Friday, November 11, 2011


This whole week has been one of remembrance, starting on Sunday with a Service of Remembrance at the Christ Church Cathedral. Every year, a list of fallen soldiers who were parishioners at the Cathedral is read; from the Great War through to the recent losses in Afghanistan. Among those is a member of the boys' choir of the Cathedral from around one hundred years ago: Lt. Edmund Gordon Brown. For me, one of the most memorable experiences of this past summer's choir trip to France and England was a graveside performance in Barlin, France (see page 6). The ultimate sacrifice of Canadians serving in France is still much solemnly appreciated almost a century later. We were very moved by the welcome we received in the town, as we were there to pay tribute this former chorister. In Sunday's service, I thought of mothers of previous generations and how, but for the time in which I live, I could be mourning the loss of a son. One does not need to know the deceased, but simply a bit of their story to feel a profound loss.

This photo shows my paternal grandfather as a youth at some point during the First World War. Still too young for active duty in this photo, he is labelled as Scout Thies on the back of the photo. His presence in the photo reminded me of how war made an impact on everyone in his community in the north of England and, with almost an entire generation lost, the whole society.

As a young man, my Grandfather moved to Canada where he was able to fulfill his 'cowboy' dreams and work with horses. During the Second World War, he traveled across the country training Cavalry soldiers. I believe that this photo of my grandfather was taken near the beginning of the War when my Father was very young. My Dad was very lucky that his Father was considered too old to fight overseas during this war and, unlike many boys his age, had a father to raise him after the war was over. Unfortunately, my Grandfather died before I was born, but I remember him through his story retold.

I feel fortunate to have known my Mum's Father who was a squadron leader in the Royal Air Force. He was not inclined to discuss his wartime experiences but I was able to learn his story through my Mum and my Nanan. I try to share all these stories with my children and hope that feel connected to those that served for their country long before they were born, so that they too can remember and appreciate the enormity of dedication and sacrifice of our Armed Forces.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our Creative Space: I Saw the Light, Again!

I have been complaining (just a bit) about the shortening days and decided to improve that a bit by creating more reflective surfaces in my kitchen. No, I have not panelled the walls with mirrors! I have simply started to scrub down the birch cupboard doors and clean the grime of my collectibles on display. I still have more to do tomorrow as I ran out of cleaning steam. While putting the items has been exercising some creativity, I really needed to do something crafty after all that scrubbing: Something quick and simple to satisfy my crafting craving. The sewing room has too many projects set to start and none with any 'instant gratification' qualities which, when you are in the middle of a big job, like "Spring" (Fall) cleaning in your kitchen, is required. I recalled how satisfying it had been to cover my phone books with Amy Butler paper and my eyes were quickly drawn to my next project. This unassuming box of printer paper.

This box usually lives on top of our computer armoire near the entrance to the family room so, if you look slightly higher than eye level, it is in plain view. It is not the ugliest packaging in the world but there is definite room for improvement. Amy Butler to the rescue! Using the same pad of her scrapbook paper that I had used on the phone books and my paper trimmer, I cut pieces of co-ordinating paper to fit the sides and lid of the box. I left a small border of the natural colour of the cardboard and pieced the pieces on the shorter sides of the box in a quilt-like fashion. I have used acid-free glue stick as my adhesive as I am rather frustrated with spray glue and decoupage medium at the moment. I will likely use a spray sealer finish to preserve the paper but that will depend on tomorrow's weather. Today we reached a near record 17°C so it would have been warm enough to use the spray outside.

It is amazing how such a simple project can make such a large impact on my well being. Having little bits of your personality peppering your living space must surely encourage creativity along with stimulating the desire to care for your space. I hope to be sharing larger projects soon but I also think it advisable to continue with this nesting trend and get a few more of these 'living environment' improvements checked off the list. I hope that I stay inspired to come up with other spur of the moment improvements. I am excited to be rejoining the linking of Our Creative Space (formerly My Creative Space) and can't wait to see what is going in other Creative Spaces.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like... Pyrex

I understand, a little bit, why some people start to think about decorating for Christmas well before the start of Advent. The days are noticeably shorter and, even when we have clear skies, the sun never seems to shine for long. The Scandinavians counter this with candle light and light-reflective colours. As another Northern nation, Canadians would be wise to do the same. Of course, I always find that vintage Pyrex brightens my day so I am sharing one of my favourite pieces in my collection: a promotional Golden Poinsettia Casserole with warming stand that Internet sources suggest is from 1963. I have photographed it with my latest vintage Christmas tablecloth, a Marks and Spencer's Christmas Biscuit tin and two books bought at the library for just a few dollars. The book on the right is called Christmas Magic, was published in 1964 and has all kinds of 'period' crafts. As someone who prefers to make gifts, now is the time that I need the not-so-gentle reminder to get on with it and get those items made!

I could procrastinate just a little longer and enjoy the near perfect gold pattern on the lid of this casserole. On special promo pieces, the gold designs on the glass lids are often the first to show signs of wear or damage. The warming stand has some discolouration on the metal and the candles have been lit. I cannot wait to use this casserole for my holiday table. I actually have two of this design but my first one is in somewhat worn condition and does not have a stand. At 2 1/2 qt. capacity, it is a very practical size and I use my more worn casserole for storage of leftover turkey or an extra chicken that I have cooked at any time of year. I suppose that some might say that would be good reason to find another (perhaps less seasonal) casserole of this size. Maybe I will find ideas for other 045 casseroles that would fit the bill. Sophie at Her Library Adventures is having a Pyrex Party and is inviting other bloggers to share in the fun. More vintage Pyrex is sure to brighten the day!

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Favourite Find of the Year

Sophie at Her Library Adventures is hosting Flea Market Find of the Year and since I love finding treasures I wanted to join her and all the other bloggers sharing their favourites. While I found a few things this year that could qualify as favourite, I think the item that I was most excited about was this vintage waffle iron. Vintage charm, elegant design, functional, and quality of manufacture are all qualities that I hold in the highest regard when making any purchase and what has driven me towards looking for used before new. This waffle iron is truly what my thrifting dreams are made of.

While I have not been able to precisely date the waffle iron, I am fairly sure it was made in the 1930's or 1940's. The original hang tag has graphics that suggests the late 1940's which I believe was the heyday of popularity for crinoline ladies. Designs for these waffle irons changed relatively little from their introduction in the early 1920's through the 1950's. Some companies started to make more changes in the later fifties and early sixties to create more consumer interest and in the 1960's models started to be made with different materials and were a little less long lasting.

Part of my excitement in finding this appliance is that it was never used! It brings me back to memories of my Grandmother making me waffles when I was a little girl. We have a waffle iron which never did as good a job as hers -crispy on the outside and tender in the centre - because of its nonstick finish. I am no longer able to use the one we have had for around twenty years because I have had a seriously allergy to eggs for the last 10 years. If I wanted to have waffles again it would need to be with an iron that had never cooked batter with eggs.

To find an "in new condition" appliance that is over sixty years old is especially thrilling when I think that many made at the same time are still going strong after so many years of continual use. I have started to condition the plates and made a few batches of egg-free waffles and have thoroughly enjoyed the results. This model appears to have been designed to have interchangeable griddle plates which did not appear on the thrift store shelf but I will keep my eyes open as you never know when you will spot your thrifting dreams.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I have not had the opportunity to attend many galas. Even though my husband performs in quite a few of these types of events, the combination of my family responsibilities and the usual ticket price prevents my participation. Saturday evening was the Musical Dreams and Flying Machines gala for the Ottawa Choral Society at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and despite my illness that kept me lying low this week, I was able to attend. Since I have not attended many events such as this in Ottawa I was a little unsure about what to wear. My starting point was certainly to feature one of my vintage evening bags! At present, this particular purse might just be my favourite. I love the pastoral scenes in eighteenth century French paintings and to be able to carry that around as ones purse seems like a decadent luxury.

I find that a jacket will often be the other determining factor in my outfit. I had originally planned to wear the accompanying dress with this early sixties blush champagne jacket. One of the challenges in incorporating vintage pieces in your wardrobe is finding the correct foundation garment to provide the body shape and support needed. Without the perfect shaping/fit, I decided not to wear the the gown. I love the bow details at the fasteners of the jacket which seem reminiscent of the eighteenth century gowns on the evening bag. The three quarter sleeve length is my favourite just as it was for the ladies on the evening bag.

Instead of the long vintage dress, I paired the jacket with a short vintage inspired dress that my daughter insisted I purchase for myself last Christmas. The dress is in a heavy black satin inspired by the shorter but still fuller skirted styles of the early 1960's. It is the first evening 'little black dress' that I can remember buying and, because of the fuller skirt, is comfortable to sit in at concerts and even has pockets! The shorter length allowed me to indulge in the modern trend of patterned tights which, along with my shoes were thrifted. The other modern touch was the feathered head band which did not give me wings to go with the 'flying machines' but was a successful conversation starter.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Where I Have Been

I managed to publish everyday for October and I have been missing from the blog world ever since. The under-the-weather feeling that was bothering me last weekend has required antibiotics and bed rest. I believe that the antibiotics actually has me feeling worse before feeling better and I am doing my best with the resting which is always easier said than done when you have four children. Fortunately, I have a rather delightful nest and some books from the library which makes the time a little more pleasant.

The theme this week for My place and Yours at Punky and Me is "Where I Sleep". While the link closes tomorrow, I think that its theme must be blog world serendipity. I have shared this space before and not much has changed. I have a few more rosy linens, including a small quilt on which my cat sleeps at the end of the bed. The best addition to this retreat is the vintage bed tray which I purchased from my friend Lynda when she still had her brick and mortar shop. It has a tilt feature that supports a book or magazine at an angle. It also comfortably supports my laptop, which has just been returned to me after a month of repairs, and prevents it from overheating.
We often decorate the public areas of our homes and procrastinate when attending to the more private spaces. When I am required to spend extra time in bed, I am very thankful that we have a comfortable bed in a welcoming room.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 31: Thrifty Hallowe'en

Not too much thrifting this weekend due to the number of concerts and services in which the family was involved and me feeling poorly. On Thursday, my husband was told that the orchestra were expected to wear costumes for the Family Adventures Concerts on Saturday and Student Matinees today and tomorrow. Since he is required to play his instrument while in costume there are certain possibilities that would be out of the question i.e. anything that limits movement or the ability to hold the instrument, restricts vision or causes difficulty sitting are off limits. This year he did not have enough lead up time to really get creative but recently I found an Aussie cowboy hat that looks really good on him. On Friday we went to the closest Sally Ann looking for cowboy boots and found them! I really thought it would be a long shot but there they were.

Here he is showing off the hat while hiding behind its big, black brim. I suppose it wound up at the thrift store as a discarded tourist's souvenir just like all the beautiful Australian tea towels that I find. I have another Aussie 'drover's' hat that belonged to my Nanan. She regularly visited Australia to see her sister and her family and her older son. She loved to wear hats and encouraged my love at a very early age so I am thrilled to have her hat as well as this one.

We are really starting to feel the chill and the furnace is on at least a little bit everyday so I was happy to find furnace filters at the thrift store for less than half of their price at the hardware store. The crafty/nesting urge has brought me into our family room to do some handwork. This handwork basket is a recent find and has just the right amount of 'Granny Chic" to make me happy! It is the perfect size to put my felted sweater projects while I am working on them.

Since I found it, I have seen similar work baskets that have been made over but I am quite happy with the way it looks as it is and will give a full view in a future post. I have quite a few other projects on the go, including another sewing basket/stool so it is a relief to find thrift store items that do not require alteration. After searching for a long time, I have not been able to find a good craft/reading/task light when thrifting so we ended up buying retail this lamp. While the company makes a dedicated craft lamp, this one was less expensive and suited the room.

The youngest two 'shopped' for their costumes in our house. The youngest decided to fuse a clown costume with a skull mask which created the creepy, scary result he desired while his older brother opted for a 'nerd' costume. I really appreciated how creative they both were, working with what we have. It was a much more stimulating exercise than going shopping, even at the thrift store, for stuff that we will not need after Hallowe'en.

For other thrifty inspiration check out all the blogs that have linked with Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 30: Almost There But Not...

Well, Blogtoberfest is almost coming to a close; I am happy to have been posting almost everyday, but it has been a bit challenging this weekend, as I have been under the weather health-wise and I was frustrated by my adhesive disappointment. Here are the decoupaged pieces, which I am pleased with, save for paper that won't stick to the paint! Given that I was feeling poorly, I hoped that this project would boost my mood, but that was marred by the lack of adhesion, grrr. I think that my only option is to try using the 'modge podge' and hope for the best. I am really pleased with the combination of flowered papers. With Halloween tomorrow, other activities will be my focus.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 29: Work in Progress

Back in September, in preparation for the urge to nest and craft with the cooler weather, I sanded, primed and spray painted these wooden office organization pieces. I needed to prepare the surfaces for decoupaging them with pretty papers. Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph them in the intermediate step of paint only and launched into applying the paper today.

Here are some of the vintage wrapping paper I have found while thrifting in the last year or so. My plan for the storage pieces is to use a mix of pattern and I quite enjoyed choosing and cutting the paper today. I was so inspired by how the project was coming together that I went ahead and braved the crisp air outside and applied the the spray glue to the wood and stuck on the paper. Generally, I was pretty pleased with the results and went inside to let the solvents of the glue dissipate for a few minutes. I retrieved the pieces a little later to let the glue dry fully indoors but have ran into a frustration: the adhesive is not providing a consistent bond! I do not think that I can lacquer them if there are parts of the paper not sticking to the wood, I am not sure that I can try white glue or 'modge podge' when there is already spray glue applied and I do not have enough paper to start again. Help!!! I do not remember having these issues the last time that I tried something like this and I am not sure how to rectify this situation. Any suggestions?

On a more successful note I was very happy that I had brought in all my geraniums and fuchsias into our sun room the other day as we have had frost at night. The sun room is only a three season room and the plants will need to come inside for the winter but it does serve as a quarantine zone where I can apply insecticidal soap and make sure that the plants are pest free before I expose them to my houseplants.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 28: Patterning My Dreams

Many vintage sewing patterns that I find while thrifting are uncut, supporting my belief that dreaming about making certain garments is as important as making them. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting at the pattern catalogue counter turning the pages and dreaming about the dresses. Playing dress-up was a favourite occupation and this was just a mental extension of that activity. Other sewers must also feel this way, that possessing the actual pattern is a way to grab onto that dream just a little more securely, with the expectation of it being attainable. The pattern for the dress and coat combination pictured is cut, but the sew-in label that was available with the pattern was not used. I love the seaming details and would like to make it but that would require grading up the pattern size.

This outfit also suits my tastes and is fairly close to my size. As usual, I am a sucker for a jacket especially if it has three-quarter sleeves! The notched collar on the jacket would make a perfect spot for a standout vintage brooch. A brocade, lace, linen or raw silk are all fabric suggestions on the back that fire my imagination.

I cannot decide which view I like the best of this Vogue "young fashionables" design, styled for the young woman who emulates an older woman's elegance. This is somewhat the opposite of current trend of middle-aged women seeking to be fashionable often choosing styles that, at best, erode their elegance.
While in high school, I longed for the time when I could make and wear couture-inspired suits and gowns. This style features darting from hip to bust which was a common detail for fitting a figure before the prevalence of lycra.

The controlled fullness of the skirt would be easier to wear than the above sheath. Although it has bridal and bridesmaid's view, this pattern is also suggested as an evening or cocktail gown. The simplicity of the figure-flattering bodice, self-fabric belt and softly pleated skirt would showcase the beauty of the fabric without overwhelming the wearer.

This apron pattern from the 1940's would be a good place to start turning these pattern dreams into realty, the charm of a vintage design with the practicality of full coverage. It only requires 2 yards and I am sure that I have some great rick-rack for the trim.

Which designs are your favourites? These come from my collection of vintage patterns. I have more than a few collections that I have linked with Vintage Velda's collections post.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 27: Outings and Thrifted Outfits

This week has been full of outings with my eldest. I was able to borrow two museum privilege cards from the library: The Museum of Science and Technology and the duo pass for the War Museum and the Museum of Civilization. With such a good deal, I have made several visit to each. I find that it is very easy to take the easy, comfortable route for wardrobe when home keeping and creating in the studio but that usually spirals into a not so good place for me. When an outing is in the plans, a little fashion inspiration is an excellent thing. With my extensive thrifted collection of clothes, getting dressed is another opportunity for creativity. I had planned to post several outfit photos but was unable to upload them to the blog. More than a little frustration has led me to conclude that today's blog post will not have any photos. I hope that everyone has a wonderful evening and I will try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 26: Pin Cushions and thrifted sewing basket

If you sew, even occasionally, you likely own a pin cushion which is this week's theme at Punky and Me's My Place and Yours. I have several in my possession: the one I have owned since a child, the vintage one that came in the pictured sewing basket and the magnetic one that I have used since my Mum bought me a sewing machine when I was 21. Ubiquitous as it is, the tomato pin cushion is actually very practical: some have an elastic wrist strap and the little attached 'strawberry' contains emery which keeps your needles and pins sharp and clean. When I was in second grade, my parents presented me with a Singer Junior Miss sewing machine along with the pincushion and scissors shown in this picture. A lot of doll clothes were made using that machine before I start using my Mum's Singer four years later. I have come across them at the thrift store and wonder if I should own one now? I am happy that I still have the pin cushion and scissors.

I did not buy the sewing basket for the basket, but for what was in it. I love vintage sewing supplies and this basket contained items that were definitely older than the basket. This photo shows darning wool, hook and eyes, pins and needles, a pin cushion, thimble and bodkin. The needles were all made in England in the town of Redditch which once produced ninety per cent of all needles in the world. The pin cushion had some hidden, slightly rusted needles, which I will see if I can clean up and I like its petite size which should be perfect in my chair-side kit in the family room. The bodkin is made of bone or ivory and is used for threading ribbon or elastic in a casing or eyelets and I am sure it will be more pleasurable to use than the plastic ones available now. I think about the former owner transferring all the vintage sewing supplies into the 'new basket'.

The yellow thimble is an early plastic, likely celluloid and fits me perfectly. I am looking forward to using it. With a fine level of finish and depth of colour it is very different than a modern plastic thimble that you might find in a cheap sewing kit. The fabric colour and design of the made-in-Japan sewing basket suggests the late 1970's or early 1980's and I think I will fill it with supplies for my daughter who is starting to show an interest in sewing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 25: Clothing Care Secrets and More ThriftyFinds

Clothing care is an important part of any one's wardrobe. While most store-bought garments have a garment care label, it is really only a guideline. When you make your own clothes or you have bought used clothes, a deeper knowledge of how to care for them is required. Most, but not all, can be laundered if proper care is taken. The "dry clean only" recommendation is purely a recommendation and is certainly not necessary for all garments. Jodi at Couture Allure has just posted an excellent tutorial about washing vintage silk scarves which is a happy coincidence. I would use the same advice for washing silk blouses. My intended post for today was touching on spot cleaning. The photo here shows a chocolate-brown linen skirt with a mark, which I believe is chocolate. While travelling in Europe this past summer with the choir in which my boys sing, I learned a new method while wearing the same skirt. The wife of one of the men in the choir, a long-time wardrobe mistress for musicals, operas, ballets and theatres, noticed some marks on the back of my skirt and said that she could take care of it. She grabbed a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and applied it directly to my skirt and rubbed it in with her hands. Within seconds, the mark was gone and within a minute or two, the spot was dry, without a trace of a mark.

Here is the same spot shown in the above photo after using the same method. You may wish to do a spot test in an inconspicuous spot on the garment, but as I understand it, most fibres will not be harmed by the hand sanitzer. From an environmental perspective and frugal slant this method wins over the spot treatments available to the home consumer or through the dry cleaner.

Now for a little thrifting: Here is a lovely pink melamine bowl. It is not vintage, but I have a soft spot for melamine and this shade of pink should work well with my vintage pieces. This pink is a happy colour for me and with some rather grey days in the last week, it gives me a boost. I am also very excited about this ribbon which is also not vintage but drew me in with its colour.

I love using wooden hangers for clothing care and these will work well for skirts and jacket. Good shaping through the shoulder or waistband require a solid hanger that offers enough support. When it is not necessary to launder a garment, hang the garment and allow it to air out, to dissipate the heat and moisture from your body, before returning it to your closet. This photo shows a packet of craft magnets and two hem clips along with a package of suction cup spiders to aid in Halloween decoration.

I also found pyjama pants for my husband and a long-sleeved polo for my eldest along with this somewhat homely stool. I have been inspired by the lovely Tif Fussel at Dottie Angel rambling on about dumpties. I love all of her crafty world and would like to stay there for a while. I hope that my stool will live up to the magic of Tif's inspiration. I found the Dottie Angel Blog through Sophie at Her Library Adventures but immediately recognized its style having seen it in Mollie Makes and Uppercase magazines. Her blog is fabulous and I am linking this post to Flea Market Finds.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 24: Not a lot of Thrifting but Thrifting All the Same

With our eldest's birthday on Saturday and our activities on Sunday, this weekend did not leave much time for traditional thrift store searching. It did get me thinking about how I 'thrift' in settings other than a traditional thrift store (Salvation Army, Value Village, church nearly new), garage sales or flea markets. I read about many bloggers that attend estate sales and come home with wonderful vintage finds. I would be game to give it a try but there does not seem to be many or they are not well advertised in this city. Any tips of how to get into that loop? One place that I do not consider a thrift store but will occasionally shop at is a consignment shop. I generally find that their prices for clothing is too high for me compared to what I can find at a charity shop and the home goods are not often in keeping with my vintage tastes. I have had my best luck at this type of store with some books and a few select pieces of Pyrex. For instance, I found three of my Butterprint Cinderella Bowls to match the one that I already had and made a set of four. What was particularly gratifying is that those bowls were at their final marked down price just as the cache pot pictured here was. Although not really vintage, I have a small collection of this type of R.B. Bernarda piece from Portugal. I love the botanical drawing style which is similar to some of Portmeirion's patterns. We have as small amount of Variations which as its name suggests is a variant of the hugely popular Botanic Garden Series. I also cannot resist an attractive cache pot.

Another alternative to thrifting is getting something for free! I have a number of not so small pieces of furniture that were picked up curbside or simply offered to us by friends or neighbors. Because we have four children, we have often benefited from the generosity of others when it comes to hand me down clothes. This has been most helpful as all but the best quality or infrequently worn clothes usually do not make it to the wardrobe of the third boy. This weekend was especially exciting because our youngest was passed down a sweater and a pair of jeans that have never been worn. I suppose that we have all missed the opportunity to return a garment that does not fit but it was especially appreciated by our youngest who almost always wears what someone else has worn before.

We frequent our local library and take out DVD's, CD's,and museum passes along with our latest must-read book. It is pretty exciting to visit the amazing museums in this city without being required to pay the admission fee or membership. We have been family members of almost all of the possible institutions in this city but it would be very expensive to maintain memberships for them all. There is thrifting opportunity in the library too. Most branches of the Ottawa Public Library have a selection of books,magazines and CD's, either donated or discarded from the stacks, that are available for purchase. This past weekend, I was able to buy 5 CD's (including 2 complete opera box sets) for $1 each and 2 hardcover books for $2 each. I have found it very convenient place to donate my old magazine which some one else will be able to buy for a dime.

The treasures that I found today will be posted later this week but if you need to see more of the amazing finds that you can find at a thrift store, check out Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blotoberfest Day 23: An Afternoon Out

Today I went to hear the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestrawith their music director, Valery Gergiev, play two Tschaikovsky symphonies. As the wife of an orchestral musician, I have the opportunity to experience many fantastic concerts. Today was special not only because it was a world-renowned ensemble with a superstar conductor but because my husband got to enjoy the concert with me. I have noticed at concerts that there is a wide variety of fashion choices and that very few people take the effort to make it an occasion to dress up. Of course, the reason to go to a live performance is to hear the music, so I do not mind what others wear. But, I enjoy dressing for the occasion.
Today's outfit was not 100% thrifted! My dress and belt were bought on sale for more than 60% off at an after-Christmas sale.

The shoes, handbag and cardigan were all thrift. The handbag is blogged about here and the shoes and cardigan were found at my favourite Nearly New Shop. The cardigan is a lovely thin and lightweight silk and cashmere blend that is the perfect layer with a sleeveless dress. The brooch was also thrifted, but I cannot remember where I found it. I love the combination of mother-of-pearl and stones.

The headpiece, or fascinator, is one that I purchased when I went to New York City as a chaperone with my sons' choir. The Men and Boys sang a Sunday morning service at St. Thomas' Fifth Avenue. Outside of the church was a vendor who had a variety of feathered headpieces and jewellery, all of which she crafted herself. I love to bring home locally-made items as souvenirs. This headpiece is great to wear to a concert as it does not obstruct anyone's view as various hats can do. The boys also sang an Evensong today which we were also able to attend, although our eldest had had enough and got the giggles, literally a laugh track by the end of the afternoon.
Lots of music!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 22: Twenty-one Today

Twenty-one years ago I gave birth to our first child, a little boy who put us on a slightly different adventure than we had anticipated, but one still filled with joy and wonder. This picture was taken within days of bringing him home.

Here he is at two years old, shortly after he had been very sick. This photo won a "cutest kid" contest (with the prize of a camera) sponsored by a local camera store.

Here is a photo of the two of us taken this past summer at Long Beach on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the same familiar smiles for both of us.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 21: Thrifting Week in Review

When I was a school-age child in the 1970's and early 1980's, Friday night was a pizza in front of the t.v. evening where we ate home-made pizza and watched our local PBS station's line-up: Crockett's Victory Garden, Washington Week in Review, Wall Street Journal and Masterpiece Theatre (which was also on Sunday night but my parents judged it too late to stay up for a school night). I remember being fairly attentive for the gardening show and Masterpiece Theatre but less so for the two programmes in the middle of the line-up but I am sure that I had a much better understanding of the oil embargo, the Iran hostages, crazy gold prices and rising interest rates than all of my school peers. It is possible that all that exposure prepared me for the economic world of today and embracing the thrifting life. Tonight we had home-made pizza but not in front of the t.v. because my husband had a concert so, instead, I will review some extra thrifting finds that I have not already posted. The rose patterned tea towel is at the back and was not actually thrifted but found at HomeSense at $2 for a set of two. At a thrift store price, I could not resist these towels, a Roy Kirkham rosy design that was made in Portugal. It did get me thinking about our changing buying habits and the success of discount stores like HomeSense (part of the TJMaax chain) and our appetite for a deal! I wonder if we, as consumers, have some responsibility with the decline in quality of almost all consumer goods. Collectively, we are unwilling to pay for the materials and labour involved in making something to last. As thrifters we are responding in two ways: we often seek out vintage, or simply second hand, items that were made before this retail business thinking was prevalent and we are channeling our desire for a 'good deal' towards pricing that represents, although somewhat arbitrarily, what society believes is the actual value of an item. I also believe that thrifters are more likely to value hand-made goods and recognize truly well made products. Whether it is enough to change the trend of cheaper and cheaply made products remains to be seen.

The clothing items seen here are: Gap boys pyjama pants and two pairs of Talbot's tailored, wool pants. The pyjama pants where around $4 dollars with no signs of being worn and the wool pants were both on the 99 cent rack. The ones at the front are flattering while the other pair I will re-work into something else. The two lampshades are Laura Ashley which was my go-to store in the nineties. I carefully purchased fabrics and clothes on my limited budget and waited for the very reduced prices at their semi-annual sales. I still have many of those clothes and household items that I made with the fabric which I believe attests to the quality of the company at that time. As Laura Ashley no longer has stores in Canada, and I only briefly looked in England last summer, I am not sure it is still the same.

Here are two cups that I also found this past week for 49 cents each! Both of them are in my favourite vintage shade of blue and go with things I already have. The cup of the left is made by Melitta and would have been sold with a coffee or tea set in the 1950's. The Melitta method is my favourite way of making coffee and this cup would not hold enough for me but I know that I will be able to put it to good use. The cup on the right is vintage Grindley which is the colour and pottery that started me collecting Utility China. I like a thin wall for my tea so this will also be repurposed in my kitchen.

This Friday, I am joining the party at the Thrifty Groove: 'Thrifty Things Fridays' as I love seeing what other bloggers have found almost as much as finding my own treasures.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 20: A little Last Minute Thrift

Sometimes the opportunity to thrift comes in little snippets of time and quite often results in finds as exciting as longer sessions. This evening, with less than 45 minutes of time before closing, I took the opportunity for a quick quest at the closest Sally Ann. My first find is pictured in the centre, a bulb planter which is seasonably useful. I have always dug holes for bulbs with a small spade but I am interested in giving this a try. The next find was a sad Pyrex fridgie rather faded from dishwasher cleaning. It does not look too bad in the picture but its finish does warrant trying the oil trick to restore the finish that I used here. The two turquoise melamine plates made in Canada by Duraware will be a fabulous addition to my vintage melamine dishes. On the plates are six skeins of tapestry wool and a package of white rick-rack. Behind the plates is a white Royal Art Pottery bowl which will augment yet another collection of utility pottery. While some pieces pre-date the Second World War. Utility China was designed to fill the household needs of everyday Britons during the days of austerity during and for a while after the war.

The American versions of this kind of dishware were produced by Homer Laughlin, Fire King and Lu-Ray among others. This saucer is by Lu-ray and is in my favourite vintage blue with platinum bands. Behind the saucer is a chrome toothbrush holder made by Restoration Hardware. This is a design that I have been interested in for quite a long time but the catalogue price of $45 has deterred me. I guess, if you wait long enough your thrifting dreams may come true. Behind these two items are two books: Imperial Russian Style and a reproduction dot-to-dot made a local Almonte (one hour west of Ottawa) company, Algrove Publishing, that specializes in reprints and reproductions of old and out of print books. The founder of the company also founded Lee Valley Tools. Their Early Christmas Gifts Catalogue, which has long been a favourite, arrived today. I will be asking Santa for this.

The final find of the short session was this petit point silhouette of an 18th century couple. This would seem to contribute to yet another collection that I seem to be creating. The tin with the crinoline lady and gentleman was a recent find. The musical trio was a gift from my sister who purchased it from the artist, Steven Gu. I love Scherenschnitte and found this blog that celebrates it in all its intricacy and whimsy. The silhouette on the extreme right is one that I did 25 years ago for the poster design for my first flute recital where I used a photo of me playing to create the image. In the frame is a scanned image from the poster; I do not know where the original paper cut is now.