My Little Angels

My favorite part of collecting vintage Christmas decorations is the significance we attach to otherwise insignificant things. The tchotchkes that someone once bought thoughtlessly for nickels and dimes become cherished memories for someone else over the years. An ornament. A figurine. A string of fancy lights. Something that year after year magically appeared and officially signified that Christmas had begun. A couple weeks ago at a flea market I found something from my own holiday memories.

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For as long as I can remember, each Christmas my mom would place a little set of 1950s ceramic angel candle holders that spelled “noel” on top of the television. They lived in a little box identical to the one above. They had belonged to her grandmother and, even though I had only known her for a short while, I always thought the connection to the past was pretty special.

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When they were out, it was Christmas. It always sort of blew my mind that no matter what had ever changed throughout the decades, these little ladies showed up year after year and were the same. Every time I’d look at them I’d imagine how everything might have been 10, 20, 40 years into the past. The people, place and times that were—all absorbed into the porcelain like a time capsule.

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Fortunately my mom still has those little angels as well as an identical set that belonged to her mother. I was happy to find this set for only $4, especially considering complete sets often go for $30-40. They weren’t perfect though. Much like my great-grandmother’s set one letter was broken, in this case the “L” required some gluing. That wasn’t much of a deterrent. In addition to the original box, they also came with the original box of candles, though that did not prove to be very useful.

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As a child, one of my favorite things to do was to rearrange the order of the angels. There was some novelty to the fact that reversing the order of the letters spelled the name of my hometown.

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Aside from making a great addition to my vintage holiday décor, these will be a great reminder of Christmases past—knowing that each time I see them I’ll appreciate some of same things three other generations of my family saw in them.

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Elves, Gnomes, Hedgehogs and More

I have been finding some of the strangest things lately and I just can’t leave them behind. This first find is so odd. I’ve seen numbers of ceramic animal families with chains but never an overwhelmed elf with two little ones. It is numbered “7889, Japan.”

Ceramic Chain elfs

My next find came from a tag sale and if you think just one would have been enough…

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How about a happy family of 6 gnomes? Of course I had to buy them all since they were priced as a set for $15.00. These were hand painted in the 1970s. What a fun ceramics class it must have been. Now to figure out what I’m going to do with this lazy bunch of gnomes.

Ceramic gnomes

So now on to the hedgehogs. I bought this Steiff hedgehog family at a monthly flea market. It was my only buy that morning but I was pretty happy with this find. They even have their Steiff buttons on the wrist bands! The lady hedgehog is Micki and the fella is Mecki. Their faces are made out of rubber and are showing some age. I love their white tipped hair. I’m guessing them to date from between 1952-1958 by using their yellow tag numbers.

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Finally, I couldn’t leave without buying this vintage roll of Christmas tissue paper. Yes, it is a roll of vintage holiday designed toilet paper I purchased at Salvation Army. Would you not have bought is for $0.79? Now I’m torn between leaving it rolled up or opening to see the images on the roll. What would you do?

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They thought of everything with this product even using non-irritating ink! What a nice touch.

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Weekend Finds: The Drought Yields

I’m not going to lie, I just haven’t been finding much lately. Like nothing. Nothing at all. Perhaps it’s because of the premature arctic blast that keeps coming and going at will or the deep desire to organize the nonsensical chaos that my home has become, but I just haven’t been feelin’ it lately. And the few times I’ve ventured out I’ve come back empty handed. This weekend was a little different though. I went snagging with Angela and Tammy for the first time in a long time and I think we do better together.

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My first find was this amazing pair of Italian enameled ash trays.

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The colors are so interesting and I love the mix of gloss enamel and matte black. They’re labeled Vallenti, Italy but I couldn’t really pin down any information on the designer or maker. All I know is that they are amazing and I had to have them.

IMG_6474I also scored this cool footed pottery compote. The glazed design makes me think it may also be Italian, but the mark on the base is completely unintelligible.

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Oddly, one of my favorite finds of the entire weekend was this trivet.

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It’s just kind of weird and amazing. What do a rooster, a whale, a carousel horse and an indian have in common? I honestly have no idea other than they all landed on this trivet that I couldn’t say no to. The white glaze on red clay makes for a very interesting look.

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The back side is almost as cool as the front. Despite the wealth of information displayed, I wasn’t able to find much information about it other than it came in a few other colors.

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My last find of the day is admittedly a little out of edit for me, but I just thought they were kind of over-the-top fabulous. Striped silk upholstery, all that tufting, down cushions—you just feel stupid fancy when you sit in them and they’re surprisingly comfortable. I’ll be finding new homes for them, but I felt a responsibility to get them into the right hands.

Perhaps this means the drought is over? Maybe. But if it isn’t, at least these pieces can tide me over until the vintage rains come once again.

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How To: A Vintage Inspired Tree Skirt

After scouring Etsy, eBay, a few thrift stores and your recommendations, the craft bug got to me. I set out making a tree skirt that was mostly inspired by this 1950s wrapping paper posted on the blog Present & Correct.

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So cute. With this pattern in mind, I went to our local fabric store to get some felt. Here’s what you’ll need for this project. Trust me, it’s easy and cheap.

Supplies:
Felt for the skirt: I made my skirt for a smallish aluminum tree, so in the end I needed 1 1/2 yards. It was on sale and only $2.99 a yard so $4.50 total.

Felt for the shapes: I used three different colors and bought the individual sheets of felt that were four for $1.00. This time I tried to pick something more modern (the neon pink), because I like to pair vintage with modern. I had a lighter pink and it looked super granny.

Aleene’s Tacky Glue: Hopefully you have this on hand because it’s so useful. If not, it’s around $1.50.

Scissors: I used my Fiskar’s spring-loaded scissors because I was lazy. You can also use a nice pair of shears.

Tree Skirt SuppliesThat’s it! Here’s how you make it.

I folded my felt in half then in half again and drew a semicircle using my measuring tape and a marker stolen from my son’s markers. Fancy. Just hold the tape in the corner with all the folds and pull the marker around in a semi-circle. Cut it out.

Then, use a glass to mark a small middle circle where it will wrap around the tree stem. I should have used a smaller glass. Now you know.

Tree Skirt Cutouts

Next, cut a line from the outside if your skirt to the inside circle you just cut out. My felt was heavily creased so I carefully followed that fold line.

Then, cut your little shapes. I used three colors of felt and cut a strip 1″ long out of the felt. Then I cut each strip to 1″ square. Some I made into little triangles. You can layer the felt and cut two at once. This speeds things up!

Cut out…oh…45 shapes of each color. It goes quickly, believe me. I think I spent half an hour cutting shapes. If you have a rotary cutter, a cutting board and a ruler this goes so fast. If not, you can cut strips with scissors.

Tree Skirt Cutting Board

Next, put them as randomly as you can on your skirt. I’d like to say I didn’t stare and over-analyze every shape placement. But I totally did. Once you’re happy, glue them in place with your tacky glue.

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My skirt was done in about an hour and a half and cost $5.50. It looks so vintage and no one else has one like it I’m sure!

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Now if everything else in here wasn’t so beige. Work in progress I keep telling myself!

I love the skirt peeking out from below the aluminum tree!

Tree Skirt Overhead View

The last thing I’m wondering is if I need to finish the felt edge. Pom-pom fringe maybe? What do you think?

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Window Shopping

A few weeks ago I did most of my Christmas shopping, unfortunately none of it involved vintage or antique shopping. After a quick trip to the mall, my 8 year old son and I headed to the old main street to check out one of my favorite toy stores that I have visited since I was a child. The store is filled with toys and tucked in among the items for sale are wonderful vintage toys that give the shop charm. Just look at this giant Steiff giraffe.

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As soon as I walked up to the front window I wanted to go back in time to buy some of the toys they had on display. Just look at all these Steiff puppets.

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The big brown bear in the back corner of the window is usually standing in the front of the store during the summer months and most kids give it a hug when they walk into the store. My guess is it stands about 6 feet tall.

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Joey checking out the toys.

I did go back to this store to buy something my son had liked and was was pretty bummed to see these new puppets now on display in the window.

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I just love that this little shop lets me enjoy the old toys while the kids get to shop for the new ones.

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