This is not a real post. Or rather, it's not an important or significant post (not that any of them are.) It's just about a little thing that happened that I thought was sort of interesting.
See, ages ago, I bought a little terra cotta thingy from a junk sale. I think it was $0.35 or thereabouts. I didn't know what it was. Paperweight? Decor? Part of some larger item, unfortunately separated from it's context?
What it was for didn't really matter to me. What mattered is the way it felt in my hand. I liked the smooth terra cotta. I liked the palm-perfect size. It was a weird little thing and I liked it and I didn't know why, but it was only $0.35 so I bought it, because why NOT buy the little things you like? You don't need a reason to want the things you want, or to like the things you like. There's nothing wrong with that. And when something costs less than fifty cents, should I really have passed it by? I can easily spare one quarter and one dime. That's not much to pay for a tiny little bit of happy.
I know everyone is about decluttering these days, and that knick knacks are way out of fashion, but I think hotel-perfect spaces are soulless and lame. Who wants to live like that? With no heart and no mess? (A lot of people, I know, but not me. That's my point.)
My other point is this: You don't need to have a place for every little item. If you like it, and you can afford it, and it doesn't hurt anybody or doesn't seem like an egregious waste, then get it. Worry about the details later. It's hoarder behaviour, but I don't care. If some little thing makes you happy, why deny yourself that?
Anyway, I've had the disc kicking around for the last few years. It was little more than clutter. It went from a windowsill to a table, to wedged-behind-the-bed, to a drawer, and then back to the windowsill. I didn't know what to do with it and I didn't know what it was for, but I didn't want to get rid of it.
I still liked it. I still didn't know why.
And then today, just moments ago, I was cleaning out my kitchen cabinets, moving some of the bulk bagged items to glass jars, organizing, etc., and I came across a rock-hard bag of brown sugar. This is always a problem in my cupboard. I bake approximately once a year, so if I buy brown sugar, it inevitably gets hard, but since I was in organizing mode, I went to the Internet to see what I could find as a long-term solution and one of the first things I came across was my little terra cotta disc.
IT HAS A PURPOSE! It is meant (designed! specifically!) to live in a jar of brown sugar, to keep said sugar soft.
This is not a great discovery, but it gave me a little thrill, I admit it. To have some nutty little item I bought and hoarded for no apparent reason actually serve a need after all this time? Well, that, my friends, is what my sad little dreams are made of.* Junking isn't always for nothing, you know? Make of this what you will.
*Hyperbole. Have you heard of it?
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?
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.
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?
Lamps and pillows (and chairs) are some of my very favourite things. My basement is full of extras at the moment, mostly because I often can't help myself. And shops like Toronto's own Mod Pieces
are no help at all.
It's local, it's filled with awesome restyled vintage lamps, amazing and unique lampshades, and now, throw pillows. There are so many things in stock that I want. Like, RIGHT now.
NOWNOWNOWNOWNOW. I am full of covetous feelings, in particular for this pair of lamps that I just realized have already sold, sadly.
But fear not! My favourite lamps have already been scooped up, but there are plenty of beautiful things left. Here are some photos from the shop's recent Summer 2013 look book. (Cropped to fit. They look better in all their glory here
Happily for you guys, shop owner Lia tells me that Mod Pieces is having their annual "Shop Like a Designer" sale this very weekend. All weekend long, the store is extending their trade discount of 25% off to the general public. It applies to all items in the online store.
There are some SUPER deals in the sale section at the moment, so I suggest you look there first.
According to Lia, "The sale begins this Friday, June 28th and ends at midnight on Monday, July 1st. All buyers have to do is enter coupon code "OHCANADA" at checkout to save 25% on their entire order."
Anyway, guys, I just wanted to let you know. I have not been doing a lot of blogging lately, but I hope to get back into the swing of things soon.
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.
Friends! Collectors! Lovers of all things chic!
Can y'all just take a moment to admire my awesome new salt and pepper shakers?
Awesomesauce, right? They were a wedding gift from my friend Daniella. (She's one of my college roommates, or as we say in Canada one of my "undergrad housemates".)
They came from an Etsy store in the States
and I'm in LOVE with them. They're a perfect combination of my favourite things: birds, vintage, gold-tone and useful to boot!
Want something similar? There are plenty of vintage ones of the same ilk available online. And I've heard tell of some in Toronto shops like Angus and Co
If you just like the look, but don't care about the usability, you could go for these babies from Dwell Studio
, which I believe are currently available at The Bay:
I love love love these pheasants. (LOVE.)
Not that I have the space or anything, but I've started a new collection: vintage copper cookware. I'm obsessed. It all started with a few skillets I found at my local Goodwill. The pans were cheap and unmarked, but pretty. I hung them on the wall. But lately, copper has been popping up at my regular thrifting haunts on a regular basis. And I can't resist! I'm buying it like crazy! I now have the three little pans I started with. Small, medium and large sauce pots/pans, and a big, heavy
sauté pan (all with lids, natch). I heard tell of people finding copper awesomeness at thrift stores in the past, but I never thought I would get so lucky.
The stuff I've been finding has been tarnished, but it turns out, cleaning copper is super duper easy. Lemon juice and salt, plus a little patience, gets it shining in no time. Of course, it doesn't look "like new" but a little patina is right up my alley anyway.
So my point? No point! I just want to urge you to consider hunting down some vintage copper cookware. Mine comes from all over the world and most of it is marked. I have a piece of "Paul Revere-ware" from the States, a pot from Portugal, another from Chile and one from France. It's all slightly different, but you would never know it wasn't a real set. Plus, it's beautiful and fun, and great for cooking
Copper is super conductive and I find it very easy to use. Cooks meat perfectly, for example. Responds very quickly to temperature changes on the stove dial.
Yes, the tinning on the insides will wear out over time, but even though my new/old pans have been around for awhile, the tinning in them seems fine. And besides, copper cookware is WILDLY expensive new. (The Mauviel line, carried at Williams Sonoma
, costs $2,800 for a 12 piece set. I already have many more pieces in my collection, in practically new condition, and I paid less than $10 per piece.) Think about that. You could buy a single pan from Williams Sonoma (or register for one as a wedding gift, putting the burden of purchasing an idiotic $300 piece of metal on your poor friends), or you could keep your eyes peeled at your local Goodwill and get something that will work wonderfully, look amazing, and cost less than $10.
No one will know the difference!
Hey all. Sorry things have been a bit slow on the blog lately. Getting married very shortly. Lots of to do. Been busy.But not too busy to thrift! In fact, I had a very successful thrifting day about a week ago. In addition to a couple of dresses and some bits and bobs for Will & Bequeath, I came across a great find I just had to share with you: an Erkers enamelware bowl!
My bowl is yellow, with a black rim, like the yellow one shown above. And I looooove it.My obsession with vintage enamelware started fairly recently, with a piece of Catherineholm that I blogged about here. Since then, it's grown, and now I have several different pieces scattered around my apartment. But this is my first Erkers. And it was only $2.02! According to a profile on Design Arkivet,
"Arne Erkers was born in Leksand and at the age of 24, decided to move to Stockholm as he for a long time had been interested in drawing." He worked as a gold and silversmith and a freelance designer, and founded the Erkers Design Studio around 1955. He designed my bowl (and the Raff pitcher, which obviously influenced similar designs currently at IKEA) for Kockums Jernverks AB in Kallinge. (My piece, like all similar pieces, is marked "Kockum Sweden".)"
Function is an important aspect of Arne Erkers design. His view of his profession was that the task of the designer was to design objects as simple and practical as possible. With this as a starting point he created articles as diverse as ball bearing joints and stackable saucepans but also had bold ideas about more practical cars and lawnmowers, sadly never put into production."
Erkers lives into his 90s and passed away recently, in 2010.
If you're looking for vintage enamelware, search online for Cathrineholm and Finel, and add words like "Scandinavian" and "enamelware" and you should come up with a lot of options. But don't discount Erkers. While less well-know, his work is just as nice.
I like my bowl because of it's unusual rounded-triangular shape and low profile. I also love the tone of the yellow. It has one flaw -- a hole in the enamel -- but I just keep that bit turned away and never think about it. (Remember, it was only $2!)
Super find! Yay!
At my house, the accessories are breakable. Highly breakable. I collect vintage milk glass, slag glass, and depression glass. I have living orchids curving delicately over my nightstand. My pet fish lives on a low coffee table, in a vintage glass bowl.
It's not a kid-friendly space.
My sister, however, has two small children who are (for lack of a better word) a bit willful (read: wild). And as such, her house has almost no accessories. Her few breakables are hidden away or gathered messily on high shelves, and her surfaces are either bare or strewn with papers. Her house is about practicality, and about foiling her children's innate need to break anything and everything of value she might get her hands on.
So I resolved to help her out. Why CAN'T she have a few glam accessories? Things that look pretty and posh? Sure, teaching the kids to be less destructive would be a good step to take, but I didn't want to set my sights too high. So instead, I set about looking for some posh-looking accessories that could stand up to the chaos.
Here's my first effort: a totally kid-friendly, totally-unbreakable, totally budget table orchid.
Let me tell you what this orchid display is made of:
It's 100% Dollarama.
1. A large plastic salad bowl (any solid colour you like).
2. A foam craft ball.
3. A bread knife and tape (you probably have these items already).
4. 2 or 3 fake orchid stems.
5. 2 packages of decorative moss.
The whole deal should cost approximately $7.
Step 1: Using the knife, cut the foam ball in half or 3/4. (You're just looking to give it a flat side.)
Step 2: Place the flat side of the foam ball down on the bottom/middle of the plastic bowl. Using tape, secure it to the bottom of the bowl. Don't worry if the tape looks ugly. You won't see it once the moss is in.
Step 3: Drive the orchid stems into the foam ball. If the stems are too long, but them down with scissors or wire-cutters. (OR, just bend the wire stems back and forth a bit at the spot where you want to cut - they'll break eventually.)
Step 4: Fill the bowl with moss, covering the foam and the bottom of the stems.
Step 5: Bend the orchid leaves down so they are horizontal across the surface of the moss. And bit and bend the stems of the fake flowers in a way that looks good to you.
Done. You have a pretty, glam-looking accessory that your kids can knock to the ground with abandon. Sure, the moss will go flying, but that's an easy clean up. This is an unbreakable, creation, in my opinion.
Next, I wanted to draw your attention to the pressed glass bowl that you see on the arm of the chair in the first photo. Pretty right? Let's take a closer look:
On the left is a little depression glass dish, on the right is the bowl I was talking about. Glam! Sparkly! Posh, pretty and ... plastic.
That's right, plastic. I bought it for 99 cents at Goodwill.
If that's not a kid-friendly accessory, I don't know what is. Can't wait to take these items over to my sister's house to test them out.
I came across an adorable elephant tea pot recently that I felt I just had to buy, even though I already have a perfectly good teapot in my cupboard already. Here it is:
For several weeks, the little dude's been sitting on my counter, waiting to be used.
Finally, a few days ago, because I was sick, I got around to making some tea. And you know what I found?
This tea pot sucks.
I mean... it's awful. Truly.
Worst. Design. Ever.
You have to turn it practically upside to get any tea out, which makes liquid seep out from under the lid, likely burning your hands. And the holes on the inside of the pot are so small, you can only pour a slow-moving, measly dribble.
This is seriously annoying.
So, since functionality is nil, I'm going back to my old pot. But what to do with this elephant? I don't want to give him to Goodwill where he may be bought by some unsuspecting individual who will soon find him/herself with scalded hands. And besides, the thing's cute. It doesn't work in the way it's intended, but it's still cute.
So, I thought: planter.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but this planter idea isn't really working, is it? What can I do differently to make this elephant useful in some way? Do you think it would be better with a different kind of plant inside? Help!
As some of you may know, I'm getting married soon. And with a marriage (whether you give in to having a "real" wedding or not -- and we're not) comes gifts. Gifts come no matter how much you discourage people.
And I have to say... it's not all bad. While I feel a little awkward about people spending money on me, there are a few things I want, and it's lovely to get them.
Case in point: my soon-to-be aunt Elaine and her partner Archie wanted to get Nate and I flatware, and they asked us what sort we might like. This gave me the opportunity to get something I've wanted for ages: a set of vintage, "Thai Bronze" flatware, via an independent Etsy seller in Iowa.
The set is so beautiful and unique. I've been shopping for flatware for a long time and I've never come across a set as unusual as this one. The whole shebang comes in its original box, and includes more than 140 pieces. Considering that my current flatware is from Canadian Tire ($9.99) and sports cracking plastic handles and flaking metal that is probably giving me cancer, this gift is even more awesome.We ordered it more than a week ago, and it hasn't arrived yet. The photos shown are from the original Etsy seller: Debby Does Vintage. I have to be patient, because when items like this cross the border, they're often held up at customs... but I'm super excited. Thanks to Elaine & Archie, and to Debby too. I can't wait.