Don Builds A Garden Folly

Posted on

image

Don with Aggie

Don with Aggie

I have been very lazy about writing my blog. I really don’t know why…. it is especially annoying because I have a lot on my mind. Tomorrow is Father’s Day. I always find Father’s Day gifts a problem for my husband, Don.  We have three terrific grown children and grandchildren too. They all love him like crazy, just like me! But, they would agree getting a gift for him is tough. Don is the type of guy that just goes and buys himself what he needs or wants. At Christmas, he will pick up a few things he needs instead of telling us. Gift giving is frustrating to say the least. My Father’s Day gift is this blog about a gift he made for me….image

We have a big backyard with a swimming pool. Right now that isn’t too great, due to the drought. On one side for as long as we have lived here was a old wooden patio cover that was completely covered with ivy. In fact, ivy was what kept it up. This ivy was a complex ecosystem that supported many families of rats, mice, birds, raccoons, opposums, bats and a beehive.  We all had an agreement, stay away from each other and we will get along great. Yes, even the rats. They are nocturnal! When my daughter Jackie was small she thought they were black kitties out scampering on the fence. I don’t think we told her the truth until she was about 25 years old. Needless to say, we just stayed away and all was fine. Until, we actually had one day weather event. It rained and the wind blew for one whole day!!  The patio cover ended up in the pool with all the ivy, the nests, the hive and bunch of dead stuff that I really don’t want to know what it was. It also landed on our fountain and broke it too.image

Don cleaned up a horrific mess. He ripped out the rest of the ivy and cleared the back side of the yard. We both did not realize how much space had been lurking behind all the ivy.. What to do? What to do? We both did not want another patio cover and with the drought loomimg in the future we didn’t want a lot of thirsty landscaping. Don turned to me and asked “What do you want?” Without thinking, I said “A Folly!” Don replied with the only sensible response, “What the hell is a Folly?”

imageI am an Anglophile. I love everything about England. I especially love English literature. I love PBS and watch all The Masterpiece Theater Presentations. My favorite is Jane Austin’s Pride and Predjudice. My favorite scene is when Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy are in the Folly. That is where he proposes and she turns him down. Elizabeth Bennett tell him off. Great scene!! I just got back from England and visited Chatsworth House, which of course is Pemberley.

imageWe don’t live at Pemberley or anything that remotely looks like an estate. In fact, we live in a California Ranch built in 1955. Adjustments had to  be made.  Don and I looked at Follies and garden houses on Pinterrest and on line. Finally, we decided to just go for it! I explained that Follies really had no purpose except to have fun and show off. In the Victorian days they made the single men sleep in them that they wouldn’t ravish the young women. Maybe, our son Jordan should sleep out there when he visits  it might encourage him to get married!

image

Charlotte and Tommy

Charlotte and Tommy

We started with a stain glass window that we had bought at an estate sale to sell in my antique booth. It did not sell and somehow it got cracked. So, we dragged it home and it became the focal point of the Folly. It is eye shaped and came from The United  Methodist Church in Hillcrest CA. It is about 100 years old and features tulips. Don was really getting into the Folly now. He became a man possessed. The roof line was steep with a lightening rod on top. The walls were made out of lattice. Escondido is very hot 6 months of the year. We had to have air circulation. We went to a marvelous sale in Santa Barbara and bought a chandalier. And, in it went and I hung multicolored votives all through it. Don found old doors from Hungary. He paid too much but they are perfect.image

We decided its main purpose was to entertain. So we put a bed inside with lots of comfy pillows. Perfect for reading or a nap.When our grandchildren are here they play house.  When we have company they always end up laying or sitting on the bed gossiping and having fun. Everyone who see the Folly smiles and laughs. Maybe it does have a purpose. All I know is I love my Folly and love all the love and creativity Don put in every detail. Happy Father’s Day My Darling Don  I love you…..PS God Save The Queen


Making a Magical Pink Crystal Necklace

Posted on

Once upon a time, I had a very magical visit to Louisiana.  It started off with going to my daughter Jackie’s college graduation from LSU and spending time with her and my two granddaughters, Kaylee age six and Farrah age ten. These are very magical ages for girls. They love Disney Princesses, fairies, and dress up. My kind of girls. Kaylee loves purple and Farrah loves blue. I love pink. We were all so anticipating the new Disney movie, “Maleficent” with the very magical Angelina Jolie. It was wonderful and she was wonderful in it. The girls and I made necklaces and bracelets on stretch cords and had a blast. When they come out to California I going to teach them how to make pendants and fairy pouches to keep their treasures safe and close to their hearts. They will always be my Fairy Princesses and I will aspire to always be their Fairy Grandmother.

Once Upon a Time There was Thrift Store Treasure

Once Upon a Time There was Thrift Store Treasure

As  I watched a few fairytale movies (Actually, a lot of them!) I began to notice that magical necklaces were longer. They make a statement. I have a tendency to make shorter necklaces that lay nicely in the bodice. I love to create  jewelry to enhance the blouse or bring the focus of the outfit to the face. I never was fond of necklaces that nestle on the chest area. It brings unwanted attention to my boobs, which I could live without!  But, a long necklace is dramatic. It elongates the body. They (I don’t know they are?) call a long necklace an opera length necklace. This makes sense to me because opera is dramatic and over the top. Opera length necklaces can be layered with other necklaces and scarves to create even more drama. The perfect example of this was The Chanel Collection a few years back with all the long opera length pearl necklaces layered together. Fabulous..

Pendant Before Embellishment

Pendant Before Embellishment

Well, I can’t afford Chanel and will never buy a fake, so I say let’s make our own magical necklace. Let’s make a list of our supplies first. Any good Fairy knows that you have to get the potion right to create magic. The first question we need to ask ourselves is how long to make this necklace? I start with a piece of string tied around my neck and look in a full length mirror. Every princess has a full length mirror. Remember, there will be a pendant hanging on the bottom of the necklace and we don’t want our pendant hanging in our crotch,! Not magical…

Pendant After Embellishment

Pendant After Embellishment

I like to start with the pendant because this is the focal point. Be brave. Teeny Tiny is not dramatic. Teeny Tiny is little. Little never got anyone anywhere, just ask Alice in Wonderland. I have some great pendants. Some of my favorites are actually chandalier crystals. I have gotten them at antique malls and at lamp stores. The pendant I am using in the project had been part of a  keyring fob. I took it apart for the pink crystal. The fillagree cap was cheap and uninteresting so, I wrapped it with wire and added three crystal beads. It almost takes on a nest quality now. The next element I used was part of a hinged bracelet to hold the pendant. I bought the bracelet at the local thrift store. It was not difficult to take apart using my jewelry pliers. It probably would of been okay as a pendant focal point if I stopped here but I want MAGICAL! I buy vintage brooches when ever I see them. I never worry if the clasp is broken or if missing stones because I know I can find a use for them. Case in point, this brooch was missing it’s clasp and it was the perfect pink with the pendant. Using wire I wired it to the  bracelet hinge and added a pink crystal bead.

Assembling the Elements

Assembling the Elements

The necklace comes next. This is where our string comes in handy to make sure it is long enough. Don’t comprise with drama. Use seed beads or spacer beads to get the length. The beads I am using here are also from the thrift store. These beads started out as a 1950’s or 1960’s  double stranded choker perfect for church or lunch. Note: One strand is longer than the other so make sure you make adjustments that make the necklace hang straight, Crooked is not magical unless you are a witch! I attached the necklace to the pendant using o rings and parts of the brass bracelet. I used the original clasp, which was for a double strand necklace so I added chain to balance it off. I used chain from JoAnn’s Craft

Creating A Magic

Creating A Magic Pendant

Store. I buy old chain necklaces from the thrift stores but I didn’t have the right color of chain.

Magical Pendant

Magical Pendant

The spell is complete. A necklace worthy of Fairy Princess or a Fairy Grandmother. This Fairy Grandmother is going to wear her necklace with a Boho skirt and a long t-shirt or a pair of skinny jeans and long tunic top.  Have fun. Be dramatic and find your inner princess and play dress up. And, She lived happily ever after….

The Fairy Grandmother Lived Happily Ever After  With A New Treasure

The Fairy Grandmother Lived Happily Ever After With A New Treasure


Easter Decorating and Nonsense

Posted on

I have had a love affair with Easter my whole life. How is it possible not to love a holiday where you get a new dress and eat as much chocolate as you can?  I am a child of the 1960’s and Easter was very differently celebrated than it is now. We actually had fun on Easter. I know it is a religious holiday and we went to church on holidays. I am not proud of this fact but it is true.  Our Easter actually started the week before when school let out for Easter Break. Easter Break was always the week before Easter.

Vintage  Rabbit with Just Joey Roses

Vintage Rabbit with Just Joey Roses

The last day of the holiday was Easter Sunday. Now, it is called Spring Break and every school celebrates it at a different time. It must be very difficult for parents to figure all of this out. It is bad enough to have to figure out when Easter falls on the calendar anyways! From my understanding, with a lot of help from Wikipedia, Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon following the March Equinox. Sooooo, that means Easter will be somewhere between March 22 and April 25. In the world of retail we would like to put forth a fixed date like Thanksgiving and say the 3rd Sunday of April would be perfect!! We need a holiday in April. We have St. Patrick’s Day in March. March does not need Easter… The kids were just out for President’s Week in late February and so they really do not need a break yet! I really feel we were gypped as kids because we got President’s Weekend not Week? Of course, this is now called Ski Week and has nothing to do with Washington and Lincoln. I digress!! Sorry!! Easter meant coloring eggs, Easter Egg Hunts, New Clothes, Easter Baskets filled with candy, watching Judy Garland in “The Easter Parade”, Ham with Cloves, Deviled Eggs, and finally The Easter Bunny!!

Coloring Eggs

I painted this tray 15 years ago

I painted this tray 15 years ago

I love coloring and decorating eggs. I did this with my Mom and my Grandma Bernice and brother Brett. I carried this tradition on with my kids too. There are two types of colored eggs. The first is hard boiled eggs that are dyed and used in The Egg Hunt. Heaven knows why? Due to the fact is you do not find all the eggs they can stink to high heaven in a few days. The second type is the eggs that we blew out the raw egg and decorated them and hung them on a Easter Tree that was made out of a Manzanita branch jammed in a pot. My Mom would boil the eggs and let them cool. Mom bought a egg coloring kit that included color tablets and a wire holder and the box became the drying rack. She would make a different color in separate bowls using water, the color tablet and vinegar. Sounds simple enough. We would double dip to get different colors. Mostly, we ended up with some shade of gray from too much dipping. Sometimes the eggs were cracked and the dye bled on to the egg and my Mom used these eggs for Deviled Eggs. It never stopped anyone from eating them all up! The tree eggs were my favorite. It was hard work to blow out the eggs and we broke a lot of eggs too. but after they were colored my Grandma Bernice would bring over bits of lace and ribbons that she would have left over from her sewing projects and we would decorate the eggs and hang them from our Easter Tree. I have 4 precious eggs left from that time. I colored and decorated eggs with my kids too. I hope that they will decorate eggs with their kids too.

Easter Baskets

Fun Basket Centerpiece

Fun Basket Centerpiece

In our neighborhood growing up (Newport Beach), we had a Gilbert’s 5 & Dime Store. At Easter they had ready made Easter Baskets. They were glorious to behold! The baskets were always on the top shelves where they were safe from little kids hands. We would go into Gilbert’s and dream of having a store bought Easter Basket. They were so perfect. Wrapped in clear plastic with a huge blue, pink, yellow, or purple bow. Every kid dreamed of finding that Easter Basket with their name on it on Easter Morning. My younger brother Brett ruined every holiday fantasy figure for me including the Easter Bunny. So early on I knew it was my Mom who made our Easter Baskets. She recycled the baskets every year. It was hard to believe the Easter Bunny would bring the same basket every year. My Mom has a healthy no nonsense side to her. Our plastic eggs would be filled with underwear instead of jellybeans. She would give us paperback books instead chocolates galore. We always did get a solid chocolate bunny from See’s Candy. My Grandma Bernice always brought a communal basket chock full of candy to make up for the underwear….

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Tree on the Piano

Easter Egg Tree on the Piano

This was held at the park. Everyone contributed to the hunt. No one ever got sick except from eating too much candy. Everyone had fun. The youngest kids got a head start, followed by the next age group until everyone was running around grabbing eggs. My kids did the same thing. They had a blast too. These are important memories. I worry sometimes if we don’t give our kids enough freedom just to be kids. Our parents let us eat whatever we wanted that day. The sun was always shining on Easter and the flowers were always blooming.

Easter Table

Easter Table

Easter Dinner

My Mom sets a beautiful table. If you can’t set a beautiful table for our families, who is it for? I love a beautiful table. I am lucky that at my work I get to set many tables. Beautiful tables for every season but I love the tables that I set for my loved ones. As you all know I am a china freak. I love dishes. If I ever got to meet Martha Stewart, I would ask to see all of her dishes. Martha is a china freak too! My Easter dishes are Spode Aster which I mix with Duncan Miller fancy depression glass and a bunch of vintage accessories. I love to have bunnies and eggs on the table. Your table should tell a story, a love story for the people who sit around it. I love favors for everyone and I make them edible most of the time. I want to create memories as my Mom made for me and brother. I hope the tradition will continue with my kids. Just in case they forget we always eat ham, asparagus, scalloped potatoes, deviled eggs, jello salad (I love Jello!) and strawberry pie for dessert. Happy Easter.

PS Easter Grass

I always find Easter Grass at Christmas and Pine Needles at Easter. Funny huh??!!


The Tucson Gem Show for Beginners

Posted on

 

I am with a Raptor

I am with a Raptor

I have wanted to go to the Tucson Gem Show for years.  My boss and friend Al, has asked me to go every year but I have had an excuse lamer than the dog ate my homework! This year he went ahead and made the reservations at the hotel and told me to grab a friend because we were going to the Tucson Gem Show.  Our group included Al (fossil nut), Al’s brother Norbert (The Charmer), Sharon (friend, coworker, jewelry nut and Elizabeth Taylor lookalike) and me (Just Nuts) driving from San Diego in Al’s car. The other brother Reinhart (The Intellect) drove in from Albuquerque. An unlikely group but it worked.

Sharon with a large fossilized palm

Sharon with a large fossilized palm

The Tucson Gem Show is not one show, it is over 40 shows spread all over Tucson. The main show is at the The Tucson Expo Center. We never made it there. I saw and did so much that I will have to see that next year. Maybe. I have been shopping in gift shows, antique shows, souks and bazaars but nothing prepared me for this show. The dealers spill out of everywhere. Every hotel room is a showroom. They take the furniture out of there and put in tables to display their wares. Sometimes, the vendor would keep the bed in the room! Honestly, I have never been in so many stranger’s hotel rooms in my life.

Dinosaur Teeth

Dinosaur Teeth

Dinosaur Trapped in Stone

Dinosaur Trapped in Stone

The vendors are from all over the world.  The wonderful things that were for sale boggle the mind.  The first thing I notice is the large fossilized sandstone panels leaning against the side of the hotel parking lot. Unbelievable! I knew that I was like Alice in Wonderland and have fallen down the hole in to a wonderful, curious world. I also knew that 3 days was not enough and was plotting my return. And I have not seen anything yet! There are vendors selling minerals, fossils, gemstones, beads, carvings, crystals, finished jewelry, meteorites and treasure. Treasure is everything else. Treasure is stuff that you did not know that you needed but now you have to have. I did not bring enough money.

Beaded collars from Afghanistan

Beaded collars from Afghanistan

The first night we had dinner with Al’s friend Brock from Fossilogy. Brock is a young guy who has created his own company removing fossils from stone and recreating the dinosaurs for museums, collectors and businesses all over the world. Brock was very gracious answering all of our amateur questions. Think about it for a moment. Brock chips every bone, tooth and part out of a large rock, then he has to figure out what the dinosaur looked like and put it together. Before he can put it together he has to build and weld a metal structure to support the dinosaur. This takes years sometimes to construct. Unbelievable! There are dinosaurs all over Tucson. Wonderland.

Carved Tourquoise

Carved Turquoise

Saturday morning we got up early and out we go. The boys are going fossil hunting. Sharon and I are meeting Kerith Graeber to go bead hunting. Kerith and her husband Cal own a Fluorite Mine. Kerith know a lot about gemstones. In fact,  Kerith knows a lot about everything! Kerith brought along her friend Pat who is a gemologist. Kerith has been a long time customer and friend to Canterbury Gardens. She graciously agreed to be Sharon and my guide to the bead show portion of the Tucson Gem Show. We set off in her car and drove all over Tucson going to different shows. Many of the shows are wholesale and you have to register to even get in to shop.  So, you have to come prepared with all your business paperwork. The Tucson Show has a website that tells you everything you will need. If you are a crafter, amateur paleontologist or are into crystals there are plenty of places to spend your money.

Lampwork beads

Lampwork beads

Kerith introduced us to the different bead dealers she has dealt with over the years. As Sharon and I would touch and ooh and ahhh over exotic beads of every color, Pat and Kerith would tell us if the stones were real. It is hard to know what is a good price and what exactly am I buying. A lot of the beads are dyed or color enhanced. That is ok but you should know what you are buying. I write on each bag of beads with a Sharpie Pen what it is because I will never remember what I bought tomorrow! Sharon and I were so lucky to have Kerith and Pat to shepherd us around like lost, drooling sheep. Next year I hope to be better prepared. I brought some projects that I have been working on that were missing elements. Since I love to craft repurposed jewelry, I thought I brought enough stuff. I should of brought all my projects to find different elements. Tucson is where you buy for the whole year and make some great contacts which we did thanks to Kerith. What made this show so different from a wholesale gift show was how nice everyone is. I mean these people are passionate about what they do and take the time to answer all questions. I learned more about fossils, gemstones and minerals then I thought possible. They have become treasure for me. I never knew I needed them in my life but now I have to have them.

Beads Forever

Beads Forever

Pyrite

Pyrite

Saturday night we had dinner with Kerith and her husband Cal. I learned a little about mining fluorite. I had no idea how difficult and dirty mining minerals can be. They don’t even know what they have until they clean and process the minerals. It was so interesting and makes me understand why gemstones are so precious. We all had a great time. Sunday we got up early and Al showed us the Pueblo Show and gave us a crash course on minerals. We stuffed in as much as we could see before we had to head home. It was not enough time but I am not sure my brain could take in much more. My wallet could not take much more either.

My favorite story: We were in gem wholesale show and Sharon walked up to a table piled up with loose gemstones. Sharon bent over and picked up a rather large stone, turned around to talk to me not realizing 5 Indian gentlemen swarmed behind her and told me that she thought the price on the sign was very reasonable for a stone that large. I told her to put it down the gem before she lost her hand! I had to tell her they were precious gems and sold by the carat!

Heat treated Amethyst Geode

Heat treated Amethyst Geode

In closing, I recommend the Tucson Show to everyone. It is a living museum where you can touch (ask first!) and everything is for sale. If you think you don’t care about fossils, minerals or gemstones you will after a trip to the Tucson Gem Show. These people will make you fall in love with their passion, the history of what they are selling and especially their treasure. See you next year. I am saving my money!

Thanks especially to Al and his brothers. They were great companions.

Al and Norbert

Al and Norbert

 

 


Thrift Store Shopping Is An Adventure Not To Be Missed!

Posted on
Not glazed on the back. OK for display not for food

Not glazed on the back. OK for display not for food

 

 

When I decided that I wanted to do a blog on thrift store shopping I looked online to see what thrift stores they suggested on Yelp. I was so surprised to find that none of the thrift stores that I frequent were not listed. Then I said to myself,”You Dummy, of course they’re not rated by Yelp because everyone who shops at thrift stores wants to keep their favorite a secret!” Actually, I would rather tell you how old I am and how much I weigh than reveal my favorite thrift stores. I don’t need the competition for the goods. Now, don’t go rolling your eyes at my blog because I know it is true!

Hole in a old Hawaiian Rayon Shirt

Hole in a old Hawaiian Rayon Shirt

Behind the desk. Not so valuable!

Behind the desk. Not so valuable!

One of my dearest friends at work asked if she could go thrift shopping with me one Saturday. She had never been in a thrift store and wanted to try it out. She usually shops at Nordstrom’s and this was a big deal for her. I told her to dress in something comfortable, that she could try on clothes over the top of her clothes. I suggested leggings and flats. Bring a small purse and cash. Many thrift stores do not take checks or credit cards. When we arrived at the first thrift store I opened the door and my friend staggered backwards and squeaked “The Smell” Well, she is right most thrift stores smell like dead people (for obvious reasons) and disinfectant used in gas station bathrooms. This is an adventure!! Of course, there will adversity and the smell is one of them. But, fellow junkers, inside those doors lies treasure. Treasure you did not know you wanted or needed but are so happy to take home. PS bring your smart phone to look up prices online.

I head towards the jewelry first, it usually is in the front in a glass case. Because I am sort of an antique dealer and jewelry freak I carry a loupe to check out the marks on the jewelry. You can use a magnifying glass too. Lots of thrift stores have magnifying glasses for you to use. Just ask. Remember, a lot of great jewelry is not marked. But, remember to look at condition. Make sure it is not broken especially the clasp, they can be tricky to fix. Also, behind the desk is usually where they keep their more expensive stuff. Sometimes it is worth the effort to look at it but most of the time no it is not. I like the cheap goods out in the store. Finding them is the thrill that can’t be beat. A lot of the time they keep designer handbags behind the counter too. Most of them are fakes and do not buy them. It is against the law and worse than that it is tacky, really tacky to carry a knock off bag. In a future blog I will interview my niece Megan, who collects vintage Chanel Handbags and works for a very fancy store selling what else? Designer Handbags! She will tell how to spot fakes.image

Tacky and do not but them!

Tacky and do not buy fakes!

After the front counter I work the perimeter of the thrift store just like the grocery store. Usually, this can be quick and get the layout down. I have a mental list of what I like to look at and you will have yours.  I am looking for things to sell, repurpose and keep. Most of my house has been decorated from thrift stores. There are great and usable goods in these stores. Look beyond the dirt and scuffs and see their beauty. I always look for my family too! My brother collects rock and roll records. I always check those out. My husband loves Hawaiian Shirts. Aloha, I have found some great ones. My girls love cashmere sweaters. No problem, they are out there. My boys collect vintage fishing stuff harder to find but I have found it. My one son collects robots and actually that is hard to find. But, I keep eye out for them though. My older son collects leather bound books and those I have found on a regular basis. After finishing the perimeter of the store I go in to the center.

J Crew Cashmere Sweater

J Crew Cashmere Sweater

Clothing. The only clothing I will not buy at a thrift store is underwear. Yucky! Well, I might backtrack a little because vintage slips are so damn cute. I went to a very fancy restaurant at the beach and they had framed vintage swim suits on the walls. Fabulous. Yep, they can be found in thrift stores. Look at the men in your life and grab a tape measure and put there measurements in your phone. I keep mine in the pages app. Have you priced a cashmere blazer lately? Not at a thrift store. Remember, it can be altered for a small fee at almost any dry cleaner. It will be our little secret and you will have saved  hundreds of dollars. Look for name brands and where they were made. I am partial to Italy. Don’t  have a clue about name brands? Take the time to look at Vogue Magazine and GQ Magazine. There is a reason they are called the fashion bibles. I love hand knit sweaters too. Fisherman Knit sweaters that are from Ireland are expensive but not a thrift store!

JCrew Cashmere Swearter

JCrew Cashmere Swearter

Linens. I love vintage linens. I collect vintage pillowcases. So cute. I take my time and make sure they are in good condition. Some stains come out with Biz but some stains don’t. I am not that picky but if you are be careful. Measure your table that you get the right size tablecloth. I will write a blog in the future about tablescapes.

Kitchen Stuff. I saved this for last because it is my favorite area. I love dishes. I really love dishes. I have dishes for every holiday. I have bought most of them from thrift stores. You have to be careful with pottery. If it is chipped, bacteria can live in the unglazed chip. Condition is everything with kitchen stuff. Make sure it is food safe. A lot of pots and pans that were coated with teflon has been found to cause health problems. Don’t buy them. Don’t buy utensils with rust. Yucky. Use your common sense.

Hand Knit Sweater from Ireland

Hand Knit Sweater from Ireland

Finally, Thrift Stores do smell like dead people! Get over it! They don’t make things like they used to and the things they used to make are in thrift stores. The pictures posted on this blog were all found in one day, one thrift store and I will not be telling you where it is either. Go find your own favorite thrift store. It probably is right around the corner

Next blog the Tucson Gem Show!


To Buy or Not to Buy is the Question (Vintage Jewelry)

Posted on
Kenneth J Lane Necklace

KJL is always a good buy!

Act One Scene One

Any Estate Sale in America

Actors: The same people you see at every Estate Sale in your town.

7:00 am Saturday

I am in line for a sale that opens at 8:00am. The above actors are in line ahead of me. I beg to ask the question, why can’t they miss one sale? Why don’t they ever get sick? and most importantly, Why are they in line ahead of me? It was the second cup of coffee. I have to have 2 cups of coffee or I can’t function at all. I know I should take a to-go cup but I need both hands at an Estate Sale and not have to use the potty. Most Estate Sales don’t like you to use the bathroom. Men can water their tires but women not so easily! We all smile and nod at each other like we are happy to see each other… Total lie of course, we know exactly what each of us buy. The hardest group are professional pickers to have at a sale. They know what they are doing and they are quick. They also have taken the emotion out and concentrate on the value. Pickers are only interested on making money. The next group are Antique Dealers, they sell and collect. A few dealers actually make a living selling antiques but most have jobs and are dealers on the side. The last group is everyone else. The last group is the group having fun….

Good condition but not signed

Good condition but not signed

8:00am

The doors have opened and everyone has poured into the sale. The frenzy has begun. people are grabbing everything in site. What to do? What to do? Should I take a quick look around? Or, should I start grabbing things that look good? First thing, ask the person in charge is there a jewelry area? Or a special area for the better things for sale? Usually there is. When I get in the jewelry and I see glass jewelry cases with locks this tells me 2 things. First thing, that a professional estate sale person is running the sale.(Deals will be able to be made easier because they are not emotionally attached to the merchandise) and lastly the cases are salted with the Estate Agents own jewelry that they are trying to sell. Buyer beware!!  Many Estate Agents are also dealers, they are counting on “The Estate Sale Fever”… to unload some old dogs. (Jewelry they have had forever!)

Crown Trifari

Crown Trifari

The Estate Sale Fever

We have all had it. If someone says they haven’t, they are lying and ask to see in their garage immediately!! You can’t know it all! YOU CAN’T KNOW IT ALL!!  Repeat this to yourself over and over again when you tempted to buy something that looks valuable but expensive. There are a lot of fakes out there and a lot of reproductions too. You have to do your homework and learn from your mistakes. Smart phones has made it easier to look stuff up but speed is important at a sale. If you are new to Estate Sales it does help to bring someone with you. (Not your husband) All husbands ask the same questions. First, what are you going to do with that? Followed with why do you need that? And ending with, don’t you have one of those already? Leave them at home. I usually bring “Miss Smarty Pants” (Mom). She knows a lot about everything and she is strong… but she has had the fever too.

Missing Stones

Missing Stones

Come prepared

Bring your own bags and wrapping material. I hate admit this but I have broken more things trying to shove them into my car without having them wrapped properly!! I feel so dumb afterwards because I know better. Bring a loupe. If you don’t own one bring a magnifying glass. In my case, my reading glasses. I hate the fact I have to use glasses to see but it can be very valuable if I would like to see something.

Condition is everything

Don’t fall in love, yet…. Look at it closely. Is it broken? Does it have any marks? Does it have any repairs? In jewelry, does it have it’s original chain? Are the stones okay? Have the stones been replaced? Does the clasp work? Put the jewelry on your body. Does it sit right? Does it feel right? Yes to all questions start negotiating the price. If no, let’s hold off on our love for a moment.. Can it be fixed? Can you fix it? Are you qualified to fix it? Are you buying it to wear or sell it?

Missing a clasp. Can you solder?

Missing a clasp. Can you solder?

If you are going to wear it or repurpose it I say buy it if you can get a good price. But if you are thinking of selling it on Ebay or Etsy, it has to be as close to perfect as you can get.  The buyers on line are brutal and they know their stuff. You are not going to fake them out with a replaced stone or a sloppy repair. I know, I have been the victim both buyer and seller on line. Only sell your best stuff on line. Your reputation is everything on line and don’t mess with it ever!!

Okay We are in love!! Let’s buy it!!

I believe it the best way to buy at an Estate Sale is the pile method. They are going to give you more discounts if you are buying more. If you make an offer on something and it is accepted you should buy it. If you don’t buy it, they will remember you at the next sale. Remember that you see the same people at these sales so don’t burn your bridges. Estate sales are above garage sales, they usually have half off on the last day of the sale. Many times I have made an offer on something at a sale and have left my phone number if they decide to take the offer later. Leave your number on a piece of paper with item clearly named on it. Don’t leave a business card, it looks to professional and you won’t get that great of a deal. Why this matters, I don’t know, it is a quirky thing.

Missing pearls easily replaced

Missing pearls easily replaced

Final Act

Mourning Jewelry

Mourning Jewelry

Say thank you when they give you a discount. They will remember you. I have friend who brings donuts to Estate Sales and everyone remembers her!! She always gets good deals too!! So, have fun and I hope you fall in love. My next blog will be at the Tucson Gem Show!! I am so excited!!


Collecting Vintage Turkeys or Have I lost my Gobblin’ Mind

Posted on

I decorate for a living. This is a delight or a curse depending on the month.

Turkey planter

Turkey planter

A delight in October, March, and the rest of the year actually, when I think about it, but a nightmare in November and December. The American public falls into 2 catagories when it comes to Christmas decorating. The first catagory of people are those that would have Christmas all year long and feel November is almost too late and why bother? The second catagory are the stubborn people who refuse to decorate until after Thanksgiving. These people are the hardest to please and love Thanksgiving. Because I decorate for a living I pretend to be in the first catagory but I am a closet second catagory! I love Thanksgiving. I was born in November and my mother brought me home on Thanksgiving day. My dad was stationed in Korea with the navy (Yes, I am that old!), so I went home to my Grandparent’s house for a nice turkey dinner… Well, maybe not turkey but I have always was treated to a wonderful birthday party filled with turkey, stuffing, potatoes an

 

d pie. The love affair with turkey began.image

As a kid it was tough to have a birthday on Thanksgiving weekend. Everyone was busy. It seemed to me that none of my friends were available for birthday parties due to travel or family or something else. My mother got desperate on birthday parties trying to woo my friends to destination parties way before it was fashionable. Most parties were in the backyard with a Betty Crocker cake, pinata and kool-aid. (Yes, I am that old!!) Anyways, she devised a plan to go to an alligator farm in Buena Park for birthday. Most people would chose Knott’s Berry Farm but not my mom. She was and is an original! I got the friends to go. They wished they hadn’t! It was a disaster. The Alligator Farm was run down and stinky. The alligators looked like they were ready to become shoes and purses. Mom baked me an Angel Food Cake and covered it with gumdrops. It slid off the cakeplate. Fun was not had by one and all. We went back to the traditional candle in the pumpkin pie and turkey. Always turkey.

imageI bought my first vintage turkey at the Salvation Army Thrift Store imageabout 20 years ago. It was a painted wax candle turkey from Japan circa the 1950’s. I paid a dollar. I was with my mom the antique’s dealer who was telling me that vintage turkeys can be collectible, if they are old enough. Of course, she also was telling me the one I had just purchased was NOT that collectible and was sold in dime store everywhere for about a quarter. I had bought it as a candle for my birthday pie. I was going to light the turkey candle with a match. I was enchanted with the idea of a Birthday Turkey Candle!! She was horrified. I did not light the turkey candle, instead I bought 32 more turkeys to keep it company.

As all collectors will tell you, it was an accidental collection. I bought the second turkey soon after the first. At this point I am having fun just buying junky turkeys at thrift stores and amusing myself. It got serious when my mother(of, course!) bought me a real antique turkey that Martha Stewart would be proud to own. This was a birthday present. We do not give normal presents in my family. No perfume, no sweaters, no bestsellers. Turkeys. It is beautiful and handpainted from Germany with wire feet. Alas, it is not a vintage German Turkey candy container the holy grail of turkeys but it was pretty damn good!! She raised the level of my collection from fun and funky to now I am a Collector of Turkeys. I have German Turkeys, lots of candle turkeys of all sizes, Turkey planters, ceramic turkeys and turkey salt and pepper shakers. Too many turkey salt and pepper shakers!! They all make me smile when they come out of the box. I don’t know if our founding fathers would recognize my turkeys but I love them. So, before I can decorate for Christmas in my home I have to celebrate Thanksgiving with my wonderful family and my turkeys  are on display I have only one last thought: Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday to me and pass the birthday pie!!Canterbury Garden's Turkey Of Course! (Don’t forget the candle)image


Decorating a Halloween Mantle

Posted on

Halloween MantleThe focal point of most living spaces is the mantle above the fireplace. This becomes a natural place to show off one’s holiday collections. As a collector of every holiday, my mantle gets quite the workout. Actually, these days my mantle is getting more of a workout than me! (That’s another story.) I live in a California ranch-style home built in 1955. I have a long narrow mantle which makes it a challenge to decorate. When we get ready to redecorate the living room one of the first changes I am going to make is to widen the mantle and install an electrical plug on the top for my wreathes and garlands. I own a wide selection of extension cords. They are too long, too short or the wrong color. It drives me crazy when I have a gorgeous mantle decorated and some weird cord hanging off the side of the mantle which I have to disguise. A plug on the top of the mantle will solve these issues. Note: Every time I ask Don (husband) for an extension cord, he gives a giant orange python-like electrical cord that he uses in construction. Unusable, of course, but he tries to help me. Or, does he offer up the wrong things that I will stop bugging him? Back to the mantle…

Strip it down to the bones!

Strip it down to the bones!

Strip it down to the bones!
First things first. Everything off! Next, clean the mantle. I know it is Halloween but there is different types of spooky. There is artistic spooky and there is dirty bad housekeeping spooky! It is better to start with a clean palette. I have a relative (No, I won’t tell) who put spiders on her Easter arrangement that I made her. It was spooky in a bad way. Bunnies, eggs and spiders is a mess and rendered me speechless. Not an easy task. Put away the spring stuff. You probably are not going to need to see it until February at the earliest. (Thanksgiving and Christmas come first.)

Props

Props

I like to use props. These can be as simple as books as risers or cakeplates also make great risers. What I mean by a riser is something that changes the height of your display or vignette. It can look boring when everything is in a row. Your vignette is supposed to tell a story. This story is Halloween. Halloween means different things to different people, this is my Halloween story. I love folkart and antiques. I love an Americana Halloween. Not scary, well maybe a little scary.

Props
After placing the books as risers, I like to use lights. I love purple lights and blue lights at Halloween because everything is orange and black. The contrasting colors make orange and black POP!! The lights are held in place by being wedged by the books and using blue painter’s tape. On top of that I have draped 3 yards of spider netting that I bought at Joann’s Fabric. Securing it with tape and the books.

imageNext, place your focal points. These are the largest items in your vignette or the items which you place the importance in the look. Balance them across the mantle. A good tool is using your phone and taking a picture and seeing if it looks right. I don’t know why this works but it does. I used a Halloween wreath I made as my focal point in the middle. I balanced this off with a Halloween Byers carolers house on one side and a candlestick on the other. On the candlestick I draped the netting and topped it with a candle and big hairy spider.

Halloween Ghoolies from Canterbury Gardens

Halloween Ghoolies from Canterbury Gardens

Halloween Ghoolies from Canterbury Gardens

House of Hatten Witch

House of Hatten Witch

All my vignettes are a work in progress. I am always fussing them until the day of the holiday. I moving the witches around and playing with just like playing with dolls as a girl. In fact, I have made an informal (very informal) survey of friends that love to decorate and we all loved to play dress up and play with dolls. I loved to make Barbie house with boxes and wallpaper them with giftwrap. Fun!!

Wreath I made with vintage Halloween

Wreath I made with vintage Halloween

Wreath I made with vintage Halloween
Fill in on your mantle with all sorts of Halloween Ghoolies and pumpkins. This is a fun holiday and it is not just for kids. In fact, I think I love Halloween more than my kids!! Pumpkins are a staple in my fall display and I have beaded and felted pumpkins galore. They will be used in my Thanksgiving mantle next month. (I collect vintage turkeys, blame Martha Stewart and my Mom!!) Time for candy corn and Happy Halloween.


How to Make a Spider Brooch

Posted on

My First Spider BroochI have started to wear my spider pins to work. I enjoy wearing them the month of October leading up to the grand finale of Halloween!! Which of course, I wear as many as I can at one time without looking too crazy. I have a few other types of brooches and earrings that resemble skeletons, witches and ghosts. But, nothing has the impact of the spider brooch. I have started making jewelry, mostly necklaces and bracelets. I have branched out with earrings which are fun but I have always shied away from brooches. They looked hard to make and it seemed so personal to make a piece of jewelry that someone puts on their chest or shoulder. Very intimate to me. More intimate than the ears, neck or arm. WHY? Who knows why? I surely don’t… Here is my first attempt at a spider brooch. I think it came out cute and lead me to try couple more styles. I feel an obsession starting again.Supplies for making a Spider brooch

Supply List

2 small beads for eyes (I like black or dark eyes)

2 focal beads (1 is for the spider body and the other is for the head)

1 rondelle bead (bead shaped like a donut or a smaller bead than the head)

5 pieces of 22 or 24 gauge wire (cut into 6″ pieces)

Beads for the legs (I used 24 long beads, 40 clear seed beads and 24 small lavender beads

craft glue for a clasp on the back

Tools

wire cutters

round nose pliersThe spider's eyes

Directions

1. Take one of the wires and slip the eye beads into the center of the wire and fold into half. Smooth the wires together so that you can slide the head bead, the spacer bead and the body bead on to the wires. Failure Alert: Check to make sure that your beads will slide on a double wire. I learned this the hard way and to choose new beads and now a different spider! After sliding the beads on cut the wire 1/4″ long and use the round pliers to curl the wire and make a tight loop that the beads will not fall off. (This is easier than it sounds. It is like using a curling iron.)The spider's body

2. Take 2 of the remaining wires and wrap and twist them around the spider’s body in front of the spacer bead, right below the head. Take the last 2 wires and wrap them below the spacer bead and above the body. ( Think of a trash bag twister ties, same thing!) By Golly, we have legs!! (Failure Alert: Spiders have 8 legs)image

3. Decide on a bead pattern for the legs. Repeat the same pattern on the legs. I used 3 long beads 3 lavender beads and 5 seed beads per leg. Feed the beads on to the wire and cut the wire 1/4″ long and once again curl the wire tightly until the beads are fitting snuggly on the leg. Repeats this until you have 8 legs.

4. Bend the legs to look like upside down letter C. Well like spider legs!!image

5. Glue a C  clasp on the back using superglue or E6000 or a good craft glue. Dry overnight.image

6. Wear and enjoy your spider brooch. This is a low cost project and very easy too make which led to me making a couple more. In fact, I am going to try to make spider earrings and a necklace.

Happy Halloween Cindyimageimage


Collecting Vintage Spider Jewelry

Posted on
Victorian Spider and Fly Chatelaine and Earrings

Victorian Spider and Fly Chatelaine and Earrings

 

Mexican silver spiders with two Czech spiders. Very International.

Mexican silver spiders with two Czech spiders. Very International.

 

The Amber spiders are Baltic. The Rhinestone spider just worked nicely with the others. On a petrified log in our back yard.

The Amber spiders are Baltic. The Rhinestone spider just worked nicely with the others. On a petrified log in our back yard.

Ivana Trump Rhinestone SpiderMexican Silver Spider and Earringsimageimageimage

I have been collecting costume jewelry as long as I can remember. What’s not to love about sparkly, shiny, silvery pins, earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets? For me, popping a piece of jewelry on a sweater or shirt is prozac. My mood lifts, I remember where I scored the jewel. I have to say that I enjoy the comments from friends, family and strangers. I revel in telling the story on how snagged such a deal either at a thrift store or a garage sale.But, my first spider pin really was a gift from my mom. She bought it for me at the Del Mar Antique Show many years ago, when it was possible to afford to buy something there. Now, the show is a traveling museum. I am sure someone buys from it but not me. Why I fell in love with this little set, I really don’t know. I am sure it had something to do about the fly being attached to the spider. The earrings are very uncomfortable. (screwbacks) The brooch is not in good condition either.  Love is love, who can say why.

Vintage Czech Rhinestone Spider Brooch

Vintage Czech Rhinestone Spider Brooch

Why? Heck if I know. Is it because Charlotte’s Web is my favorite children’s book? Possibly. I always had an affinity for Charlotte. She really was the ultimate people pleaser writing words in her web to save Wilbur’s life (pig). She sapped all her energy trying to help others and she was pregnant to boot!! I can relate to that. I have a hard time saying no too. My niece’s name is Charlotte, that pleases me. She  loves all things vintage too. That really pleases me.

I live in San Diego. There are times of the year that we have large red grove spiders that live in our garden. They make the most beautiful webs. They start weaving them in the early evening, I guess to catch a dinner of night dwelling moths, gnats, and flies. We eat dinner outside watching spiders making webs and hummingbirds at the bird feeder. Really it is better than television. But, my favorite time is early morning to view the webs when they are heavy with dew, nature’s jewels glistening in the morning sun. On the other hand, it is nasty when I walk into a web on the way to getting the newspaper!

I love to read murder mysteries too. Spiders are spooky. They have written and referenced throughout literature. No, that’s not it either. I really believe that I collect vintage spiders because of my love of Halloween. I wear all my spiders in October. No, not at one time!! Well sometimes more than one at a time. I wear them on my sweaters,shirts (on the front and on the back), on my purse and my work apron. It is fun. Fun to collect and fun to wear…