Weekend Finds: Odds, Ends and the Answer to Your Culinary Woes

I wasn’t in a shopping mood this past weekend but, of course, it didn’t stop me from squeezing a couple tag sales in on Saturday. Sometimes I go just because I know that if I don’t I’ll sleep in until after I would have been home anyway. When you look at it that way, it just doesn’t make sense not to go. Right? Anyway, I didn’t bring home a big haul but I was happy with my finds.

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My first purchase was a bit of an unsure one at the time I grabbed the tag. This American of Martinsville etagere has kind of a honey-colored Mediterranean vibe, not really the modern look I go for. But what drew me to it was the amount of display space it provides while taking up a tiny amount of space—and the glass shelves make it appear even smaller. My bedroom is pretty eclectic anyway and color-wise, this should fit right in.  Now I just have to decide what to put on it.

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At the same sale I found this great chain mail wrapped vintage seltzer bottle. This is one of those iconic things that I always saw in every old movie I ever watched growing up and I couldn’t resist. I love how detailed it is, including a red pinstripe on the bottle barely visible through the chain.

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At another estate sale I picked up this festive little guy. Although I admit it’s a little hard to take a tiger with sapphire rhinestone eyes seriously. He’s fierce, but it’s a different kind of fierce.

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These 1960s old world globe bookends were another fun find. I think globes and globe-related things are basically just bug zappers for people who like vintage things. They get me every time.

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At first I thought this was a magazine rack but after pondering that the giant, floppy magazines of the 1950s would never stay put in such a contraption, I realized it is a record holder. And a pretty sweet one at that. Does it make your albums take up 300% more space than if you had them stacked or in a cabinet? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

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For just a buck I was not leaving without this plastic dracaena plant. It’s set in concrete in a “lovely” gold burnished plastic pot. I’m hoping a few good whacks with a hammer will take care of both so that I can relocate this faux flora to my 1950s bullet planter.

IMG_5647I’m a sucker for a vintage blender, especially a classy little devil like this. What I really love most about it is the accompanying booklet that touts it as the “cookbook blender.” Odd wording, especially in reference to an appliance exclusively used for smoothies and daiquiris. But once you read the book you’ll understand that it’s so much more than that. In fact, you’ll wonder why you don’t use a blender each and every day.  From soups to pastries, there’s apparently nothing this modern marvel can’t help you in the preparation of. Then again, most of those tasks could also be accomplished by a large spoon or a knife. Still, the ambition is something to be admired.

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Weekend Finds: A Run of Fun Garage Sales

Garage sales can often feel like a waste of time, but when you do hit a good one you seem to forget all about the bad sales. Last Friday and Saturday seemed to be my weekend for finding things. I found items from a vintage 1960′s fire extinguisher to antique Christmas tree decorations. Get ready for lots of pictures.

Up first is a Presto soda-acid fire extinguisher dating from 1960. I couldn’t pass it up after seeing the $2.00 price tag on it.

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At the same sale I also snagged this collection of antique cast iron lasts with stands. These where used by cobblers in the making and repairing of shoes.

IMG_4077The children’s sizes are so darn cute!

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Friday morning I snagged two pairs of spun silver jewelry. Each set includes a pendant and pair of clip-on earrings.

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At another sale I spotted a ribbon covered in a collection of pins mostly dating from the 1970′s like Garfield and Holly Hobby. As I was putting it down I noticed this antique portrait pin on the bottom. I asked if I could just buy the one pin and was told they all needed to go as a set, so I didn’t argue and paid the $0.50 for the whole ribbon. The pin is about the size of a nickel.

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I also found a bunch of vintage and antique Christmas tree decorations, clips and reflectors.

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Along the back are colorful foil Christmas tree light reflectors. I found two different sets of clip-on tree candle holders that where first patented in 1882. The colored blue, red and yellow clip-ons are embossed tin painted with colored lacquer which easily fades and losses its color. A small metal basket with fruit ornaments will look darling hanging on my tree. But my favorite are the pre-1900′s counter-weight clay-ball candle holders, produced starting around 1867. I’ve wanted to find some of these counter-weight candle holders for a while now but never thought I would find them at a garage sale. Oh, the fire hazards they must have been.

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Antique counter-weight clay-ball candle holders. So cool!

This next find I just liked and so I bought it and luckily when I got home my husband was just as excited about it. It’s an old blade switch fuse panel. Now to figure out what to do with it.

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What is better than an old jar? How about one with a cute galvanized lid like this one.

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A set of dinner trays with a flower and line design.

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This next snag was for my boys. It was priced $1.00 and labeled Indian artifact. Of course I had to ask the elderly gentleman where it had come from. He said he had dug it out of an Iowa river bed. I asked him if he had repaired it and he said the crack was in it when he found it. I loved that he had found it himself so I told him, “Sold”. My oldest son completely loves it. It will be a great “show and tell” item.

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I picked up two vintage cameras. The first one is a 1950-1960′s Brownie Holiday Flash. Its body is Bakelite and is a great dark brown color. Have I mentioned brown is my favorite color! The other camera is an early 1950′s Pickwik Candid Type. It also is made of Bakelite and comes with the original box and instructions. I really like the design around the lens.

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Lastly, is an old Bissell carpet sweeper. I couldn’t believe its condition and it is in working order, although I have no plans of using it.

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The instructions are still on the bottom of the sweeper.

What a fun, fun weekend of garage sales.

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Before and After: Kroehler Avant Chairs

A couple weeks ago I purchased a set of lovely Kroehler Avant his and hers chairs. They’re upholstered chairs, but the really cool part is that they have little touches of wood at the legs, arms and back. While the chairs were in pretty great shape upholstery-wise, 40 plus years of rubbing on those wooden arms had taken their toll.

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Wood worn bare surrounded by a thick layer of hand-gunk (my very scientific name for the film created by years of skin oils and dirt combining) are the marks of a chair well loved. I, however, don’t much care for the lingering reminder of another persons touch and set off to refinish these arms. Refinishing wood surrounded by upholstery can be a little tricky. It takes a lot of masking and a steady hand to make sure all the chemicals don’t stray from the wood.

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For this step, my best friends were painter’s tape and a putty knife. I tore the tape into small pieces and used the knife to carefully work it between the wood and cording without tearing it. It took about an hour to tape all four arms, but the time spent here means the fabric didn’t get destroyed by the next several steps.

You might remember Angela’s very similar post on refinishing chair arms. For her project she sanded the wood down and was able to use Danish oil to recolor the dark wood. In this case, there were a few different challenges. First of all, the fact that the wood here is surrounded entirely by fabric (and by this point tape) made strip-sanding a risky endeavor. One little rip in that masking tape and you’re sunk. The other difference was the color. Angela’s chair was dark, but the wood here was stained a warm amber color. This would require some stain trickery.

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Since aggressive sanding was out, I decided to use furniture refinisher to remove the finish. Usually this product is applied with steel wool to melt away varnish in a wet and wild process. To keep liquids under control, I just used paper towels soaked in refinisher to gently rub the wood bare. It takes a little longer, but the upside is there is no abrasion to the wood; it’s perfectly smooth when you’re done. I very carefully sanded the wood with a 320 grit sanding sponge, just to make sure any residue was gone. Sanding sponges are awesome for curved surfaces like these because they can conform to any shape.

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Now, to match that color. Color matching is never easy and without professional tools and equipment isn’t always even possible. But I would try my best. First I used Minwax traditional pecan stain. The result was an only slightly more orange version of the bare wood, but not nearly as brown as the other wood on the chair. Next I applied Minwax provincial stain. A little better, but this wood wasn’t very absorbent and therefore wiping stain just wasn’t yielding a deep enough color shift. Time for a heavier pigment. When I need to make big color changes, I often choose gel stain. My favorite brand is General Finishes. Their colonial maple was the closest match and after two wipe-on-wipe-off coats, I had a perfect color match. Three coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal satin wipe-on urethane and it was good as new.

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Sometimes it just takes a little trial and error. Never be afraid to stop and reassess a project if things aren’t looking right. Many people would have been satisfied by clear coating the wood or may have stopped after trying any old wiping stain, but the perfectionist in me is very glad I spent the extra time to find the right product and technique to make it match. And the best part is that next time I need to do this, I’ll be ready to roll.

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A Comment Snafu

Awhile back, we were getting tons of spam despite having a few spam filters set up in WordPress. So I, in my newborn foggy state, changed one of our comment settings to require logging in with a username and password when I adjusted a few other settings. Whoops! Thanks to a Snag commenter, we’ve been alerted to this problem and have fixed the issue.

Bad news is we’ve missed out on some comments and have made you, the reader experience some difficulty communicating.

Good news is you can now comment freely! We’ve missed hearing from you all and are halfway glad there is a reason for the radio silence.

Speaking of radio, here’s a quick picture of a recent find of mine.

Ham Microphone

This is a ham radio desk microphone made by Astatic. It’s pretty sweet, heavy and shiny, but is unfortunately missing a few screws and a base to cover the wires and is fairly filthy. At only $2 I think I’ll be able to figure something out to make it worth my time since a quick eBay search shows these selling for around $25. It was found at a church sale and was the only thing I walked away with, I couldn’t leave it there knowing that it might not be restored.

Again, sorry for the inconvenience and we look forward to hearing from you once again. Let the comments begin!

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Highway Sale

A few weeks ago my dad and I decided to haul my two boys along for a early morning highway long sale. I had never been to the sale and have always gotten mixed reviews but my dad and I were up for the challenge. My first finds was at a farm house right off the highway. We drove past it and I’m glad I made my dad turn around because I walked out with this light which they had just pulled out of the old farm house.

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At the same farm I found this world history map that had been bought from a school auction. It consists of 10 maps in all. I couldn’t believe the $20 price tag on it. Each map is full of lots of colors. My sister made claim to it so it will hanging it in her basement.

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At another farm stop I found a group of license plates for my husbands garage wall collection. Not too shabby paying $1.50 for all 6 plates.

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This “Made in Taiwan” floor-standing gumball machine replica, which is in great working order, is for my boys.

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I couldn’t resist these two miniature bone china bird family sets. They are so tiny and cute.

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I also had a wee bit of Christmas luck. Aren’t these two Christmas elves creepy?

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A very cute set of reindeer.

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Also a Knox Gelatine recipe book with a copyright date of 1927!

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Many of the recipes look tasty but I think I will pass on everything on these two pages.

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My favorite find of the day came from a teeny tiny town. I have been looking for a lightning rod at the right price for a few years now. This one was priced at $20 and came with not one but two milk glass balls. I asked the seller where he had gotten it from and he said it had come off of his older friend’s early 1900′s house in town. My boys asked me what it was and I was able to point two houses down from the sale to find a home with one still sitting on the roof. I love these things and finally have one.

IMG_3929Many times the ornamental lighting rod balls were broken when little boys with BB guns used them for target practice. Darn kids but it would be very tempting, don’t you think?

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