Saturday, November 26, 2016

It’s Vintage, It's Vera – It's a Giveaway!

The two estate sales Judy & I went to last weekend didn’t have much of interest (and the one that had advertised high end antiques was in a scuzzy little house on a positively spooky street!) but I did manage to spend a buck and a quarter. Which netted me three of these nice Vera napkins

as well as a darling little headscarf. 

Does anyone else remember that brief period in the Sixties when we tied these little triangles under our chins and felt we were cool?

It started me thinking that the yard sale gods have been quite generous with the Veras for a while now, and I remembered that I have four vintage Vera silk scarves that are lovely, but I've never worn any of them.

Time for a giveaway, I said. And so here we are.

Four scarves, four winners! Just leave a comment telling me which of the four is your favorite. And of course if you have any Vera stories, do share. Like your memory of wearing your own Vera headscarf and how cute you were. Or your mom did. Okay, okay, your grandmother. Vera spans the generations!

Scarf number one, a long piece of silk with stylized roses.

Number two, a long silk scarf with a small scale floral design.

Number three, a large square with pink roses.

And number four, another square with a mod orange and yellow design.

Please leave your comment by Sunday, December 4, 2016. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Now that the Vera business is taken care of, here’s a Millie report. I was taking her picture the other day with the Velveteen Rabbit that is her measuring stick. Here she is in July,

and September,

and November.

As I looked at her, something seemed a bit…off. It took me a moment to realize that all her long white eye whiskers are missing over her left eye!

I have no idea what she has been up to. I half expect someday to find a little pile of white whiskers in some untoward place, or on one of the inch-wide window frames ten feet over my head in this midcentury modern house with glass walls.

I probably don’t want to know, do I?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Art Time

I did something completely different (for me) last weekend—and had a ball. 

Several months ago I came across the charming and often whimsical art quilts made by Laura Wasilowski, and when I saw she was doing a workshop for the Clark County Quilters Guild up in Vancouver, Washington, I knew I had to go. My friend Diana, who lives a couple hours south of here in Roseburg, is a quilter, and it didn’t take much arm twisting to get her to sign up as well.

We decided to make it a fun weekend. Vancouver is only about an hour and a half from my house, but getting to a workshop by 8:30 in the morning would have been a challenge. So we stayed in a lovely Airbnb home,

where my room was our hostess’s sewing & craft room. How perfect was that? My only regret is that we weren’t there long enough for me to look through her entire enormous button jar!

The quilt guild’s regular meeting was the evening before the workshop. Since our instructor was the featured speaker we decided to attend. Went out for Mexican food and margaritas beforehand. The place we chose had mixed reviews on Yelp, and the parking lot was ominously empty. It's early, that’s all, we told ourselves, and went in. Opened menus. Friendly waitress appeared, we ordered margaritas. Oh, she said, we had to renew our liquor license and it has not arrived yet. We cannot serve any alcohol. (A little ironic since the word ‘margaritas’ is part of the restaurant’s name.) We are good sports. We ordered virgin margaritas and something to eat.

Alas, we should have just left. Bad food and icky drinks. But oh well, it's one meal out of a lifetime of meals, right?

There was no need to linger over dinner. Or even finish it. We fired up the GPS and headed for the church where the guild meeting takes place.

Huge church…and literally hundreds of cars arriving! Women of all ages were streaming into the building. And about three men. Guys, if you want to meet ladies, join a quilt guild.

On the way in, we fell into conversation with a lovely woman (alas, her name has floated away from my brain) who asked if we were new members. When we said yes, we were in town for the workshop, she took us under her wing, moving us through the sign in process and into the meeting hall. She showed us all the different tables and explained what they were for. Charity quilts, free stuff, raffle tickets, refreshments and more. (Okay, we already knew what to do at a refreshments table.) By the time our guide had to leave us we were in conversation with several other women.

I don’t think I have ever encountered such a friendly, warm, open group anywhere, ever. Thank you, Clark County Quilters, for making us feel so instantly at home! And the show and tell section of your meeting was simply inspirational.

At the workshop the next morning, we learned to fuse iron-on webbing to the hand-dyed fabrics that Laura makes, and then each of us constructed our own version of a flower basket. Every single one of the fourteen attendees came up with something wildly different from everyone else, and every single one was gorgeous. (Yes, even mine—at least I think so!) Wish I had taken pictures of them all.

The final step is to add hand embroidery, then a backing and binding. We didn’t have time for that, but here is Diana’s design.

She is already planning a companion piece to go with it.

And here is mine. As soon as the batting I've ordered arrives, I'll dive back in and finish it.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hey, what happened to October?

Good heavens, it’s Hallowe’en tomorrow. Between a new puppy and a new sewing machine the days have just flown by. We head for the dog park every morning with Zoë and Fannie, and back again most days in the afternoon. A tired dog IS a good dog!

Fannie is spending this week “in jail” – she was spayed on Friday, and the only way I know to keep her quiet for the requisite week is in her crate. Fortunately she does not have the manic energy Zoë had at that age (still does, pretty much) and seems pretty happy sleeping and chewing on various toys. Zoë thinks this whole Fannie-in-the-crate thing is just weird and barks at her to come out and play. Ours is not always a quiet household.

Once the rains started a few weeks ago, garaging disappeared. We’re down to mostly estate sales, and a couple of weeks ago didn’t have a single one of those. So we were pretty excited on Friday to have three to attend. We lucked out, and the first one we went to was not the ones the obnoxious dealers started with. So we managed not to see them at all. Of course it's not just dealers who can be obnoxious. I was happy to find the cookie scoop I've been looking for.

But would believe that KK found one of these a few weeks ago, and some woman got all snarky at her over it? She saw KK pick it up to look at (it was in the kitchen with other utensils) and snarled at her, “That’s mine!” Evidently she hadn’t figured out that if you plan to buy something at these sales, you grab it and hang on. KK handed it over (I like to imagine she might have given a disdainful sniff as she did). One of our mottoes is, there will always be another one – and lots of times the price will be better!

At the next sale (the one I think all the dealers went to first) my big splurge was a vintage Mr. Bartender pouring spout. 

Since I don’t really drink I was thinking to use it on my olive oil bottle. But apparently it pours out a measured shot so that might not work. But it's vintage, it's chrome, it was one dollar…I'll think of something.

Added another vintage dish towel to the collection. This embroidered motif might give new meaning to the phrase about playing with your food.

Do you think there may have been recombinant DNA projects going on this far back – or that embroiderers may have come up with the idea? I mean, look at those vegies. Are they not walking around on grasshopper legs?

My favorite find of the day was not as practical, but I fell in love. Vintage dog acrobat.

No markings, I'm thinking Japan from the Fifties. Kind of reminds me of Zoë. If her paws could grip a bar, she would definitely do flips.

One more reason I love these sales. For just a few bucks you can own something that’s not just charming, but perhaps even a metaphor for life – or at least for the upside-down days!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

One Thing Leads to Another

A few months ago I went to a humungous church rummagesale, where back in one corner I found the only real bargain in the place. (This was the sale charging four bucks for tatty used t-shirts.)

A whole box of this great sewing magazine for three bucks. Which I am still making my way through. (I like to savor each issue.) In issue number 39 (February/March 1992)

I found reviews for two new “top-of-the-line” sewing-and-embroidery machines, and one of them sounded terrific. The Singer Quantum XL-1, which they declared “is indeed a quantum leap beyond any of Singer’s previous machines.” The list price in 1992 for this first of the Quantum line was – are you ready? - $2499. That’s the equivalent of almost $4300 in today’s dollars! Wow, I thought, maybe I can find one of these puppies at an estate sale or something to augment the capabilities of my much-loved Singer 201. So I’ve been looking.

I'm not sure how long they made the XL-1 before it became the 1000, and beyond. The current version appears to be the XL-6000. I kept an eye on eBay, where recently an XL-1000 went for $1200! A bit discouraging for someone who begins to flinch at anything that costs more than a fiver. But I kept looking, and saved a search on Craigslist. Meanwhile I kept picking up great pieces of cotton fabric to play with.

Last Sunday my Craigslist search paid off. An XL-1000 up in Portland for $100. How fast do you think I replied to that ad? The answer: faster than anyone else! I hopped in the car and drove up Interstate 5 in the pouring rain. Which is when I realized the fan in my car was kaput and the only way to keep the windows from completely steaming up was to leave the windows open. Brrrrr!

I got lost, even with my GPS, Gretel Pemberton Smith, telling me where to go. She was unaware of all the road work happening everywhere. Or at least everywhere I wanted to go. We persevered, found the address, where we met two lovely young women named Heather. Yes, both of them. One of them inherited the sewing machine from her grandmother ten years ago and hasn’t been using it. Her grandmother sounded interesting. They told me granny’s name was Florence, which she didn’t like, so she renamed herself Greer and went by that the rest of her life.

We plugged in the machine and turned it on. A touch screen lit up. I sewed a few inches. She purred. Done deal. One of the Heathers even toted her down to my car and heaved her into the trunk. This is one solid sewing machine – weighs at least as much as the 201 and she’s made of solid iron. My $100 also got me a fabulous rolling case (which alone would cost $100 or more retail), a bunch of presser feet, a cool pair of thread clippers on a retractable clip, and three boxes of Gutermann thread.

Getting home from Portland proved even more challenging. Neither Gretel Pemberton Smith nor I knew it was the day of the Portland Marathon and we landed smack dab in the middle of the route, trying every way we could to get around the blocked off streets and back to the freeway.

The learning curve on this baby will take some time, but I have completed one small project. I've been wanting some kind of small trash receptacle to keep on my desk and decided to make one of fabric. Found a pattern on Pinterest, picked out two pieces from my stash, and off we went. And oh, my, can this baby sew! Look, she'll even make a wavy topstitch with the touch of one button!

And the icing on the cake? She threads the needle all by herself!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Our Friend Craig

I have a soft spot for Craigslist.

I know there are folks who never use it, believing it's full of scams and danger. And maybe it is. You have to be careful with anything.  But we’ve bought and sold things via Craigslist for years without encountering anything worse than idiots who say they are going to come see something you have for sale and then not showing up.

My favorite of these was the woman who made a specific appointment, didn’t show, and when I emailed to make sure she had not been run over by a truck, she said she forgot. So then I wanted her to be run over by a truck. (I'm not really a very nice person.) But only a small truck.

Craigslist is of course my weekly source for yard sale ads. In southern California I didn’t need to pay much attention to ads. The place is so densely populated and there were so many sales I could just go out and cruise, looking for signs. Not so here in Oregon, so Craigslist tells me where the sales are, I put the addresses in my GPS, and off we go. No wasted gas, no wasted time—which is the really important part, since you want to get to sales as quickly as you can before someone else runs off with the bargains that should have been yours.

We have found some good stuff the past couple of Fridays. I didn’t bother to take pictures of the practical stuff—a citrus zester, four Dansk linen placemats, a box of kosher salt—and while I'm excited about the top quality wood and canvas market umbrella, it’s out on the lower deck and it's raining, so you’ll just have to imagine it. Then imagine it with a $15 price tag. And it wasn’t even much hassle to get home. The house up the street that’s been on the market had an estate sale this weekend, and we just carried the umbrella and the quite heavy stand home. Half a block, downhill, made it. Whew!

This is probably the most ridiculous thing I bought. It was fifty cents, it's vintage.

It's in two pieces, and covers a booze bottle. I hope to resell it to some poodle collector. (They will have to supply their own booze, I'm keeping my triple sec.) How much do you want to bet it was a hostess gift at a bridge club fifty years ago?

I adore this Steinbach music box, even though it doesn’t seem to play its tune any more. 

Woodcutter elves! Playing a zither and doing that foot-slapping dance! Who cares if it plays? (Though if anyone could tell me how to fix it, I’d be happy to try.)

Probably my favorite driveway find from last week was this great rusted metal piece. 

It's a wind chime, but designed in a way that it doesn’t ring very loudly.

And it's all thanks to Craigslist. But that’s not the main reason I'm currently filled with Craigslist appreciation. This is.

Yes, we have a new family member, and found her on Craigslist! We adopted her from a busy family with working parents who found they had underestimated the amount of work she would be. She’s been spending long days in a crate with a short break for lunch and potty, and while I know they miss her, I also know we can give her a lot more attention and exercise. At the moment she and Zoë are asleep beside my chair, having been to the dog park for an hour this morning, followed by several romps out in the yard.

Looks like we’re going to change her name from Lucy to Fannie (for my husband’s Great Aunt Fannie). Fannie Lucille, to honor her first family. She is a basset/black lab mix, five months old. Zoë is a bit disconcerted but coping. We were more concerned about Millie since she’s still pretty small, and I have to admit the dogs have been chasing her. But don’t start feeling sorry for Millie. She can elude those galumphing dogs at will, and when they can’t keep up with her she circles back around to give them another chance. With, I regret to inform you, a very smug expression on her little kitty face.

Part of me is sorry we didn’t get to experience Fannie at this age.

On the other hand, she’s now crate trained, housebreaking is well started, and she’s pretty well socialized with kids and crowds (they were taking her to their son’s football games). 

But there’s another reason that as soon as I saw her picture I was sure she should be ours. If you’ve read any of my mystery series set in mythical Willow Falls (Sleeping Dogs Lie; In Dogs We Trust; The Dog Prince…and a fourth title coming out soon!) you’ll remember that one of the characters is Jack, a black lab/basset mix. Who I created in honor of a stray dog I met years ago and was not able to rescue, and I've regretted it ever since. And now, along comes Fannie.

Sometimes we do get second chances.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Both Sides of the Hill

“So did you girls bring a pickup?” inquired a gray haired gentleman as we walked up to the first sale last Friday. He had a definite twinkle in his eye. “Because we need to load it up for you. There’s even free stuff.” He pointed to their free box. We demurred on the pickup but dove into the free box (never pass up the free box; usually it's pitiful junk but not always!).

I pulled out a large spoon-shaped object that had been made from a gourd. Judy & KK and I looked at it and all said, “SUCK-ulents!”

See, two or three years ago, Judy and I went to a Ladies Night event at a large local nursery. There were refreshments and a little fashion show and demonstrations of how to create your fall décor (with items you could purchase right there at the nursery, because of course the point was for you to shop, shop, shop). We sat through a couple of the demos, hoping for inspiration, but were not terribly impressed by the originality of hay bales, corn stalks and pumpkins on the front porch. The next lady had all kinds of junk and proceeded to show us how to plant succulents in various objects. You’ve seen them – a shoe or boot, an old hat, a rusty trowel, anything that can hold a bit of dirt. If you want to dally in front of your computer, go to Pinterest and do a subject search for something like ‘creative succulent planter.’ But the thing that had us holding in our laughter was the way the demonstrator said succulents. Heavy emphasis on the first syllable every time: SUCK-ulents. For some reason we thought this was hilarious. Naturally we shared it with KK, so now all three of us go around saying SUCK-ulents any chance we get.

Okay, so we are easily amused. And now I had a gourd spoon, and yes, I have planted it with SUCK-ulents.

It was a fun sale. I spent a whopping fifty cents for a decanter that KK spotted and handed to me. Turns out it's by Dansk.

Looks great with the other decanters.

The real draw was not just the barn full of stuff to look through, but the couple having the sale. As we looked and chatted their story emerged. The property is where the wife grew up; her parents owned that side of the hill, and his parents owned the other side of the hill. They raised cattle for a while back in the Sixties, but Christmas trees had been their business for many years. They were selling boxes of gigantic pine cones and stacks of curious wire forms in several sizes, which turned out to be wreath forms. The wife picked one up to show us how they had constructed wreaths from fresh greenery and pine cones, using some kind of machine that pinched shut the prongs on the metal form when you pressed a lever with your foot.

“My parents used to come over in the evenings and we would all make wreaths,” the husband reminisced. “It was a lot of work, but we just had the best time.”

They were so much fun to talk to that we hated to leave, but finally forced ourselves back to the car to go to the other half dozen sales we had planned. A couple of these turned out to be nonexistent (do you suppose there are people who put ads in Craigslist for a joke?). All of the others had chicken objects for sale.

You know how there’s usually one motif that runs through a day of garaging? It can be anything – baby gates, martini glasses – and today it was chickens. I even bought one.

Isn’t she cute? She was fifty cents, and her plump form reminded me of my pottery duck. They are hanging out together on the deck.

Another sale provided a DVD I was thinking I needed only the other day.

I love it when that happens. Another sale provided fifty cents worth of vintage magazines.

Eye candy galore.

I always love the way they pose the men. The manly men.

Our last stop was at an adorable little cottage in a neighborhood near downtown. I spotted some vintage linens to drool over, and picked up a large lace tablecloth to show KK. “This could be upcycled into a really cool top,” I said.

The cheerful red-haired lady presiding over the sale noticed what I was holding and came to tell us its story. “That was made by a lady I knew back in Wisconsin.” We looked at the piece more closely and I realized that it was indeed handmade, in a technique called Mondano netting. Wish I had taken a picture for you, but it was something like this.

“We were good friends, even though she was much older. She wanted me to marry her son,” the lady went on. Her own son, the owner of the adorable cottage, was amazed. “You never told me that,” he said. She looked demure. I bet she has a few more secrets he doesn’t know. “Her grandson did marry my cousin though.” We moved on to another lace tablecloth. This one looked to be machine made lace, and had a few tears. We got to talking about mending, and I told her how I would repair some of the damage. Just as at the first sale, I was enjoying myself so much I could have stayed all day, and when she mentioned that she lives in an old Craftsman house in the country up near Gervais, it was all I could do not to invite myself over!

Let me close with a couple of completely gratuitous kitten pictures. Our Millie has been growing. (She is draped across my arm as I am trying to type this.) Here she is with the Velveteen Rabbit back in July when we brought her home.

Here she is with VR this week.

And when she is not tipping over houseplants or scaling the fireplace, she is still pretty darned perfect!
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