Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas has come early!

Gosh, it's been way too long since I last posted...oops!  Halloween is always a big deal around here and then Thanksgiving is right around the corner and by the time I ate all that pie I had completely lost track of time.  Sorry folks!  Anyway, I'm back and I'll do my best to remain focused this time.

So I wanted to share my new favorite lamp.  In fact, this one was so super-de-duper cool that I had to keep it for myself.  What do you think?

  It's this perfect mix of retro roller skate and that chrome tip bulb reminds me of a disco ball hovering above, casting light down on that fabulous piece of retro love.

I just can't tell you how excited I was to find this pair of skates at the bins.  Retro skates had been on my mental "must have" list for some time and it's always the best when you find just what you're looking for when you're out junking.  And on top of that Big Daddy did his light thing and made them functional.  And as if that weren't enough, since there are two I get to keep one to enjoy around here.  Can you imagine the perfection of the whole thing?  I would love to chat more but I think it's time to break out the hula hoop, turn up the Christmas tunes and do a little celebrating under the light of my new lamp. See y'all real soon!

What do you have on your mental "must have" list?  I'd be glad to keep my eyes open and share some of the junking love!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Let There Be Light

Whew!  It took a little longer than we expected but this weekend's lamp building extravaganza is complete.  It was so much fun going through all of the lovelies we have been hording carefully saving and finding new lives for them all.  Here are the results:

Big Daddy and I came across this Brownie Jr. Six-16 many months ago and were so excited!  We rushed home and began our research.  We learned that this camera was introduced in 1936 and was worth ready? to nothing.  What?!  How could this Art Deco beauty be worth so little?  (Something about the manufacturer discontinuing film production in 1942....humph.)  We decided it would go into the project pile until we had the perfect plan. I love that this piece of history has a new (and purposeful) life.

Tripod Lamps.  We've been lucky enough to find a number of fabulous vintage tripods over the years and love turning them into lamps.    The little one even has pretty brass legs when fully extended....Rawr!

Old film reels are so fabulous!  They are industrial and architectural and always remind me of old Hollywood.  I love the simplicity of this one.

This old Edison record is now a pendant light.  Big Daddy paired it with a long red houndstooth cloth cord and it's a real beauty.

This simple wood base and cloche bell jar are the perfect setting for a Marconi bulb.  I love that it feels like a museum exhibit with Steampunk flair.

We picked up this piece of driftwood at an insanely overstuffed vintage shop downtown a while back.  (Remind me to tell you about it...That place is a complete trip!)  The wood is architectural and sculptural and we let it speak for itself.

We'll be listing these goodies in the Etsy shop as the week progresses, but for now I'm happy to have given these beautiful pieces new lives.  The hard part is going to be resisting the urge to keep them for myself!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Weekend Workshop

It is on!  This weekend we are pulling out all of the bits and pieces we have been collecting on our thrifting adventures and putting them together to make one of a kind lighting masterpieces!  (hehe...well, that's the plan at least.)  Big Daddy has the know-how and I have the eye, so we're a pretty big mess great team.  Most of our cooperative creative ventures go a little like this...

Me:  Oooh, I have an idea!  Let's put these two pieces together.

Big Daddy:  I can make that work.  I'll just use this L bracket to connect them.

Me:  No way, that will look weird.

Big Daddy:  What did you want to use?

Me:  I don't know, something pretty, and industrial looking.

Big Daddy:  Maybe this piece?  Or that one?  You have lots of options, just let me know.  You know the L bracket would get the job done nicely.

Me:  Ugh, absolutely no L brackets!  I think I'm going to have to see it finished to decide.  It just depends on the overall feel of the finished piece.

And this is about the time when Big Daddy has to refill his drink.  (Isn't that funny?  Creating art makes him thirsty...hehe)  The truth is I'm a pretty lucky girl.  He puts up with me and all of my craziness and after his cup is full he always comes back to the table.  He's even been known to put pieces together just to let me see what they will look like and gladly disassembles and rebuilds when I change my mind.  Oh my gosh!  I'm so excited to see what we can come up with this weekend.  I'll keep you posted, for sure!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What's in a Name

My oldest daughter just turned 13.  (Still hard for me to believe I have a teenager!)  For this monumental birthday I wanted to give her something to show her just how proud her father and I are of the young woman she has become.  Something that she would always remember as a sign of our respect for her individuality and strength and a reminder that we will always support her, no matter what.  So, I changed her name.

Let me start at the beginning.

She was named "Julia" after my great grandmother, who was at once one of the strongest and gentlest women I have known.  She was born in the year 1900 and had the most amazing stories to tell.  (And don't even get me started on her baking skills....good golly!)  She lived through some incredible hardships and came out on the other side with her dignity and a sense of humor that could not be beat.  She was fierce and kind and everything I hoped for my daughter.   Yes, "Julia" would be perfect!

When my daughter was 4 years old I began to teach her to write her name.  She was an early reader and I very distinctly remember the conversation we had.  I showed her the letters, one by one  J-U-L-I-A.  She told me I was wrong.  (Not the first time, or the last.)  She said the word I spelled said     /jew-lie-ae/ and that was not her name.  She wrote J-U-L-E-E-A.  I tried explaining to her that I was pretty sure I was right (you know, being part of the team that chose the name and all) but she was insistent.  So, I let it go.  I told myself that she was still young and could spell it any way she wanted to, sure that one day she would get older and see the error in her ways.  (Ah,  I was so young and naive .)  

Today, she is 13 and she still spells her name "Juleea".  It's perfect for her, actually.  She is unique and original and has always known that this spelling is the right one for her.  It took me a few years to figure out what she already knew.  (Sometimes us moms are slow like that.)  But today I am proud to report that this error has been fixed.  She is now legally, officially, and in every way, my Juleea.  Happy Birthday, love!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mr. T

It's summer time here in Texas and you know what that means, it is hot!   Fortunately I have a new friend helping me beat the heat in the kitchen this year.  Meet my new bestie, Mr. T.

Isn't he a cutie?  Not only is he good looking but he's a real whiz in the kitchen.  He (along with my handy dandy slow cooker) has given me the ability to serve my family hot, fresh, and healthy meals without heating up the entire house.

Don't be taken aback by his compact size.  (Come on ladies, you know size isn't everything.)  This little guy heats up in a flash and can toast, bake and broil.  I do love me a fresh cold salad but the summers here are so long that boredom sets in and I long for some old school baked goodies.  Thanks to Mr. T, now I can have my cake and eat it too!

P.S.  My kids have been teasing me about calling my toaster oven by his official name, "Mr. T".  I've told them that he's more than an appliance and referring to him by anything other than his actual name would be rude.  (You don't hear Gordon Ramsey calling his assistants with a "Hey, sous chef", do you?  I didn't think so!)  Anything you can do to help me out here would be appreciated.  And if you have names for your "assistants" I'd love to hear them.  Bring it on, folks!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pay It Forward

Well, it's official.  We have too much stuff.  Yes, it's awesome vintage stuff but it's stuff none the less and my bedroom has been a danger zone for too long.  Big Daddy and I have stubbed our toes on typewriters and bowling balls and have pledged to get everything off of the floor and onto a shelf....immediately.

The good news is that our plan includes sharing some goodies in the new Pay It Forward section of the shop.  That means that these items are for sale for 20 cents (the Etsy listing fee and minimum sale price allowed) plus shipping.  Our toes are optimistic that they will be safe from harm in the next week or so.  And sharing more of our goodies always makes me happy.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Magic City

We just received an order from the props department at Magic City and are so very excited!  We disconnected our cable years ago so I'm a bit out of the loop on television shows but this one looks amazing.  Magic City is set in 1959 Miami Beach and appears to be a mid century modern style mecca.
I'm a complete sucker for beautifully designed sets and amazing cinematography (Pushing Daisies, anyone?) and this show seems to have it all.  The pictures on their site are so grand and opulent and true to the period.  I've often imagined what it would be like to be able to shop for a large project and found this article to be very enlightening.  And now, our little shop gets to be a small part of this very big project.
You can bet I'll be catching up on this series and keeping my eye out for the adding machine, perhaps on the side of a Paul McCobb desk where a beautiful secretary sits in her Eames chair with her perfectly placed pin curls and pencil skirt.  Oh, I just can't wait to see it all!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Commas Save Lives

What?!  You don't believe me?  Well, just look at the two sentences below and see if you disagree.
Let's eat, Grandpa!           vs.           Let's eat Grandpa!
See what I mean?  This is important stuff my friends!  A few years ago my girls and I read the book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: Why, Commas Really Do Make a Difference and really enjoyed it.   It's definitely worth checking out from your local library if you haven't read it.  Lots of good stuff in there!

Knowing how important punctuation is, can you imagine how excited we were when Big Daddy and I came across this little cutie on one of our typography quests?  Isn't she pretty!?  I've been admiring all of the marquee letters on Etsy and thought this lovely would be the perfect place to start.  Big Daddy did his electrical thing and I added a little trim to the inside and I must say that I absolutely adore her!

Say, you know what the real problem with this thrifting/upcycling lifestyle is?  You want to keep every last fabulous thing.  I do keep a few from time to time but this one I'm going to share.  (I've already called dibs on the first pi and ampersand we come across, don't you worry.)  I think I'll hang her in my bedroom for now, you know, just to keep her safe and all.  In the mean time you folks watch that punctuation.  Commas really can save lives!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Borrowed Thrift

Disney Tin Tray - Vintage Walt Disney World Round Serving Dish
I've been thrifting for a long time and you know what that means...  I have a LOT of stuff.  Yes, it's fabulous stuff but even if you put a bunch fabulous things together it's still just a pile of stuff.  And my piles are piling up.  That means it's time to start sharing some of my favorite things in the shop.
Disney Tin Tray - Vintage Walt Disney World Round Serving DishI think I'll begin with a couple of vintage Disney serving trays I found some time ago and fell in love with instantly.  The old school graphics are absolutely charming.  And can you just imagine using them to serve at your next backyard barbeque?  I can.........(queue dream sequence)............................................
Disney Tin Tray - Featuring Florida Walt Disney Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck. Goofy The Eames chairs resting comfortably on the bright green AstroTurf covered in my ruffled half apron exiting through the sliding glass door with these trays held high...the brightly colored shiny aluminum tumblers full of icy Tom Collins nestled safely in the souvenir of our most recent Disney the other hand a plate of deviled eggs, carefully sprinkled with my best Hungarian paprika and garnished with curly parsley on the side. (Oh my, maybe I'm not ready to let go just yet.)  But the truth is that I don't have the Astro Turf to really put these babies to good use so I'm going to have to pass them along to someone more worthy of their retro charm.  And that is one of the things that is the most fun about this thrifting life.  I get to spend some time with all of these lovely things before passing them along.  It's sort of like borrowing from a friend.  Yes, that's exactly what it feels like.  And now it's time to send them off to someone who does have the patio to put them to use.  (I just hope they invite me to the shin-dig.  I could use a good Tom Collins!)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

On this day

Twenty two years ago today my life was changed forever.  I was eighteen and had only been out of the house a few weeks when it happened.  Sitting in a dance club for the first time with my best friend, feeling very insecure and nervous, I was approached by a cutie who wanted to dance.  Because it was early and the dance floor was wide open I just couldn't do it.  I asked him to come back later when more people were dancing and thank goodness he did!  We spent that evening together, and the next and the next, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Fifteen years ago today we were married in a small ceremony in an historic downtown Austin restaurant.  It was a day we had worked towards for a very long time, scrimping and saving and planning..and it was all worth it.  Surrounded by family and our closest friends we celebrated the love we had found and the future family we were so very looking forward to.
Today, Big Daddy is still a risk taker and I'm still playing it safe.  Together we are an unstoppable team and balance each other perfectly.  I am grateful that we have made this incredible journey together and look forward to the many adventures yet to come.
Happy Anniversary Big Daddy!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A, B, C's

Last fall I took my first trip to Marburger Farms and found myself blown away by all of the beautiful things.  Two of my favorite trends were the industrial equipment used as every day furniture and the heavy use of typography in absolutely every space.  I became inspired by the letters and started gathering them on my thrifting adventures.  I now have a serious supply of Scrabble tiles as well as some plastic marquee readerboard letters and use them gratuitously around the house.  They are lovely little reminders of the things I want to focus on and can really pack a visual punch when decorating.

I was mostly content with my little letters and while I continued to lust after the large industrial ones I simply could not bring myself to spend the big bucks to purchase them.  (Why is it that people sell salvaged items for so much money?!)  Well lookie what I came across this week!  Can you believe it?!  These beauties were destined for the landfill and I was able to work a deal and save their little lives.  (That, and managed to severely embarrass my 10 year old...but that's not unusual.)  I brought them home and got straight to work scrubbing, disassembling (not as easy as I thought it would be), and even enlisted Big Daddy's help in turning a couple into lamps.  It's hard to tell from the picture but these beauties range from 18 inches or so to almost 3 feet.  That's right, 3 feet!  My living room is like a trippy version of Sesame Street right now and I just couldn't be happier about it.  Now I am very excited and hopeful that someday I'll find the perfect ampersand, or maybe even a pi symbol.  Oh, can you even imagine it?!  For now I'll be content to sing the alphabet song all day and wait for these lovelies to find their forever homes.  Oh!  And if you happen to come across a 1950's factory that is closing their doors and giving away their heavy duty assembly tables you just let me know!
Wall Letter Industrial Salvage - Channel Letter a or g - Blue Acrylic
For now I'll leave you with this little trip down memory lane.  Enjoy!  Sesame Street - Learning About Letters

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Not So Slow Summer

Every year when the weather heats up I start to dream.  I imagine long summer days sitting by the pool, late nights walking through the neighborhood, and indulgently late mornings with nowhere to go.  It feels the same every spring, but that is never our reality.  Instead we seem to spend our time picking up fun little things here and there until I don't know which way is up.

This here is my friend Nellie.  She lives at my mother's little farm and pretty much sums up the way I've been feeling lately.  I'm hoping to take a little break and see if I can wrap my head around all the changes and rearranges around here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bad News, Good News

Big Daddy and I have come to the conclusion that we have too much awesome stuff.  As cool as it all is we are seriously running out of space for it, so it's time to downsize a bit.  But how?  We decided the first thing to do is slash prices in the Etsy shop.  So, until we are able to sell a good portion of these lovelies (and easily walk thru the bedroom without fear of knocking something over) they will be at rock bottom prices.  Just think of it as our early Christmas present to you.

Merry Christmas!
Happy Blue Gal

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Grunge Thrifting

Hi, I'm Christi and I'm a thrifting geek.  Not just any thrifting, mind you. I prefer the dirty, you have to dig to find the good stuff and be careful not to loose a finger, kind of thrifting.  Somehow the pretty stores with their treasures all lined up and dusted off just aren't doing it for me these days.  Don't misunderstand me, you can still find lots of amazing things at the pretty places but I need to feel like I earned it.  Besides, I believe these things are on a sort of death row for junk and that every piece I buy is saving a lovely from the landfill, which makes me extra happy.

One of my favorite hangouts lately is the Goodwill Outlet Center, also known around town as "The Bins".  That's right, they sell the things that didn't make the cut at the regular Goodwill.  (Frightened yet?)  Honestly you can find some pretty amazing things here but you have to be willing to dig for them and deal with some seriously aggressive shoppers.  And guess what?  Everything in the store is $1.39 a pound.  Nice, huh?  You fill your shopping cart up, roll it onto a large scale, and that's that. 

If you're looking for the Goodwill Outlet near you I suggest checking out this site.  (That's what I did prior to the last family road trip!  More about that later.)  Also, I have a few hints and tips to keep in mind.  First and foremost, be careful!  These bins are loaded with stuff and there is no organization whatsoever.  You could be reaching for an embroidered linen tablecloth and not see the broken glass sitting just underneath it.  Broken glass, knives, and sharp objects of all kinds are all over the place so be on the lookout.  Some people wear gloves to protect themselves but I find that they just make me clumsy and that I'm safer without them.  You'll have to decide what works best for you and go for it.

You should also be prepared for some serious funk.  Yes, pack the hand sanitizer but don't fool yourself, it's likely you'll run into a few things that your handy dandy cleaning gel isn't going to be able to help you with.  I have come across live bugs, rotten food, dirty diapers, and even a dead rat.  Just when you think you've seen it all you will find yourself surprised, that I can assure you.  If you're still interested then I suggest you make your way to a Goodwill Outlet immediately.  And when you do, please drop me a line and let me know how it went.  I just can't wait to hear all about it!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Illuminating the Past

I have been drooling over all of the upcycled vintage crafts out there lately, haven't you?  So many super cute treasures that have been repurposed into new and generally more useful beauties that actually serve a purpose around the house.  I've been pinning them for quite a while but just recently thought about transforming my own collected goodies. The idea was born during one of Big Daddy and my's discussions about how we were going to control all of the stuff we've accumulated and where we could keep it.  (Some day soon I'll have to show you just what a warehouse our bedroom has turned into!) One by one we discussed things, "Yes, I have to keep that old useless Edison's fabulous" and "I know it's not safe to use but that heater looks so cool!".  This must have gone on for an hour or so before our lighbulb moment.  That's when we realized we had the makings of some real gems.  We immediately ordered our reproduction vintage cord, started collecting old sockets and found some beautiful plugs and went to work. 

What do you think?  This old Edison record plays "Aggravatin' Papa" on one side and "Carolina in the Morning" on the other.  Unfortunately it is in poor condition and unplayable.  Until this idea came into our minds we weren't sure just how we could go about appreciating this lovely piece of history but it was so special to me that I could not let it go.  Now I'm so happy to have kept it and hope to share it with someone who adores it as much as I do.  (That is, after all, what makes this whole thrifting thing so fun!)

And what about this little hottie?  It was the cutest darn thing I ever saw and I had high hopes when I brought it home.  Much to my dismay these little heaters are not worth much and are even a little dangerous in a home with small kids.  What to do?  A lamp, of course!  This one is extra awesome because Big Daddy was able to put two candelabra bulbs inside and take advantage of the Hi/Low switch on the side.  You can turn this guy on and off, as well as high (using two bulbs) or low (using only one).  Isn't that nifty?  And it gives off the most incredible light patterns.

It took me a while to get to the point where I was willing to make changes to the original perfection of some of these items but making them more available is very exciting.  And I have a few more tricks up my sleeve and hope to share those very soon!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reaching Out

Recently I received a note from another Etsy seller inquiring about some of my past sales and photography tips.  She was so sweet and curious and I could not have been more flattered.  I know she wanted information but what she could not have realized is that by taking the time to reach out she gave me a gift as well.  You see, I've been selling on Etsy since November of 2010 and still feel like a newbie.  I'm always reading, learning, and tweaking things in an attempt to increase shop visibility and sales.  It's really a lot of work and if I didn't enjoy thrifting and sharing the items I find so much it would not be worth it.  But I do love it so I keep plugging away and trying to improve, little by little.

Many times I visited other people's shops to admire their wares and techniques, but not once did I consider asking them for help.  I'm not sure why that is really.  I suppose I didn't want to bother anyone and assumed that is what my inquiry would be.  Now that I have been on the receiving end of one of these notes I realize I had it all wrong.  Taking the time to reach out to another seller is a gift in and of itself.  It says that you value the work they have put into their shop and what better compliment could one receive?  I also found myself grateful to be able to pass along a tidbit of information in an attempt to help a friend out.  We all work so hard individually to learn these things and it really is comforting to be able to pass that information along.  So thank you, Cheryl, for making my day!  (And, just as importantly, helping me realize how much my life could be improved by a Skull & Crossbones washcloth.  Isn't it perfect?!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

What is it?

Sometimes when you're thrifting you find something you love but aren't quite sure what it is.  I really enjoy these moments and just can't wait to get home to do a little online digging.  Today I thought I would share with you one of my favorite things for sale in the shop (that I am secretly glad hasn't sold and so get to admire it every morning when I get up...shhh).  Isn't it fabulous?  It's the perfect blend of industrial complete with rotating mirror, shiny gooseneck and funky little toggle switch. ...swoon...  But what is it?  Well it's an Agglutination Viewer, of course.  (That part's easy since it's written nice and legibly across the bottom, but that wasn't much help for me.)  
Apparently this little slice of pie is used in blood banks for typing, cross matching, and other blood bank-y things.  Today these little guys are made of plastic (of course) and are simply not much for looking at.  But this little guy, well he's hawt!  He's the sort of strong silent type that will sit quietly in the corner just waiting to be noticed.  And when you do notice, boy howdy...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Blue Family

Today I want to introduce you to my Happy Blue Family.
Aren't we cute?!  That's Ms. J, myself, Little Ms. V, and Big Daddy.  This is our family portrait in front of the Grand Canyon.  What?  You can't see the Grand Canyon?  Well you'll just have to believe me because Big Daddy's arms are only so long and that's the best we could do on short notice.  So this is us, early in the morning, posing in front of one of the most incredible wonders in the world.  Truth be told, even with the extremely close specially cropped photograph it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meet Fernando

One of my very favorite things about thrifting is finding funky little accessories to stash decoratively place throughout the house.  Sometimes my connection to them is instant and just so powerful that it cannot be denied.  That's what happened with my dear friend Fernando.  This is his story...

On a very ordinary Goodwill trip one cold December afternoon, I spotted him.  The twinkle in his eye shone thru the dusty plastic Christmas tree that someone had obviously imprisoned him in.  I knew instantly that I had to bring him home and love him forever.  When I asked an employee how much he cost she told me he came with the tree and that I would have to buy the whole thing.  What?!  Well that just wasn't going to happen so we said our goodbyes and I vowed to keep him in my heart....always.

That Christmas my girls handed me a present and I could tell by the excitement on their faces that they were very proud of whatever was in the box.  I opened it carefully, savoring their enthusiasm.  When I opened the box I could hardly believe it....Fernando!!  (Apparently my husband took the girls back to the store the next day and had one of my beautiful girls ask about the price.  Ha!  Why didn't I think of that?)  I immediately nestled him into a chandelier so that I could see him every time I came into the house or walked up or down the stairs.  We were terribly happy together until, one horrible day, it became clear that his life was in danger from a light bulb he was sitting near (and thus the big black burn on his little bitty hat).  The girls and I thought long and hard about where he should live and decided that this Buddha would care for him and they could be buddies.

Yes, I know he was intended to be a holiday decoration but I love him so and just can't bear to put him away.  That's what I love about personal style, it's all yours and you can do what you want with it.  I would love to hear about some of your favorite finds and how you have incorporated them into your home.

Happy Father's Day

This post goes out to all the big daddies out there who are getting it done!

The girls and I decided that the best way to celebrate Father's Day this year would be to take their dad on a whirlwind tour of the small town junk shops he loves to pick thru.  Unfortunately those places aren't open on!   We decided the only fair thing to do would be to turn it into a Father's Weekend.  Woo Hoo!  So, we started our journey bright and early yesterday and found a few gems for our little Etsy shop.  They may not look like much now, but wait till Big Daddy gets them all fixed up!

As you may have noticed,  lamps are our new obsession.  There are a few up and ready and so many more vintage parts around here just begging to be illuminated.  I just can't wait for you to see them when they're all finished!

I'd love to stay and chat but it's Father's Day and I have some serious relaxing to do.  Since we were out and about all day yesterday today's plans include a whole lot of nothing, followed by one of Big Daddy's famous barbeque feasts.  Mmmm-mmmm!