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A few years ago, we started buying wood furniture.

Vintage and second-hand, to be sure.

Rockefellers, we are not.

Buying at auctions and garage sales is good for the budget.  Plus, I like the hunt for old stuff, yes indeedy.  Usually, the more unloved, the better.

Rocking chairs with the rockers worn off?  Sign me up.

Cabinets, magazine racks, abandoned table at the side of the road?  I’m out of the car like a chubby magpie.

pink wardrobe and green magazine rack

Slowly, we have replaced any of the press-board, laminated stuff that we used to find at a certain lovely big box store.  (I still go there for the window shopping, tasty meatballs and $1 ice cream cone, of course.)

Forget grey hair:  the press-board-to-wood-conversion is a sure sign of advancing age.

Anyhoo.

The other part about buying used is that it lowers the guilt factor.

The guilt factor when I go about doing that thing that I always want to do.

You know–that thing that makes some people cringe or exclaim in horror.

(Insert Practical Man’s cringe and horror here.)

That would be painting.

Painting (say this in breathy, hushed tones):  Real Wood.

As in, our fireplace mantel (giant chunk of pine).

As in, our kitchen cupboards (giant room full of knotty pine).

As in, this china cabinet that used to belong to my Grandma Verna.

40s china cabinet - brown

It’s been “wood” coloured for as long as I can remember, including the last 20 years that it’s been in our house.  I think it hails from the 1940s or thereabouts.  Definitely vintage and lovely but, oh so browny-brown-brown.

Which is really only good if it’s made of chocolate, yes indeedy.

This fall, I could no longer let the china cabinet live in peace.

So, it went under the knife.

Rather, the brush, as the case may be.

Don’t be so dramatic, wood lovers!

All that wood was going away.  Even though some of it, on the underneath part, was cool vintage crate wood with retro advertising.

We kept that.

Bottom view of china cabinet - one half of the interior floor of the cabinet was made from an old crate

Practical Man did some considerable muttering under his breath.

It might have been because he always seems to end up finishing the painting that his paint-happy wife barely started.

Or, it may have been an apology chant to the wood–the wood which his callous wife had so gladly forsaken.

He and my dad are both woodworkers.  They make beautiful things which I have (cross my heart) never painted.

The struggle is real, my friends.

But, back to the china cabinet, which they Did. Not. Make.

Bye-bye brown!

40s cabinet with lattice-work door closed - painted cream

Hello, dreamiest cream and robin’s egg blue!

Oooh, how I love your new tra-la-la.

If you do too, check out more great ideas at Vintage Chic – A Room by Room Guide by Laura Preston.  I hope to feature her as a guest blogger here soon!

Cabinet painted cream outside with robins-egg blue interior on three interior shelves and walls

Now, the cabinet is just perfect to house fondue pots, vintage melamine and Pyrex galore.

None of it brown, as you might have guessed.

Today’s dilemma is this antique tea cart, with its original shade of woody-wood-wood.

antique tea cart with wheels - brown

Of course, I want to paint it.

Pinterest wants me to paint it.

What do you think?

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So far I haven’t died.

Or hallucinated.

That seems like a good thing.

Practical Man found a giant puffball yesterday, when he was out in our forest.   When he told me how large it was, I decided I had to see it for myself.

Out in The Nature, as it were.

This tells you what a momentous occasion it was.  Me, out in The Nature, in the middle of the week, no less.

Practical Man standing in the forest by a fence.

That’s Practical Man, not me. If you catch a picture of me in the forest, it’s kind of like capturing a picture of a Sasquatch in the forest (ie: rare).

We ventured out today after lunch, across the yard, down our forest path and back to the last part of our trail, before it ends at the farmer’s lane.  I pointed out what I thought were new trees and Practical Man assured me that those trees had been there for 10 years.  I noted the grassy areas where there used to be just rocks and he shook his head.

Sigh.

Things sure do change in The Nature, when you only come out to visit a few times a decade.

Finally, under the trees, off the trail, I saw it.

I didn’t see any fairies dancing.

But, then, this wasn’t a toadstool.   It was a puffball.

I picture Rubenesque fairies (of the sort I could blend in with), eating ice cream under this cherubic baby.

Or rather, babies.

There were two.

Two puffball mushrooms - one very large one in the foreground.

A giant puffball and a super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious puffball.  The giant-est puffball of them all.

It’s hard to capture the scale, when it’s in the forest, but it was GIGANTICO.

Bigger than my head and we all know that my head is blessed with some magnificent largesse.

This mushroom was endowed with some encephalic proportions, yes sirree.

Here’s a picture of it in the kitchen sink, in case you had any doubts about the size of it.

giant puffball so large, it almost won't fit in a standard kitchen sink

The puffball, not my head.

I was slightly nervous, what with it being a wild mushroom and all.   Practical Man knew what it was (Calvatia gigantea) but, to reassure his suburban-born wife, he did a little extra research.  The Google assured us that it was the harmless and edible Giant Puffball (The Google is always truthful and wise, as long as you don’t believe much of what it says.)  And, our friend, Trail Diva, reassured me that we seemed to be the lucky owners of a forest delicacy.

Fried in some butter, it could even be used in lieu of noodles for lasagna, she said.

She had me at “fried in some butter”.

Accordingly, Practical Man plucked it from its forest home and brought it to the house.

It was kind of like bringing home the moon.

A moon that might kill us with its toxins and pent-up mushroom rage.

What, what, what?

A puffball is a pretty show-offy mushroom with its moon scape-y shape and super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious size, I think you’ll agree.  This made me wonder if it might be the mean girl of the mushroom world.

You can tell I love The Nature, right?

We had to use a very big, bread knife and even that wasn’t enough to deal with the extravaganza of mushroom we had on our hands.

Practical Man's hands slicing the first slice off the mushroom

Houston, we need more counter space!

I can hear my friend Pippi saying, “Bleeech”, as I write this.

Not a mushroom fan, that one.

Even I was slightly overcome.  This was bigger than the watermelon we had last week and that took a party and 4 meals to devour.

We have mushroom enough for crowds.

large slices of mushroom on the cutting board. The remaining mushroom beside them still looks HUGE.

Or, for a wicked show-and-tell at school.

Yes, definitely that.

Except, there’s no show-and-tell when you’re an adult, more’s the pity.  Many a meeting could be livened up with some show-and-tell, don’t you think?

I’m not sure mushrooms would make it past the (inevitable) safety checkpoint on the way to work show-and-tell, though.

A plate piled high with strips of mushroom

Looks like tofu, tastes like butter.

Anyway, we cooked it, outside on the barbecue (it’s the expensive hydro rates in the afternoon and it’s 30 degrees C today, that’s why).

Fried in butter, ‘cos those were our instructions.

Honest.

frying pan with slices of mushroom, golden brown

We both tried a little schnibble, after it had been fried.

(I watched for convulsions, in case Practical Man and The Google and Trail Diva were wrong.)

It tastes pretty good but we’re not sure about the consistency.

Slightly mushy.  Too much butter?

Is there such a thing?

We’ve decided we’ll make lasagna a la Trail Diva with it.

Even though the Italians are probably rolling over in their gnocchi-lined graves.

And Pippi is probably saying, “Double Bleech.”

By the way, this post is a bit of a “do not try this at home” affair.  Don’t–I repeat:  DON’T just grab mushrooms out of your yard and chow down.

Gotta be careful with the fungi, friends.

If we end up hallucinating or dying, I’ll let you know.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet


Today, there was an auction of the very best kind.

#1:  It was the kind of auction that allowed me to sleep in (I do love my 12 hours/night, y’know):

It didn’t start until a very civilized 10:00 am.

#2:  It was the kind of auction that was perfectly timed to finish up with all the stuff we were interested in before the rain started:

We were home in time for lunch and a rainy afternoon nap.

#3:  It was the kind of auction that was a mere 8 houses down the road:

It seemed like fate and Humphrey Bogart.   Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, this auction was on our very own, country road.

Really, to ignore it would have been rude.

R.U.D.E., I tell you.

So, we wandered over–um, drove really, because hoofing it 8 houses back, not to mention through 100 acres of their windy lane before we got back to our country road with our auction treasures did not appeal–and settled in for the show.

I oogled the property, which had pastoral rolling landscape and a heritage, brick house.  It also had some lovely outbuildings made of antique brick.  The property is listed for a cool $899,000, so oogling was far as I was going to get to go with this charmer.

Accordingly, I oogled up a storm, surreptitious-like and trying not to salivate, as you do, even though officially, we’re downsizing soon.

Yep.

The auctioneer stood in front of one of the brick barns, hooked up with a wireless mike, like some kind of rural Ontario Madonna.   He stammered in his everyday speech, but, he was flawless in his auctioneer chant-erooning.

I’m sure that’s a technical, auctioneer term, isn’t it?

auctioneer holding out his cane and wearing a straw fedora, in front of a crowd

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee, who’ll give me b’dee, b’dee, b’dee $100.00 for this outboard motor, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.  Only needs a pull string and….b’dee, b’dee, b’dee…a motor, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

Such a cool way to parlay a speech difficulty into a successful career as a professional chanter-ooner!

I loved his vintage-style straw fedora and cane.

I have lots of hats.  Maybe I need a cane for when I’m leading workshops at the university.  I could point and gesture like a pro if I had a cane.

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee, let’s talk about some resume strategies and interview skills, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

Oh yes, I think it could work.

Our auction skills are rusty, having not been to one in a couple of years.  This auctioneer was making time, too, so you couldn’t snooze on the job, if you thought you might be a buyer.

No, sirree.

auction bidder ticket - #103

The giant, shiny maple syrup finishing pan that Practical Man had his eye on, went for a good deal but it was ever so lightning fast with the b’dee, b’dee, b’dee, and my maple syrup mogul hesitated.

No hesitating or dithering at this auction.  Dithering meant you walked away giant, shiny maple syrup finishing pan forlorn.

Sob.

The only thing I really spotted on our initial walk-around that made my heart skip (other than the $899,000 property itself) was a Fed-Ex/food truck-shaped van (dreams of a mobile cupcake empire danced in my head) and, be still my heart:

a genuine, hang-on-the-kitchen-wall, talk-on-your-party-line, rotary phone.

Tra-la-la.

vintage rotary phone with the receiver off

I usually see them when we’re touring house hovels that we don’t buy.  Like the one in Enterprise a couple of years ago.  And the one last week, that had the falling off chimney and disintegrating summer kitchen.

They make me want the house hovel–just because of the phone.

I’m sensible like that.

This phone wasn’t avocado green, robins-egg blue or 60s pink (that can be remedied with plastic paint, if I get bored some future Sunday afternoon) but, I figured its ho-hum colour meant the price would be manageable.  It was in among the “smalls” that Mr. Auctioneer was going through at break-neck speed.

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

Before we knew it, the phone was on the table, waiting for its turn in the limelight.

Before we knew it, it was being offered with a bunch of other stuff that got bundled in, because no one would bid on the stuff on offer, right before my phone.

But, but, but..before we knew it, we were the proud owners of (a smallish box of junk and) a genuine, hang-on-the-kitchen-wall, talk-on-your-party-line, rotary phone!

back of bidder ticket - reads: $2 for phone

We went all out at this auction, spending a grand total of $2.00.  Since we weren’t buying the $899,000 property, we figured we could splurge a little.

Back at home, we set about cleaning off the barn dust and checking out our purchase.  It was like new.

Even better, when we plugged it into a phone jack, there was a dial tone!

Even, EVEN better, Practical Man could call me on it!

off-white vintage phone rotary dial

That’s not our number, just in case you were wondering.

At first, it didn’t ring with that distinctive, brain-penetrating vintage ring, but when he opened it up, he found a disconnected wire and immediately fixed it, because that is what a Practical Man is best at doing:  making my strange dreams come true.

The 40-year old phone then proceeded to ring, like it was 1976 (the year it was made).

BRRRRING!

BRRRRING!

BRRRRING!

Really, it takes so little to amuse me.

Even, even, EVEN better, I channeled my inner tween self (in full disclosure, I was a tween long before the word “tween” was coined), put my index finger in the rotary dial and dialed Practical Man’s number.

Be still my faint-y heart.

Now, you might not get the thrill here.  You might be one of those people who have people on speed dial or voice-command, so you only ever have to push one button (or less) on your phone.

I am one of those people who loves to type (I rarely copy and paste, if I can help it) and I love, love, love to DIAL!

I can’t wait to dial the longest phone numbers I can come up with.

Really.

Can I call Australia?  Or, darkest Peru?

Someday, I’m pretty sure that there will be a giant auction at our house.  They’ll shake their heads and sell off all my vintage doo-dahs and Practical Man’s gizmos and gubbins (those are technical terms).

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

In the meantime, for the love of all things vintage, please–as Blondie‘s Debby Harry used to sing–CALL ME!

The $2 auction purchase has been installed–where else, but where it belongs–and I can’t wait for our genuine, hang-on-the-kitchen-wall, talk-on-your-party-line, rotary phone to ring.

BRRRRING!

our new, vintage phone hanging on the kitchen wall

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet


Everyone knows that collecting books isn’t the same as hoarding, right?

Right?!

Collecting books is literary.  It’s a luxury (after all, how many mansions and castles didn’t have a library room?)  It’s professorial.

And, even though I’m a professor’s daughter and not a professor myself–not to mention a library user and advocate–I do love to keep me some books.

Especially vintage books.

Just a few.

Before you start picturing the worst-case scenario, let me clarify that we only have four bookshelves in our home.

Okay, fine.  We have books in nearly every room (on tables, in magazine racks, in cabinets,) but only four official bookshelves.  That’s what counts.

Four bookshelves is nothing for a bookworm/vintage lover/pack rat, all rolled into one.

No, siree.

three white bookshelves, loaded with books

I know there are only three bookshelves here. The fourth is against a different wall. This helps to break up the “hoarding of books” impression.

Really, I’m small potatoes in the world of book hoarding–I mean–collecting.

I once knew a couple who brought back over 250 books from their honeymoon.  He was doing his PhD (What did I tell you?  Book collections are professorial.) and she just loved books.  Their Victorian house was a maze of floor-to-nearly-ceiling shelves, lining the walls in every room, the hallways and even up the stairs.  The top floor used to be fiction and the bottom floor was non-fiction.  Even if I hadn’t been living in a village with a teeny, tiny library at the time, I would have loved their house.  It came up for sale recently and I was tempted to buy it even though they and their books are long gone.

Their collection made that house a home.

It was a swoon-y, book lover’s house of the best kind.

Like that couple, our measly four bookshelves are also floor-to-ceiling and chock-a-block with books of all kinds.  Mildly organized, as I like to be once or twice a year and clustered among other vintage objects that need a home.  I also (ahem) collect a few vintage toys, which fit very well in my children’s book section.

I believe the staging experts calls this “giving the eye a place to land.”

Uh huh.

One shelf with lots of children's books on it

Anyhoo, the annual book sale for the local symphony orchestra started this weekend and I have never been.  I can’t imagine why, especially after all the fun I had there on Friday evening.

It was in a warehouse, which made it even more fun because of the whole forsaken, industrial vibe.  Plus, there is bound to be tonnage of books in a WAREHOUSE!

warehouse building

This is actually the warehouse BESIDE the warehouse that we went into, but I loved the look of it. It deserves some admiring glances.

When we got inside, there was a map which showed what types of books were in each section.

Maps = tonnage!

Sections = tonnage!

I consulted the map and tried not to squeal.  There was a children’s section and music A, B, and C sections!

Three sub-sections = tonnage!

view of the book sale

Practical Man and I mused about the definition of “Ephemera”.

Such a fun word, don’t you think?

Can’t remember what it means, of course.  This is why I don’t do crossword puzzles, like my sister and Grandma Helen.  I could Google the word, but I like to give my brain a chance to percolate for a few days.

It’s cheaper than Lumosity.com.

I hot-footed it to the music section, leaving a Practical Man in my book-hoarding dust.  There were books about genres of music and books about the people who make music.  But, I’m not as keen on reading about music as I am about playing it.  So, I searched through lots of classical piano books–even a couple that looked just like the ones I scored in East Berlin back in 1985, before the Berlin Wall came down.  (You had to spend all your money before you came back to the West and I spent it, even then, on super-economical, communist music books.)

On Friday evening, I looked for guitar books to help me with my new-ish relationship with Alice, my guitar.

It was a fun search but, yielded nothing interesting.

music books

One part of the music section: full of memories from my childhood of piano lessons.

Then, I saw them:  piles of vintage sheet music.  There were boxes full of music with retro graphics and songs from the likes of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Swoon-y swoon, swoon!

There was music featuring my friend (well, in my imagination anyway), Julie Andrews.  I’ll frame this score by my piano.

title page to the score for My Fair Lady

Some of the books just SMELLED vintage and special and the pages and illustrations dated them instantly to a by-gone era.  Like, this Fireside Book of Folk Songs that is a large, hardcover book from 1947.  There are songs to sing and play from South America and Scotland, Cowboy songs and Railroad songs, Hebrew songs and Chinese songs.   There is even a part for spirituals and hymns. The arranger notes in the preface that “To avoid the monotony and vulgarity, no attempt has been made to persuade one style of accompaniment to suit varying styles of melody, and the square-toed “oom-pah” bass had been studiously avoided.”

Now, who wouldn’t want to take that book home with them for the bargain price of $1?

The Fireside Book of Folks Songs - cover (green with red printing)

I found a couple of gifts for people who appreciate this kind of dusty treasure just as much as I do (I wish I could show them to you!) and Practical Man popped by every once in a while to carry my growing pile, because opening my car door and carrying my books is the kind of vintage gallantry that oozes out of his pores every old day of the week.  He paid my $12 total at the end of our book sale, Friday night date, too.

He’s a keeper, that man.

As I rifled through the sheet music, I felt my heart begin to beat faster.  Judging from the era of most of the music, I wondered if it had come from one person’s collection.  And, I suddenly realized that something really special might be found within the stack.  Something that was worth far more than the 10 cent price tag that was listed on the sign.

And then, I found it.

The song that would bring tears to my eyes in a warehouse full of bargain book tonnage:

Cover to sheet music: Let Me Call You Sweetheart

It was sung in an episode of Downton Abbey in recent years, but, that’s not why I know the chorus by heart:

Let me call you sweetheart

I’m in love with you.  

Let me hear you whisper

that you love me too…”

Originally a hit in 1911, it became the biggest selling popular song on the market again, in the run up to WWII.

But more than this, it’s the song my grandparents played in their “cellar” rec room, amongst the ’50s furniture, when I was growing up.

It was the first song that they danced to at their 40th wedding anniversary, when I was 13 years old, my grandfather with tears brimming in his eyes.

my grandparents, dancing outside at their 40th anniversary

That’s my grandpa Lou, trying not to cry as he dances with grandma Helen, on their 40th wedding anniversary.

It was my grandparents’ love song.

Their song.

And, in part because of the symphony book sale, its ours too.

books in a giant warehouse setting

 

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet


Today was all rusty and sweaty and full of (luckily, not too many) deer flies and one magnificent wild strawberry.

Yes indeedy, I love me a vintage junkyard.

Or, scrapyard, as Practical Man calls it.

Potato, Patahto.

car fan that looks like a flower

If you are like him and call a junkyard a scrapyard, be sure to convey the word with all the enthusiasm that Practical Man uses when he utters it.  My usually reserved, strong-silent type guy can barely contain his glee when it comes to scrapyards.  With those mere two syllables, he manages to morph into someone who looks and sounds exactly like a 7 year-old boy on Christmas Eve.

In other words, he kind of resembles…well, ME.

Minus a little of the tra-la-la.  But only just.

Not that I mind his enthusiasm for the world of auto wreckers.  I am a big fan of old-school scrapyards myself.

Y’know, like most women in their middle of ages.

Well, maybe not.

Anyhoo, ever since my favourite junkyard, Minakers, closed for business, I have been somewhat bereft.  Bereft of real-for-true, old-school junkyards, that is.

Minakers was even better than a regular junkyard because it had been around a long, long time and was chock-a-block with antique cars.  Wanderers there were hard pressed to find anything newer than about 1970.

It was scrapyard nirvana.

There were 1940s bread vans with trees growing through the engines.  Sedan deliveries and original Beetles and ’30s gangster cars with swoopy running boards.  I spent most of my time there running around, stumbling over thing-a-ma-bobs from 1953 and squealing, from one wreck to the next.

What?  You’ve never heard a grown woman squeal in a junk yard before?

Maybe that’s because you’ve only ever darkened the doors of a modern-day junkyard.  You know the kind (or maybe you don’t, in which case I’m here to help):  there is no “wandering” amid the wreckage.   You have to know what you want before you go in!  Then, they go and FETCH IT FOR YOU.

Junkyard Joy Stealers:  that’s what they are.  They rob you of every little bit of the tripping and squinting and dreaming and squealing.

There is no squealing in a modern-day junkyard.  Only safety vests and liability clauses and steel-toed boots.

And, people who call you “ma’am”.

It’s tragic, really.

But, we spotted what looked like an old-school, rural junkyard on a recent trip and today was the day to go and explore.   Our vintage Boler travel trailer could use a few bits and bobs and we have a derelict boat that needs a windscreen and who knows what other treasures we might find?

Yes indeedy, I love the smell of broken safety glass and grease in the mornings.

First, I put on my lucky socks.  It’s very important to have lucky socks on when you are wandering and tripping and squinting and squealing.

purple socks with pale purple polka dots

Also, some hole-y, derelict, work boots circa 1991, which I still happen to have for occasions such as this.

When we got there–to my very own version of Canada’s Wonderland–I said hello to my first love at the gate:

Rusty Toyota Land Cruiser

Toyota Land Cruiser – SWOON!

After I bid my first love a tearful goodbye, we went in.  We were armed with bug juice, hats, water (not nearly enough for a junkyard extravaganza, it turned out), a gigantic toolbox and an additional bag of tools (and some socket sets and a first aid kit that we left in the car “just in case”.)

I was with Practical Man, after all.  Who needs safety vests and liability clauses when I have him?

Soon enough, I found my second love:

rusty green truck

Soooo pretty, pretty.

And then, my third love:

Blue truck among the ruins

How can my second love compete with my third love?  Third love is really a Colin Firth kind of truck and you know you don’t find those trucks every old day of the week.  I think our vintage Boler travel trailer really needs a vintage truck companion, don’t you?  A Colin Firth kind of vintage truck companion (I hope I’m not getting above myself).

Then, there was a very exciting PILE.  You have to have a heart of stone, not to love a junkyard PILE.

pile of junkyard cars heaped high

We were looking for trailers so that we could source a screen door (to re-make into a teeny, tiny Boler-sized screen door) and maybe even some outside cubby doors.  There were lots and lots of cars.  There were only a few trailers and they were scattered far and wide through the junkyard.

All the better to ensure the tripping and wandering and dreaming and squealing.

There were fallen-down trees (this junkyard was kind of in a forest) and tall grass (all the better to hide lyme-disease carrying ticks in) and lots and lots of poison ivy.

But, there were also beautiful sparkles of broken safety glass:

sparkly broken safety glass on the ground

And lace-like patterns shining in the sun:

cracked glass

There were old soul vehicles:  the ones that rest quietly among the trees and grass, like silent guardians over a sacred place.

old truck among the trees

We finally settled on our donor vehicles and got to work.  Practical Man’s modern-day tools made short work of the harvesting of parts in this old-timey junkyard.  No aching wrists from manually unscrewing scores of rusted hardware.  Just a few short bursts from the cordless drill and we were victorious:  two cubby doors and an RV screen door for our Boler!

And in this place where beauty and ruin are best of friends, I found the unlikeliest of treasures:

wild strawberry

One succulent explosion of summertime flavour.

It’s strawberry season at the scrapyard.

Tra-la-la.


Family legend has it that I conned my Grandpa Lou when I was eight years old.

The scene of the crime was the grocery store near my grandparents cottage.  It was in a tiny little town and maybe the owners were Dutch or liked Dutch stuff or something because they had a little room near the back with a whole bunch of Dutch-inspired chatchkas in it:  Delft blue pottery replicas and such.

Of course, I was smitten.  I was a mostly-useless-but-pretty-stuff hoarder even way back then.  I mean, who doesn’t like a little chatchka shopping when they were only planning to buy two-year old cheddar and Mennonite summer sausage?

Naturally, after some browsing, I convinced my Grandpa Lou to buy me a decorative spoon “for my spoon collection.”  It had a Delft blue pottery-looking wooden (well, ceramic) shoe on the end and it came all the way from the Netherlands–well, China, actually, via Drayton, Ontario.

Such a treasure.  I loved it.

Don’t believe me?  38 years later, I still have that spoon.

So there.  Here’s the evidence:

delft ceramic "wooden" shoe

Please consider this when you’re judging my con artist ways.

Anyway, on the way back to the cottage all those years ago, my Grandpa Lou asked, “So, how many spoons does this make in your collection, now?”

He was apparently (hopefully?) quite amused when I replied, seemingly without guilt or guile:  “This is my first!”

And that, dear friends, is how I became a decorative spoon collector.  Relatives and friends would bring me specimens for the collection I didn’t really have, from their various worldly adventures which I stored and carted around through my 20s and various cross-country and out-of-country moves.

London Bridge, Royal Carriage, Wooden Shoe, Double Decker Bus, Crown - all former tops of decorative spoons

These former spoons are now destined for a new, upcycled life where they will be loved and made use of daily as: beautiful thing #2.

Yep, guilt over your con artist start in the spoon collecting industry will make you very loyal to your ill-begotten collection.  And, suddenly, you realize that you actually do HAVE a collection.

Gulp.

In recent years, they were stored in the drawer of the china cabinet (donated by Grandma Verna), since the china cabinet is where I put all the grown-up things that I don’t actually use:  “good” dishes, crystal salt and pepper shakers, pickle plates, and the china tea set from my childhood.

Out of sight, out of mind.  That is, in the dining room (definitely a room for grown-ups).

There was a brief period of spoons on the wall, but (con artist guilt aside), decorative spoons really aren’t my thing.  I’m more likely to have VW hubcaps and vintage printing press blocks festooning our house.

VW hubcap from Daizybug; upcycled mirror that used to be a tire

Daizybug’s hubcap; upcycled mirror made from a tire.

You know, things that kind of make Practical Man roll his eyes, but he still helps me festoon because he’s a very handy festooner.

printing block

antique printing block

Lately, though, I’ve been trying to purge items that I don’t truly love or make use of daily.

Have no fear.  Practical Man is safe on both counts.

The spoons, however–even after all my years of guilt-fueled loyalty–were on shaky ground.

After getting sucked into the vortex that is Pinterest for a few hours, (after all, who doesn’t like a little chatchka oogling and Fiat drooling when they were only planning to search for upcycyling ideas for decorative spoons?) I came across the idea to transform the decorative spoons into a charm bracelet.

spoon tops as charms next to a row of chain for the bracelet

These former spoons are now destined for a new, upcycled life where they will be loved and made use of daily as: bracelet #1.

Presto-bongo.  Practical Man to the rescue for the tedious (and slightly unsettling) spoon decapitation and hole drilling and jump-ring installation.

Then, I am back for the glory phase of attaching to the chain for the bracelet.

jewelery tray with the "charms" lined up next to chain and pliers

Ta-da!

Memories of my and other people’s adventures in Miami Beach, Montreal, Detroit, Texas, New Orleans, St. Augustine, Rio de Janeiro, Quebec, Pheonix, Bahamas, Heidelberg, Ottawa, RCMP, Victoria, and England now tinkle and dance together, making a happy, loved, useful sound.

My spoons are re-born as kitschy, sentimental bracelets.  Two of them!

finished charm bracelet

My Grandpa Lou loved kitschy, sentimental stuff so I think he would approve.

Tra-la-la.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

 


We started out this year’s festive season—as you do—with a day-long marathon of vintage chair re-upholstering.  Yes, I had bought a lovely specimen (read:  sagging, dusty number with potential) online to act as the final flourish in a multi-coloured spectacle of seats collected from assorted corners around the house.

Dusty, vintage wooden chair with upholstery (falling off)

Some of you are aware that I have a slight um… chair acquisition problem.  I love ‘em.  Each one has its own little personality, its own unique flair.  They are like perfect snowflakes:  unique and special in all the world.

Why are you rolling your eyes?

However, this is not one of those times when I succumbed to the power that is a snowflake/chair vortex.  My excuse for this one is that I GENUINELY NEEDED IT to go with the newly-acquired kitchen table (handed down via my uncle, aunt and with a small detour via my cousin, but which actually used to be my grandparents where we ate Roast Beef and Leathers for decades – yes, that really is a thing – just stay with me.)  But, when the vintage, internet, snowflake chair arrived home, I remembered that old saying that “objects on the internet are smaller than they first appear” (except, of course, for certain American politician-wannabe’s hair and evil-ness) and realized that the chair was, well, to phrase it in holiday terms:

Slightly elf-sized.

chair stripped of all its upholstery and sanded

I am approximately 11 feet tall in my red-and-white-striped Santa socks, but, seeing as how it was soon to be the season of all things merry and I am also a soft touch when it comes to underdogs and sad, forgotten objects that look unloved and are sure to be the last item on the auction table that no one wants, I immediately fell in love with the chair’s elf-sized proportions and proceeded to pull it up to the table with the rest of its rag-tag companions.

Gingerbread crumbs!  It was, indeed, a vertically-challenged chair but, not wanting to hold that against it just because I happen to have knee caps that start higher than most, I opted to move another um… necessary chair to the kitchen (requiring re-painting and a seat cover re-do) and use the new, toy-making-sized specimen with my also vertically-close-to-gravity dressing table, instead.

The sound of giggling elves would have filled my head were it not for the seat springs of torture and upholstery of doom.  There followed muttering, upholstery tack pulling, fabric ripping, straw removal, more muttering, sanding, priming, painting and other blah, blah, blah that all goes under the un-desirable category in my mind called “prep”.

primed hair

I am not a fan.  Thus, I justifiably consoled myself with holiday libations in the form of truffle hot chocolate, so there!

However, all of this blah, blah, blah was in the name of getting ready for the main event, my favourite part:  the festooning, the fancifying, which was, in this case, the upholstering of the elvish chair into a thing of petite beauty.

chair painted pale green, no upholstery yet

It’s a small chair, I thought.  Positively elvish in proportions.  Even though the swoopy, curly bits of the back looked a wee bit tricky to me, I figured it would take a couple of hours, tops.

Um…yeah.

Practical Man spent a Sunday wielding a staple gun for approximately six hours straight, when he had intended to be spending a Sunday wELding (not wIELding) something fun on to his currently derelict but FREE fishing boat.  I therefore tried to appear innocent and unconnected to the Elvish Chair of Evil and do my penance by untangling the outdoor Christmas lights.

Which, were, of course NOT tangled because Practical Man had put them away and so, yes, they were labelled and wound in very orderly fashions on some kind of thing-a-ma-bobs that probably started life as something else like a bedroom slipper or a supersonic carrot peeler but have lately been wrestled into submission into something that you wind Christmas lights on to keep them labelled and orderly and not only that but they were secured further with twist ties so as to not escape the labelling and orderliness into which they had been placed.

So much for my penance.

I attempted to atone by flinging Christmas lights with festive flair into the bushes in front of our front porch, so if you happen to be driving by, it’s my fault they look like that.  I re-fueled with more truffle hot chocolate and some flirting with the upholsterer to keep his spirits dashing and dancing while he did battle with fabric, fluff and staples.

The elf chair is nearly finished, but for the part that involves me heating up the not-so-innocent-sounding glue gun (my first clue that I shouldn’t be using a tool with this label) and burning myself repeatedly while attempting to adhere some kind of ribbon-y stuff–whose technical name is bric-a-brac. rick-rack, Cadillac or something–to hide the 6 hours of stapling that Practical Man worked so hard to perfect.

finished chair with pink flowered upholstery

Anyhoo, it’s a magical chair and I think Santa will help with the final touches.

The Mensa puzzle calendar on the desk (not mine–I know you are shocked to learn) says Wednesday, October 15 and now, fresh from a day of Christmas shopping in nearly 13 degree weather in the middle of December in southern Ontario, I am slightly confused about what season it is.

But, the arrival of the first batch of fast-tracked Syrian refugees yesterday to Canada has reminded me:  it’s the time when we invite those we love and also, those less fortunate, to come a little closer.  A time for the elf chairs and all the others to celebrate together at our grandparents’ precious table.

Whatever the language or constructs of each of our faiths or beliefs, it’s the season of hope, of giving, of kindness and peace.

(And lots and lots of cookies, hurray!)

From our house and hearts, we wish you Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2016.