cliffs. Composed of 150- feet of sediment from six glaciers, they are made up of red and white clays, green sands, white quartz, black organic soil and lignite.
Protected as a National Historic Landmark, the cliffs are truly spectacular. My photos don't nearly do them justice.
Another day, we felt energetic and hiked MV's Menemsha Hill Reservation.
Its longest trail led us up Prospect Hill, the second highest peak on the island, then down to a remote rocky beach with commanding views of Menemsha Village and the Elizabeth Islands.
Just like last year, Jacob climbed onto the beach's largest bolder.
So beautiful. Martha's Vineyard rocks!
I am so pleased that business was brisk in my Etsy shop while I was away on Martha's Vineyard. Here are some of the things that are traveling to new homes across the U.S. — and also to Japan!
I'm such a slowpoke. It took me all morning yesterday to pack everything for shipment.
I make extra sure everything is wrapped with care and I always include a handwritten thank you note.
Thank goodness Jacob was here to help me get everything to the post office!
Another wonderful vacation on MV! I've been coming to this glorious island annually for almost 30 years and have fallen in love with it a little more with each visit.
More posts about our time away to come very soon. Have a great weekend!
Off we go! Time to relax with my family and enjoy sun, sand and surf. We look forward to our time on Martha's Vineyard all year long. So excited it's finally time to return to our most favorite place!
Before I go, I've been furiously adding new listings to my Etsy shop. That way, while I'm gone, my patrons can enjoy some of my latest finds. Here's what's new:
I adore hard to find relics like the soap flakes dispenser, above. Isn't it fabulous?
I always offer an array of old toys in my shop. So cute and brimming with vintage appeal.
Straight out of my private collection, these Japan pottery pieces have a hand painted pattern of little flower pots set against a grid pattern. LOVE.
This 1933 edition of the Adventures of Sonny Bear has a great cover — perfect to display face out on a shelf in a child's room.
And just in time for picnic season . . . pretty floral tablecloths and old picnic tins.
I'm quite pleased with my latest finds and hope they will find good homes soon. Can't wait to see what I discover on the Vineyard!
Today is my birthday! I am now 56 years years old, teetering at the top of the 50s hill about to roll down the other side. As I begin my descent, I must admit that the first half of my 50s was a bit challenging. So when I blow out the candles at dinner with my family this evening, you can be sure I'll be wishing for smooth sailing during its second half and beyond.
A while back, John asked me what I wanted for this birthday. My answer: Not a single thing. You see, I have everything I could have ever hoped for — a loving family, wonderful friends, the cottage of my dreams — and most important, my health.
How grateful I am to have this day. As a breast cancer survivor, each and every day is a gift. What more could I possibly ask for?
A couple of mornings ago, John and I headed off to the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market. The weather was sublime and we enjoyed waking the aisles in the Sunday sunshine. I wanted to find some home decor items for our new living room, but we weren't able to come across anything that said "Take me home!" However, I did buy a couple of things for our kitchen, shown below: a pair of Shawnee Pottery salt and pepper shakers in the perfect shade of aqua, and a copy of The Basic Cook Book from 1947. I really like its simple, clean cover design.
As you may have noticed, I like to display books facing out on shelves all around my home. And old cook books with interesting covers are always fun to have around the kitchen. Not only do they look great and add a bit of vintage charm, they have useful tips and provide insight into how foods were prepared in the past.
I found The Basic Cook Book from a friendly dealer who was selling off her late father's collection. He was once a chef and had amassed an impressive array of culinary literature over the years. Thanks to his hard work, I was able to purchase an instant collection of eight of his cook books, below.
These appetizing treasures will make an appearance in my Etsy shop very soon. Until then, you can find the two cook books for children, below, in my shop. Both are classics and are a great way to introduce kids to cooking. Plus, their sweet covers make them irresistible.
When pretend kitchen play is preferred, I am offering my 1950 Marx Modern Toy Kitchen Set for sale. Found at the Wellfleet Flea Market on Cape Cod last summer, I was thrilled to find a complete set with stove, fridge, broom closet, sink, dishwasher and storage shelves. Plus, it has retained all of its plastic door handles, knobs, faucet, utensil rack, sink basin, dishwasher tub, pots, pans, dishes, ice cube trays, tea kettle, canisters, cooking tools and flatware. There is even a red plastic turkey and a t-bone steak!
I've so enjoyed this toy kitchen, but I can't keep everything. So now you can find it in my Etsy shop HERE.
Happy cooking . . . or playing . . . or both!
P.S. Almost forgot to mention — we saw them filming an episode of HGTV's Flea Market Flip while at the Elephant's Trunk. Pretty cool!
This past week, it felt great getting back to sewing. I haven't done any projects since before we moved last fall, so this was a good test to see how well my studio's sewing area is set up.
My red vintage kitchen table is perfect for my sewing machine and the Hoosier cabinet's pull-out tabletop affords me even more room to work. So I was able to create five new pennant banners in no time at all.
While sewing, I listened to an audio book, At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. I need to read it for my book group next week and it's been hard to find time to devote to it. A truly enjoyable book; here's what Amazon has to say about it: With his signature wit, charm, and seemingly limitless knowledge, Bill Bryson takes us on a room-by-room tour through his own house, using each room as a jumping off point into the vast history of the domestic artifacts we take for granted. As he takes us through the history of our modern comforts, Bryson demonstrates that whatever happens in the world eventually ends up in our home, in the paint, the pipes, the pillows, and every item of furniture.
Listening to Mr. Bryson was great as it made my sewing time so much happier. I was even able to photograph and list my new creations in my Etsy shop. These pennant banners are fun to hang wherever you want a spot of color and whimsy… in your studio, craft space, office, bedroom — anywhere!
Enjoy the weekend,
What a busy Monday! Now that my new sewing area is all set up, this week I'm making pennant banners for my Etsy shop out of vintage floral fabrics. Aren't they pretty?
Look what I found! It's a 1920s child's step-back cupboard that matches the doll cupboard for sale on Etsy HERE. So adorable!
This charming relic will be listed for sale soon, joining the items shown below — many of which have already made their Etsy debut. I'll be working on listings for the others over the coming days.
That's what I'm up to this week. How about you?