Latest Thrift Store Finds


My family and friends all know that I'm a thrift store junky. I know some people who wouldn't dream of going into a store full of old used stuff. I'll admit I'm not crazy about the smell of thrift stores and some are downright creepy. Others, like the Goodwills and Savers which are set up like big box retail stores, tend to be more acceptable. The draw for me is always the thrill of the hunt. What will I find this time? I'm always on the lookout for items to sell in my Etsy shop or for things that can be upcycled or restored. There's a certain adrenaline rush about it all. And when I find those rare items that turn out to be highly sought after, like a Cathrineholm enamel bowl or some Swedish art pottery, it only fuels my addiction interest. Although it's fun to resell and make a little money it really isn't about that. In hindsight there are always a few things that I wish I hadn't sold. That's the down side to it all. It's so hard to let go sometimes. I sometimes feel like a foster home for tchotchkes.


My habit tends to run in streaks. I have been known (rarely) to go weeks without setting foot in a thrift shop. And sometimes I will go to the same store on consecutive days if I happen to be nearby, because the stock is always changing. At times I can drive past a store and not blink an eye; other times it's like a powerful force is drawing me in. More often than not it's the latter.


There are just two thrift shops in the town where I live...a Goodwill and an independent consignment thrift store. My usual haunts are in a larger nearby community and I usually have good luck, sometimes great luck, finding stuff. Of course whenever I'm traveling further afield I'm always on the lookout for shops. I've never had much luck with garage sales so I rarely go out of my way to find them. I love estate sales but for some reason they've never caught on in my community. Auctions seem to be the preferred way to deal with a household when someone is downsizing or dispersing an estate. They can be very entertaining to attend and quite a social occasion, but I don't have the patience or stomach for it.


By now, if you've followed my blog, you know that I gravitate towards anything mid-century so I'm always keeping my eyes peeled for kitchen and decor items from the 50's to 70's era. I must say that in just the few years I've been doing this I've seen a real change in what's available. It seems a lot of other people have jumped on the same bandwagon so I have to dig a little deeper or hope it's my lucky day. So far I'm still finding enough to keep my shop going. In fact I'm running out of space to store my inventory and am hoping that sales will pick up with the holidays approaching. I'm planning to offer some discounts as it gets nearer. In the meantime, to show my appreciation to my blog readers (who have stuck with this post this far), I'm offering a 10% discount on any item(s) in my shop by entering the coupon code THRIFTLUV at checkout. Good through November 21st.


Photos: 1. Lacquered wood rice bowls. 2. See No Evil hand carved figures from Kenya. 3. Fancy copper color gelatin mold. 4. Mirro copper finish aluminum cake carrier. 5. Brass rainy day duckling. 6. Colorful woven trivet. 7. Hazel Atlas chartreuse creamer. 8. Antique flow blue plate. 9. Wool Mexican throw blanket. 10. Souvenir State of Washington tray.


A Little Blog Zhuzh

via City Pages
So, to channel Carson Kressley, this blog was in need of a little "zhuzhing". I was pretty tired of my plain jane blog header so I finally figured out how to use my own photos to make a new one. For all those who find blog maintenance a piece of cake...pfffft. It wasn't that it was difficult, but it was one more new thing to learn for me. Coupled with a stubborn aging laptop that kept freezing up it was a bit frustrating! Time to start budgeting for a replacement.

Anyway, what do you think of the new header? I still want to add some tabs for easy navigation and tweak a few things on the sidebar. It's all a work in progress. I like to think of it as exercise for the brain too. Keep learning new things...keep making new connections up in the gray matter.

Speaking of Carson, I have to confess I've been making my way through the million or so episodes of Queer Eye on Netflix streaming. We didn't have cable when it originally aired on Bravo. It gets a little formulaic after oh...about the third episode. But those guys are so funny I can't help myself. I've also been watching a lot of Monarch of the Glen and Call the Midwife. I need some anglophile fodder to keep me going until Downton Abbey season 4 returns! Na na na na na (hands over ears)...no spoilers!

I'll be back next week with pictures of my finished kitchen cabinets. It feels like I've been working on this little project forever. When you see it you'll wonder why it took me so long and what the big deal is. In the meantime I hope you enjoy a beautiful fall weekend. I just saw our forecast and the dreaded "snow" word was in it for Saturday! Too soon, too soon!


Shedding Some Light

I'm taking a break from posting about the kitchen cabinets today. That project continues and should be finished soon. I'm really anxious for my dining room to resume its intended purpose instead of serving as a paint shop. We've all been there...

I was hoping to show you pictures of some recent finds for my Etsy shop, but a string of dark rainy days hasn't been the best for photography. With the shorter days of winter approaching I'm often faced with the problem of not having proper light for good indoor photography. So I've been mulling over the idea of setting up a corner of our spare bedroom as a small light studio.

You could go out and spend all kinds of money on professional equipment. Or, if you're a cheapskate like me, for just a few dollars and a little time try the DIY route. There are a ton of ideas and tutorials to be found on the internet. The hardest part for me will be clearing out enough space in my spare bedroom, which in all honesty is just a catchall junk room right now, as it has been ever since the youngest kid left home.

I mostly sell smaller items in my shop so a light box set-up would be ideal for that kind of photography. The light box allows for a simple background and diffused lighting without shadows.

I like the simple tutorial I found over at Flax & Twine. Using materials you probably already have at home...a cardboard box, tissue paper, poster tagboard and binder clips...you can build a functional light box for almost nothing. You'd be able to make it whatever size you want simply by using a suitably sized box. The only disadvantage is that you'd have to leave it set up all the time or have a convenient spot to keep it that is out of the way when you don't, like a garage or basement.

A better solution might be a light box made with a frame of PVC pipe. It costs just a few dollars and has the advantage of easy temporary assembly if you can't or don't want to keep it set up all the time. Materials to make the box are easily acquired from any home improvement or hardware store. 

Then there is this Ikea hack that uses two white SKUBB laundry hampers. A great idea if you live near an Ikea. I'm about 80 miles from the nearest one so I probably won't be trying this one any time soon. If I were closer I'd definitely consider it.

My favorite idea by far is one that uses expandable window screens. Check out this Instructables tutorial to see how to make it. I like that the box is lightweight and when folded takes up very little space. Cost is about $20 and sounds fairly simple to do. It probably wouldn't be too difficult to find some used cast off screens with just a little scrounging, which would make it an even cheaper project. I'm planning to check out a nearby Habitat ReStore or the building materials area of our local recycling center.

If the conditions are just right I can get some decent pictures by photographing near a window. But I like not having to rely on those perfect conditions all the time...bright, but not too sunny so that I get those harsh shadows. It can change from hour to hour or with the seasons. And of course I'm limited to daytime. I want to be in control so I can do my photography at my convenience. Do you use a light box or some other method for indoor photos? If you'd like to share your set-up or have any tips feel free to leave a comment or link below. Happy shuttering!


Painting Metal Cabinets - Part 2

We've had such gorgeous fall weather this week. I should be out and about enjoying it more but I'm also trying to take advantage of these last warm days to do a few projects that involve sanding and spray painting. As a result I haven't gotten much further than my back yard this week. I'm also continuing to work on the kitchen cabinets. It seems to take FOREVER, with two coats of paint on each door, front and back, with about 24 hours of drying time in between. It doesn't help that I marred up the primer on one of the doors and had to sand it down and start over.

You can view my first post about painting cabinets by clicking over to Painting Metal Cabinets - Part 1.

I've learned a few things along my journey with this project. I'm passing them on to you in case you decide to tackle some metal kitchen cabinets or some other metal furniture, and I think the same tips could apply to many other paint projects too.

  • Use a high quality primer. I ran out of the Rustoleum I started with and only had one door left to go. I had a can of Valspar metal primer on hand and decided to use that rather buy a new can. I'm not saying that it's an inferior product. However it is different. It has a lot grittier texture than the Rustoleum, which went on nice and smooth. I suppose that may help with adhesion but I noticed after my first coat of paint that I could still feel the primer's texture underneath once the paint dried. Luckily that was the inside of the door. Before painting the front I used a very fine sanding pad to smooth it out first, followed by a tack cloth to remove any dust. I also think the Rustoleum did a better job of coverage. 
  • I decided to skip using a roller altogether. I was definitely not satisfied with how the paint went on or with the texture and lint it left behind. As mentioned in a previous post, after rolling it on I decided to go back and brush over it to get rid of that orange peel texture.
  • I added a bit of Flood Penetrol to the paint. I paid about $8.50 for a quart and used just a  
    tablespoon or so for about a cup of paint. It's an additive for oil based paints that helps smooth out brush and roller marks and extends the time you have to work with the paint before it starts getting tacky. It does make the paint a bit more runny and prone to drips so a little extra attention needs to be paid to that.
  • Try to work in as dust free an environment as possible. I thoroughly dusted and vacuumed the room I was going to be working in before starting my project. Keep vent covers in the room closed if you have forced air heat or AC. Same goes for windows. I have to work in my dining room. I do have some windows open in other rooms for air. I also avoid walking through the room to avoid stirring up any dust until the paint dries. Be sure to lightly sand between primer and paint coats and always use that tack cloth. 
  • I am using a Tiny Trim 2" angled brush. The Tiny Trim has a short handle, which I find to be much more manageable than a longer handled brush. I also like that the bristles hold a lot of paint and hold it well. I can do one pass, top to bottom,
    on a door without having to reload the brush. The brush is suitable for latex or oil paints. I tried a China bristle brush, which was recommended for the Satin Impervo oil paint, but I didn't like it. I didn't think it left quite as smooth a finish. It may just be my personal preference and that I'm used to the Tiny Trim. 
  • Let's face it. Cleaning up brushes after using oil based paints is a chore. I would recommend doing it outside if you can so your whole house doesn't end up stinking like mineral spirits. I know some people avoid it by wrapping their brushes and rollers in plastic wrap or ziploc bags between coats. I tried that and it didn't work out very well. I made sure the brush was sealed up tight but even so it seemed rather gummy the whole time I was using it afterwards. So back to cleaning after each use for me. I use mineral spirits and then warm water and dishsoap. It does a thorough job of getting all the paint out. I've used that brush in the photo many times and it still looks good and stays soft. 
  • I try to work fairly quickly when putting on the paint. I load my brush up well and then lay down the paint in a vertical strip the width of the brush, brushing from a dry area into wet, going back and evening it out so everything is covered and not too thick in any one place. Then I do another strip next to it. At this point I go back and very, very lightly drag my brush in one smooth straight stroke over the paint I've laid down, from top to bottom, before the paint starts to set up and get tacky. I don't really put much pressure on the brush. I find this leaves the fewest bristle marks. Always do this step in the same direction. In my case I'm brushing top to bottom. The first door I painted I didn't really pay attention to that. Sometimes I brushed up and sometimes down. Don't do that! It looked too stripey when I was done. Luckily it was the first coat so no harm done. 
  • Do a final check for drips or sags and resist the urge to go back and touch things up if it's not perfect. You'll probably just make a bigger mess of things. Remember to lightly sand between coats and use the tack cloth. I find the second coat goes on much easier and smoother. 
So that's about it. The finish won't be as smooth as a sprayed on finish but it's as close as you can get. With a little practice you should be able to get a fairly smooth look. The paint will take at least a week to cure before you'll want to start using your cabinets and it can take up to a month to fully cure. By then you should have a good, durable surface. Time will tell, but I'm really hoping all my careful prep work will pay off in the end.

My dining room workshop.
After the first coat. 


Black and White...(orange, red, yellow and green)

I used to think that white was just...well, white! Just one color, or lack of color. But of course it's not. There are a slew of variations of white...brighter, pinker, bluer, grayer, creamier, etc. That is the quandary I am facing at the moment. And by moment I mean now! I need to go buy "white" paint for my kitchen cabinets today and the more I look at all the white variations the more my heads starts to spin. Just look at all these variations of white from Benjamin Moore's paint gallery. Wow!

Benjamin Moore

One aspect of the choice is my kitchen sink. Originally the bottom cabinets would all be gray. But then I had a brainstorm. I've often wished I could have a farmhouse sink. Wouldn't it look nice with my charcoal gray cabinets? Like in this picture I found on Pinterest:

via Pinterest
Then it dawned on me! My sink cabinet has an apron front! It's the same width and depth as the sink bowls. The cabinet doors below it are recessed a few inches, so by painting the apron white it will have the semi illusion of a farmhouse sink! Insert happy dance. But that means I need to pretty closely match the color of the sink. I know that oil based paints, and white in particular, will tend to yellow over time. So I'm trying to factor that into my choice of paint color as well.

And now that I'm looking at that picture up above I'm second guessing my decision to leave the upper cabinets white. Oh dear. I wish I were a more decisive person.

Anyway, the title of this post is Black and White. So where's the black? Just in this little story that has nothing to do with my kitchen or any other decorating topic. Yesterday afternoon my husband and I decided to do a little back road rambling to take in the beautiful Wisconsin fall colors, stopping here and there along the way to shoot a few photos. I spotted a pretty pastoral scene of some Holstein heifers dotting a green hillside, with a backdrop of beautifully colored trees. We pulled over and I hopped out to get the photo. No sooner had I exited the car than I heard a far off greeting moo-ed to me, and then one by one the girls started ambling down the hill in single file towards us. Slowly but steadily they eventually all made it to the fence line where we were waiting. I'm guessing there were about fifteen or twenty cows in all. We had a nice little visit as they posed for their photos, which I promised I'd put up on my blog. Making good on my word, here are my new bff's.

Suddenly craving some milk and oreos. 

I'll leave you with this beautiful view. I truly feel like I'm living in a paradise this time of year.


Looking For Mr. Right

Mid Century Modern Blue Sofa - krrb.com
Our living room sofa (heck, our only sofa) has lasted longer than I ever expected. It was comfortable and well built, but then it got ugly after years of use and three kiddos. It was also plaid. Don't ever buy a plaid sofa! You will rue the day. Nothing goes with a plaid sofa. It's the furniture equivalent of plaid Bermuda shorts and dark socks. A comfy but fashion challenged fatherly sort of sofa. I would gaze sadly at pretty patterned rugs and pillows, knowing they couldn't be mine. Eventually I put an off-white wonderfully neutral slip cover over it and life became happy again...pretty pillows, a nice graphic area rug, bright colored accents. But now a few years later the cushions aren't quite as comfy as they used to be and the slip cover can be annoying. It's a constant battle to keep it all tucked in and looking tidy. I also have to monitor people's backsides. Dark wash or new denim jeans are taboo when it comes to white or light furniture. It's kind of embarrassing to ask someone to please not sit on the sofa, or to quickly toss down a throw blanket before their rear end hits the cushions.

At any rate, I'm soooooo ready to grant an amicable divorce to... let's call him Plaid Chad. It's not that I've found someone else. Not yet anyway. I can't even ask for a separation because then I'd have nothing. But I have a roving eye and I'm always on the prowl. 

Here are the qualities I'm looking for in a new Mr. Right. He would have trim mid-century lines. Maybe he'd even be mid-century which would mean he'd be age appropriate for me. He'd sport a pair of nice wood legs. Slender ankles are fine. I kind of prefer it over beefy gams. No skirts or ruffles though because I don't want a cross-dressing sofa. I'd prefer a tight end back. I don't just want some everyday Joe that anyone else can have either. He needs to be his own man. He has to have personality and a real sense of style. And he'd be dressed in blue, something with a nice texture and soft feel to run my hands over. I may be picky but at this stage of my life I'm not going to settle for second best. 

A few days ago, late in the afternoon, I plopped down on Plaid Chad for some laptop time. Sorry...that sounds a little kinky. Anyway, I clicked over to Craigslist and was yawning my way through the recliners and entertainment centers when suddenly... there he was!! A genuine mid-century guy with almost all the right attributes. A little saggy maybe but I could whip him into shape, and with some new blue threads to replace his 70's avocado green leisure suit he'd be perfect! Oh my god, he was a looker!! He had manly hardwood trim just like I wanted and his legs were exactly right. Just the right size...not too big and not too small. Because size really does matter. And best of all...he was FREE to the first taker. My heart was having palpitations by this time. 

The ad said he would go to the first person who responded that would be able to move him. If the ad was still posted he was still available! I quickly dashed off an email to claim him. It looked like my Mr. Right was sitting on the curb just waiting for a ride. Waiting for me. Why hadn't I looked at Craigslist earlier in the day? I waited by my inbox with bated breath, checking it every few minutes. I emailed the link to my husband at work and he even thought Mr. Right was a cool looking dude, and was willing to go with me to pick him up. That's just how we swing around here. 

I decided to go back and take another gander at Mr. Right. Maybe copy and paste him for some desktop eye candy. Wait! Wait! Wait! Where was he? He was just there a minute ago! I went back to click on the link I had emailed to my husband. And then this happened. "This posting has been deleted by its author." NOOOOOOOOOOO! Wailing and gnashing of teeth. That couldn't be! He was meant to be mine! We could have been so good together. And now he was gone before we even had a chance to get to know one another. He's probably hanging out with a bunch of guys on the porch of a frat house now or heading up north to a musty old hunting cabin. I can hardly bear to think of it. My figurative tears fell on Plaid Chad's arm. He held me and comforted me, always faithful, but no doubt snickering behind my back. 

I'll never forget you Mr. R. You'll always be the one that got away. And I never even got a picture to remember you by.

UPDATE: Just found a possible contender on Craigslist. $45! This sofa...

...could be this! May have found the new Mr. Right that will make me forget about the other one.

via Emily Henderson