Saturday, July 30, 2011

Little Black Book

Hello my name is Kelly and I am a magazine clipping junkie.   Well, as do many things for me it all started for me with Martha Stewart….
I used to regularly subscribe to Martha Stewart Living (as well House Beautiful, Elle Décor, House & Garden, the now defunct Domino, Boston Home, InStyle, etc, etc…you get the idea) and by this ever growing/changing list I’m sure you can see why I couldn’t keep up with my rapidly growing magazine library but really didn’t want to discard so many fabulous decorative ideas and projects plans I needed for future “rainy days”.   The problem really came to a head when I was packing to move south and I was faced with not only not wanting to tote this ever growing stack for the next foreseeable future but more importantly how was I ever going to keep track of what issue that perfect Christmas ball wreath project or Sara Blakely’s divine living room was in.  After just a couple of years it had already become unmanageable.

So I made an executive decision – I went through the stack, pulled out just the articles, pictures & recipes that I was just positive I would use…someday. 

This really pared the stack down but then I had to decide how I was going to organize them for quick access:  file folder, expandable folder, folder pockets, stack, binder or drawer?  I tried several options but just never really got my hands around all of the clippings I had collected.  To make it more difficult I had torn things out in all different sizes and shapes.  Some of the pages I had torn out had several ideas on them not all of which was I interested in (ditto the back pages).
A while back I started “the binder” – it was not well organized and still in scraps that I had kept and hole-punched so they would fit in the binder but at least everything was in one spot.  Perusing to find ideas really had not become any easier – just more compact.
This messy collection continued to grow until last week when I finally just had enough and sat down to make a plan to get myself organized.  This is the result of that plan:

I color copied all of my scraps so not only are they all on the same size paper but this gave me the option to edit out the extraneous ideas that had only been saved in my idea book because they happened to be on the back of the page of some fascinating article on the history of Vaseline glass or how to make roman shades. There are no curled edges or torn corners.  So much more pleasant to peruse….and definitely useful.  I have been able to pull from my little black book for inspiration ideas for projects I am currently working on in my house.
I also recently discovered Pinterest - this is an online version of my little black book and is such a cool site.  If you haven’t checked out Pinterest let me just tell you - you need to!  This is an “invitation” only site but feel free to leave me a message with your email and I’m happy to pass the invite along.  The really beautiful thing about Pinterest is not only can you keep track of your design or project ideas (and how to execute them) but you suddenly have access to literally thousands of other folks inspirational ideas that you can repin to your boards.
Love, love, love this site to keep track of my new inspiration ideas but I can’t quite part with my little black book filled with perfection.  Luckily I definitely think there is room for both in my life!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Kind of Town

In the last 10 years I have visited Chicago probably 8 or 9 times, almost always for business (except that one Braves vs. Cubs road trip with my good pal Jamie…go Braves).  For as much of an east coast girl as I am I do love the Windy City!  People are warm, it has a great walkable downtown, beautiful parks & museums, great shopping – what’s not to love? Ok maybe that ugly bitter wind whipping up off Lake Michigan in the middle of winter…that’s really what keeps me from ever seriously considering a move here.
Coming off the terminal at O’Hare today I was met by one of my absolute favorite Chicago institutions…Garrett Popcorn…OH MY! 

It was on that fateful Braves road trip that I was introduced to the popped heaven that is Garrett’s.  I’m not a huge popcorn lover but let me tell you the caramel corn literally made me stop in my tracks as I was walking down Michigan Avenue.  Back then they had a tiny shop on Michigan Ave where the line of customers wound around the small waiting area, out the door and down the street.  Jamie & I thought “really???? Who would be that insane to stand there and wait for popcorn” But somewhere in the back of our minds we were intrigued wondering just what kept people waiting in such a ridiculously long line.  So when we happened by and found the line was a bit shorter we gave in and waited the requisite minimum 20 minutes for a bag.  It was worth the wait (coming from someone who has no patience for waiting).  Today, not only have they moved into a bigger store around the corner but they also have a booth right next to security at O’Hare!  Perfect breakfast for the cab ride into the city!
So for this visit to Chicago I have a serious limitation on the amount of time I have to meander aimlessly looking for great finds.  I’m here for approx 48 hours and have 6 meetings and 3 business lunch/dinners scheduled – no time to hit my usual spots let alone find new ones.  I did do some preliminary research however just to see what might be close enough to my hotel that I could sneak away for a few minutes.  Most of the intriguing antique markets seem to be located close to Lincoln Park….not near where I am.
I had to get a little creative and dig a little but I’m happy to say I found not just a good but a great place online and its brick & mortar store was only 0.8 miles from the hotel.  From what I could tell from their website they specialize in vintage hotel silver & dinerware….definite potential.  So very quickly after I landed and arrived at my hotel I pulled out my map and headed to Posh (I even love the name) and I was so not disappointed….
613 N State Street, Chicago IL
If you love old vintage steamer trunks that are plastered with travel stickers this is the place for you. 
Guide to Paris - original (not reproduction)

Vintage Postcards

Although I didn’t actually see one steamer trunk at Posh they definitely specialize in vintage ware that is specific to the time when traveling was an elegant experience.  Lovely hotel silver, dishes from tons of famous historic restaurants & hotels, travel books from 75+ years ago (originals, not reproductions), tea towels with a vintage feel, a really cool collection of china commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, beautiful serving dishes, etc, etc. 

I could have literally spent hours peeking in every nook & cranny of this shop.  This is definitely not an antique store nor does it remotely resemble one but certainly sells vintage goods as well as vintage reproductions.
Well worth a visit!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Little Bling Never Hurts

I think I may have mentioned in the past and for those who know me personally I’m stating the obvious here but…I have a small obsession with vintage bling. 
I’m not generally drawn to really fine jewel vintage pieces (although I do certainly admire them tremendously) but a little rhinestone pin or bracelet calls me every time!  I scour the shops and sales for just the right piece at just the right price.  I am always so excited when I find a bargain that is such a great deal that I just can’t believe it. 
Unfortunately, often what appears to be too good to be true generally is just that with missing stones, a damaged fastener or tarnished edges. And of course you never see the flaws until your heart is all aflutter with the beauty of the piece and you pick it up for further inspection.   Now I’m not a girl to discount beauty just because of a little flaw but really as much as I may admire them do I really want to regularly wear jewels that are very obviously missing stones?  Given this, I’m always trying to come up with ideas to use these pieces since they really are in many cases truly spectacular.
Several years ago there was a mention in a magazine (along with a spectacularly eye catching photo) for a new venture Christina Ferrare had started creating picture frames & mirrors with crystals & stones.  The pieces were so stunning; I immediately stored it in my “I must do this” file.  My thought was it was a great way to repurpose some of the beautiful vintage pieces I had seen that are beautiful but not quite perfect enough to wear.
Ferrare & Co have so many fab
blingy things!
Well, this turned into easier said than done.  I totally underestimated the number of pieces that would be needed to fill the piece I wanted to do.  So now I had a collection of slightly imperfect vintage jewelry pieces and needed to find a more doable project to use them on.  Enter House Beautiful…
Jewels I have collected over the years...
(see Provence Cottage Antiques post)
Maybe two years ago I picked up a copy of House Beautiful Magazine and in it was a picture of a pillow that was all blinged out with vintage jewels.  Now that’s what I’m talking about…

Well, of course I had a spare accent pillow that I had picked up at Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Target or some such place that was just waiting for embellishment. 

I'm now wondering why I ever bought this...

Now I had to spend my requisite several weeks (ok, maybe months) analyzing, assessing & contemplating the best most clean way of applying the jewelry. 
Some pieces still had their fastenings, some did not so I knew that I would need to either glue or sew some but others I might just be able to pin to the pillow.  The pins that I could pin did I want to cut a small hole in the pillow so they were flush with the surface or did I want to go through the exercise of sewing a button-hole type of stitch so it would not only be flush but look finished?  Did it matter?  Would glue be an appropriate option for those without pin backs or would a simple stitch be better?  Did I want to break up the necklace pieces into smaller pieces or leave them as is and attach them?  Did I want to even use them at all?  So many possible ways of executing this I really had to just sit down and give it a shot and see what worked and what didn’t.  End result was no glue, and just simple holes that the hardware could meld into.
Trial and error....this ended up being the most balanced
And here is my finished product.  I’m so pleased to not only be able to repurpose jewelry that appeared to have been destined for destruction but also have a unique pillow that looks just fabulous in my living room!
I think this is why I bought the pillow!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Provence Cottage Antiques

Last year I came upon a fabulous pillow in a magazine that was decorated with vintage baubles of all sorts.  It of course made me stop immediately so I could study it and figure out just how to replicate it.  Well, I had a several pieces of slightly flawed (missing stones, bent pins, etc) old jewelry that I had been saving for just such a project but not enough of just the right thing to fill a whole pillow. So for months I have been on the lookout for nice inexpensive pieces that I could add to my collection of “broken bling” and create my own fabulous pillow (soon to be seen in an upcoming post). 
Sneak Peak....
In my search for the perfect bling at the perfect bargain price I happened upon a lovely little shop that specializes in cottage style vintage items in…you guessed it…Wells Maine.  Provence Cottage Antiques sits behind a sweet little grey house with a white picket fence on Route 1.  
Provence Cottage Antiques
752 Post Rd (Rt 1) Wells, ME
When we visited Provence Cottage last year the porch and the front rooms of the house were open, filled with interesting pieces and what I remember most was the truly splendid vintage chandeliers hanging everywhere.  There were also 2 back buildings full of fun cottage style items, one mostly gardeny type things the other just fun decorative vintage items.
The Garden items....dislayed outside
This year Provence Cottage was another stop on our 4th of July extravaganza…still great stuff but much smaller this year.  The front house was not open at all nor was the first building that had the gardeny things last year so it was just the far rear building…less stuff, still well worth the stop! 
Last year I found a few slightly damaged jewels priced right for my pillow but still not enough to complete the project…this year I found exactly what I needed to finish it off along with so many other things. 
No, as much as I wanted to I didn't purchase the
whole tray that's restraint!
Now this is a “ladies who lunch” kind of shop but if you love vintage linens, clothing, jewelry, books, teacups, etc this is your place!  There was a vintage 1960’s dress on a dress form next to the front door…so Mad Men…if it was my size you had better believe it would have been in a bag in my car!  I’ve been contemplating having a Mad Men themed party and it would have been just the perfect thing..not meant to be this time though.
Always up for an antiquing that we
have her husband convinced not every antique is
old & smelly.  The Mad Men dress is the aqua one
to the left behind Kate.
There were several of these chenille bedspreads that just made me think of spending summers at my great-grandmother’s cottage on Sennebec Pond.  I hated these spreads when I was a kid because it was so hard to make my bed neatly, they were constantly wrinkled, uneven or just not laying right.  Now I definitely have fond memories but then if I had known any curse words I would definitely have used them!

Do you remember these spreads?  My grand-
mother had them in an aqua color.
Provence Cottage Antiques is really one of those places where I can always find something to accessorize with…either myself or my house.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You Win Some Update

I just thought I'd post a follow up pic of the beautiful vintage Lane chest I found at the Swampscott sale.  I brought it in, buffed it with fresh white lilac scented all natural Farmhouse Furniture Wax (love it!!) from Sweet Grass Farm.  Here it is in it's place of honor in my dining step closer to another room finished that I am hoping to share soon (just a few final touches needed).

Did I mention that it is cedar lined with shelves inside?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

You Win Some....You Lose Some

I have never really understood the “get there early or don’t bother” mentality that many folks approach estate sales with.  My feeling has always been if it’s meant for me it will still be there when I arrive at a  reasonable hour (i.e. after 9 am) and if that happens to be on the second day of a sale so be it.  I can’t tell you how many dealers I have spoken with who won’t even consider “wasting their time” on a sale if it’s the second day.
Yesterday morning I had a lot to do and really only a few hours to do it in so it was fortuitous there were 2 estate sales within just a few miles of my home.  The first one was in a lovely little neighborhood in Marblehead and by first glance this had all of the potential to be a great sale.  In a nice neighborhood, charming house, and the Craig’s List ad described it as “3 floors - packed - antiques - collectibles - dining set, bedroom sets - tons of clothes - full garage”.  It was a second day sale but good possibilities, right?

Well, this is just a sample of what I found at this sale:

And more and more of the same…along with perhaps some of the rudest people I have ever encountered at an estate sale picking through the “treasures”.  I really should have paid closer attention to that “tons of clothes” part of the ad.  It was a very quick stop and not a particularly pleasant one.
The next sale on my short list was maybe 2 miles away in Swampscott and was also a second day sale.  It was on one of the streets in Swampscott that has some truly magnificent houses but also has some very average homes.  It really could have gone either way.  Well luckily the gods were shining down and feeling bad for sending me to the earlier clothes sale and this was my prize.
This was such an incredible house – I really had a hard time focusing on the items for sale because I was too busy drooling over all of the phenomenal architecture.  It was 3 floors (plus huge semi-finished basement) of pure spectacularism, this house went on forever.
Formal Dining Room - love the paneled walls!

Library - wall-to-wall book cases behind me.  Gorgeous

Master Bedroom - I personally love that
the drapes match the wallpaper.  Not sure you
can tell that here - but trust me fab!

That was the upside, the downside was the sale really was pretty picked over but clearly I really did not mind at all.  It’s about the journey, right?
Such a beautiful built in cabinet in the
upstairs hall.  Incredible workmanship!
I did find one treasure in one of the very last rooms in the back on the third floor.  I love the Mad Men feeling of this cabinet and am hoping it will finish out my dining room. 

It is cedar lined and has shelves inside so I’m thinking it will be perfect to put my grandmother’s table linens in.
The second day sale was a mixed bag for finding treasures this weekend but it was worth it just to have the opportunity to meander through the Swampscott house.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wells Union Antiques

The next stop on our July 4th Wells trek was Wells Union Antiques on Route 1 in Wells.  This is an interesting place and I really learned about a cool business concept here.  When pulling into the parking lot you are immediately struck by a row separate shops that are adjacent to each other – the exterior of each shop is unique but they also somehow remain cohesive in appearance.  Well, there is a very good reason for this – they are all “condos” that each proprietor owns but must play by the same association rules as their neighbors.  Great concept – individual shops gaining strength in numbers for the purpose of sharing advertising and building maintenance costs as well as appealing to a broad spectrum of folks with varied tastes/needs.  Broaden appeal and share overhead – great concept!
Wells Union Antiques
1755 Post Roat (Rt 1) Wells, ME
Cohesive look from a distance

Peggy Carboni's up close - very much
personalized to her shop's style
 The first shop we stopped in was Art Smith’s shop.  He had some really cool architectural salvage pieces and was doing some really refined repurposing of  salvage pieces.  We saw some phenomenal stuff here but let me tell you this is really a look for inspiration kind of place unless you have a fair budget to spend. 
This penguin was one of the more reasonably priced items at $110 - loved him!

If you are looking for spectacular eye catching architectural pieces he definitely has them.  Just inside the front door was a really awesome bicycle built for two that had just the right amount of aged patina on it to make it cool (but unrideable).  I absolutely fell in love with a carved wooden bear umbrella stand – he was adorable and a real conversation piece but a little out of my price range (aka several thousand dollars…really!).  Unfortunately we didn’t get a photo of him so just imagine the coolest carved bear holding a horizontal ring with holes in it to hold umbrella’s. 
The next shop in the line was Peggy Carboni Antiques.  Peggy was kind enough to share the information of this being a condo property.  We instantly bonded the second I entered her shop and immediately spotted the huge display case of rhinestone jewelry right at the front of her shop!  The contrast between Art & Peggy’s shop really speaks to the cool dynamic of Wells Union Antiques.  Where Art’s shop is very architectural (one might say almost masculine) Peggy’s was much more focused on that ubiquitous shabby chic cottage look.   While shabby chic is not particularly my decorating style, I certainly appreciated the all of the pretty things at Peggy Carboni’s.
Peggy's contribution to Shabby Chic

What a great way to display vintage linens!  Defintitely
brings that old mercantile feeling to the shop

These were so fun!  1950's
juice glasses with fun
flower graphics
The shop next to Peggy’s had some really great pieces – very traditional Maine antique pieces (the livable kind not the untouchable kind). 

Upon walking in the door the first thing we saw was this fabulous bank of vintage lockers painted a burnt sienna shade of red.  I could find a million (ok maybe just several hundred but you get the idea) things I could do with these in my house!
Check out the turn handles on these!
Wouldnt they be great storage for an
office - perhaps add shelves in each
There were a couple of additional shops that were not open the day we visited but if what we did see is any indication of what these shops might be hiding it will definitely be worth another stop.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Elaine's Antiques

Last weekend as with most Fourth of July weekends in recent memory I met Kate, one of my oldest friends, and her daughter for our annual strawberry picking expedition.  It’s a clear sign summer has arrived at my house when the fresh berries are in house.  The last couple of years after our hours slaving in the fields in the hot sun with dirt under our nails we have headed to Wells to enjoy a lovely brunch and hit the shops.
This year was no different except we did try a different brunch spot and let me highly recommend it – Bintliffs in Ogunquit.  I had crème brule French toast and ohhhh myyyy gosh I’m still salivating!  Kate had a pecan waffle with caramel sauce and she was in pure dining heaven too.  Years ago, I spent a couple of summers during college in this part of Maine and there used to be an ice cream shop (does anyone remember Viking’s?) in this building that had peanut butter ice cream I still dream about – it was the straight peanut butter (like vanilla) not the peanut butter cup type with chocolate and peanut butter swirls.  Clearly this building has positive flavor karma.
Next stop was Elaine’s Antiques on Route 1 in Wells.  Elaine’s sits back a bit from the road so it’s easy to drive right past it (as a matter of fact we had, literally hundreds of times over the years).  It has been in business for 30+ years as Elaine informed us and she has probably the most organized, focused collection of goodies I have ever seen! 

Elaine's Antiques
1318 Post Road (Rt 1), Wells Maine
Elaine herself was quite a character and shared some really funny stories with us.  Apparently she used to have a sleigh and wooden horses on her front lawn to attract traffic for her shop.  It sounded very eye catching and she clearly loved it.  The problem came with the summer folks that frequent this beach town.  “Kids” (young adults) would frequently get a little lit and try to ride the horses and hang out in the carriage whooping it up leaving all kinds of empty beer cans/bottles behind for her to clean up the following day.  The revelry would wake Elaine and her family up and she would routinely have to yell out the window at them to quiet down and move along.  While she appreciated the fact that the vacationers were enjoying themselves she had to get up in the morning to open her shop and needed her sleep.  So after conceding she was not going to win this battle with the tourists she removed the horse and carriage and now just has a lovely green front lawn like the rest of her neighbors.

As I mentioned earlier I have never quite seen a shop set up is such an organized fashion as Elaine’s – the shop is in a barn that is attached to her house with the framing of the walls exposed and extra 2 x 4’s added to create shelving.  This gives a shadow box illusion that displays her pieces really uniquely.  Her wares are really focused on American stoneware/pottery although she does have some lovely Fenton glass and other glassware - very little furniture here.

Front Room
The first room has the most variety with every kind of pottery vase you can imagine along with lots of depression and other colored glass as well as a fair amount of Roseville pottery.
Imagine the baking necessary to fill all of these...
As I entered the back room the first thing I noticed was the back wall – it was floor to ceiling shelves filled with every sort of cookie jar imaginable.  This was clearly a woman that loves collecting and uses her shop to share her collections (and even perhaps make a few dollars). There was another whole section filled with Mar-crest ovenware – more pieces than I even knew existed.
Just a sampling of the Mar-Crest
The side annex room was simply a home for several sleighs she has for sale.  I have to say I wouldn’t even know where to go about buying 1 sleigh let alone the probably 10 she had for sale.  Very interesting.
A sleigh for every season
A definite fun stop and I highly recommend engaging Elaine in conversation – she is a delight.