Child’s clay pottery pieces

Happy Valentine’s Day! I am linking this week to one of my favorite link parties, Suzanne’s Vintage Thingie Thursday. I love browsing through all the treasures!

One day – let’s call it 10 years ago – while digging through the bins of loose junk at a thrift store, I spied a little piece of glazed, molded clay. I pulled it out of the bin and quickly realized: it was a small clay “monster,” obviously made by a child.


Call it PMS, but I got pretty emotional thinking that someone’s mother had likely died and their child’s handmade art got donated to the thrift store.


Needless to say, my soft collector’s heart fell in love with this little guy. So I took him home, and for the next several years I picked up “clay projects” with surprising frequency – to the point where I had a pretty impressive collection of orphaned childs’ pottery.


I actually re-donated many of these pieces after I pulled them from storage following the flood in 2008 that took our house. But I’ve kept the Monster Guy, and a few other favorite pieces, and thought I was done with this phase of my collecting.

Until about two weeks ago, when I happened upon this hefty heart dish at the Goodwill.


My daughter spied it first, pointed it out, and I actually said, “Oh, it’s really nice but I don’t buy clay projects anymore.”


“Are you sure?” she asked. “It’s pretty big, and it’s only 99 cents.” At that point I took it from her and began to inspect it. It was covered in little stamped markings, probably using similar tools that made the “teeth” of Monster Guy.


Even with the pretty red and yellow sides, and the generous size, I was going to put it back until I turned it over and read the writing on the back:


“To: Samtha Samantha, From: Kyle with love”

Someone please tell me I’m not the only one who gets emotional over these things…

More soon,


Vintage Thingie Thursday – Nippon Saucers

I’ve been on a mission to re-do the “Mom-cave” this past week – I do have a few remaining small projects, but one of the things I came across while cleaning/organizing was a set of five of these sweet little saucers. Two of the five were displayed in my grandmother’s home for many decades – I’m not sure when she acquired them – and the remainder were in storage there. Two of them have some fairly noticeable flaws, and I’m now happily displaying three of them on my little restyled knick-knack shelf.


Based on the backstamp, I learned that they were a product of the Te-Oh China Company in Japan, and are examples of hand-painted Nippon ware produced between 1891-1921.


“Nippon” is (or was) the Japanese pronunciation of that country’s name. Beginning in 1891 the US’s McKinley Tariff Act required that all imported products bear the name of the country of origin. So, the word “Nippon” appeared on pieces imported from Japan beginning that year. Then, in 1921, the rules were amended to state that the name of the country of origin must be stated in English. Because the name Nippon was determined to be a Japanese word, its use was dis-allowed so imports after 1921 were marked “Japan” or “made in Japan.”

Along with the Te-Oh backstamp (which was a fairly common mark found on Nippon pieces), the translucence of these tiny plates is another indicator that they are delicate, authentic Nippon.


So is the use of gold edging and the raised dots and lines on parts of the design, although much real Nippon is actually more elaborate in design.

I am so happy to be displaying these delicate saucers – and am amazed that they could be anywhere from 92 to 122 years old!


I’m sharing my pretty Nippon saucers at Suzanne’s fabulous link party, Vintage Thingie Thursday!

More soon,


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No no no no n- well, okay

Have you ever got “stuck” with something on Ebay because people were bidding against you and darn it, you just weren’t going to let them have it cheap?


No? Maybe it’s just me…

Anyway, recently while scouring a flea market I came upon a Christmas tree figurine from Precious Moments that plays “Silent Night.” Now I am not a fan of Precious Moments figures – I do not collect them, I don’t even particularly like them.

But I saw this tree, and the color palette was soft and “shabby,” if you know what I mean. And I thought, maybe I could just collect one piece of Precious Moments – a piece that doesn’t depict the big-headed, teardrop-eyed children that just don’t appeal to me.


(The photo above is courtesy of PJ’s Precious Collectibles on Ebay – who by the way is a wonderful seller of Precious Moments figures if you are looking to buy them.)

But the asking price was $25, and this was a thrifting trip, and that was just too much money.

So I came home and looked it up on Ebay, and watched a few auctions. And while I was surfing Ebay, I came upon this little piece: a little car with a Christmas Tree tied to the top, and a worrisome little puppy anxiously looking out the car window.


It wasn’t $25, and it featured free shipping. And, seriously, I really thought it was adorable. So – against every fiber of my being, I bid on a Precious Moments figurine.

And was immediately out-bid. Well! Not about to let someone snatch this out from under me so cheaply, I entered a maximum bid just to be sure that the other bidder wouldn’t get such a grand bargain. Only this time, I became the high bidder at $15. And over the next few days, I stayed there, wondering if someone would come along to outbid me. To save me from myself.

They never did.


I did use my penance time wisely, by researching the piece I had bid on. I learned it is part of a Christmas Village series called Sugar Town, pieces for which were manufactured in the mid-80’s through mid-90’s. I decided that it didn’t really make sense to own just a car from an entire Christmas Village, and that if I won the auction, I would need one more piece to put with it so at least I would have a little scene.

The Sugar Town series is not short on pieces – I narrowed my options down to something under $10, which meant I would get a mailbox, railroad crossing sign, fire hydrant, split-rail fence, or other small item to suggest that the car was part of a larger universe.

The day I won the auction for the car (at $15 with free shipping), I also did a “buy it now” for the split-rail fence ($9.75 with free shipping).



So if you are doing the math, you have just realized that I spent $25 on Ebay on two pieces of something I do not collect, all because I did not want to spend $25 at the thrift store on something I do not collect.

Fortunately, my pieces arrived safely (both on the same day!) and they really are adorable.


I still do not collect Precious Moments, but now I have two pieces. (Update 3/24/13 – um, make that five pieces.)

Maybe I need the little lighted Sugar Town Chapel, so that Sam the Puppy has a reason to be driving his little car.


More soon,



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Fun thrifty finds

Happy New Year, everyone! Are you taking a deep breath now that “the holidays” are over? I know I am… I spent New Year’s Eve quietly at home with Mr. Piglet, and spent New Year’s Day taking down most of our Christmas decorations. (I couldn’t quite bring myself to take down the garlands yet – it makes me happy to look at them, so I think I’ll give them til the weekend.)

In addition to the lovely gifts I received for Christmas from my family, I also had a very nice holiday season of thrifting. I thought I would share some of my favorite recent treasures.

A tall clear glass lamp base…


Star-motif napkin rings…


Cute crocheted wine cozy in Christmas colors…


Shoebox full of vintage ornaments…


Manor house/cottage collector plate by Gibson…


Noritake Belmont dessert plates, set of 4…



Mikasa Ribbon Pink pasta or soup bowls, set of 4…



…and, four Rose Chintz dessert plates by Johnson Brothers.


And now I need to STOP shopping for awhile! LOL How about you? I hope your holiday season was absolutely wonderful, and I wish you the very best for a happy and healthy new year!

More soon,


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It’s the little things: scented drawer liner

When I was about 10, my dad’s mother – my grandmother Helen – gave my sister and I a white four-drawer dresser to share. She had put scented liner in the drawers, with tiny blue roses all over it. I have looked a few times over the years for scented drawer liner – specifically the kind that’s padded, with tiny blue roses all over it – but with no luck. Until a recent thrifting expedition, during which I found THIS:



A fabulous vintage box, with a full roll of the padded, scented liner, intact!



Look at those fab retro graphics –




And those sweet roses – pink instead of blue, but the same pattern and the same soft padding –




It even still carries the scent. And the price? Just 95 cents! My daughter has given me permission to line the drawers of her antique dresser. I think I might also line some bookshelves. Or maybe my barrister bookcase. (*squeal!*)




I’m linking with Suzanne’s wonderful link party, Vintage Thingie Thursday.

More soon,


Free, fresh greenery for my table

I’m sure many of you share my sentiment when I say that my heart is heavy for the innocent children and teachers killed in Newtown, CT this week. I feel I am doing my part by ignoring the news, remembering the victims, and NOT giving the psychopath even a moment of my time in thinking about him or considering his motives. Perhaps I am just burying my head in the sand, but quite honestly, it’s the only way I can cope with such horror.

Amidst all my preparations for Christmas so far this weekend, here’s one of many bright spots: I’ve been thinking about what to do for a centerpiece at lunch on Christmas day, which is our small family’s main Christmas meal. I find that I’m drawn to natural elements with a bit of sparkle, and in thinking this through I had two specific elements in mind: real greenery (not faux, and preferably white pine), and something in mercury glass. Oh – and did I mention I didn’t want to spend any money?

I was only semi-joking when I told my family I planned to drive to a nearby park with my garden clippers in hand, and clip me some branches. (“I am a taxpayer! I am only taking my share as a taxpayer!” I would cry as the forestry police hauled me away in handcuffs…)

In the end, I got just what I wanted and did not spend a dime – I simply stopped at a Christmas tree lot and asked if I could have some branches out of their scrap pile. They were happy to give me an armload, so here is my haul:

It is a nice mixture of balsam and white pine. I brought it all indoors and clipped all the stems, then plunked it into a bucket of water to try to keep them from dropping too many needles in this final week before Christmas. Meantime, it sure smells good in the house!

And, I’ve been experimenting with (and loving) this faux mercury glass tutorial using Krylon Looking Glass paint, so I’m almost there! (Here’s a preview:)



I am not quite finished with my gift shopping, but today I think I am going to do a “dry run” set-up of the table to make sure I’m not missing any elements.

How are your Christmas preparations coming along?

More soon,


Our little shopping spree

mansion A friend of mine from high school owns a home furnishings store here in Des Moines called The Mansion. It is filled with beautiful home accessories, custom furniture, and talented designers. Recently, The Mansion has been running a series of “comment contests” on Facebook. The one that caught my eye was for a $20 gift certificate, or 20% off a purchase, and the question was, “Tell us what you love about holiday decorating.” Here was my answer:

“My daughter, now 19 years old, told me recently that one of the things she remembered most fondly about our old house – which was destroyed in the 2008 flood – was the way it was always decorated for Christmas. This touched me, because it was a very small & modest house – not “grand” in any sense of the word. But apparently the holiday decorations, many of which were handmade by her and I, were a big part of her favorite childhood memories. Of course we haven’t been able to really duplicate all the things we lost that we had made together, but even with mostly store-bought things I still love making the effort to decorate because I know now that it not only makes it feel like Christmas for *me,* but for her as well.”

A couple of days later, I was absolutely thrilled to discover that they had not only named me the winner of that contest, but they had also very generously increased the gift certificate to $100! My daughter, whose sentiments were the core of my comment, also commented on their page and thanked them.

All of this is to be able to share with you that today, we went to their store and were able to choose two very lovely items.

First, Stephanie chose this ceramic trinket box with the sweetest elephant finial:





And, my selection was this beautiful blown-glass pumpkin:



What a lovely way to spend some time with my daughter, and a great opportunity to experience my friend’s store!

More soon,


Joyful junking – more wonderful thrifty finds!

I am linking up with Rhoda, newest BlogHer conference sensation, for her Thrifty Treasures party at Southern Hospitality! Pretty please, click through to Rhoda’s beautiful blog to see many more awesome second-hand finds. (Seriously – sock stretchers, LOVE it!!) 
Okay first up, today (Sunday 8/5) was an absolutely picture-perfect day – 80 degrees, bright blue sky, and no humidity. I spent most of the day outside just sitting on my patio doing absolutely nothing, and loved every moment of it! I did get to do some junking, though, on Saturday morning, and came away a very happy gal. In addition to scoring a working Oster waffle iron for just $2.99, I found these wonderful goodies: 

A pretty amateur painting of an old rambling house, $1.99. I actually have a collection of paintings similar to this, though most of them depict floral arrangements or barns. (You can see the collection in this Facebook album.) I love this house – but not the frame it comes in, which quite honestly isn’t rustic enough for the picture. I will be doing something about that very soon!


Two of these boldy-patterned bread & butter plates, 59 cents each. I do not own anything else in this pattern, but since I love to mix and match my dishes anyway, they will fit right in – in fact, I used one for butter just this morning when I made breakfast with my new-to-me waffle iron!
And this fabulously shabby cushion cover, just $5 – look at those beautiful faded roses!! There are two large panels and then the box-sides here – the whole thing measures about two feet wide, four feet long, and would cover a 6-inch thick piece of foam. I am thinking of making a fringed sofa pillow, and… well who knows what else. 

I hope you found something really wonderful this past weekend, or at least got to enjoy the weekend just the way you wanted to. 
More soon!

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Not just for special occasions

I might be obsessing just a bit about dishes this week, but while I was enjoying a few vacation days I made an effort to do a little re-organizing of some of my dinnerware. We have a built-in hutch on one wall of our late-50’s dining room (it was probably pretty mod-looking when it was built, but I would love to find a way to shab it up a little) and previously, this unit was displaying some family keepsakes and my Depression Glass. Several of my most recent dishy finds were hiding in a cabinet in the Mom-cave, and I wanted to bring them out so they could be easily accessible. 

To accomplish this, I moved all the keepsakes to the top shelf of the hutch, moved the Depression Glass to the more un-accessible side behind the dining table, and used the two remaining half-shelves to make some pretty stacks. Here are some of the goodies now contained in the hutch, right next to the table where they might occasionally get used! 

In addition to my lone piece of Franciscan Apple (a beautiful serving platter, which was a wedding gift), there are lots of other lovelies in this small space – most of them thrifted or the result of disciplined eBay bidding. I don’t certainly have a collection yet to rival those of my favorite Blogland tablescapers, but I’m working on it! Here are some of my favorites:  

Royal China Currier & Ives, here stacked with a plain white/gold-rimmed dessert plate from Pier 1. These were a gift from my grandmother – she gave me complete service for 8, which we had used at family celebrations in her home for more than 20 years as I was growing up. I had also collected a few serving pieces over the years, but after the flood in 2008 I actually down-sized this collection based on what I reasonably expected to use. I now have 8 dinner and 8 bread plates, an oval platter and two round platters, plus a small tab-handled underplate and a lidded casserole dish. 

Homer Laughlin Glenwood – four dinner plates, which look lovely stacked with the Homer Laughlin Empire dessert plates I recently acquired. 

Cunningham & Pickett Norway Rose – two oval platters. Notice how similar they are to the Glenwood! (I’ve noticed other similarities between various C&P and HL patterns. “Veddy inn-terr-esting,” as Arte Johnson used to say.)

Johann Haviland Moss Rose – three dinner plates and four berry bowls. 

Set of four un-marked dessert plates. 

And my favorite among  favorites, Royal Albert Old Country Roses (again layered with the Pier 1 dessert plate). So far I have three dinner plates, three salad plates, two dessert plates, and one cup & saucer. I’m working on acquiring four of each of these pieces, but I’m determined that each and every acquisition will be a great bargain so it’s slow-going. 

My attempt to re-organize was met with some gentle teasing by Mr. Piglet, who thinks that because we have a three-person family we only need three plates. He doesn’t know I am dreaming of the day when I need a dedicated dish room! 
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Dishing up some new thrifty finds

Haha, no, contrary to the way it may appear, this little blog has not completely fallen off the face of the earth! I haven’t been posting here much (or anywhere for that matter) but I am still keeping up with reading all my favorite home/decorating/DIY/craft blogs… it has been a busy year with my daughter graduating from high school and now getting ready to go off on her summer missions trip and then head to college. I am a proud (if somewhat weepy) mama!

I also finally have a few days off from work, and got the bug to go thrifting today. Tried a few garage sales but found nothing worthwhile (I feel a “pet peeve” post coming on!), then hit one of my favorite thrift stores and found this pristine Liberty Blue dinner plate.

This is a pattern I’ve wanted to collect for awhile – I love the rich blue-and-white combination – but, I am actually doing a little experiment with this piece. You see, what I really would like to have is another Royal Albert Old Country Roses dinner plate, so that I will finally have a set of four. So I have posted my Liberty Blue in the barter section of my local CraigsList, and I have also started an “Items I’ll Barter” board on Pinterest – all in hopes that someone locally will want to trade plate-for-plate.

I also found a few other wonderful bargains, including this little set of four Fireking bread/dessert plates – just 89 cents apiece.


And, three pieces of Pfaltzgraff Summer Breeze – a 14-inch platter, and two 8-inch serving or mixing bowls, just $2.99 each. I might just try bartering these too, but I do love the colors. Maybe I’ll keep the bowls and barter the platter. 

More soon!