Friday, December 18, 2009

Love Not Granite

Omg, I cannot believe it has been since the summer since I last wrote here. That is no way to start (maintain) a blog! Well, in my humble defense, a lot has happened since then... I quit one, basically, part-time job and started another full-time 8 to 5 job that unfortunately takes me out of the house every day now. What an adjustment that was! I actually have to find clothes that match again and deal with trying to do everything I did at 2pm now at 5pm when unfortunately everyone else is trying to do the same thing... and on top of that I got married. So needless to say it's been quite a busy half of a year! Don't misunderstand I am grateful for both. The new job = more (Collectorating) money, no travel, and no more allnighters trying to meet continuous deadlines and of course love is, well, love and worth every drop of time and effort, but both have really thrown me for a loop time-wise.... In the meantime, though, I have some how found the time to do a ton of Collectorating (chalk it up to priorities). To be honest, I have done way more than I should have done especially given I was leaving one job for the hopes of a better steady income and probably should not have been Collectorating at such a rate... ('s an addiction and I'm an addict...what more can I say?)

But thanks to this Collectorating I have one short story, ok two, to share....

Story 1:

CollectoratorOne and I went to an estate sale in this house in my neighborhood that I have driven past at least 400 times, and from the street I'd have never have known what we were about to walk into... upon entering it seemed like any other estate sale house of the mid-century era. This house, though, was packed with stuff even on the 3rd day. Of course, my first thought was if I don't get my Collectorating habit under control or start selling some of it off now this was going to be me very soon.... once we walked around a bit in the seemingly normal smallish house we realized there was much more to be seen... Not only had the previous owners converted their garage into a room with floor to ceiling shelves all along one of the walls, they had converted the laundry room to include floor to ceiling shelves as well on the main walls. What's more, they had built on what looked like a work room out of the back patio, and also on every wall save the work bench area there were floor to ceiling shelves... Enough shelves??? You'd think... but you'd be wrong... Built onto the back of the work room and down the full side of the large yard was another giant room filled with nothing but shelves. I repeat, nothing but shelves. There were shelves on every wall, floor to ceiling and shelves down the middle. not kidding. I was starting to get the feeling either we were in the most organized lady in the world's house or were in Austin's version of the Winchester House. That back room was filled with nothing but special occasion and holiday decorations (and I mean every holiday including the obvious Christmas from which I got this star topper for my tree The inside shelves were filled with pottery. Tons of it. In her defense, I pieced together that she at one point had a craft store (the inside bedrooms were filled with craft supplies) an obviously she had made flower arrangements possibly for occasions such as wedding etc, so I am sure all of those decorations and pottery at one point or the other had some practical use. or maybe I am just justifying her obsessions for her...bad habit...

Now the normal (read boring) person would think, "oh no! Is this the tragedy that could become of me? will I sooner than later be known as the crazy-pottery-laden-shelf lady???"...but not me.... no... the first thought I had was this lady had an AWESOME husband who built her all of these shelves to support her habits, and how can I convince mine that we need to replicate this shelving system soon???? my second thought was hmmm maybe it'd just be easier to move into this house instead. Unfortunately, I did not move into that house and I did not have my camera on me to take pictures (lame I know), but I don't think I will ever forget that house and I think you get the picture...

Story 2:

So this story takes us to the NICEST part of town, and the one of the oldest parts of town. I have always pined to live in that part of town ever since I moved here 20 years ago, and it irritates me to no end that many people who move here just want to live close to the center of town and not in those areas just because they are old and full of history and they want to preserve it. As soon as they move in they "renovate" and with that process they typically destroy the most glorious kitchens and bathrooms. Given now that I am commuting again, I see the appeal in living close to downtown, but at the same time I just want to paper the town with fliers that say "save the pink least... (of course you must be familiar with who would, I am certain, be campaigning right behind me... ) but I'd like to make a special plea here in my own forum to save the vintage kitchens (color not specified) as well. It's not that I don't like granite, heck our capitol building is built out of the most amazing pink granite you have ever seen... but not only would I break every glass/plate/bowl I own on a granite counter top, granite just looks, well, just WRONG in old house... there I said it...I might be thrown out of this city for saying it, but honestly someone has to start saying it, so I'll gladly volunteer. If it saves one bathroom, one kitchen then it was worth it.

ok onto the story... so this house was unbelievable and in not in a "crazy shelf" way but in an "omg, I want to move in here right now, what if I just don't leave what will they really do" way. It was 1 story house, but it had a BASEMENT. not a real basement.... we live in Texas which means you can barely plant a pansy in the ground without hitting limestone, so real basements are out of the question, but if your driveway slopes down enough, well you can sort of fashion a basement. CollectoratorOne will probably say no it was more of a workroom complete with an told timey washroom, storage area, and Speakeasy! But I am going to defer to the judges and say basement because it had a door from the main house leading down some kind of creepy narrow stairs into this room... and in every horror movie I have unfortunately ever seen the actors have always gone down those creepy stairs into the basement while the ominous music plays despite the fact that I am yelling "no don't go down there!!!!"

By the time we had arrived at the sale in the main part of the house, it was pretty much picked over, but we did get a chance to tour the inside of the house, which again I'll never forget. Not only was it amazingly gorgeous inside, the lay out and features of the house were like I've never seen in a 1930's house. Every room connected to the next in a square with a big, long, narrow room at the back end of the house and nice generous hall down the middle of the house. In between two of the bedrooms was this amazing, and I mean downright amazing, pink bathroom... I am linking to it here because CollectoratorOne was actually smart enough to bring her camera (I have so much to learn from her still) (check out the related photos as well). Not only was it the largest bathroom I have seen for a house of that era, the tile was just beautiful.

Next, in between the bathroom and the master bedroom were large his and hers CEDAR lined closets which unfortunately no longer smelled of cedar, but you know at one point every time the owners opened up the doors they were like....ahhhh.... Then, if that wasn't enough there was a matching green bathroom off of the third bedroom. Are you seeing now why I wanted to stay there and never leave???

I thought well it can't get any better than those closets and the two amazing bathrooms (why do I ever think that) until we walked into the very yellow kitchen. Anyone who knows me would know that kitchens, well, they should just all be yellow. We did not get any overall pictures of the room, but you can tell from the link below that the kitchen was fully committed to being yellow, and frankly I have had sink envy ever since we left...

I don't even want to know when that house goes on the market because I cannot begin to afford it given where it is located. The thing that keeps me up at night though about that house is worrying that someone soon will go in and wreak havoc upon those bathrooms and that kitchen. No they weren't in perfect condition, the tile was a little faded here and there, but those bathrooms and especially the kitchen just needed some love... not granite....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why Red Pie?

It's no secret... I obsessively love vintage cookbooks. It started out innocently enough but don't all collectorating obsessions? Honestly, my first cookbook that I acquired wasn't even vintage. It was a high school graduation present from my mother. I think either she was trying to make up for not being a better kitchen mentor (certainly not her fault, she was a single mom by night and teacher by day so she didn't have a lot of time, but what she did teach me I still cook to this day). Maybe though, she was just terrified that I was moving off to live with my father for college, and if I didn't have some directions about cooking I'd starve to death. Her reasoning was probably closer to the truth than mine. The cookbook she gave me was Betty Crocker's 40th anniversary edition. I admittedly didn't use it that much until I lived by myself, and at that point I thought there would never be a reason to own any other cookbook. It had most every recipe you could want and so between that book and recipes from my mom, grandmother, and two closest aunts I couldn't imagine a reason to buy another cookbook.

Until one day in 1997 when I saw the brand new Joy of Cooking cookbook. I had never seen such a compendium of recipes before. Suddenly I decided, I must have that, and then I'd really never need another cookbook...right.... That resolve lasted two years when I happened upon a brand new version of Betty Crocker's original Picture Book at Restoration Hardware. I thought to myself why would you release a new version of a vintage cookbook that you could still find in perfectly good condition at the antique store?? I passed on the new version and promptly went on the hunt to find a vintage copy, which I did thanks to the new thing I had recently discovered...ebay.

By then, I was cooking often. I really enjoyed comparing the recipes between the three books, and I started to notice something interesting...sometimes the older recipe was just better. It had fewer ingredients, had more distinct flavors, and it was easier to make. And like any good Collectorator has thought one time or the other, if one is good, then two might be better. So it was, I had to find more vintage cookbooks. I stuck with the Betty Crocker thene for awhile in a valiant effort to "collect" something finite. I mean, if you just collect vintage cookbooks, well, it could go on literally forever. I started with the spiral bound speciality cookbooks like "Dinner for Two", the "Cooky Book" etc. Eventually, I found all of those, but the obsession did not go away. There were so many others that seemed interesting for one reason or the other....Better Homes and Gardens, Fannie Farmer, The Culinary Arts Institute, Helen Corbitt....I realized I had more cookbooks by then that I probably would or could ever use but really does that matter?

Somewhere in the middle of the obsession I discovered that my aunt who is considered the best cook in our family was a strictly a recipe/cookbook chef. I say this not to diminish her cooking skills but to raise them to a new level. Somewhere down the cooking line the definition of a cook really got lost. It seems now to be considered a good cook you have to practically be able to cook with your eyes closed or only cook things that have the most bizarre or unique combination of ingredients.

I don't subscribe to that, my aunt was and is one of the best cooks I know, and I aspire to be as much like her in the kitchen that I can be. That feeling has inspired me to buy even more cookbooks mostly old but also a few new ones too. I want to learn how cooking has changed, how recipes and ingredients have changed, but most of all I want to get my hands and cooking utensils on those recipes that make everyone think "now THIS is the perfect comfort-food". Along side some pretty bizarre recipes (check out reclark's blog on Wednesdays for the Mid-Century Menu where her and her husband bravely try out the weirdest recipes they can find from vintage cookbooks), there are some really, really good recipes in these vintage cookbooks that are better and more fulfilling than anything new I can find, especially lately.

My absolute favorite that demonstrates just this point is Meta Given's Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. This two volume set is pure vintage culinary comfort. For a long time, I wondered why this particular cookbook set was so expensive though. I thought maybe because it was old? But there are older cookbooks that sell for less. So why do you sometimes see this set on ebay for $100 or more? CollectoratorOne finally pieced together a set for me for a lot cheaper, and I finally got to see inside these books. Honestly I love the set, but at first glance it didn't help me understand why it is so expensive. I could go on for pages and pages why I love this set (and I will soon), but I couldn't point to any one thing that made me think oh now I understand why some could sell Meta Given's books for over $100 and someone would pay that much for them....

A similar conundrum occurred lately for me regarding Betty Crocker's red pie cover cookbook from 1969. That one is not even that old, not nearly as old as Meta Given's books, but you'll see it on ebay for $100 as well, and that cost is sometimes for a 21st printing in 1972...why??? Then the epiphany came to me one day recently looking for a favorite recipe in my Betty Crocker's 40th anniversary cookbook that I have cooked out of for almost 20 years now. Books like Meta Givens and Betty Crocker's red pie cover book (and now my 40th anniversary book) are the culinary bibles of people's lives. Our mothers and grandmothers had these books. They are like a family history in food if you will. Every recipe, every page in these books can take you right back to a certain meal or a certain holiday or a certain every Sunday and they allow you to recreate that feeling or moment at any time.... I feel that way about my grandmother's recipes and cookbooks that I have inherited as I am sure we all do.

I found an article somewhere online recently that described this lady seeking to replace her mother's favorite cookbook because she had just buried her mother with it... That's exactly why someone will pay $100 for a 1970's cookbook that was so widely printed that you can almost find one in any one's house. I don't know why this didn't occur to me before. I guess I was hoping there would be some wow-factor about this or that vintage cookbook that made it somehow more special than another one. I can only imagine I thought like that because of the new perception of cooking I have witnessed that insists a meatloaf recipe has to go where no meatloaf recipe has ever gone. Why can't it just be meatloaf anymore? It has to be "sun-dried tomato meatloaf with red-wine currant sauce"... now I am not saying that isn't a good recipe, I am sure it is fantastic. I just sometimes want plain old meatloaf, and likely I have everything in my pantry and refrigerator to make the plain old meatloaf. So, no, my vintage cookbooks do not contain any magical, awe-inspiring tricks that hold the key to cooking other than they remind me that food, and life, can be simple, sometimes weird, but mostly just comforting.

I am ecstatic to say I have the Betty Crocker red pie cover cookbook now thanks to CollectoratorOne who snagged it the other day for $2, yes just $2(!!!), at an old library book store. It is on my nightstand right now awaiting me to discover all its culinary family secrets that are tucked away inside.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Estate Sale Adventures

I'll be honest, despite my love of Collectorating Estate Sales are really difficult for me. It's definitely a quandary for me because I love old stuff, and I know the best old stuff comes from Estate Sales, but I am 9 times out of 10 more willing to pay the middle man to go retrieve it from the sale so I don't have to go myself. I have a really hard time watching people pawing over someone's stuff that is splayed out all over a table, stuff that they had meticulously collected and stored away their entire lives. It's particularly difficult for me when stuff is still where it more or less was in the house and people are stepping all over stuff, pulling and shoving, and generally grabbing up items without even trying to keep like things together. Maybe it's because I imagine this scenario happening to the things I worked so hard to collect all these years. I really wouldn't mind it if I knew my collections were going to someone who would appreciate the effort it took to find all of these things, and who would take care of them for me, but just going to someone who is going to carelessly break sets apart just to make a few bucks sickens me.

I fully realize that this is the scenario I am facing when I go Collectorating in retail stores. Likely all the good stuff came from such situations, but I guess when I am not witnessing it happening it's easier to take. And I should be clear, I am not against honest people making an honest living, but it’s hard for me to go to these sales and watch everything being snapped up in a rush without much of a glance and admiration for this person’s life and things, just to turn a profit. I owe at least 90% of my collection to dealers who tirelessly get up at the crack of dawn every weekend to go to these estate sales, but I guess I want to believe that most of these people truly appreciate what they find and consider themselves conduits to get the stuff to people who will love and value it.
So for these reasons I try to get out of going to Estate Sales as often as possible much to CollectoratorOne's chagrin. I am trying to be better about it because my Collectorator sensibilities know the value in going, and I have extra time right now, but it's not easy for me by any means. Both CollectoratorOne and my boy have said to me one time or the other that I should just think of it as we are doing our part to preserve some small part of what the person had worked so hard to keep in their lives and to keep the dealers and hoarders from just snapping it all up carelessly out of greed. Regardless of going into it with that in purpose in mind, today's estate sale was a perfect example of what I dislike about Estate Sales, but I think I had an epiphany today on how to make it ok in myself to continue to go....

The lady's house we visited today, Mary, was the most organized pack rat I have ever seen, and I know pack ratness when I see it as I am a confessed pack rat myself. Not the kind where you keep random crap, but the kind where you obsessively collect many examples of the same kind of thing (see my flickr site for evidence of my pack ratness). In any case, this lady was a very organized pack rat. She probably had about 50 scarves and 100 hankies but they were organized together by color in old hosiery boxes that were labeled with what was in them and what dresses they went with. It's organization like hers that I aspire to have! And as I was realizing this amazing quality of this person, I was watching the dealers scrambling to grab all those dresses that were written on the labels of those boxes right of the racks without even looking at them, just for a profit. All I could think is don't you want the scarf or hat that is specifically labeled to go with that dress???? So there I was on the floor with the little labeled boxes of scarves caught in my usual Estate Sale maelstrom. I almost had to leave... BUT I moved my focus away from the dealers pulling and stacking and focused in on the large collection of purses. I was certain that the innocent purses also went with the dresses that were being whisked away, so I compulsively found one to grab onto so I could maybe salvage some small piece of Mary's life and incredible fashion sense that was being destroyed right in front of me.

I thought rescuing that one purse might be all I could do, so I wondered out of the room to maybe just go outside for awhile but on my way out I saw a sewing room and I went in there, no one was really in there so it was quiet and I regained my focus and went through the patterns. Sewing has certainly saved me more than one time in my life. Mary had some fun patterns and she obviously liked to sew. It seems maybe that she didn't really start sewing much until the late 50s from what I could tell from her sewing collection. Most of the patterns, notions, and general things were from the 60s, which I admire but do not collect. She had two sewing machines, one from the 1960s and another from the 1930s, which I surmise was probably from her family or childhood. In the pattern collection I found a cool Vogue pattern to make a fur stole. I have never seen such a pattern before. So I held on to that hoping I might find the stole she made somewhere in the house. I never did, but she obviously made everything she had a pattern for as they were all used and the little pieces were all tied together carefully with thread as to not lose a loose piece later.

While I was regaining my composure, CollectoratorOne rummaged through the rest of the clothes, looking for anything that maybe the dealers didn't find and stashed away a few for us to look at later. She eventually joined me in the sewing room and focused in on the nightgowns. This lady was like me, she had tons of nightgowns. I overheard someone say why would you need so many bed jackets and all I could think is that they go with all the different nightgowns that's why! I let CollectoratorOne look through those for us and I focused in on the gloves because I am having a real glove obsession lately. They were mostly plain which was somewhat disappointing, she had all this flair in her hats and scarves I thought for sure the gloves would be good. I singled out the only unique pair in the box, white with red polka dots...and again all I could think was there was probably a smashing white dress that these gloves went with that those dealers grabbed and took away without its matching gloves. Luckily for the gloves, Mary's fashion legacy, and myself I have a really cute white pique dress with red polka dots that they will be fun with....

We wondered into the bathroom next, which was cute - it had green and white tile and double vanity areas with really cute gold star printed light fixtures. I salvaged a little blue kleenex holder that CollectoratorOne has a matching one of in pink. CollectoratorOne found this amazing set of sheets and pillowcases still in their original box. It’s funny because it’s this common design that we both have pillowcases already in but CollectoratorOne had just been talking about wanting a sheet set that went with the pillowcases too and lo and behold there they were! The box they were in was so beautiful that it brought up a discussion about the lack of quality in packaging these days. CollectoratorOne thinks that the extra effort put into packaging back then as well as the general esthetic detail in most everything vintage is the reason we are attracted to things from the past. I definitely agree. It’s like marketers and manufacturers were all trying just a little bit harder to sell that product to you. Maybe they had to. People may have just been a little less willing to part with their money than they are now. It just seems like today you go to a store and buy something and it comes in a crappy plastic package that you can in no way save. Looking at this lady’s life, all of her collections were tucked away in all of these fabulous old boxes from stores or just from buying a pair of nylons…. Something just seems so wrong about how it’s done now. As CollectoratorOne pointed out, now you have to go to a store to buy a boring plain plastic box to organize your collections into.

We wandered through the rest of the house doing an overview of what we might want to go back and look through more later. The house itself was nice, it was built in 1960 and still retained the majority of its 1960-ness. The carpet was newer, but most of her furniture and decorations went with the 1960s era. There were three main rooms, a very large den with all her books, a smaller “formal” living room and a dining room with a sitting area attached. Her Hifi was over in that area so I was envisioning all the dinner parties she might have thrown. Mary seemed prone to having parties as she had tons of glass serving dishes and boxes of very organized table cloths. I saw myself in so much of her things in both the amount and kind of things she had. The kitchen was small but long. It had an area for a kitchen table with a pull down light fixture and a laundry room (all laundry rooms should be in the kitchen!). The kitchen itself was right out of 1960. The original turquoise Hotpoint Wall oven, the contrasting yellowish/beige cabinetry, and the counters... they were the most amazing I have seen. They had seen better days but nevertheless I wanted to take the Formica right out of there and home with me! It was white with blue stars. So amazing. Her kitchen stuff in general wasn't anything that we really wanted but like us that girl loved glasses. Mary had a ton of glasses. She also had the Fire King tulip mixing bowls I've always wanted to collect, and many of the Pyrex things I do collect. It's so weird to see yourself in someone else's collection of stuff. We looked through the tablecloths and CollectoratorOne got some killer placemats in her favorite combination of green colors: chartreuse and dark green with leaves on them. How perfect is that. =)

We spent a good deal of time in the den with her books, and that's where I had my epiphany that maybe will make future estate sales easier to take. We were kind of piecing things together about her throughout the morning. I had heard someone say she was a single lady in answer to where the men's clothes were. So that spurred me on to want to know more about this wonderfully organized lady and I realized that maybe if I just learn about Mary through her stuff it will be ok to take her stuff and preserve it as long as I can. You can really tell a lot about a person through their collection of books, and Mary hardly had any pleasure books at all. They were mostly all old Marketing, Advertising and Business books from the 1940s and 1950s. Our first thought was that perhaps she had a husband who had died long ago, and that these books were somehow related to whatever business endeavor he had been in, but as we looked through book after book it was HER name that was inscribed in the front of each! It was then that we realized she had never been married after all. All those business-related books were all proudly sporting her name, not some man's name. She had a lot of these books, and she had kept them for a very long time, which told us that not only had she had educated herself well but she took huge pride in that education. Given the era the books were from, it definitely is something she had every right to be proud of.

Based on the books it didn't seem like she had a lot of other hobbies than sewing. For instance, she only had about 4 cookbooks one of which was one of those community cookbooks which I snapped up. She had several decorating books though so you can tell she put a lot of thought into how her house looked. She had them from all eras, 40s and on. She had some gardening books and some game books one of which was from 1938 that I took home with me. The Complete Book of Games... how fun! I discovered through some loose leaf paper in the game book that verified she probably liked to have parties. There were several sheets of paper with lists of games to play like other people might make to decide what food to serve at the party.

We discovered she graduated from high school in 1938 based on a pamphlet we found. There were also several old memento-type things within the house that she had kept from her sister indicating she was close to her sister. In the graduation pamphlet her name was listed with another similar name so maybe they were twin sisters. It wouldn't be unheard of to have sisters graduate at the same time in the 1930s that were different ages, but I am going to just believe they were twins. It's a better story. CollectoratorOne found an interesting datebook she had kept in 1953. Mary was a Lieutenant in the Air Force at that point! I had seen a hat earlier in the day that was definitely an Air Force hat, but other than that there wasn't a large military presence in the house. The datebook was strange. It was almost like it was documenting the bad things that were going on with her in the Air Force. The entries said things like so and so stabbed me in the back... or so and so was responsible for such and such thing happening. They were very specific with full names and dates, which made it seem more like a documentation of facts than just casual notations. We decided maybe she didn't have a very good time in the Air Force. I am sure being a woman in the Air Force, not to mention a woman Lieutenant in the Air Force, in 1953 was probably not the easiest thing to do. As we first were reading some of the things she had written down we thought she must have been paranoid and had a “the world is against me” syndrome, but then we realized that given she was a female Lieutenant in the Air Force in the early 1950s … everyone WAS probably against her! CollectoratorOne said, and I agree, that it is difficult to imagine being in that position where everyone was trying to conspire to push you out likely just because you were a woman in a man’s world. I hope she stayed…

Mary went to New Orleans in 1958 and saved her plane ticket and her receipt from the hotel she stayed in. Maybe just a mark of a pack rat, but I also think she was probably pretty excited or really wanted to remember the trip for some reason. Maybe she just liked to travel. She went to come college classes in 1960s, and maybe some college before the 1960s as well but we are not sure. All of those Marketing books were from the 40s and 50s so either she was continually learning or she had several rounds of education. She wasn't in any of the local college yearbooks I have from the 1940s but I believe her sister was. So who knows, maybe she just came to live here with her sister or maybe she was stationed here for the Air Force and then just stayed. Our current airport used to be an Air Force base, so that is highly possible.

All I know is I developed a huge respect for her after looking through those items. Here was this tremendously independent woman at one of the hardest times to be an independent woman who made herself into what she was and acquired this fabulous house and all its obsessions and obviously led a fun life all on her own. It was very inspiring. I guess I once again saw myself in that picture I was painting of her while looking through her belongings. I think it was that combination of piecing together things about her life and seeing myself in her life that made it ok for me to take things from her house. And it's not just things I found on a shelf in an antique store, it's her things. I have little bits of different aspects of her life now, and I will always know they are hers and tell everyone about this fabulous woman I found out about today through those things.

We did at some point finally go through the few nightgowns and clothes CollectoratorOne had picked up for us to look at, and we both got a nightgown (my gloves would go really well with hers, it was a really cute red and white one). The clothes dealers somehow missed one of the dresses, or maybe she just hid it away for me to find. It's a super sweet Nelly Don plaid late 50s straight dress with a matching jacket. I haven't tried it on yet but I bet it will fit. I went back into the bedroom in a desperate attempt to find a scarf that might have matched it but it was to no avail. I did find a nice white one with blue on it so I got it to represent the scarves she did have.

On the way out I snagged a couple pieces of jewelry as well. It was pretty picked over, but I did find a couple rhinestone hair pins and some really cool star burst earrings. I figure I can wear them together in memory of Mary. And maybe next time CollectoratorOne wants me to go to an estate sale with her I'll say yes as long as we can try to find out a little about the person's life while we are there and honor that life in the things we take with us.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hats Off!

I recently acquired the most perfect hat for me. You see, I'd really like to be a hat person, and I finally have a hair cut that looks good with hats. I just haven't gathered up the nerve or maybe it's the capital to fully commit to both the hat collecting and hat wearing obsession. In truth, maybe it's because as a woman everyone looks at you like you are crazy if you wear a hat when it's not 40 degrees outside or you are not at the Kentucky Derby. Actually, I find the role reversal of hat wearing one of life's greatest ironies. It seems to me women used "own" hat wearing. Not that men didn't wear hats, find me an old movie where there isn't at least one scene with a man outside wearing a hat. But, back then, for men, it seems there wasn't much to their hats, they were all pretty similar give or take a few variables like color, the height, brim length, and bands. But for women's hats the variety was astounding. It seems like it was something extra-special or extra-glamorous for women back then, and frankly it was required in some circles (think church). It added that final touch to the perfect outfit, and it was quite utilitarian at times. It could be the perfect veil for secretly spying on someone or hiding from them when need be (ok I've watched too many old movies! but can you imagine how different the last scene of Casablanca would have been if Ilsa wasn't wearing that awesome hat that allowed her to hid her tears and at the same time make him just a little bit sorry for the beauty and glamour he was giving up...). Now, though, a man can don a hat any day of the week in any setting, and it's 100% accepted and even complimented. Baseball caps, cowboy hats, fedoras, you name it. A woman puts one on outside a honky tonk, beach, or her own backyard while gardening, and people look at her like she's lost her mind. I wish I knew when and why this shift happened. Maybe it happened in the 60s when feminism took hold. But why.... I realize it was probably difficult to find and afford the hat, shoes, gloves, purse, jewelry etc to match, not to mention finding the storage place to put all the matching hats. Or maybe it was a negative symbol of women's former role in society. Or maybe they stopped making good hats. Or maybe women just got tired of it. Or maybe haircuts changed so drastically hats just didn't look good anymore. Or maybe it was just something antiquated and women started wondering why do we have to wear these dumb head coverings anyway.... I don't know. All I know is I wish it wasn't so shocking to today's society if a woman puts one on now just to go out to dinner. I guess for me it's just another little piece of femininity that has eroded. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, a lot of glamour and femininity in dress has gone the way of the hat for women. I guess I'm just trying to do my small part to bring femininity back. Anyway, enough of my rant...onto my hat...

This is my most recent's cute, sweet, and has BIRDS ON IT!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The City Wide Strikes Again

You'll soon found out there will be many posts about the City Wide Garage Sale. We go every time and undoubtedly we leave with something we cannot live with out. Isn't that the way every Collectorator operates, though? No matter how much you tell yourself I do not NEED this....somehow you still rationalize it.

After we finally got there (between construction and weird weekend city events, it was a challenge) and had sufficiently griped about the new paid parking, we did a quick search for our favorite vendor and again she was not present. Granted, we had just seen her at Warrenton, but it's never too soon to see what amazing items she'll have in her tubs. It's a surprise every time. She took over the stock her mother had from a vintage clothing store years and years ago. The merchandise sat in tubs untouched for years until she finally started selling it. It's all completely fabulous and you never know what will be in the tubs each time.

Disappointed but not thwarted that she wasn't there, we carried on like good little collectorators! My Collectorating day was overall slow. I surmise it is because I had the parking voucher this time which meant I had to find something to buy so the dealer would give me $4 back on my parking. Usually it is not a challenge for me to find something to buy, but the parking voucher is like a anti-collectorating spell. So I pounced on the first thing I saw I liked, which was this stunning deco vintage rhinestone bracelet. I really like the design of this piece. It is unmarked but very well constructed. The rhinestone settings are attached to a chain instead of each other so they move a little independently of each other. It's pretty neato and will look great with all the light blue dresses I have. Of course in my excitement I completely forgot to use the voucher to get my $4 back, but the dealer was nice enough to take it after the fact.

My collectorating day was pretty much over after that until the very end. On a return trip to another booth I spied this tiered cake pan set. I love to bake, and cake is my absolute favorite thing. I am an admitted cake snob and I am 100% fine with that distinction. I know it sounds bad, but I am really picky about the cake I will eat. Why waste the calories on sub-par grocery store cake? There is one grocery store exception and that is Randalls. They make a pretty good cake for a grocery store. my absolute favorite "store" bought cake is from Texas French Bread Bakery. It's called the Hyde Park Fudge Cake and that name says everything you need to know about it. yummmmmmm. But other than that, I say why not just make the cake? It's usually cheaper in the end. I have always wanted tiered cake pans, and while I have 9 and 8 inch pans two tiers just does not cut it when you want to make a fancy tiered cake. Not that I have an occasion often to make a tiered cake, but I am ready now when the need arises. CollectoratorOne has already requested that her birthday cake for next year be made with the tiered cake pans so I already have justified spending the money. I love instant justification.

I have had one tiered cake in my life time so far and that was for my 30th birthday party. CollectoratorOne organized a smashing great party for me and our friend who makes the best cakes ever (I pale considerably to him in this department) made me a fabulous orange flavored tiered cake. OMG it was AMAZING. I told him he needs to make me a 4 tiered cake for my next milestone birthday. Hey, I even have four tiered pans now he can borrow...haha... justification #2!

Anyway, back to the story at hand...CollectoratorOne had the best day overall. Granted, she is still in a recession so she should not be spending money. Therefore she had to make a decision on which item she'd take home with her. It was a hard choice. She found many tantalizing things to lure her money out of her pocket book including a very nicely priced pink Miramar planter, a great deal on a deer vase she had been wanting, and the Anchor Hocking version of the Kitchen Utensils mixing bowl set she wants. So the biggest thrill of the day was waiting for her decision. We happened by a friends' booth on the way out, before she made her ultimate decision, and she snagged a white, pink, and gold bird for her bedroom for $2. It matches a set I got in Warrenton a year ago that are blue and gold. That purchase primed the pump to stick with the pink and so she got the Miramar planter. It's so cute. Here's a picture of it on her flickr site The planter was only $8 so she got out of there for $10 which is probably a record for us! Especially when you think she went home with two items for $10. Amazing recession-time collectorating!

I picked up a record for $2 while she was paying for the planter. I collect records (what do I not collect???) although only half-heartedly. Anymore, if it doesn't fit into my theme of either a Frank Sinatra record or cover art with hearts or stars I tend to lose interest. This one fit into the star category and turned out to be a good record. My favorite track on the record is by the Willis Brothers called "When I come Driving Through". It's a catchy little tune about attracting girls with your truck. hahaha... I love it! I didn't know much about the Willis Brothers but it turns out they are famous for another trucking song called Give Me 40 Acres to Turn this Big Rig Around.

All in all it was another fun day at the City Wide. There won't be another for awhile... sigh... what will we do? I know what I will do! Bake a cake in my new pans!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Time for a Luau

So this is my fifth post on this blog, and for a second time already I am going to take back something I said. As with the last time (when I said that CollectoratorOne and only go once to Warrenton), this time is also for a good Collectorating reason. In my recent Seibel blog, I discussed how I wanted to start collecting the Vision pattern from Seibel's Impromptu line, well this weekend I've acquired a small starter set of the Luau pattern from this line. Now I realize that I said the reason I wanted to collect one of the original 8 patterns offered was because it would make it more likely that I'd find the pieces offered the pattern, including those that are more rare. However, actual availability in this case (as in available to me to purchase for a decent price at a local store) overrode desirability.

CollectoratorOne further justified the purchase by deducing the Luau pattern had to be in the next set of 5 offered through an ad in the Richard Racheter Seibel book. This ad was for the gift sets which include the rarer pieces so we know at least they were offered. Whether that many people actually bought the set is another question and is what keeps us collectorators going. The Luau set and the other four offered in that series (Garland as an example) were different from the first eight in that they offered an interesting use of accent color on the pieces a la the Informal line. For instance, the plate and platter have a solid spot of color in the center, the sugar bowl and casserole have a ring of color on the rim under the lid, and the cup and saucer has a solid accent color saucer.

The other justification is that it really does fit better into my previous justification of getting a fancy dish set for the spring/summer seasons (can you actually justify a previous justification??). The whimsy of the tropical flower design is also reminiscent of the Sleepy Hollow clematis vine which is my informal spring/summer line, so overall it is a better fit for spring/summer than the Vision line. Are you with me yet on the justifying???

Stayed tuned to see how I fair collecting this set. Currently I have 8 soup/cereal bowls and 8 bread and butter plates. Luckily they go together as the bread and butter plates make a nice pedestal for the soup bowl. I think the first thing I will serve in these dishes will be tomato soup. How awesome will bright red tomato soup look in that bowl!?

Also this weekend I landed a few other new items as well. A set of four ceramic birds that can either sit on a shelf or be hung on the wall. They are posed in flight. This is adds beautifully to my collection of flying bird sets (who knew I'd have a collection!) CollectoratorOne gave me this awesome wooden carved set of blue birds in flight for Christmas one year. I've never seen any other ones carved out of wood. It's always exciting starting a new set.
The other new item I acquired this weekend was a chartreuse Horton Ceramics long planter for my chartreuse dining room collection. Horton Ceramics was a ceramics company out of Eastland Texas. I couldn't find out much about the company other than they made a lot of head vases and animal shaped ceramics but they also made some planters and pots including this one. It is marked Horton Ceramics Texas 012 on the bottom. CollectoratorOne and I recently discovered this Texas pottery company in Warrenton when we saw an interesting pot that we did not buy but noted it was from Texas and therefore we've been keeping an eye out for it since. This piece has very interesting lines and a dash of black speckle.

All in all another good collectorating weekend. At some point I need to slow down on this collecting! My pocketbook can't keep up!!! Stayed tuned because I am sure I will have to soon take back this last statement as well.... =)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Got Gravy?

Today I got one step closer to completing my Ben Seibel Sleepy Hollow dinnerware collection with the addition of a new gravy boat! That makes two gravy boats I now have for the Sleepy Hollow pattern. It seems that the Iroquois Informal patterns have both the plain white accent color boat with its attached underbase (below) and a stand alone boat with the pattern on the inside, which is the piece I obtained today. I only knew of one (the plain attached underplate version), so I was surprised to find this one. It was an ebay find that I couldn't pass up. It's not listed on my pattern brochure, but maybe it was a piece added later or discontinued previously.

The yellow on the plain yellow and white one is a little lighter than the yellow of most of my other dishes, but it's likely just a variation. As CollectoratorOne and I have since read in Richard Racheter's Tableware Design's of Ben Seibel: 1940's -1980's (a super great book if you collect Seibel) there were four accent colors only so any seeming color variation is likely just from the production differences or use. We didn't find any discussion of two gravy boats in Richard Racheter's book either but maybe it was just common knowledge that there were two variations so no need to discuss it.

Now why would someone NEED two gravy boats. I actually have four at this point so no need to argue why one would need two when you have four! I have two for Sleepy Hollow and two identical ones for my Royal Star Glow pattern. I started with one and realized sometimes you just need more. Obviously, there's a need to house gravy, but imagine the scenario when you serve a vegetable with a mornay sauce in addition to the meat with a gravy, then what? You "could" serve the sauce on the vegetable but not everyone wants an equal amount of sauce so quite the dilemma develops. The Collectorator-girl would say "oh wait! I have two gravy boats! That'll solve the problem!" and everyone eats happily ever after.... As you can see things can get complicated pretty fast in a culinary serving situation without at least two gravy boats! I wonder what Meta Givens would say about all of this...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Collectorator Heaven Part II

Ok, so remember how I said that CollectoratorOne and I rarely go back to Warrenton more than once during the festival in fear of draining our bank accounts? Well, we threw caution to the wind and headed back out there this past weekend. As a precaution, we took my car this time instead of CollectoratorOne's SUV. Not that taking my car has stopped us from buying some large expensive items before (you'll have to read about that in my next post "Collectorators On the Road"), but we thought it might persuade us to at least keep things somewhat in check this time given both of us are currently lacking in space and funds.

The drive out was nice. CollectoratorOne has a new book about Ben Seibel dinnerware, which we have been collecting for awhile now. She read aloud about our two favorite Ben Seibel for Iroquois dinnerware lines, Informal and Impromptu, and it inspired me to go ahead and launch into that Impromptu collection I've always wanted. CollectoratorOne started the Seibel craze among us, and she has lots of good pieces. She collects Lazy Daisy (Informal) and Stellar (Impromptu), and I collect (so far) Sleepy Hollow (Informal). I originally thought I'd collect the Rosemary pattern, but a set of yellow Lustroware canisters and this very cool yellow kitchen cabinet I acquired early on determined for me that my kitchen color would be dominated by yellow. I began to ponder during our Seibel conversation the feasibility of having three, maybe four sets of dinnerware. Right now with my two sets (I also have a set of Royal China's Star Glow), I use the Star Glow in the Fall/Winter and the Sleepy Hollow during the Spring/Summer. Everyone plays along nicely with this at my house, although I am sure most people think I am nuts. Who has seasonal dinnerware....I started thinking, could I possibly have a set for every season? CollectoratorOne was quick to point out that the Informal line of Seibel is just that, Informal, and the Impromptu line is fancier. So before the car trip was over I decided I could have two Spring/Summer sets and two Fall/Winter sets: Seibel Impromptu and Raymor Universal sets for nicer occasions throughout the year, and the Seibel Informal and Royal China sets for your every day informal occasions. Now where to put all of those sets of dinnerware... I really need a bigger house....

I found out on the trip as well that my Sleepy Hollow dinnerware was not among the first 4 patterns offered in the Informal line. Although that was disappointing to find out, it's really nice so I am happy with it. It just means I have no chance of ever getting that lazy susan with the separate buffet serving dishes in my pattern! However, since I am starting from scratch with the Impromptu line, I figure why not get something from the initial patterns offered. Since CollectoratorOne already has the Stellar pattern, I decided upon Vision. Search for it here on the Flickr Seibel Group and check out the other Seibel Patterns while you are there. Vision is whimsical and modern enough, and the pattern makes me think of rain, albeit very abstract rain. So there you have it, my fancy Spring line, as it does rain a lot during the spring ...ok maybe I am stretching it a bit with the abstract rain part, but I really like this pattern best among the initial Impromptu patterns, and I'd like to stick with the original set of patterns mostly because you have a better chance of getting the offered pieces including some of the original interesting pieces such as the condiment set and candelabra set that were offered in the Impromptu line.

I decided before the end of the car ride that I'd venture into Siebel's Raymor Universal line as well. That will be harder to collect, but the pieces offered are amazing. My favorite pattern and hopefully the most prevalent is the Golden Burst (which you can find by searching the Seibel Flickr group as well). It is like a star burst, and it will make for a nice Fall/Winter fancy pattern. I really want the Spaghetti Server from this line. How practical and cool is that? My guess is that the sauce goes on the right hand side under the lid and the spaghetti on the left. Yum!

This brings me to another thought I had along the way. CollectoratorOne and I both actually use our collectibles for their original purpose. I wonder if we are a minority in doing that? I know a lot of people may not, but it seems so unfulfilling not to. Understandably, the pieces are rare and if it breaks you may never find it again and ruin that chance for someone else finding it in the future. So, obviously there's some caution and care you have to take when using them (and some people only get to use your plasticware because they cannot be trusted), but if one doesn't use them then do the collectibles just feel left out? All I know is that, if I could serve spaghetti in a Seibel Raymor Universal Spaghetti Server at a dinner party and hear my guests go “oooo” and “ahhh” they might just forget that I am serving spaghetti at a dinner party instead of a fancier meal. =)
Anyway.... with all of the Seibel discussion I felt like I had already gone shopping before we got to Warrenton! And I was determined to start my fancy Seibel collection that day! The second Saturday is officially the last day of the festival, however some people stay through Sunday. Regardless it's the day to get the best deals. We resolved that we'd try to go every last Saturday now as well as our usual day during preview week so we can be a little more leisurely and ensure that we see everything we want to see. This time, we decided we'd hit the other side of the street first which was an area we missed on the first day, but on our way past the booths where we parked, CollectoratorOne had the first find of the day. It's a lovely Shawnee leaf vase to go on her new Heywood Wakefield desk!!

Once we made it across the street, we wandered into the area where the guys with all the good McCoy reside. Normally we wouldn't dare enter the booth because we can't afford the usual prices, but being it was dealing day you never know. Luck would have it for us that almost everything in the booth was 40% off! CollectoratorOne spotted me another yellow Gilmer pot with its attached saucer! It's the same size as the one I found the other day. I was thinking earlier in the week that the poor little Gilmer was all alone but not anymore! We both hemmed and hawed over a few other things in the booth, namely a McCoy pot for CollectoratorOne and an awesome deco plant stand for me, but we left just with the Gilmer pot.

We wandered along leisurely, enjoying just looking at things, and we happened upon the lady with all the good hankies. Now, I am not allowed to buy any more hankies as I have way too many, but she also has a lot of other nice stuff. CollectoratorOne dove into the lingerie, and I spotted a white satin robe that had to come home with me. It's super fancy and nuptial-esque, but I love it. Course as always these kinds of robes are too long for me but that's what they made boudoir shoes for...

After another lunch of chicken salad sandwiches at Legal Tender, we went back to the McCoy booth since we couldn't stop thinking about the good deals in the booth and got the pot for CollectoratorOne and the plant stand for me. We had to go back to the car after that because even though the plant stand was light, it was definitely unwieldy to carry. When we were almost to the car, after I drug that plant stand halfway across Warrenton, CollectoratorOne found a plant stand of her own! Lucky for her she only had to carry it a little further It's very unique and a perfect little house for the baby Alamos.

We went up north of Bar W in hopes of finding some more stuff but it was pretty lame up that way this time. That area can hold really good finds sometimes because it seems that's where a lot of the random dealers set up with somewhat “junkier” stuff. Sometimes you can score the amazing piece that they don't know they have in that area. This time we were out of luck, also most of the dealers had packed up in the big tent that I usually look forward to. Maybe they had had it with the wind. It was pretty brutal for most of the week. CollectoratorOne found a cool kelly green Alamo planter but regardless of the fact it was dealing day it was No Deal(!) for that pot. We had to leave it there. It was neat though because it had a sticker instead of a stamp like Alamo's sometimes have.

We ended up in this one large building that is like a giant antique mall. The same dealers are there every year and that's where you can find all sorts of wondrous things you have never seen before. Pricey is also the key word. But after trudging across miles of fields in the sun, the AC, indoors, and real bathrooms are always nice. I just consider some booths like a museum. Look but don't touch. One of our favorite booths in that building is a kitchen collectibles booth organized by colors. We were just a few steps into the booth when CollectoratorOne shouted “Oh Deer!” I knew that was the signal that an amazing deer find had been spotted that she must have....She has a lot of deer that were obtained just in this way, check them out...

This deer was on a Fire King mixing bowl. The dealer told us it was rare and it was priced accordingly. Course it is so rare, the dealer had it makes you wonder just how rare it is. Granted maybe she has two because she doesn't sell them... if you think $75 is high for a set of the Pyrex Primary Color mixing bowls, this one bowl by itself was $75! And I thought only the Fire King Tulip bowls were that bad. The dealer said that they only made this one large-sized bowl in the gazelle pattern, and that it wasn’t part of a nesting bowl set. This seems hard to believe, but then again you never know – this is the first time we’ve ever seen this pattern in all our years of collectorating! Alas we had to leave the gazelle bowl there too. CollectoratorOne is in her own personal Recession, or rather Depression probably by this point, so there was no justifying $75 for that bowl. Too bad. I am sure we'll find another one for her someday.

We continued along and came across a booth that happened to have a lavender colored Alamo pot priced at a nice price for a change. It seems that dealers in Texas think that Alamo pots are rarer than they are. Maybe they really are rare, and they've just scooped them all up. I'd have to argue with that rarity point though given CollectoratorOne has somewhere on the order of 15 and I have 8. They seem less and less rare all the time. Course it doesn't stop anyone from telling us how rare they are to justify the price of them. We have never paid very much for one and yet you still see them for $40 plus for some of the smaller sizes even. So I couldn't pass up this lavender one for $15. Now granted, it was probably an off color garage sale item because it's probably supposed to be pink, BUT for me it's a nice additional pastel color. I started collecting the yellow ones first of course, BUT I decided to aim for lots of colors like the colors of flowers. Pictured here is my new Alamo plus the Alamo and Gilmer one that I acquired last week all on the new black plant stand from earlier in the day. I think they really do multiply.... As I was paying, CollectoratorOne spotted a marked Gilmer planter as well. We never see marked Gilmer anything. That IS rare. It has a huge crack in it, but it was only $5 so I rescued it for my chartreuse collection in my dining room. Now I don't have a problem with cracked pots unless it's so cracked it won't hold dirt and water. I just turn the crack where it can't be seen and get over it. Every piece of McCoy I have (which is not much) is cracked. Maybe that's wrong and breaking another collector code, but to me it's like rescuing the older broken down dog in the pound. No one wants it. I have a soft spot for such discarded items and animals.

The funny story in that booth was we saw this really cool lamp that had amazing colors, red, green and black and we both simultaneously exclaimed WOW! What a lamp! We checked out the price tag and believe it or not it said WOW! right on the tag. I guess that's the general reaction one gets when they see the lamp.

We continued along without much more luck. CollectoratorOne spotted an elusive large white Alamo, but it was priced way too high because it had its supposed original stand. See earlier discussion, this dealer too wanted to explain to us how rare this pot was as a way to justify the high pricing! We finally managed to escape that booth and left the “rare” pot there. The only other thing I scored that day was a wall lamp sconce that I've been dying to own. It's one that Dick Van Dyke had in his office on the show and that Mad Men have in their office. It’s a 1960’s double cone sconce (one pointing up and one pointing down). The only ones I've seen new, even in the restoration stores, are either up or down but not both. It was cheap, so it had to come home with me. I'll admit right now that I have a fixture problem. I keep buying them and not installing them. I am sure we can add this one to the list that includes the amazing dining room fixture I found (it has birds on it!), the deco foyer hanging lamp, and the two really cool lantern style hallway lights. I should do a whole post devoted to that. I can't help it though. Someday I will have the perfect house to install them in and if I don't get them I now I will regret it later. Until then I will just enjoy them off the wall. I'd really install this one if I had a sconce already on the wall somewhere in my house, but I do not. Probably easily remedied if you know what you are doing in the electricity department which I don't.

We wandered back through Bar W a little at the end of the day, realizing we had missed a lot of the booths given the whole Bar Triangle experience of the previous trip, but we didn't last long. Warrenton tiredness accompanied by Warrenton amnesia (that's when you keep asking yourself did I come in this booth already) had gotten the best of us so we headed home. Overall we were successful, got some good deals, and managed to NOT empty out our bank accounts...this time anyway... I spent the most money this time, and the find of the day, which we had to leave there was the deer bowl, we were tied on the deal of the day thanks to the McCoy booth that had such great deals. Had either of us had an extra empty bedroom in our house, the deal of the day would have been this amazing Heywood Wakefield Rio bedroom set. It was there the first day we were there, and it was still there the last day. Why no one got it I'll never understand. It was very reasonable to begin with - $1200 for the bed, the vanity with mirror AND original stool, and tall dresser. By dealing day it was marked down to only $1,000, and they offered to make us an even better deal! Both of us really wished we could have justified buying that set. We really need larger houses....The disappointment of the day for me was no new Seibel. We didn't even see a single piece of it. Not even Harvest Time which we usually see too much of. I guess the universe is also waiting for me to get that larger house...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Collectorator Heaven

Every year, CollectoratorOne and I mark our calendars with two big red stars, on the days that we plan to attend the Warrenton Antique Festival in March/April and September/October. If there is a separate Heaven for Collectorators, Warrenton would be it. Can you imagine what that would be like, suddenly every collectible you have ever searched for would be right there in front of you and at a great deal! The Warrenton festival is an offshoot of the Round Top festival, we prefer Warrenton because it's larger, free, and the vendors are the nicest folks. I would like to see Warrenton some time when there was no festival there, I bet it is beautiful in its simplicity then. During the festival, though, it is covered with tents and every collectible under the sun. The festival lasts for two weeks, but we only go for one day. We would drain our bank accounts if we dared to go more than one day.

This year we were hit with the traditional Warrenton curse....rain.....Normally rain is good, but when you are traipsing across fields that have turned to mud it is no longer good. Luckily this year the rain kept itself to a minimum, but it had poured the previous few days so the fields were mud pits. We barely noticed though once we were off and running.

Our first stop was to one of our most favorite dealers. We recently found out that they always attend Warrenton, but we hadn't been in the building they set up camp in for years. Not surprising as you couldn't possibly see everything there is every year, not in one day anyway. It goes on for miles. She wasn't at her booth so we walked around awhile nearby and an immediate score for me was this Gilmer pot:

Now it might not seem that exciting at first BUT we just discovered that Gilmer was the offshoot of the Alamo Pottery Company out of San Antonio. After it closed, the designers opened their own company and made similar pots. We have seen these pots for years, but because we had collected Alamo pots first we felt that the now known Gilmer pots were fakes. Course we didn't know the history until CollectoratorOne got the book so we always passed them up. This is what an Alamo Pots look like (scallop goes down and to the right where as Gilmer pots go down and to the left):

Now the great thing about the Gilmer pot I found is on the way to Warrenton I was looking at the aforemented Alamo pottery book in which CollectoratorOne had found that the Gilmer pots often came with an attached saucer. We may have seen one of these before but they are not very common. So I made the comment that if I saw a Gilmer with its saucer I'd get it even though it goes the wrong way. And wouldn't you know it, right out of the gate I found one. I bought it immediately. We haggled over a large white Alamo as well, but ultimately it was too expensive. I probably paid too much for the yellow one as well but it was a rarity given the attached saucer. Later I saw two more with their saucers in another booth, the two smaller sizes (this one I got is the largest), but they were even more money. So the one I ended up with was worth the money, justifiable by the Collectorator credo which is if you find one more expensive than what you paid for yours then it was a good price. =) I also ended up with a Oneida Community silver box for my Lady Hamilton silver flatware. It's nothing to write home about but it's good to have as it was all jumbled together before.

The next good stop was back at our favorite dealer's booth. We were able to find a few clothing gems. My favorite thing there was this black dress. It's a vintage Herbert Sondheim original from NYC, 7th avenue. Its silk and fits like a glove. Herbert Sondheim was the dad of the legendary Brodway composer Steven Sondheim and one of Jackie-O's favorite designers while JFK was still a senator. Apparently one of her favorite sleeveless sundresses was one she wore to church on a Good Friday, which garnered her a lot of negative attention. Here's a good story about it:

I also scored a navy robe (I have quite the robe obsession going on these days, I work at home so I've traded new work clothes for vintage robes. fair trade), a pink night gown by Rhythm Romancer (!) and these fabulous navy gloves with red bows. I just think gloves should come back in style. Why did they ever go out of style?? CollectoratorOne scored a fun black shirt a la Laverne and Shirley. It is adorable!

We moved on through the fields and one of the next finds for me was a little yellow bamboo pot, possible Shawnee, CollectoratorOne is doing the research on that one. Like I need another yellow pot, BUT it was on the half price table so hard to resist when it's only $9. CollectoratorOne scored a butter dish finally, a nice clear Fire King one that will work with any dishes. She resisted several along the way and suddenly the right one appeared. Shortly after that she scored an amazing deal on this West Coast Pottery Vase I think it could be used as a purse too! Albeit a very breakable purse...

My next big find of the day, literally, was another Gilmer pot. I figured I had already gone down the Gilmer road, what's the harm of another one? It's yellow of course. Here it is at home with its fellow yellow Alamo pot, nicely flanking my favoirte pink Alamo. I am a little worried putting a Gilmer next to an Alamo, I am not sure what they might reproduce when I am not looking...scallops that go up and down???

We had to make a trip to the car after that purchase, but on the way back I found my best find of the day. CollectoratorOne ultimately got the BEST FIND OF THE DAY award (read on), but for me these were the best of the day...and to think I almost left without them. We wandered into the booth with the guy who sells a variety of quirky stuff, you'd not know it from looking at his booth as a whole, but he always has something cool in it. One time he had this AMAZING cobalt blue glass mirror but he had broke it on the trip down. This time he had several neat items including a record player that was in a little 60's style console. I of course wanted it, but given I have three record players already I figured I should leave well enough alone. We spotted some end tables though and it was all over. See, I've been wanting new end tables for a long time, but I have an attachment to my grandparent's and although they do not go with my other furniture, blood is thicker than...well new end tables. I tried to talk myself out of them by saying there wasn't a round center table that matched, but I knew I was going home with them because not only where they cool they were only $40 for both of them and they were in excellent condition. If I saw those at a store at home, they would easily be over $100. I actually made a good faith effort to my "blood" and left the booth BUT we were back shortly thereafter. CollectoratorOne can talk you into just about anything when she knows you should have it, and she's always right. So the tables are now in their new home with the new lamps I got from CollectoratorOne in a lamp swap. I am only borrowing her shades though, on-loan...

Note how cool the sides are: three tiers and the lovely insert which is aluminum. We thought it was glass at first. The best part is the wood grain which is in a checkered pattern. It matches all the waffle decor I have in the living room (I'll do a later post about my waffle obsession). Now of course I have to find the round center table that will "go" with it. It's always fun to have something to look for! Thank you CollectoratorOne!

After that we had lunch at the Legal Tender Saloon. They make the absolutely best chicken salad sandwich, hands down. I think it's all due to the giant slices of homemade bread because the chicken salad part is simple, so why it tastes so good I'll never quite understand. They probably go through thousands of sandwiches a day. The worst Warrenton day ever was when we were late at getting lunch one time, and they were out of chicken salad!!! We'll never make that mistake again.

We had already had a great day and typically by lunch we are tired, hot, and frustrated because we haven't found enough. Not this time. We headed back out with our cart now in tow thinking it would just bring us bad luck given all the luck we had without the cart in the morning. We were off to a slow start, because our usual favorite places were coming up empty. We found some orphaned pink bathroom pieces (tub, sink and toilet) but obviously we couldn't bring those home. So we trudged on...I ended up scoring a little deco aluminum tray somewhere along the way to add to my tray collection (I don't know why I need more trays... I just do).

But, CollectoratorOne was the next lucky one... We were merrily going along when she spotted the Heywood Wakefield desk she's always wanted. As long as I have known her she's been collecting Heywood Wakefield. I always wanted to get in on the action, but given my love for dark wood the two just don't go together. We made our way over to the desk thinking that it'd be the usual overly expensive piece. However, imagine our surprise when we found out it was only $495. We talked to the dealers awhile as CollectoratorOne debated getting it, it turned out they were from a town nearby us so we built up a rapport quickly knowing it could lead to future deals. I knew CollectoratorOne was not going anywhere without that desk. It was in perfect condition, and they had even refinished the top. They also shared how to refinish Heywood Wakefield furniture with the right color that perfectly matches. So not only was it ultimately good collectorating, it was also a good learning experience. They eventually came down $100 on the desk so there was no more thinking about it at that point. They also had a cool set of nesting tables that CollectoratorOne also wanted but she had to be good... Here's a picture of the desk in it's new home....

Isn't it beautiful? Definitely the find of the day. And boy howdy was that thing heavy. The drawer alone must be taller and heavier than me. Getting it home was another on....

So we left the desk to sit and wait for us and headed off, but in looking back at the desk one more time CollectoratorOne spotted an Alamo pot. Most of the ones we had seen throughout the day were too expensive but this one was $10. It was a little messed up, shape-wise, and therefore it probably originally sold at the garage sale the company had for it's rejects. But for me, it was Alamo and cheap so it came home with us.

We headed up through the Bar W area after that. It was pretty dry collectible-wise (although the ground wasn't!) up that way too until I spotted a vintage silk white robe with navy trim. Given it was exactly opposite of what I found earlier in the day I thought I should try it on. It didn't fit very well but the dealer said she had more clothes under this big pile of stuff. Then it was like the Collectorator Heavens opened up and went AHHHHHH!!! in that pile we found this really cute cute cute quilted pink robe with black trim that zips up the front. $20 = Mine, especially given that it fit well, like a dress. Even the belt is like the kind on a dress. I envision myself wearing this constantly when I am old. Everywhere. I am going to be the crazy lady in the pink robe...mark my words... If that wasn't enough CollectoratorOne pulled out another pink nightgown peignoir set from the 1940s. It's stunning. I have a lot of 1950s/1960s peignoir sets but not one from the 1940s. The fabrics on the two pieces are different, the nightgown being silk and the robe being organdy, but they definitely go together. The tags are slightly different, both by Gilbreath but the night gown says Nightlife by Gilbreath. Again $20 = mine. I can't find any info on it right now on the label yet.

Our next stop was at the booth with the man with two first names who always recognizes us and loves us. He's had clothes the past few times and gives us a nice deal with the "lady friend" is not around. All the clothes had been rained on and so they were quite soggy, so even better deals were in order. We scored everything for $10 each so that was nice. CollectoratorOne got a soggy Gay Gibson velvet dress with a little jacket, and I got a nice white Jackie O dress with a big poofy rose on it which will go perfectly with this awesome pair of white gloves I have (presuming the dress fits of course). I also got a cute green and orange cotton dress (also not sure it fits yet). We left there and got something to drink and I promptly dumped part of my iced tea into my bag with the nice white Jackie-O dress. ugh. Everyone knows that tea is a nice way to dye fabric....there was nothing I could do at the time, but when I got home later I tried to oxyclean it out but it turned into a "Cat in the Hat" style stain spreading all over the dress. That meant I had to bring in the big guns to get the stain out. One of our favorite dealers in town gave us this cleaner that like oxyclean uses oxygen to clean, but you have to let it sit over night in the solution. It is worth the wait because that stuff works. Not only has it fixed all but ruined pillow cases stained beyond help, but now my nice white Jackie-O dress. I have no idea where she gets it or I'd share...

We trudged along awhile longer getting lost and turned around in Bar W. No matter how many times we try to get that right we never seem to. I am not sure what it is about Bar W, it should be renamed Bar Triangle because you might go in there and never get out! We wrapped things up pretty quickly after that, none of the booths we usually have luck at had anything we had to have this time and the wind started picking up so all the dealers were scrambling to save their stuff. We decided to just head back to pick up the desk and end tables instead of trying to forage on. We didn't go up past Bar W where we sometimes find stuff in the giant tent, and we didn't go across the street where we usually find some good stuff. For some reason, time just got away from us, but it was a good day nevertheless.

Bar W will always be the site of my favorite Warrenton memories. We have had a lot of fun over the years in that area. My most favorite Collectorating memory though was when we were driving out of Bar W one time and CollectoratorOne spotted a painting she had to have that she didn't see when we had walked by there before. I hopped out of the car, bought the painting, and was back in the car before anyone behind us good get mad. Now THAT is good Collectorating skill. To this day it's one of her favorites, a Terone I believe?

Next came probably the most fun part of the day, watching CollectoratorOne work her magic, packing everything we bought into her SUV. If you ever move, you want CollectoratorOne directing the packing of your van. She will perfectly fit in as much as possible in a very nice neat organized way. I don't know how she does it, her brain must just work that way. It took awhile and some trial and error, but as luck would have it one of the legs unfortunately fell off one of my new end tables and ended up being a key to getting it all to fit in the SUV. I really wish I would have taken a picture of the packed SUV! It was impeccably packed. We drove back hoping we would not have to slam on the brakes because I don't think my little end tables would have been a good opponent to the desk. We have had some incredible times packing things up and driving back. I'll have to share those in my next post. "Collectorators On the Road"

All in all, we had a great collectorating day. I spent too much money of course, but all on things that I will love forever so it's worth every dime. CollectoratorOne won this time in all categories: money spent, find of the day, and deal of the day!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

City Wide Shopping

Every month we have a city-wide garage sale. It's not like it sounds, I spent a good number of years in this town before I realized that I would actually like the City Wide garage sale. I didn't start going regularly until I met CollectoratorOne (, and for the past 10 years you can count on one hand the number that we've both missed. It's aisles and aisles of collectibles that change monthly, a Collectorator's dream shopping venue. It used to be held in the old city coliseum but they tore that down for no reason other than to build a bigger, and probably more insulated, venue to host such events. I miss the coliseum, it was a perfect old dusty venue for dusty old items . I especially miss digging through the piles of clothes the Miracle Man would bring, vintage clothes $6 each, "It's a Miracle!". He'd pile up the clothes up the bleachers and we'd slowly but surely move the entire pile up or over just a little so we could view each piece. And believe me we saw each piece. I think I owe 25% of my wardrobe to the Miracle Man. Now, he still comes, but the clothes are on tables and try as we might, it's just not the same. Nevertheless, the City Wide each month brings all sorts of treasures. We were really hoping our favorite new vendor would be there this month but no luck. I did manage to snag a few fun items though.

The find of the day has to be this 1940's McCoy (hopefully not fake) Bird of Paradise statue. It's the right measurements but you never know. The reason I say this is because I obtained it for a mere $6, "It's a Miracle!" Either the people did not know what they had, or it's a fake and/or reproduction. Either way given I love birds (if you've seen my flickr site you know this already, a $6 bird statue is still a find in my book any day!

I also scored two frilly nightgowns from the 1960s. Nothing makes me happier than frilly nightgowns (except maybe birds!). A nice yellow Vanity Fair one with a matching peignoir robe and it turns out it was more of a score than I thought. I bought it because it was the right size and yellow, a color I do not have. BUT, I have been searching for awhile now for the kind that has this goddess like train from the middle of the back. I have no idea what this style is called (I wish I knew!), but I love it. I first saw Samantha on Bewitched wear one and then one of Don Draper's many love interests on Mad Men. I coveted one. Now I have one! I'll post a picture of it soon. It's incredibly difficult to photograph such things with the proper justice. The other one I scored was a pink Munsingwear one with cute little flowers on the bodice. No robe with this one. super cute. It's pictured here below.
CollectoratorOne indulged me as well at the end of the day by letting me dig through the Miracle Man's pile of aprons. Much easier to dig through than the table full of clothes. I am obsessed with finding cute aprons of every color AND I am trying to amass an entire holiday collection. I got a step closer with a nice blue one covered with stars. It'll be a great one for Fourth of July! Ok so it doesn't have RED in it but it'll work... I did also find a 1940's half apron that DOES have red and white stripes but no stars. I guess I can wear both and satisfy ALL of the 4th of July criteria....Warrenton is up next... stay tuned....