Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What Happens in Burlington...Mason Brothers Salvage

For over the last 20 years my Mom has been living in St Albans Vermont (for those who don’t know St Albans is almost as far northwest as you can get in VT before you reach Canada) and for the last 5+ she has been contemplating retirement and a move back to Maine.  Well, a couple of months ago it finally happened; she sold her house, retired and moved.
With the closing date rapidly approaching I headed up for a weekend to share my wealth of knowledge as it relates to packing & moving (I’ve certainly done my share!).  After 2 full days of boxes, tape and packing paper I hit the road to meander home and on the way visit some of my old Burlington haunts. 
My first apartment ever as an 18 year old was in Burlington and I took a year off from college and lived there when I was 21…Burlington is a wonderful place that holds warm phenomenal memories for me.  Some people say “what happens in Vegas…” well for me it’s “what happened in Burlington…”
My first apartment was in this old school on Pine Street
in Burlington VT...such good times happened here!
Most of my old favorite spots have long since closed or turned into some kind of chain coffee shop but I soon discovered a couple of new favorite spots.  My first stop, Mason Brothers at 11 Maple St/Five Corners in Essex Junction VT is an architectural salvage shop that I literally could have spent hours in.  There were so many pristine home pieces and parts that were cleanly and perfectly displayed.  No crawling through the dirt at Mason Brothers (my kind of place)!
Grate covers - these are so awesome!  I can think of so many
things to do with these...they would make great wall art.
If this had only fit in my car....
Not really my style but how cool is it these throne
like chairs are for sale at an architectural salvage
Vintage light fixtures, cabinets, doors, bathroom fixtures, farm sinks, stained glass windows…oh my...even some unique vintage furniture pieces.  Mason Brothers has it all and more.
Heavenly cabinetry - they just don't make it like this anymore
I love this sink and how cool is it that the vanity part is this
gorgeous marble?
 It’s important when you have an older home to keep the integrity of the bones of that home and places like Mason Brothers really are key in providing products that allow for upgrades/renovation while retaining that integrity. 
If you can't find the perfect hardware here
it doesn't exist!
Again, I literally could have spent hours at this place and would likely have never seen everything.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sweet Charitable Austin

You know those silly little city magazines & books that they leave on your desk in hotels that you are just too busy sleeping to read?  Well, while you all are sleeping I am reading them and while they are mostly full of advertisements and directions to the closest Marshalls they also often do offer some hint of a lead to somewhere I must see in whatever city I am in. 
This was how I found 26 Doors shopping center (26 "upscale" i.e. swanky boutiques & salons) in Austin and how I stumbled into the so fun Sweet Charity, a home accessory shop that not only sells beautiful items but also makes the world a better place J.

Sweet Charity
1206 West 38th Street, Ste 1101
Austin, TX 78705

Their stated mission from their website is:  “Sweet Charity is a project of the Seton Healthcare Family and is staffed by volunteers. Proceeds benefit the Sweet Charity Fund, an endowment that helps fund healthcare services for low-income families at the Seton Community Health Centers  What could be better right – beautiful decorative items and helping the less fortunate.  It’s a win-win!
This fella greeted me when I came in the door.
I immediately knew it was my kind of place!
One of the things that I love about the south (and southwest apparently) is the love of decorating to excess for every holiday from Halloween to Labor Day and every holiday in between.  Decorated trees are not just for Christmas and one of the lovely ladies that happened to be working at Sweet Charity while I was visiting was chatting about all of the trees she decorates for the holidays.  She has them in every shape, color, style and apparently decorates every room in her home (as well as her daughters) with a different themed tree for Christmas.  It just sounds like such a winter wonderland…she should definitely start her own business!
This lovely Easer Tree was decorated with
the most beautiful glass egg ornaments
that just shimmered.
With this holiday spirit in mind I couldn’t help but just drool over all of the absolutely beautiful Easter decorations for sale at Sweet Charity.  Even if we had not been enjoying an early spring this shop would put you in the mood.  Colorful eggs & chicks oh my!

This chandelier was featured over a gorgeous farmers table with
the most beautiful white fabulous!
There was a selection of beautiful picnic accoutrements, lovely serving dishes, as well as a whole wall of kitchen gadgets.  This shop’s clear mission is to make the world a more beautiful place and definitely does just that.
Love this decopaged galvanized steel tray!  You
can't imagine the contemplation that went on in
my head over the end I decided I didn't
reeeaaallly need it...I'm still debating though.

Wall O-Gadgets

And you know me and
the lamps....LOVE!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Landscape Design With A Little Help From My Friends...

Sometimes I am just astounded by the wonderful FREE events that are offered in my community.  Last night at the local library hosted a Home Design Road Show – from an organization of lovely ladies called Women Design. 
Women Design is a collaboration of local women landscape designers, architects, interior designers and real estate professionals who get together to offer up free advice to fixer-uppers such as me.  It’s a fabulous idea!  They host the event and offer short consultations to whomever shows up – you just bring your photos, questions and any inspirational magazine clippings you might have.  It’s really a genius idea – I get awesome feedback and not only do I have a new resource if I decide to hire the project out but if all works as it should these professionals get referral business from those who I tell how great they were (and they were).
This year with the exterior of my house topping my never ending project list - painting, new front steps, raised bed garden removal, back yard total renovation, etc… the main question I had was “what on earth (no pun intended) do I do with the mess that is my yard?  A landscaper I am not…

This raised bed garden creates a border between my yard and my
neighbors...unfortunately it's in really poor shape with rotting railroad
ties and full of weeds (I've moved anything that is not a weed and
transplanted them to another garden already).

These bushes abutt my house and line the driveway.
Unfortunately they also scratch the paint on my car
when I park too close & haven't trimmed the hedge...

My back yard, over grown and full of weeds.  Not only
is there a wishing well behind those bushes but there
is an actual well below it.
Yes, you guessed it it all HAS TO GO

My sad front stoop - stairs are extremely
steep & close and not up to code.  Under
these wood steps are disintegrating cement
that will be replaced this summer!

 I arrived at the event about 30 minutes after it started and I was just one in a long line awaiting my turn with one of the landscape ladies when Heather Deschenes, from HND Architects had a few minutes free so I meandered over to her table to discuss my front stoop.  Holy cow she had great feedback!  I was really struggling on whether or not to go with stone steps or wood – Heather suggested a Azek composite decking product (i.e. no maintenance) that I think will look fab!  Heather also gave me the right questions to ask the building inspector for my town so I can make sure I’m all legal before we start the construction.  Her information was really invaluable.

The "inspiration" picture I brought - it's
actually one of my neighbors stoop.  Nice
but I needed help making it my own (don't
want to do a direct copy...)

The sketch I left with giving me basic measurements
as well as the perfect suggestion to go with a tapered
column instead of 2 straight ones as well as using
the composite decking material instead of stone. 

Once I was done with Heather I was back awaiting my time with landscaping and after just a short wait Susie Talbot from Forget-Me-Not Garden Services welcomed me to her table.  Now, by this time it was really toward the end of the evening so everyone had been hard offering advice for a couple of hours.  This didn’t at all impact my time with Susie – she was so pleasant and helpful.  She gave me some great advice on which plants will make it through a transplant and which just need a good whacking (whacking of course being the technical term).  She also made some wonderful suggestions on some border shrubs to replace some of the raised bed gardens I am removing.

Susie suggested California Privet to
replace the raised bed garden in my front
yard to create a natural border that is mostly
maintenance free

And peonies to replace the scratchy shrubs on
the side of my house/driveway.  I LOVE peonies
and Susie told me how to stake them so they
don't droop into the drive.  I am so excited
to make this change!

 This turned out to be such a fun evening and I got to spend an evening of receiving FREE great advice I have one piece of advice to pass on to you…if you see an announcement of any kind informing you that your community is hosting something similar to this – GO!  Now I just have to call the guy with the machines to do all of the digging in my yard and find a nice charity to donate some of the fully mature plants that I will not be using.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Uncommon Austin

I have recently reacquainted with a friend who I had not seen for a very long time (12 years) who does not live anywhere near me but like me does travel periodically so we’ve been catching up when we both “happen” to be in the same city at the same time.  Last week we were fortunate to be in San Antonio TX so I ventured off to Austin for a couple of days to check out what is so special about Austin.
On the first morning I was in Austin my primary goal was to satisfy my long standing desire for a real pair of cowboy boots.  I had gone to my friend Google (as usual) a couple of weeks before my trip to investigate boot shops and had several options in both San Antonio & Austin.  I really had no idea what to look for in a boot shop but knew that a. good cowboy boots are not inexpensive & b.  fit is critical.  So my first planned stop was Cavender’s Boot City and lucky me Cavender’s turned out to be the only stop I needed to make.  How often do I find exactly what I am looking for on the first try?  Obviously it was fate!

Scored at Cavender's Boot City
4435 S Lamar
Austin TX

We’ll, since I was so efficient with my time in my pursuit of the perfect pair of cowboy boots I was able to then meander a bit to see what else I could find in Austin.  It didn’t take me long to make an unplanned right turn and stumble upon Uncommon Objects (along with a whole block of other hip consignment boutiques).

Uncommon Objects
1512 So Congress Ave
Austin TX

Oh my gosh what a fabulous place Uncommon Objects turned out to be.  Really a little bit of everything from mod Mad Men-esque furniture to western trinkets.  Just fun!

Betty Draper couldn't do any better...

Only in TX...a whole booth full of taxidermy

Like moth to a & tableware
Austin has an extremely active vintage scene – so many consignment shops (see vintage around town guide) for both home d├ęcor as well as clothing.  I could have spent weeks in Austin just hitting all of them and I think I would still miss something. 

I have been wanting a vintage dress form
for quite a while now...these were really

So after a few days in Austin I have officially come to the conclusion, everyone is right it is a great city that I certainly need to spend a whole lot more time (and more importantly more money) in!