Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Celebrate in Achieving Goals

This week I'll be celebrating while my oldest daughter collects her Masters degree in Fine Arts Administration.   Yes, I am proud of both of my daughters' accomplishments, and I'll be waving the flag to celebrate and demonstrate my pride for a week or so in the garden.  Now is a good time to pause and reflect, with gratitude, on the ability to achieve goals.  Not all goals result in degrees; take motherhood, for example, but each one deserves a celebration.  

Waving the flag in the garden.
My oldest daughter married after her sophomore year in college, and worked a few years before deciding on pursuing her MFA.  She is also a gifted ballet dancer, and continued both performing and teaching while working through her degrees.  She loves our city, loves people, and I can't wait to see where her MFA takes her.  Her husband, my son-in-law, is working toward bettering his qualifications for application in a Physician Assistant's program, a goal which will hopefully open doors for both of them.
My oldest daughter (far L), with her besties in her MFA program.
My youngest daughter graduated with her Bachelor's degree in Nursing three years ago.  I celebrate the fact that her strengths lie in medicine, a field that scares me on so many levels.  I can faint with having blood drawn or receiving a shot, no kidding, but she cares for patients in the Neurological ICU without flinching, always ready for a challenging case.  I would feel confident in her care and having her in charge.  Come Fall, she'll be marrying her recently appointed Lt. Fireman.  The two of them make a great team - he attends patients in emergency situations, and she cares for those often coming from those emergency situations.
My younger daughter, after her pinning ceremony, becoming an RN.
While I wouldn't necessarily recommend the path I took in earning my MBA, it is still something I celebrate having done.  I trudged along for seven and a half years, chipping away at required coursework, while trying to achieve goals of mom, business person and part-time ballet dancer simultaneously (I kept the primitively stitched saying, "Please help me not to be so busy making a living I forget to make a life.  Amen." hung as a gentle reminder to myself).  After many years of hard work and life changes, I feel more than blessed to celebrate living in a much less-stressed life with my husband now, and I'd like to attribute it to the hard work in years past.  And I feel twice blessed in seeing my daughters motivated and able enough to work toward their goals, let alone achieving them.
One of these days I suppose we should do a gallery wall of our diplomas with the degrees we've collected.....they're like badges or medals that scouts and athletes earn.  Maybe I'm procrastinating on the indecision of sweating small stuff like mattes and frames and coordinating color schemes, or maybe it's just that I'm working on other goals...life goals.  Life goes on, we've collected our degrees dust, and we now wave the flag for others as they reach their goals.  Maybe I'll at least make ornaments (as seen pictured on Pinterest, for which I was unable to determine origin in order to give credit for such a clever idea).  The point is, celebrate achieving goals and how they give meaning to your life, not just collecting the badges, medals or degrees.  Will you be celebrating yours or someone else's goals soon?
Graduation tassel in glass ornament.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Celebrating Earth Day, Locally, with Recycled Crafts

Our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore's anniversary coincides with Earth Day each April, and this year they kicked off celebrating their 12th year with a "Mixed Greens" arts and crafts show April 20 and 21.  Artists and craftsmen offered their creations with only one requirement:  they bring items that contain at least one element of recycled or repurposed things.

Although the fair was small, the setting was inviting.  Great, recycled installations covered the walls of the community center room of the local ReStore, where vendors set up their booth spaces.  Proceeds for booth space rentals went to Habitat for Humanity.
One wall installation - PVC and Metal Pipes, drenched in paint - this was huge!
Another wall installation - two doors cut around corners & mouldings.
My sister and I both came away with some great stuff, all of which we intend to use or give as gifts.  Here are some photos of the crafty ideas showcased:
This candle ($35), was created by Adam Morton (www.bridgeviewcandles.com), with a hand-cut wine bottle.  He uses 100% soy wax for a clean burning candle, and this scent, fresh linen, smelled so clean, which I personally love.  The lid is crafted from maple wood and, after I chose this one, Adam shared that this lid was his favorite.  When asked why, he replied because it was maple and its two knots gave it character he appreciated.  Now I appreciate it that much more!  Adam also uses liquor bottles, and has several scents including cucumber mint and bacon (!), and he provides wholesale pricing for resale also.

This little bracelet ($35), was made from an elasticized watch band and rose, gold florentine brooch by artisan Beth Nogay Carenbauer (paintingstones@yahoo.com).  I have small wrists, and it's super-cute on, especially with the openness of the circle brooch (and rose is my birth month flower).  Suffice it to say, this gal also made some very attractive jewelry from clever use of materials such as bicycle inner tubes, washers, and vintage dominoes and checkers.

I purchased this 24" circle rug ($30), made from recycled, polyester clothing, to place in front of my sink for my laundry/mud room.  The lady who made it, Anna Copenhaver (she was so cute with her - and I quote - "hillbilly", hand-written calling card with phone number, 304.342.2404), fashioned it from scraps of her deceased mother's clothing - sweet story.  And we all know how durable polyester is, so this should hold up well in its place, and certainly last my lifetime. :)

I think this artist's items were my favorite, simply because I love vintage textiles - always, always.  And, I already know what I'll be doing with these.  These were made by Julie Greathouse, and she'll be opening a shop on Etsy come May:  www.RareJules.etsy.com.  

Fashioned from coffee bean bags, Julie made bunting banners, tote bins of various sizes, throw rugs, runners, floor pillows, and even covered a storage ottoman and couple of cast-off chairs, all with the bags, all with extra touches such as the cotton crochet trim on my WELCOME banner above ($14), and toile lining on my small tote bin ($20).  She also had banners spelling LOVE, which I special ordered to match my banner above (she originally made them in barn red lettering, with both red rick-rack and ticking trim, super cute).  But my plans are to use these for my daughter's Fall wedding decor, so I opted for the black.  And the red - I went back on the second day and bought just a few more items.  ;)

Here's a photo of Julie standing next to her display of wares - such a sweet gal.
And you know how burlap usually has that chemical smell?  These smelled so good, and when I asked how she laundered them, Julie said she used Purex crystals, which is salt-like in texture, on gentle cycle (to keep the graphics from fading),  and she noted it not only makes them smell good, but softens them really nicely.  I concur!  I kind of gasped when she answered yes to my question of whether she used a front-load machine.  She said, "Heck, my washing machine cost more than my first car, so I put anything I want to in it!"  She also noted that ice cream salt would also work - I'll trust her on that one.

After shopping the fair, my sister M and I also went through the store, and picked up a mother load of vintage hardware - lots of drawer pulls, and some small, copper cabinet trim with pre-drilled holes that will make some jewelry crafter really happy, we're certain.  All for a pittance.

If you haven't ventured to your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore shop, I strongly encourage it.  There is so much waste in this world, and it's so satisfying to be able to re-use even the smallest of cast off things, and see others doing such great things with them too.  Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Derby Bound, Retro Style

We styled a little vignette today we called "Derby Bound - Retro Style".  This year's 139th Kentucky Derby will be held May 3-4, 2013.  Seeing as we live in West Virginia, we're next door neighbors to Kentucky, so we thought we'd salute the upcoming affair in retro style.  Here are a few photos from the finish.

Our inspiration started with this vintage polka dot dress, vintage hat and retro-style oxfords, evoking a 1940's kind of gal.  Of course, every Southern Belle's got to have her gloves.  Unfortunately, she couldn't hold her julep cup, so we kept it locked in one of the curio cases.  :) 

From the barn, we pulled some old horseshoes and piled them into a great zinc carrier with wooden handle.  There are a couple of great iron hooks here, one hanging & the other on top of the crate, along with an iron stirrup.  The horses are spelter (zinc, copper & lead alloys - a cheaper alternative to the more expensive bronze) and wood (crafted from old barn wood).  In the background you can see the "Barn Sweet Barn" sign, a stenciled sentiment of many horse lovers.

Here's a better view of the sign, along with another cast horse, vintage wooden stirrup and 1950's "Album of Horses" book. 
And finally, here's a salute to the cowboys who get those winners ready, starting from an early age.  I am in love with these sweet, all leather cowboy boots.  And this cowboy has his own exclusive edition Fiestaware cowboy tumbler (it's newer, 2006, but looked too great to leave it out).  We have some 1940's & 1950's vintage equestrian ribbons and trophy, as well as another wooden stirrup.  The stirrups are great when repurposed as towel holders or even napkin holders for an outdoor event.
It's only a couple more weeks till Derby, but Southern Hospitality demands we be ready rather than, heaven forbid, be late!  Y'all have fun now!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Do you speak flea? eBay? Know your acronyms?

Now that I live mostly in a business world of secondary markets such as fleas, auctions, antique markets, estate sales and tracking online bidding, part of my prior business vocabulary has been replaced with words and phrases of a different kind.  For anyone new to any of these markets, it might help if you learn a little bit of the language, so you may speak and understand fluently when you're in these circles.  I thought I'd write down a some of the word descriptors, phrases, and acronyms that are common in the world of seeking treasures that you may also find helpful.  Some may seem elementary, but it's always good to take a refresher course and hone your skills.  And if you're not from the US or you're new to these markets, this glossary of terms will definitely be worth the read.  From the get-go, you should know the difference between.....

Antique / Vintage - typically an antique is defined as an item 100 years old or older, and vintage seems to be more relative to whoever is handling an item.  When a dealer signs up to sell in an organized market or antique mall, there are typically guidelines defining vintage, such as a minimum of being 25 years old, etc. If you're shopping fleas, auctions or estate sales, it's ok to ask a dealer the age of an item so you can make an informed buying decision before you pull out the cash (the universally accepted method of payment, best for bargaining).  Always ask what methods of payment are accepted, and be prepared to have to pay additional if paying with anything other than cash.

Buyers and sellers have other names besides the obvious, and they can be used interchangeably for either:  dealer, vendor, picker, junker, dumpster diver, hoarder (just checking to see if you're still with me).  Early bird is a name given to shoppers who come early to sales, sometimes sanctioned (as in early bird entry fees), sometimes not (no early birds, no exceptions!) - typical for flea markets, estate sales.

Moving along to the treasures themselves, sellers want their trash cool stuff to come across as something you would want to buy, so the list of acronyms/descriptors is plentiful, starting with:
  • NOS - new, old stock.  This refers to anything that may be either vintage or antique, but must be evident that it's never been used before.  Some items have notable signs of never having been used before, leading to more acronyms....
Often, a seller in the secondary market wants potential buyers to realize items of potential greater value than the ordinary item, simply for the way they were found.  This comes in the form of descriptors which shout, "Hey, this one is definitely worth the price, simply because it's....":
  • NWT - new, with tags.  Self-explanatory - never used, has original tag from retail.  This does not always mean the item's in the best of condition.  There are lots of variations on this type.
  • NWOT - new, but without tags.  In other words, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then...
  • MWT - mint, with tags.  Same as NWT, only arguably better.  The condition of the item looks like it could be on retail shelf today, it looks so good.  No dirt, dinge or odors.
  • MIB - mint, in box.  The item is in excellent condition, and even though the original tag(s) may not be present, it retains its original box.  Value of an item typical increases when original box is present.  This might also be labeled as NIP - new, in package.
Then, there are acronyms/descriptors which generally define condition, new or used.  Some collectors' organizations have very elaborate scale systems, which is out of scope for this discussion.  Here are some common condition descriptors:
  • As Is - it means an item usually has a flaw, not necessarily pointed out, and the price reflects consideration of the flaws.  In short, it means, buyer beware.
  • OOAK - one of a kind.  A seller usually likes to promote something that is unusual or unlikely to be replicated, as buyers, especially in the secondary markets, like to score items that are original, as in unique or the first of its kind.
  • EUC - excellent, used condition
  • EPOC - excellent, pre-owned condition
  • VG or VGC - very good condition
  • SNAD - significantly not as described - this is both a descriptor and complaint, from the buyer's perspective in the online community.  Sellers do NOT want to see this. Ever.  It comes in the form of feedback or official complaint filed by a buyer, wanting to tell the world that what they bought was not what they saw in photos, or read  in the written description of an item listed for sale.  It can be a death sentence for an online buyer.
Okay, enough for today - class dismissed.  Pop quiz will be on your next treasure-hunting adventure!  Study hard!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Gardening Grows the Spirit 2012

I just received my second photo book from Shutterfly in the mail, this one journaling my garden through the seasons throughout 2012.  It's titled, "Gardening Grows the Spirit 2012".

I view my garden as another collection, and this garden landscape is now in its tenth year, typically a time when a garden is viewed as beginning to mature.  In 2004, my husband and I renovated our entire landscape, incorporating an adjacent city lot as part of our yard/garden, extending both the brick wall surrounding, and all the plantings within.  Although some specimens have not withstood the test of time, I've been really happy with the overall results.  It keeps me busy from March through December, and I love the anticipation that Spring brings each year.
My 'Garden' Pinterest board has garnered a lot of new followers and repins in the last week, so I thought I'd share this second virtual book with readers.  This year, especially, the thought of getting outside and seeing Spring finally unfold seems universal, and I suppose that's the reason for the increased traffic on Pinterest.  You can easily click on the link at the top to view the virtual version of the book in full screen for the best effect.  
Enjoy the tour!
Click here to view this photo book larger
Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Booth Styling

My sister and I just completed two days worth of styling and re-styling our booth spaces.  Never ceasing to amaze ourselves with how much stuff we can work into our spaces, we brought in several major pieces, and only ended up taking two small items out.  Here's a look of how things turned out:

The space pictured above feels so Spring-like!  We were really happy with the overall lightness of color, blending galvanized greys, blue-greens and whites, with a punch of yellow on the lemonade set, dish towel & mat under the watering can.

The photo above shows a closer view of the top portion of the space.

And this photo (above) shows a better view of the lower portion of the space.  I love the stenciled birds on the dinette table, and all the surrounding items that are reminders of gardening.

The photo above shows another display we created, a more industrial/farmhouse look.  We added the bistro table to the two vintage stools already in place.  The base of this display is an authentic and hefty early 20th century factory cart.  We were seriously afraid we were going to damage the rear bumper of my Rav4 trying to lift it into the cargo area, let alone our backs.  It could have very easily been a muscle relaxer kind of night, but we both managed to just tire enough to sleep well on Monday night, and return Tuesday for finishing touches.  I really wanted this cart as my own, but decided in the end to sell.  And just behind the cart/bistro set is another crock bench with chicken coop, straight back chair, advertising crate and old, wooden paint can inside.  Our French bulldog is keeping watch.

Some of the less taxing styling we did involved some small changes with big impact on the wall pictured above.  We're in love with the industrial look of this area with the addition of the galvanized stenciled lid fashioned as a medallion, along with the oil funnel-turned-light above it.  This area attracts both men and women, with all the gadgets.  We always seem to work around the heating & cooling thermostats, ductwork and fuse box - just more gadgets.
And finally, pictured above is the joining section of the previous displays described in this post. The photo was actually taken on Monday, before the finishing touches to the space left in the frame (if you're comparing to the first photos of that space in this post). On the wall in the background of this photo is a great farmhouse vignette, with a primitive cabinet set on top of a gate-leg table we disguised as a counter, complete with sink skirts, bowl & pitcher.  In the center are two wonderful pieces - a Clark's spool cabinet (very large), and a child's trunk with original leather straps and super interior wall paper.  To the left is our latest linen display, as seen fully in this post:   (http://wvpanoply.blogspot.com/2013/02/linens-unleashed.html).
I am in love with this sign, created with old barn wood.

We're hoping we'll see the fruits of our labor via our sales reports in the coming weeks.  One thing's certain - the more we change it up, the more we sell.  Kind of like the more we shop, the more we spend.  No correlation whatsoever, just truths in antiquing.