Mason jars. They're not just for weddings anymore! I mean ... they're not just for preserving anymore! I mean ... they're not just for crafting anymore! 

MASON JARS ARE NOW EVERYWHERE AND THEY ARE FOR EVERYTHING.

But seriously, you've noticed, right? The whole mason jar thing? We've all seen them at weddings and on Pinterest. We've all noted them containing laughably-small amounts of flour on whatever cooking show is cool this season. (Who stores single servings of flour, I ask you?) We've all seen them corralling nails on The Most Adorable Workbench EVA!™ (as if the sort of people who use serious workbenches hang up their filthy coveralls only to channel Martha Stewart by night).

Just last week, I saw a gal drinking her coffee out of a mason jar. Her morning coffee. She's knitted some sort of sleeve/cosy to keep the heat from hurting her hand through the glass (I think). She wasn't even going to a wedding. She was just chillin' with her mason-jar coffee.

Mason jars are taking over the world. If they were sentient, they'd already be in charge.
Ball put these limited-edition blue mason jars out not that long ago. Green ones are available too.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining ... exactly. I like a nice mason jar as much as the next lady. I enjoy the mysteriousness of the freemason brotherhood. In the 1990s, I was into the Canadian band Wide Mouth Mason. I was into masons before they were cool, okay? I have nothing against masons. 

Here's something I think, though: Mason jars might be best-used for preserving. Maybe. (I am actually uncertain about this, rather than judgemental, so bear with me.) All I mean is that mason jars were designed for a specific purpose and they work beautifully at it and have done for, what, 150+ years? Something like that. So when you repurpose a mason jar, while your project may look crazy cute, you nearly always abandon some aspect of the jar's functionality -- the rubberized lid meant to create a seal, for example, is rendered useless in many repurpose projects. 

And that's fine, I guess. I mean, they're your mason jars and you should do whatever  you want with 'em. I just wonder if mason jars might not be the best tools for every job, you know? Are the projects worth the trouble?

Let's examine some projects that are adorable, and that I have considered, since I pretty much never preserve anything and I have a whole box of unused mason jars languishing in my basement right now, but that I have nonetheless NOT undertaken, for various reasons (laziness being the main one). 

1. Spice jars. So cute. BUT, I already have spice jars that I love AND I've noticed spice smells stay in the rubberized bits of mason jar lids forever, so if you mix up your lids, you're going to have some cross-smell contamination issues. (Is that a thing? I know I expressed it badly.) Also, while I think the chalkboard-painted lids are adorbs-to-the-max, doesn't all that painting seem like a lot of trouble? Am I wrong? Maybe I'll just stick with spice jars that were designed to be spice jars? 
These spice jar images hail from A Cozy Kitchen
2. Mini wall planters! These are really appealing, aren't they? I first saw the project online a couple of  years ago. Downsides from my perspective include having to discard the lids, having to attach the jars to the wood, having to find a spot for them that will get enough sun, having to deal with drainage (the jars have none), and just generally feeling like this is one of those things that looks great on day one, but might be impossible for a person like me to maintain.
Wall-planter project pics (and instructions) from Not Just a Housewife.
3. Pendant lamp shades! Again, while lovely-to-look at, I'm just not sure I have the will to complete such a project. You'd need the lighting kits, which aren't that cheap. Or you'd need to be handy with electric stuff. I think they look best in a cluster, so you probably shouldn't make just one, etc. All that said, this project is one of my favourites. (Shout out to Kerry at First Time Fancy who just posted her own mason-jar-chandelier project  just today: Holy cow, Kerry! I am wowed by your DIY prowess.)
All pendant lamp project images and instructions are from/at the Dutch site Woon blog.
4. Bathroom storage. Again, cute. Very cute. Here's why I don't like it: no lids. Bathrooms get muggy and if your swabs and whatnot are out in the open, they will get swampy and dirty. You could keep the lids, but that would take away a lot of space and these containers are already very small.  I don't know about you, but when I buy cotton balls, they come in a big-ass bag. Where am I supposed to store my extra balls (ha), and how many times am I supposed to refill these jars in a given month? Maybe the lady who did this is just a lot less lazy than I am. (Okay. All these project-people are less lazy than I am. Let's face it.) 
Images, etc. for the bathroom storage project can be found on the Liz Marie blog.
5. An advent calendar. Sure, you've have to affix the bottoms of the jars to something sturdy, so that the numbered lids face out (making for a very heavy calendar that I am not sure is child-friendly), and SURE, the jars are glass and transparent, so you'd have to line them with something to hide what's inside, but it's still a cute idea. I am just not sure it's practical.
All these images are from Studio DIY. Click through for instructions on making the calendar.
Look, here's what I need to know: Have any of you actually done anything like this with your mason jars?* Not just for the purposes of putting a pretty picture up on your blog? Have you found a legitimately good use for repurposed masons? Something that made the work worthwhile? Please tell me. I need to know the truth.

*Other than Kerry, of course, whose post was a timely coincidence that kind of negates everything I just asked. But maybe Kerry is an outlier? Someone with an unusual amount of energy?
 
 
So, I was invited to the media breakfast/preview of the One Of A Kind Christmas Show which kicked off down at the Ex this morning. (I don't know why I get invited to this sort of thing, because I am a big nobody. And let me tell you, watching the vendors get excited by my media pass and fancy camera kind of broke my heart, but I digress.) Invited I was, and went I did. I mean, the show costs $12/$14 (online/in-person) to get in, and as press, I could get in for free. Between that and the offer of a free doughnut, I wasn't going to say no.

And for once, I did the show right. I went up and down EVERY AISLE IN THE PLACE. My feet are currently incredibly sore and I'm a little grumpy, but I feel like I saw everything and took note of everything that really caught my eye. And I took photos of all of it, which I will now share with you, but first, a bit of a caveat:

As huge as this post is, it features only a small fraction of what's on display. (I believe there are more than 800 OOAK booths/vendors this year.) My personality means I'm drawn to decorative objects, fine art, and that sort of thing. Things I generally avoid, and that you won't likely see here, but that are in abundance at the show: kids' stuff, woollens and knits, clothing, most wood and leather goods, art glass and most pottery, food and edibles. I also steered clear of most of the cutesy stuff (felted creatures, owls, bunnies, and the like), most of the jewellery, most of the furniture, and all of the body/beauty products. All of that stuff is amazing in its own right, but I only stopped to photograph the things that really jumped out at me, which may not be what will jump out at you. So... there. End caveat.

Now, some pro tips:

  • Work methodically. I saw every booth, starting at the east end of the centre (end of the alphabet) and moving west, winding up and down every aisle along the way. I know it seems a little anal, but making a plan for the path you want to take (and sticking to it) is a smart move. The show is overwhelming otherwise.
  • Wear comfy shoes. SERIOUSLY. I was wearing Toms and my feet are still killing. (I saw a couple over-zealous young "journalists" in 4-5 inch heels, and I bet they want to kill themselves right now.)
  • Give yourself a good three hours for your visit. Or even a full 1/2 day. It's better not to be rushed and if you want to see the whole thing, it's going to take you a long time. (Note: if you're bringing babies or little kids with you, as I noticed many did... well, you're crazy. What can I say? The rules don't apply. You may need 12 hours. Who knows?)
  • Eat, hydrate and let yourself rest from time to time.
  • CHECK YOUR COAT. It's hot as heck in the Direct Energy Centre. I have no idea why. Coat Check costs $2, but it's worth it.

Okay, enough with the tips. Are you ready to see what I saw? HERE GOES!
Stewart Jones: Booth R-57
These fine art paintings by local artist Stewart Jones were the very first thing that caught my eye. I stopped to snap this pic as I made my way along the back wall (before even making it to the first official aisle). Jones does "urban landscapes" and I'm sure his work doesn't come cheap, but I like the realness of his subject matter. Very Toronto.
Daniel Pollak Accessories: Booth T-54
I know I said I steered clear of most of the jewellery, but this booth was so glittery, it caught my eye immediately. So decadent, so sparkly, so over-the-top. It's fashion/costume jewellery, rather than fine jewellery, but I enjoyed it.
Kat Kaland: Booth Y-62
Artist Kat Kaland makes toys, illustrations, accessories, etc. She told me when I popped by that she's moving away from the toys and focussing more on art, and having seen the art -- paintings incorporating doll parts -- just my kind of creepy -- I think she's making a good decision. The pieces shown here, with the hands and the little 3D girl figures, go for about $200.
Moon Rox: Booth Y-20
Again, jewellery is hardly my thing, but it was early in the day and this gold-toned costume statement necklace caught my eye. Moon Rox is owned/designed by a woman named Monique V. Chan. 
Noelle Hamlyn: Booth W-43
Hamlyn has been at the OOAK show before, showing off her repurposed art/purses made from books and magazines, but she's also doing framed artworks now, using the insides of the books (paper, illustration, etc.) as opposed to the outsides. Now, in general, I'm a "READ BOOKS, DON'T CUT THEM UP" sort of person, but I like what Noelle does nonetheless. Her bigger art pieces are about $165, while the smaller ones are about $90.
iDENTITY: Booth W-09
I stopped at this booth because of the hipster-factor. Megan Irish makes these pillows from recycled blankets (vintage Pendletons, The Bay/HSBC classics, army blankets, etc.) hipsterified with prints on top. Her company makes tees and other apparel as well, I think. The pillows are $48 to $108. (The HSBC ones are more pricey than the others.) 
Heyday Design: Booth V-09
Hailing from Vancouver, Claire Madill makes these neat ceramic mason jars. You could achieve the same effect by painting a glass mason jar with flat paint, but nonetheless, these are nice as far a ceramics/porcelain go.
C Comme Ca: Booth V-43
Artist Cindy Cantin makes these bags and wallets from leather and wool felt and I thought they were super chic. 
Dapila: Booth T-15
This stuff looks like ceramic, but it's mostly made of cement, which is sort of neat. I know body-parts and surrealist stuff isn't everyone's bag, but I sort of love it. I like the idea of using some of the finger sculptures to hold everyday objects like makeup brushes or razors. 

Eric Seguin: Booth S-53
This is not a booth I'd usually stop at, filled as it was with knives and such, but I a few natural skulls caught my eye. These are otter, fox and mink, respectively. I have no idea why I like 'em, but I do.
Felt Factory: Booth R-19
These felt, mounted animal head pieces by artist Sabine Alpers are very well done. I love natural animal stuff (vintage, generally) but these might please the vegan in you if the real deal creeps you out.
Laurie Sponagle: Booth Q-31
These AH-MAZING charcoal drawings look like photographs. No kidding. That's how amazing they are. Artist Laurie Sponagle really stands out. Bigger pieces are priced at $1600, but there's a nice range of sizes available and the smaller pieces start at $250.
Tammy Shane: Booth Q-24
Tammy Shane is another stand-out fine artist exhibiting at the OOAK show. I would have bought one of her pieces in a heart beat if I could have. Gorgeous. Truly. I mean, look at those owls! Those birds! That sky! Love.
Yves' Drop: Booth N-06
Vintage neckties made awesome? Just my sort of thing. I kind of wish my husband would wear a tie every day. (And if he did, I get him a few of these babies.) 
Tat Chao Design: Booth N-34
These glass candlesticks were pretty fabulous - substantial, yet delicate at the same time. Very unique. Tat Chao is a nice new addition to this year's show.
Sarah Tacoma: Booth L-23
Photography artist Sarah Tacoma caught my eye. I love how she captures stark branches and winter trees. And her pieces have rustic wood frames/mounts that I liked.
Sarah Hillock: Booth K-24
Sarah Hillock's huge paintings of farm animals (mostly cows, from what I saw) done on mylar, were maybe the most striking, unique thing at the entire OOAK show. I've never seen anything like Hillock's work in person before, and I have to say, I've never wanted a huge painting of a cow more. I mean... they're cows. And I'm a city girl. Yet I want one. Immediately.
Pepper Mills: Booth G-03
The name Pepper Mills kind of speaks for itself. These handmade, OOAK wood objects by Cam Lavers Designs Inc. aren't new to the show, but I've always liked them.
Him by Shima Itabashi: Booth D-5
I know I said I was going to stay away from cutie-pie felted things, but this booth's wee decorations spoke to me more than the works of other felt artists doing similar things. There's something really authentic and adorable about Him pieces and designer Shima Itabashi seems like a sweetheart. Her English isn't perfect, but that just adds to the charm.
Ateliers des Cent-ans: Booth C-36
This booth was a bit spare, but what I saw of the porcelain and wood pieces inside definitely left an impression. The stuff I loved most was delicate and white, with slim blue nautical patterning. Very chic.
Grace Eunmie Lee: Booth C-44
Some of Grace Eunmie Lee's wee white ceramics are highlighted with bits of shiny metallic and colour, but her monochrome pieces are my favourites. I love their small stature and weird, offbeat cuteness. Some of these wee works are merely decorative, while others are functional (salt and pepper shakers, for example).
Evelyne Rivest Savignac: Booth I-37
Interestingly, while I initially passed this booth during my official "go down every aisle" run, I didn't stop at it the first time around. I'm not sure why. Maybe the crowds were too thick and I didn't get a good look. Happily, I needed to hit a bank machine before leaving which took me on a second trip down row "i" and that's when I noticed Evelyne Rivest Savignac's pretty ceramics. The artist told me she's been a vendor at the show for the last eight years, so if you've been in the past, you may remember her. I was especially charmed by her little leafy bowls. They have the vibe of something sold at Anthropologie (but are much more authentic, of course). 
And that's IT. Honestly, I saw some other stuff I liked (bow-ties by Genuine Article, for example.) but I just can't write about any more. This is already the most unwieldy blog post I've ever written. 

Go to the show. Enjoy. Support your indie artists and crafty friends. And remember, wear comfy shoes. And if you're not too exhausted afterwards, tell me what you got! 

P.S. Sorry about the lighting in some of these shots. I'm no photographer and since artists provide their own light at each booth, dimness is an issue.

P.P.S. Shout-outs to my web friends Jen @ Rambling Renovators and Staci @ Switch Studio for letting me talk their ears off at breakfast, Pam @ Cherish Toronto for being my favourite person to run into at these things, and House & Home magazine staffer/editor Margot Austin (who I may or may not have terrified when I declared "I'm obsessed with you!" - because I'm the sort of weirdo who says things like that, apparently). Sigh.
 
 
Guys, I know I haven't been posting much, but can we talk for a minute about what's going on in my living room right now?
My milk glass (milkglass?) collection is getting out of control. Remember when I first posted about it, back in 2010? I had only a few pieces!
It was a reasonable little cluster. Manageable. Possibly even useful.

At the time, people told me that milk glass was a "gateway" collectable. And I sort of laughed it off, but I swear to you, collecting milk glass is addictive. I was a fool to ignore the warnings. I have no idea how I've managed to amass so many pieces in two short years, going from what you see above to THIS:
Sigh. I leave this with you as a warning: beware the milk glass. It multiplies!

Maybe that's why I haven't been blogging much... too much dusting to do.*

*Ha! Not. I don't dust. I let the dust/hair tumbleweeds roll the halls, unmolested, thankyouverymuch.
 
 
So... I'm a little OCD.

Okay, I'm more than a little OCD. But it's not that bad.

I don't have OCD in that amusing "I'm such an organized perfectionist!" sort of way. Rather, I am obsessive in the l "I lie awake all night worrying" sort of way, and compulsive in the "it's 3am and I MUST scrub down the cabinets" sort of way. Neither of which is a good.

But it could be a lot worse, so I try not to complain about it.

Here's the latest thing I'm obsessing about: making everything in my kitchen cabinets "match."
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Remember back when I blogged about French bistro glasses? Well, since then, I've converted nearly all my glassware to matching, bistro-style sets. The only glasses in my cabinet that aren't faceted are the wine glasses.


And it's bothering me.

So I'm thinking of getting new wine glasses. (Even though I hardly use the ones I have and there's not a thing wrong with them anyway.)

I'm considering these new Pokal ones, from IKEA:

I should confess that already (just last week, in fact) I indulged in a set of six teeny weenie shot-sized bistro glasses that I absolutely didn't need.

Of course, I didn't HAVE six matching shot glasses already. And the set (also IKEA) was only $2.99. So I felt semi-justified... but ... BUT ...
Would getting the wine glasses be going too far? Would the all-matching, all-faceted look even be a good thing? Or am I being too obsessive again?

P.S. Happy Leap Day! ;)
 
 
I know I've been flooding the chic blog with semi-boring posts about odd thrift store finds of late, but bear with me. I've been doing more  thrifting and less DIYing over the last few months in an effort to spend as much time as possible OUTSIDE of my stifling apartment.

Now that it looks like fall is here (or at least, imminent), the winds are sure to shift.

But in the meantime, here's one more post about a weird thrifted object: the lady's head vase.
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Popular in the 1950s, the lady's head vase is a kind of "florists ware." Often ceramic, in my opinion, the vases were kind of ugly and overdone, but nonetheless appealing in a kitchy sort of way.

And this weekend, I found one for $0.50 that suited me perfectly: A milk-glass version from around 1980.
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Not exactly gorgeous, I know, but it's a nice addition to my milk glass collection and I find it charming. And remember, it was only $0.50.

I've been thinking that this sort of piece may have given way to (or influenced) folks like Jonathan Adler. After all, he did all those Dora Maar vases. In a way, they seem to be of the same ilk.
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Hard to say if it's really evolution. All I know is that I like it.
 
 
Hey friends. I know I haven't gotten to the dark paint makeover yet (be patient!) but in the meantime, I didn't want to leave you hanging with nothing to read. So I thought I'd post about the adorable little bit of vintage depression glass I snagged last weekend.

It's a Fenton piece and it's opalescent, which means that it's a bit milky looking. My research tells me that this opalescence was achieved by a combination of adding bone ash to the molten glass and repeated firing.
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This piece was made during the late 1800's and early 1900s. Have something like it and want to know if it's real? Here are a few tips:

1. Hold it up to the light. Experts say you will see a red or fiery gleam, regardless of the colour of the actual piece.

2. Check it out under a black light. Opalescent glass from this period was made with uranium dioxide, which glows green under black light.

3. If your piece is an early Fenton, it will likely be white, blue, green or amethyst. I've read that these were the most common (possibly even the only) colours Fenton issued pre-1930.

I feel great about this find because from what I've read, it's rather uncommon. It appears to be an authentic 1911 Basket weave Open Edge Bowl, which, in the Fenton catalogues is sometimes called a "basket" or "flared bowl". Of course, after 1930, more of these bowl were produced, but I think mine is one of the old ones. Hurray!

What should I do with it? Nuts? Candy? Jewellery? If it's gonna stay in my life, it's gotta be USED. That's my motto.

Anyone else snag anything interesting lately?
 
 
Since I posted about my new Juice-O-Mat already, I thought it only fair to post about the reason the Juice-O-Mat was a ridiculous purchase: my brand new/old amber depression glass juice reamer, or juicer, by Federal glass.
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I nabbed this guy from a little thrift store in Port Rowan, Ontario (one of my favourites). Unfortunately, the church ladies who work the counter knew they had a winner on their hands, so the reamer was priced at a whopping $10 (which is wildly expensive for Port Rowan). Nonetheless, I decided it was worth it. After all, depression-era Federal reamers sell online for $40+.

I won't be selling mine, of course. It's got some flea-bites in the rim anyway.

It will live in my cupboard, and with any luck, will ream for many happy years to come. I drink a lot of vodka sodas (with lemon).

Who knew my imbibing would allow me to justify yet another addiction (thrifting)? Turns out, I drink for a reason.

And if all else fails, I could always open a lemonade stand, right?
 
 
A long while back now, I posted about the beginnings of my obsession with Milk Glass. I was a new collector, excited about each and every piece that I came across.

I've become a little more discerning since. For one thing, I'm strapped for space. My kitchen window sill is completely covered in Milk Glass (some containers holding plants, others empty).

And it seems crazy to buy something only to have to box it and stick it in the basement.

So I've resolved not to repeat different styles. I only allow myself one piece in any particular shape or pattern.

The latest addition to my collection was found in Port Rowan, Ontario last weekend. For only $1, I got my hands on a thumbprint pattern The E.O. Brody Company vase (or is it a compote?), pre-1971. (It was manufactured between 1958 and 1971. I'm not sure of the exact year.) I think it's adorable!
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You can learn more about Brody Glass here, if you're interested.

What do you think? Am I crazy to keep buying this stuff? I know it was mass produced and that it isn't inherently valuable, but it's just so pretty. I can't stop.

* Photo by Oh Dear Watson, from Flickr. Used with permission. Check out Oh Dear Watson on Etsy for similarly adorable vintage items. (Thanks for the pic, guys!)
 
 
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A few weeks ago, I came across a great find at my local Salvation Army - a set of 12(+) bistro glasses in perfect condition. I snapped them up immediately. I even bought a few extras, just in case I break some along the way. (Though, it should be noted that one of the perks of these glasses is that they're practically indestructible.)

Though I'm a long time user (and admirer) of classic French bistro tumblers (inspired by Duralex, which you can read more about here, in a super-long story from the Independent, if you're so inclined), I had never considered the smaller, "rocks" glasses (high-ball-size) for my collection.

But now I have 'em and I have never been happier about a glassware purchase, ever. EVER! (Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but I'm really into these glasses.)

They are seriously cool cat. They are the cat's meow. They are the cat's pajamas. They are various other idioms and phrases that mean "cool" but have little-to-nothing to do with our friends of the feline variety.

They're just really solid glasses.

Here's a short lesson in shape:

Duralex bistro glasses are the most sought-after sort in the world of vintage collecting for this kind of glassware, and as such, there's no shortage of information about them online (see that Independent article, above). They have an elegant, almost fluted shape that appeals to many, but Duralex glasses, despite their authentic French pedigree, aren't my favourite. I actually prefer the chunky lines of those made by companies that deal in restaurant supply (such as Arcaroc and Libbey).

Here are a few glasses side-by-side, to show you how the shapes compare:

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(L to R) Duralex Picardie, Arcaroc Rocks, Libbey Rocks.
My new "rocks" glasses are by Arcaroc. They're heavy-duty and they feel good in the hand. I also have a few pint-sized Lilly's around, but I find they have a slightly brown tint to them, and I prefer the Arcaroc, which look vaguely blue.

No matter what you call these glasses (faceted, paneled, bistro, etc.), and no matter who they're by, you'll find a variety available at several price points. I highly recommend them. They're family-friendly, practical, and yes, chic. They look great in modern kitchens, eclectic kitchens, cottagey kitchens, urban kitchens, etc. In fact, they go well in every kitchen I've ever seen. And they're well-suited to open-shelving. And you can stack 'em. And they're amazing. (Have I mentioned I like these glasses?)

Here are some bistro glasses featured in a kitchen in Style At Home magazine:
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Kitchen story by Amanda Etty.  Photography by Donna Griffith.
Anyway. I love these bistro glasses, so I thought I'd write about 'em. There you go. Consider it an object lesson. I did.
 
 
Lately, whenever I see an old Anchor Hocking creamer (or pint pitcher) at a vintage store, I scoop it up. I don't know why. How many creamers does a person need? (Particularly a person who doesn't actually USE cream.)

Eesh.

It's crazy, I know. But these little guys just seem to call out to me. Here are a couple of my recent buys:
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They're only about 10-12 cm tall and they're cute cute cute. Or at least, to me they are.

Each time I buy one, I envision myself hosting an aborable brunch, complete with cream and maple syrup served from these cutie-pie pitchers. But the brunch never happens and the pitchers make their way into my cupboards to be admired, but never used. And yet, I buy more. 

Got any ideas about how I might use them? Besides brunch, I mean. Clearly, that's not going to happen.