Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Thrifting to order

You have to be open-minded when charity-shopping, I've always thought that if you go out with the aim of finding a particular item you are going to be disappointed, and "aimless" thrifting has worked well for me and resulted in some wonderful finds.

This week I've been trawling the "proper" shops for a carry-on suitcase that meets Ryanair's size restrictions. It's probably a one-use-only item, and we already know I'm not happy paying full High Street prices, so when the cheapest I could find was £20 and was, quite frankly, ugly, I gave up and decided to just fit in a few charity shops before heading home, defeated.

Unbelievably, in the first charity shop I went to, was this

Out came my tape measure (an important part of my thrifting kit, second only to baby wipes), and happily it came in just under the Ryanair measurements. It was clean, not very beautiful, but not ugly either, and best of all it was £2.50.

A brilliant find, and a big moneysaver for me, however, I like to blog about lovely things, so here is the rather nice vintage antler suitcase I found the following day for £1. It's basically clean and not smelly, so after a bit of a wipe-over this will be used for storing out-of-season clothing.

Does it sound completely nuts if I say that it has a smiley face?

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Thrifting with limits

Over the past year or so I have noticed charity shops getting more and more expensive.
I've also noticed a change in the clientele - there are a lot more very well-dressed middle class ladies recently. Now, I don't want to appear unfriendly (because I'm not!), but I have to admit to occasionally feeling as if they are somehow trespassing on my territory. Hmmmm. That doesn't sound very nice, does it? But I'm afraid it's how I sometimes feel.

Of course charity shops want to raise as much money as they can, and the popularity of ebay has seen a huge reduction in the donations they receive, so you can hardly blame them for increasing their prices a bit, especially as the more wealthy their customers, the more they will pay.
Unfortunately for me, this means I often leave behind stuff I would have bought had it been a pound or two cheaper.

This week I have deliberately spent no more than £1 on any thrifted item, although I have to admit that if I had seen something irresistible I would have been at the till handing over the food-shopping money before you could say "£1 spending limit".

This scarf has so much going for it. My favourite colours - Paris scene in the style of Bernard Buffet - bit of a 50s thing going on - £1.

I love old wooden-handled tools, and these two little wood-turning tools were 50p each from my local car boot. Actually, when I asked how much they were, the stallholder said £3 each, and as I was putting them back down she said "oh, give us a pound, then". "A pound for both of them?" Bargain.

I see a fair bit of this pattern around, but this is the first time I've found anything with the wooden stand and lid. When I turned it upside down, as you do, I found this "Wyncraft" label, which I remember from my childhood. I don't remember what the label was on, but I remember the label clearly.
I think it's a sugar bowl, although it's now a "bits and bobs on my kitchen windowsill" pot. £1.

Linking up to Flea Market Finds

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Habitat RIP

Being a lover of charity shops, I am not particularly attached to high street shopping, but I am absolutely gutted by the news this week about Habitat.

Ever since I got a pay packet and a place of my own, 20-ahem-something years ago, I have always shopped in Habitat. Not for everything - they're not cheap - but for big things I know will last, like my bed and my sofa, and also for little decorative bits.

For my last two birthdays my lovely friends have all clubbed together to get me Habitat vouchers, and when I moved house they got me this stunning clock as a house-warming gift.

This sofa is wonderful - it seats 4 really comfortably, although I have to admit I love it when I have it all to myself and can stretch right out.

The idea of the Habitat name being taken over by Argos and Homebase makes me cringe.

Worst of all, though, is the thought of all the lovely people who will lose their jobs. The assistants in my local branch are so friendly and helpful.

I know that eventually I will console myself with the thought of the massive closing-down sale that they will be having, but at the moment I just feel sad.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Happy Solstice

Whether it's Summer or Winter solstice for you, I hope it's a good one.

Here's my gorgeous lavender in the early morning Summer Solstice sunlight.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Re-creating my childhood

For me, one of the nicest things about thrifting is the "we used to have one of those" moments, where I spot something I remember from my childhood.
That's one of the times that I break my own de-cluttering rule, and buy whatever it is, whether I need it or not.
More often than not, it's something I've not even thought about for years, but just seeing it will bring memories flooding back.
That's the case with the tiny mouse I found today sitting on top of a "10p box".

I bought an almost identical mouse to this one in a little craft shop on a childhood holiday to Cornwall. I must have been about 7 years old, and can remember marvelling at the tiny stitches and the detail, loving the ribbon skirt, beady eyes and the leather tail. As a kid I spent hours drawing intricate little mouse houses, and then making furniture and rooms out of old matchboxes and other bits and bobs, crocheting little blankets and cushions.
When I was almost an adult and the Brambly Hedge books came out I realised that I was not the only one. I wonder if the author was inspired by one of these tiny felt mice.

By the way, I realise that the photo looks disturbingly similar to a police mugshot. Can I just make it clear that the mouse has committed no crime, and the ruler is there just to show scale.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Thrift Round-Up

These Midwinter "Queensberry Stripe" pieces were actually thrifted a couple of weeks ago, but I have only just got around to photographing them.
I often see gorgeous patterned tea and coffee sets, but they are almost always being sold as just one lot, and lovely though they are, dainty cups and saucers are no use to me as I greedily drink my coffee from a huge mug.
Milk jugs and sugar bowls are just perfect. The jugs are easy to display on my kitchen shelf, and although no-one in this house takes sugar in their drinks, there are so many uses for little bowls.

Midwinter Queensberry StripeEverything about this pair is wonderful. I love the unfussy shapes, the pattern, and especially the colours. An added bonus is that they are in great condition, no cracks or crazing, which means I can use them without worrying that they will absorb water in the washing-up bowl.
I was happy to pay £1.50 for the pair.

In keeping with my current theme of coincidentally thrifting pairs of matching items, I am now able to very stylishly co-ordinate my neckwear and my milk jug. In theory, anyway - in reality I'm just not that kind of lady.
The colours and the strong graphic attracted me to this scarf, a 50p bargain.

vintage desk tray
Love old wood - love storage - love this desk tray that cost me £1.

Wade Owl Family
This Wade owl family was from the same shop and will also be re-sold. It's lovely, but I try to avoid little trinkets that need dusting. Another bargain at £1 for the three.

And finally, two real bargains at 10p each, although I voluntarily paid 50p each.
On my local market there is a stall run by an elderly man who is raising money for hedgehog rescue. His goods are priced so low he can hardly make any money, I hope that the council lets him have the stall free as it's for charity. He is there every Friday, even in the winter when it was snowy, icy and bitterly cold.
The sugar bowl is by Meakin - the Allegro pattern. It seems pretty huge for a sugar bowl, I can only assume that in 1964 everyone took at least 3 sugars in their tea.
The other little bowl is unmarked (well, there's an unintelligible squiggle on the bottom). I love the shape, colour and glaze.

Linking up to Flea Market Finds

Friday, 17 June 2011

Liebster Blog Award

I am deeply flattered to have been given the Liebster Blog Award by Florence

This is an award specially for blogs with less than 100 followers, and is a "pass it on" award, so I'm happy to nominate the following lovely blogs

Mum's Simply Living Blog


Gone Thrifting

Hg - Elemental Mercury

Mardi Winen

It's a fantastic way of discovering new blogs, so if you haven't already visited the above, including Florence's wonderful blog, click away and check them out.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Midweek Already

This week seems to be flying by - done a bit of good charity shopping, a lot of garden tidying and a bit of sneaky reading when I should have been being more productive.

I'm loving this book

Kate Atkinson writes beautifully - makes you feel a kind of happy-sad empathy for her characters.

I've also started to photograph my latest charity shop finds ready for the weekend round-up.
For some reason I find photographing glass items really difficult - me and this bottle had a very long photo session today, and I still can't seem to catch the beautiful smoky-greyish-olive-green colour and the almost oily, viscous looking shimmer.
Apparently it's as hard to capture in words as it is on camera!

Here's an old ad for the original product - a "purgative water". Yum.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Thrifted last week........

.... some slightly surprising things.

Last week the charity shops seemed a little disappointing and expensive, so I found myself leaving my thrifting "comfort zone" and looking at stuff I might pass by on a better day.
Thinking about it, I guess this means I have a hard time leaving empty-handed!

I often see Hornsea Heirloom about, mostly over-priced due to the "Hornsea" name, I think. It's kind of nice, but I don't particularly feel the urge to buy it.

This Flour jar was sitting at the back of a shelf and was quite dirty. The wooden lid is good but the rubber seal has perished, meaning it's no good for storing flour any more. It was marked at £1, and I was attracted to the lettering (I love fonts).
I brought it home and cleaned it, and was happily surprised to find it was in perfect condition, so it's now sitting on a shelf in my kitchen waiting to be filled with something.
Every time I pass it by I notice the beautiful lustre of the glaze on the raised parts of the pattern, contrasted with the equally beautiful matt finish of the darker parts of the pattern. It has completely won me over and now I'm wondering if this is the start of a new collection.

Another trip outside my thrifting "comfort zone" happened when I spotted these Holkham "owl" mugs at the back of a different dusty shelf in a different dusty shop. They were also dirty, which made them look very unappealing, but at £1 for the pair I decided to buy first and think later.

I'm so glad I did. Like the Flour jar, they have grown on me, and have gone from "weird, ugly shaped things - what was I thinking?" to "beautiful, tactile, wonderful pieces of modern design" in the space of a few hours. Am I particularly shallow, or does this kind of thing happen to other people?

I'd always known these as "Holkham Owl mugs", but doing a bit of Googling today I found a very interesting article about the Holkham pottery which included this :
Wilton Elston, who trained in Stoke on Trent, was managing and designing items for the Pottery. His designs were brilliant, and apart from the large number of flower vases he designed, he created mugs in relief for practically every cathedral in England. One of his most successful designs was the Elizabeth range —named after the fifth Earl’s wife—and was inspired by the ‘hole in the pebble’ that is often found on the beach. The mug, jug, teapot and sugar bowl were all cast with the handles incorporated into the piece, creating a very modern
look for the time. More than a million of the mugs were made.
This sounds so much like the "owl" mugs, though sadly I can't be sure as there was no picture.
I love the "hole in the pebble" idea.

And finally, something useful.
This 50p Starbucks water bottle was brand new with its original tag. Lovely colours, lovely pattern, and something that will definitely get a lot of use in the summer holidays as my family seems to drink gallons of water.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Reasons to be cheerful

This week the charity shops seem empty (it wasn't me - I can't have emptied all my local charity shops), and what they do have seems very expensive.
I have found a few bits and bobs, which I will photograph and blog at the weekend.
In the meantime, a few non-thrift-related things that have made me happy this week :

These women

The arrival of my copy of Midcentury Magazine

This story
I hope people are laughing with him, rather than laughing at him.

The wonderful customer service at John Lewis and Habitat - those people are so nice, they must be very happy in their jobs. In the case of John Lewis, I think it may be connected to the partnership model.
Being surrounded by lovely things all day might help, too.

And finally, the weather. Thank-you, rain, for waiting till I get home and get my washing off the line in the evening before unleashing a magnificent downpour that saves me having to water the garden.

A pretty good week, then.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Good Things Come In Pairs

I sometimes notice that I seem to go through periods of time when a theme emerges in my thrifting - finding matching, complementary or similar items, often from different shops.
I don't think it's just me subconsciously picking up "pairs", as these are all things I would have bought even if they hadn't fit in with "this weeks accidental theme".

Eames House of Cards

I was happily surprised to find this "House of Cards" set in the local hospice shop, priced at £4 and with only one card (the plain yellow one - I can live without that!) missing. The shop ladies must have had an idea that this was a bit special, as it was priced higher than all the other boxed games and jigsaws, but still a bargain.

Vintage Mille Bornes

I do love a vintage game, especially one with strong, bright graphics. In spite of spending as many holidays as possible in France, this had somehow escaped my notice. Apparently it's one of the essentials of a French childhood. A 50p bargain.

Vintage Mille Bornes CardsJust look at those cards! Aren't they wonderful!

Corningware TeapotOn an accidental "blue and white kitchenware" theme, I picked up this pepper shaker for 10p, and the coffee pot (or is it a tea pot?) for £1.
I had thought it was a coffee pot due to the shape being so similar to the old-fashioned Cona coffee pots I grew up with, but then found one on an American blog described as a tea pot. Maybe it's a US/Europe thing?
The pepper shaker is an old Avon bath oil bottle with a specially designed top which you can turn into a shaker. I actually have some more of these with a different design, which I need to photograph. I'm sure they're 20 or more years old, and I can still detect a slight odour of bath oil, so I'm not sure I'd want to be putting salt or pepper into them.

Finally, after years of collecting only green glass, and only certain shades of green, I had been finding myself becoming attracted to teal glass. Teal. Not blue, turquoise, aqua or any other shade - I'm funny like that.
The little pressed glass vase was 50p, and reminds me of one Habitat had last year which ended up being reduced to something silly like £1.10 and I still didn't buy because it wasn't green. I have been kicking myself ever since.
The dish was £1 and is a lovely heavy glass.

Linking up to Sophie's Flea Market Finds for the first time