Sunday, August 31, 2014

Basement Purge: the Reveal

(Thank you to Cindy at Dwellings and Miriam at Hometalk for featuring this post!)
Before I get started, let me just say this - it may not look like I've done a lot in your eyes, but I have spent over 70 hours working in my basement since the end of July, purging and reorganizing 'stuff'. Here's the link to the post where it started:  Basement Purge - Pt V in a Series of Getting Organized.
BEFORE:  The main basement wall of 'stuff'
My stuff is defined as:
  • Inventory for resale - may be temporarily categorized as "fostering" or holding onto for whatever reason - for years. Panoply has been at the antique mall for 7 years, which was the result of collecting for years prior to that.
  • Household things moved into my marriage 11 years ago, including kitchen wares (duplicates), books, photographs
  • Children's nostalgia, including hospital and 1yr portrait clothing, lost teeth, schooldays papers (report cards, artwork, journals etc), books, videos, games & toys
  • Things from my first marriage, confiscated after divorce - more children's nostalgia, old photos, ballet memorabilia (mine)
  • Work and grad school history - resumes, projects, books, notes, evaluations
BEFORE: the main basement floor, as the 'stuff' grew outward
BEFORE:  the main basement floor 'stuff' from the opposite angle
Here is what I have learned after a month of working through my basement:
  • I have a touch of ADCD - attention deficit CLEANING disorder. I started off with one intended project of reorganizing my resale inventory, and the project immediately snowballed into purging old containers and reorganizing most of the basement (and a couple closets I was using for overflow) contents - whether it was 1, 11 or 21 year old stuff. I was easily sidetracked with little to show for my effort the first few weeks. 
  • Macaroni (in the form of pre-school necklaces) has a shelf life of over 22 years.  So do beans, rice and pretzels.
  • My house must be pretty airtight, as I had all of the above items in the form of pre-school artwork, as well as rice on trees (for snow), and a salt map - and no bugs or signs of mice!
    Foodstuff Oldies but Goodies - over 22 yrs old!
  • When you retire, what matters most is the person you've become through the years of change, not the work files and other output from all that work. I pitched almost my entire body of project work and seminar booklets attended (remember Y2K?), and donated books that may still be useful to someone else. I no longer concern myself with who moved my cheese.
  • Pictures do matter, and pictures take up a lot of space.  Somewhere around 2005 I got my first digital camera and the boxes full of pictures are now replaced with gigabytes of memory taken up on the computer and OneDrive (Microsoft's version of the Cloud).
  • My daughters appreciated the time I spent organizing their schooldays papers, photos and other memorabilia for them to cart away. It's a good thing because that alone was a major time-consumer.
  • I found out I must not really want to sell anything in the antique mall because the 'stuff' I reorganized and shelved outnumbers the stuff I'm ready to sell now, BY FAR.
  • The people at the charity where I donated got to know me by my third visit, and immediately started opening my donations for sorting. It was probably because I had it all organized, but it still felt good.
    Four weeks of donations from my basement, NOT counting two more equivalent loads taken by my daughters
  • There is a HUGE amount of stuff in this world. I like the fact that I buy mostly used stuff. 
  • I think I am getting better at letting go of stuff - other people's stuff.
  • I saved the stem glasses that were mementos at my oldest daughter's senior prom - she just celebrated her 9th wedding anniversary with that same guy. I saved all things Spice Girls related for my youngest daughter for some future point.
  • I even organized trash, stacking boxes within boxes so that it was all compact prior to and for pickup.
    Four weeks of trash from my basement
  • I am already receiving 'replacements', as my husband calls the items that are coming in the mail, from orders I have placed and things picked up from recent trips during this project.
  • I still want a dish closet.
  • In the end, it's all just stuff, and none of it matters. What matters are the relationships in your life.
Okay, enough of my philosophizing and analyzing - ready to see the end results?
AFTER:  The main basement wall of 'stuff'. Notice the far right stack is far reduced.  The paper boxes (there are five) within the middle rack are what I am ready to sell now. The rest will be fostered a while longer.
AFTER: the main basement floor, as the 'stuff' was reduced through purge & reorg. A few things on the far right of that stash above remain to be purged by either donation or trash.
AFTER:  the main basement floor 'stuff' from the opposite angle.  This is all going to the barn sale (except the table on which the 5 gal crock sits - that's the new old table that may end up in my bathroom).
AFTER:  Another area of floor. I eliminated more than half of what was previously there, and ALL of what was to the left of the shelving units, just beyond the door framing).  All wreaths & other faux florals are now hung.  Boxes on left (red & white) are Mr. P.'s dissertation and other work-related garbage stuff).
AFTER:  Long view
Let's look again:  BEFORE
BEFORE - lots and lots of boxes, sometimes 6 high. If you wanted something from the bottom, you had to unstack it all.
AFTER:  lots of organized tubs, on shelves, easy to pull out, whether on top, middle or bottom. The top right shelving unit holds baskets and boards in the open, easily accessible
I did need to purchase six more tubs to finish the job, even after eliminating all the boxes and reshuffling what was in the existing tubs.  Once the paper boxes of items for sale are gone, I will add more tubs to finish off the uniformity in a way that will satisfy me.

Now that my Panoply sisters and I have just celebrated our 7th year in our antique mall, I have completely revised the way I organize my 'stuff' (7 year itch?).  Before, I basically numbered my boxes by the order in which they were filled and put into the basement, with key items written in a Word document so I could search by words, either the buying event (xyz estate sale, or Springfield 2014, etc.), or by items from those events (collection of shaving mugs, etc.).  Now, I have things grouped by like kinds: porcelains, ironstone, transferware, jadeite, metals, and each set of china has its own tub (or two). It will at least be easier to access and rotate things in my home, as compared to prior searching and stacking / unstacking of containers. Or, I won't remember how I categorized something and I'll still be going through tubs like a crazy woman searching for it.
To say I am ready for the barn sale at the end of September is an understatement. I want to get this stuff out of my basement once and for all.  I still have an entire side of my basement that mirrors the floor space of what I just finished. Though not as bad as what I just finished, that part of the basement holds some extra furniture (including a chest full of vintage linens I need to organize), and all my Christmas decor, of which I separated six boxes of 'stuff' to either sell or donate before the year is over.

How ironic that I write this post, finishing 90% of my basement purge project, as we celebrate Labor Day. There is also irony in the fact that this weekend is the unofficial end of summer and, aptly so, I write my "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essay.


    Friday, August 29, 2014

    Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum - Alexandria

    (Thank you, Dawn, at We Call it Junkin', for featuring this post!)
    During our recent trip to Alexandria, VA, a town full of rich US culture and fun, one of the historical tours we took advantage of was the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (1732-1933).  This apothecary was established in 1732 by a Quaker family, and still stands today (as a museum). Not only the buildings, but much of the contents within, remain intact as the family-run business left things upon closing its doors during the Depression in 1933 (see photo below). If you love an industrial look, you're going to love some of the items in these photos!
    Work counter of Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary, 2nd floor. Wooden tool on edge (center) is a primitive pill cutter
    Here's a side-by-side view of the apothecary's two buildings, as viewed from the past, and the present:
    The Stabler-Leadbeater buildings: Past (L, 1907) and Present (R). Photo credits:
    Of the pair of buildings comprising the apothecary, we entered the building on the right (see photo above), currently the museum shop. That building's sign from the past photo (taken in 1907) says "Leadbeater. Drugs, Oils, Spices". We began our tour by walking through a pass-through to our left, the retail space of the old apothecary (the building that says "Leadbeater's Drug Warehouse").  There are a total of three floors (two of which we saw), plus a basement (which was cordoned off from public viewing). The photo below is the view upon entry into the retail area, first floor.
    Left side counter space of Stabler-Leadbeater retail apothecary
    With creaky, wooden floors throughout, the first floor retail space design was basically duplicative on each side, with marble and glass countertops, covering wood and glass cabinets. Almost all of the contents were original to the building, with traces of many of the contents remaining in the bottles.
    Right side counter space of Stabler-Leadbeater retail apothecary
    The first floor, looking straight back from the front door, with counters on either side, looked a bit like a train station.
    Center back wall of Stabler-Leadbeater retail apothecary
    The glass sign at the center back (above photo) gives a timeline to the apothecary's family ownership.  The clock, although original, no longer works. I can't remember what was hand-painted on the arched windows - perhaps family names, but I can't be certain.  Behind this wall was the staircase.
    Detail of apothecary bottles in Stabler-Leadbeater apothecary
    Some of the bottle shapes reminded me of mid-century Blenko pieces. The floor boards were well-worn in the area where the pharmacist stood during most of his working hours in the retail space. This area was next to the floor safe behind the counter in the photo above (far back).

    Look at the detail on the countertop cases (there were two), with the eagle finials (below).
    Countertop display case with eagle finial in Stabler-Leadbeater apothecary
    Moving to the second floor, which was restored in 2006, the first room we entered was the family's meeting room / library, with original books still in the cases on one wall.
    Second floor meeting / library space in Stabler-Leadbeater apothecary
    In the middle of the floor was a trap door. When lifted (still working), one could see directly down to the first floor. Across from the wall of books is where this tour started to get really good, in my opinion. First, we entered through a sliding door on tracks (photo below). After stepping up, we were in the drug manufacturing / office rooms.
    Track door to drug manufacturing room and office in Stabler-Leadbeater apothecary
    The counter space you see in the photo below was built like an island in the middle of the floor (the closeup photo at the beginning of this post is a closer view of the work counter of this space). Several architectural features in this building are what homeowners today are coveting for an industrial / farmhouse vibe.
    Leadbeater & Sons Paints, drug manufacturing work counter of Stabler-Leadbeater apothecary.  Notice the hand-painted crates on the shelves, labeling many of the prescription remedy ingredients, such as dragon's blood.
    As you may have noticed already in the photos so far, pharmaceuticals were not the only goods sold in the apothecary to customers including Martha Washington and Robert E. Lee (documents on premise from these historical persons).  The Stabler-Leadbeater families also sold paints, perfumes, and many other household sundries, including Shinola shoe polish...
    Shinola Home Set - do you remember the old saying that goes with this product?
    ....along with drinks such as Allens Red Tame Cherry.....
    Advertising graphic for Allens Red Tame Cherry: "Drink Allens Red Tame Cherry and you'll smile too" well as fly and flea remedies.The way to rid fleas? Place Tanglefoot fly paper under the mattress while sleeping so the fleas would be drawn to and stick. Yuck!
    "Catch your flies with Tanglefoot".  You could catch fleas with it too!
    I was in love with all the items in this entire section of the building!
    Wall of uniformly constructed crates in Stabler-Leadbeater apothecary's manufacturing room
    Most of the crates on the walls were uniform in construction, but there were also a couple that were makeshift, like the one below, from a Fels Naptha Soap box.
    Even though it's a blurry photo, I wanted to show another familiar product container used as a makeshift storage unit but, more amusingly, how it was advertised long ago.
    "Drink Coca-Cola For Headache & Exhaustion" - pretty much still the same reasons for drinking, no?
    Those last two product graphics are much as they look today (minus the Coke claim), with both products still available in our grocery stores.

    Here are a couple more photos of the office space, adjacent to the drug manufacturing space:
    Stabler-Leadbeater office work table, with mimeograph machine on desk (left).
    The lights would have been gas-operated, only updated with the recent restoration.
    Storage wall behind desk space at Stabler-Leadbeater apothecary
    This tour totally fascinated me, as I have several family members who are currently pharmacists, including both of my brothers. Some aspects of the retail profession haven't changed much, it would appear!

    The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum is located at 105-107 S. Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 (Phone: 703.746.3852). The museum tour does have a published schedule and entry fee, but there is quite a savings if you purchase a museum pass for $10 if you visit Alexandria and plan on at least two of the nine (9) historic sites in the city. More information can be found on the link provided.

    I have a couple other noteworthy tours from our mini-vacation in Alexandria, VA that I'll be sharing in the coming weeks. I was not compensated for writing this post; however, I did win a trip (via random drawing) to the town from The Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association, which included a "Key to the City" museum passes. All opinions and photos are my own, except as noted.

    Related posts:
    Visiting Old Town Alexandria - on the town!
    Treasures from the Trip to Alexandria

    We Call It Junkin' History & Home
    Savvy Southern's WOW

    Monday, August 25, 2014

    Treasures from the Trip to Alexandria

    (Thank you to Cindy at Dwellings and Dawn at We call It Junkin' for featuring this post!)
    I left you hanging last week when I posted about our trip to Alexandria. The teaser photo (below) was the only glimpse of what I scooped up while on the town. Savvy readers, you are!   Whether it was my use of the word "pottery" interchangeably for "dishes", or that trademark within, the guess of something French and Quimper were spot on!
    Check out the mother lode I scored at auction (online) prior to making the trip!
    Quimper serving pieces
    I won 22 pieces of Quimper, almost all of which are serving pieces. I love how they will complement the Quimper Soleil that I won a few years ago. Knowing we were traveling to Alexandria anyway, I was able to save the shipping fees by picking these pieces up in person.

    The win included a covered tureen, covered sugar bowl, and covered honey pot with underplate.
    Quimper covered tureen, sugar, and honey pot
    Here's a view of the pear detail on the tureen lid (below).
    Quimper tureen detail
    There is also an open-handled serving tray, teapot, four cups & saucers, and two egg cups.
    Quimper tea service
    Lastly, the lot also included a covered vegetable dish, two graduated oval serving bowls, a round bowl, a two-lipped gravy boat, and a covered butter or cheese keeper.
    Quimper covered vegetable, oval and round bowls, gravy boat, covered butter/cheese keeper
    The covered vegetable dish in the photo above is the only piece that is unique to the lot in that it doesn't have the Breton characters hand-painted on it, and its hues are a lighter blue.

    Not all of the pieces were perfect.  The smaller of the two oval serving bowls, along with the round bowl, had a repaired crack.
    Quimper oval serving bowl repaired crack
    Quimper round serving bowl repaired crack
    That wasn't all that was purchased on this trip.  On the way to Alexandria, we stopped at two places, one in West Virginia and another in Maryland.  Some of the treasures I brought back with me from those stops included a brown English transferware plate (F. Winkle & Co, "Devon"), and a majolica butter or cheese keeper with a nicely detailed cow on the lid.
    English transferware and Majolica butter/cheese keeper
    Keeping with the farm animal and pottery theme, I was drawn also to the pairing below (though purchased separately). The egg cup is marked Western Germany. The butter keeper is an inexpensive one, but I liked the cute calf on the lid.
    Egg cup and butter/cheese keeper
    I also picked up a couple of ironstone pieces, the most unique being an invalid feeder, but didn't photograph it. In trying to convince my sister J that she should have a vintage medical collection (she's a retired RN), I seemed to be the one more active on that front.  While working through my basement purge I seem to have organized an entire tub devoted to vintage medical paraphernalia. Just another unintentional collection, I suppose......

    Finally, if you are a new follower or reader of my blog, you may not be aware that my other obsession (besides dishes) is purses - mostly vintage mesh and beaded examples from the late 19th to early 20th century.  To that end, I couldn't pass when I spotted this leather and beaded wallet in Maryland (below).
    The antique wallet is small, about 3.5" x 5.5", leather, with a beaded lily of the valley insert on the front, two interior flap pockets, and gold embossed initials (RR) on the back side. It probably dates from the mid to last quarter of the 19th century. Although there is some bead loss, it is a very nice example of the period.  If you'd like to see more of my purse collection, you can view this post. A few clicks on that post will take you to a full screen view of the Shutterfly book I created of my purse collection.  You can also see many of those purses on my Pinterest page under separate categories of "Antique Beaded Purses", "Antique & Vintage Mesh Purses", "Vintage Children's Purses" and "Other Antique & Vintage Purses, Vanities".  Most, but not all, of those pins are from my collection.

    That's it for the shopping portion of my trip to Alexandria.  I hope you enjoyed my spree.  The Quimper has its own Rubbermaid storage tub (for now), while I finish the never-ending purge/reorganization in the basement. So far, I have logged 58.5 hours on this project (yes, I'm OCD like that in keeping tabs on the hours).  You can bet there'll be a post when that job is finished!

    I'll be writing at least one more post of the historical adventures of our trip to Alexandria, also. Love that place and all the history in the region!

    Sharing with any given number of these fine hosts and their parties: 

    Friday, August 22, 2014

    Visiting Old Town Alexandria - on the town!

    Sometime this past spring, I entered my name for a chance to visit Alexandria, VA in what was billed as a "Star Spangled Summer Giveaway". No further thought was given to it until, on my birthday in June, I received an email from Molly Morris of Alexandria's Convention & Visitors Association saying I'd won.
    What a great package this was!  It included lodging, restaurant dining, keys to the city's museums, water taxi passes to DC and back, and tickets to George Washington's Mount Vernon - all for a total of four people! I received the package, which was well worth more than $600 in face value, shortly after our July vacation.
    Mr. P. and I had been to Alexandria, VA on several occasions, and my Panoply sisters & I have even trekked there for a buying excursion. This time, we shared the trip with one of my Panoply sisters and her husband (who had never been there). In spite of an unexpected medical issue, we made the most of the trip and had a great time. The weather was incredibly picture perfect, with summer breezes and moderate temps - in the middle of August!

    Needless to say, we crossed several activities and sites off the list, and I'll likely be sharing some of our experiences in one or two upcoming posts. Sister M & I managed to get some great vintage shopping in on the trip.

    Wait till you see what I picked up while in Alexandria!  (Hint:  I participated in an online auction prior to our going, knowing if I won I'd be able to pick up and avoid shipping costs. When my husband asked what I was going to be picking up, I said "pottery".  That reply was so he wouldn't react negatively to the word dishes!) ;) The photo below is another hint.
    Can you guess what it is? It was a holy grail haul, all in one fell swoop!  Stay tuned!

    Here's a link to the follow up post that gives the answer:  Treasures from the Trip to Alexandria.

    Sunday, August 17, 2014

    Booth Space Shuffle: School Daze

    Sister M and I were working in our booth spaces recently, getting our supplies all lined up for the back-to-school scene you see pictured below.
    Panoply's "too cool for school" vintage map
    Much of what you see in our space above was already part of our stock in the store, but we rearranged it for a fresh look. The retractable U.S. map dates between 1959-1963.  It's still in overall very good condition - way too cool for school. It needs to be in someone's home den or library!
    On the chairs, we have a French enameled vintage lunch pail in mottled green/white, and child's cup and saucer in mottled blue/white. Of course, there's an apple for teacher, and two school bells. The suitcase holds a framed, 1912 Cream of Wheat magazine ad, "A Visit with the Chef", with a little girl leaning over the kitchen counter, watching the cook make her Cream of Wheat. A little hard to see, but we have recess playthings, both on the bench (tennis racket) and underneath (roller skates). There's an industrial (metal) double eighth note for the music room. Also on the floor, in the carrier, are plenty of glasses with straws, ready for the cafeteria lineup. Lastly, in the suitcase, there's a stack of vintage hankies, enough for the entire class!

    We made several other changes in the last couple of months, as pieces sold.  We removed the picnic table for a sale we'll be participating in, come September, and replaced it with what you see pictured below:
    This is a really sweet, old table, with porcelain casters on the legs.  It's holding an ironstone pitcher and early (20th) century, heavy (!) oak wall phone. A couple of cane seated chairs complete the set. The antique rice basket on the floor is holding several European grain sacks.

    Other changes in our space were prompted by wanting to remove a curio cabinet and its contents in our other booth. We ended up changing out room dividers from one side to the other, moved a few pieces of furniture, and fluffed it up. The picture below shows the before and after of the space where we removed the curio cabinet (far left, with hats temporarily on glass shelves where we removed all vintage jewelry) and switched dividers behind the space. The white shutter doors look much brighter.  I picked those from my neighbor's trash pile (they were a broken closet door she was tossing).
    LEFT: Before we removed the curo and dark wall divider; RIGHT: After, white shutter door brightens the anchor space
    That change, of course, caused a domino reaction (just like home, right?). We moved the darker wall divider to the opposite side of the space, which prompted yet another adjustment. There was already a divider in that corner, as you can see from the photo below:
    LEFT: Before, the floral wall divider was in the corner,k behind desk. RIGHT: darker divider behind chair, desk in center
    Afterward, we moved the light, floral screen forward, as the anchor for the right corner of that space (below):
    Back side of right side of space, with light floral divider moved forward
    Here's what the space looks like from the frontal view now:
    We like the curio cabinet gone from the left side, and things are much lighter. Speaking of curio, I've been consistently adding a few of my vintage purses, mostly the mesh ones, to the curio we still have, as they've been selling. I'm purging a few of those purses from my personal inventory.
    It's a funny thing when you're in retail.  You can have something in stock for a very long time, and once you move it around, it almost always stirs sales.  It's easy for customers, even repeat ones, to overlook things that may seem obvious to us, especially in our booths, as we tend to pack them in. That school vignette?  Here's what it looked like before:
    LEFT: Before the school vignette, we had a laundry set up.
    Here's how we swapped the main ingredients at the wall (school) vignette - the ironing board and bench - to/from the center of that same space (adjacent to the new, country table setting earlier in this post).
    LEFT: Before, the bench was in the center of the booth; AFTER: ironing board and bench change places
    There are always leftovers, just like at home, when we switch things up, so we adjust our styling. The pig pillow on the little chair (previously on the wall above the ironing board) is a good example of a leftover. He's now hiding inside a crate, getting weighed. :)
    Our rule: once it's in the store, leave it (unless you come up with a cool, new idea for home use). In this case, we only took out a wall shelf, wooden beach/camp child's chair, and the previously mentioned picnic table.We're planning a camping vignette for the September fair, so those pieces will all work great there.

    Meanwhile, the purge project in my basement continues, with 47 hours of work logged so far. The fair we're participating in in September was part of the impetus for this project of purging and reorganizing "stuff". So was the rule of not bringing stuff back home from the store once there (obviously we weren't following our own rules). At the rate I'm going, I might be finished by September - what a job!