Monday, November 28, 2011

Deck The Halls With Flea Market Finds

The flea market is our go-to place for bargain holiday decorating. Although Christmas items pop up year-round, vendors bring out the bulk of their decorations in September. On this trip to the flea market, we were on the hunt for Shiny Brites and other colorful ball ornaments to display in a glass bowl on a coffee table. Jennifer was on the lookout for pinecone elves to add to her growing collection, and Kitty was hoping to get a deal on a few Mercury glass ornaments (the heavy ones with mirroring inside) to showcase on ornament hangers on a bookcase. 

Although the Mercury glass was too spendy for our pocketbooks, we did find two-dozen Shiny Brites for $9. (They wanted $5 a box, but since we bought two boxes, we got a dollar off.) We found three pinecone pixies for Jennifer ($3 each!), and the vendor threw in a tiny bottlebrush tree that we admired. 

We also stumbled upon a bunch of hilarious old Christmas cookbooks. We think it’ll be a kick to set them out at our annual cookie party––we might even make some of the kooky cookie recipes. (What are Molasses Crinkles?!)

Crafters’ Delight
As crafters, we like to snatch up old craft books at the flea market. The methods are timeless, so we update the looks with modern materials and embellishments. This visit, we wanted holiday books with retro projects that are back in style, such as felt appliqué Christmas stockings. Jennifer found instructions for an old-fashioned pom-pom wreath that she plans to make in trendy teal blue with a lime silk shantung bow on top. 

We were thrilled to find a shoebox filled with vintage Christmas cards. We picked out a few with gold embossing, die cuts, and glitter accents. Kitty had the idea to cut the fronts off with pinking shears, punch two holes in the top for a ribbon, then tie them to wrapped presents. Jennifer thinks the cards will look great strung on a satin ribbon as a garland for her tree.

Hark! The Bargain Hunters Sing

We’re always looking for a big, unique item to turn into a conversation piece, and on this trip, Kitty was in search of some spectacular holiday find for her living room. We spotted a vintage store sign for Bennett’s Egg Nog Ice Cream that had a great holiday feel. And when we saw a neighborhood’s worth of lawn ornaments, from toy soldiers to reindeer, Jennifer toyed with the idea of placing one by the hearth as a focal point.

But the find of the day was a charming old wooden sled. We thought it would look festive leaning by the front door tied with a red velvet bow, or would make a great display for wrapped Christmas gifts. Kitty was careful to hide her enthusiasm for the sled before she knew how much it cost. (If they know you love it, the price will go up.) A cheerful gal in a cowboy hat said she was asking $38 for it, saying it was an authentic, vintage Flexible Flyer. We carefully looked it over and noticed the steering bar was broken and got the price down to $30. The sled didn’t quite fit in our cart, especially since Jennifer had just purchased a pair of giant illuminated plastic lawn candles (only $5 each!), but it was worth the extra trip back to the car!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Finger Puppets

Make pipe cleaner finger puppets and put on a Thanksgiving show! Make the finger puppet body by wrapping your finger with a pipe cleaner. Glue a pompom onto the top for a head and decorate it with two googly eyes. For the pilgrim, spiral a black pipe cleaner into a hat. Give the Indian a headband with a bent pipe cleaner feather in the back. For the turkey, bend striped pipe cleaners in half to look like feathers and glue them into a fan-shaped tail. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pie, Oh My!

The fall harvest is upon us and suddenly we have a hankering for pie. Pie collectibles, that is!

The flea market is the place for all things pie—from bake-off cookbooks to painted pie safes. Right off the bat, we found a pile of old pie crimpers, perfect for making decorative edges. Vintage pie crimpers can run upwards of $100 if the handle is made of Bakelite, but Kitty picked out a wooden-handled one and got the price down from $18 to $12. We also saw rolling pins by the dozens. Kitty fell in love with a marble one with red handles. It set her back $15, but it comes with the good blessing of every pastry it has ever rolled out!

Along the way, we saw some larger “pie” pieces, including a rustic sign that read “Mom’s Homemade Pies Baked To Perfection.” But the find of the day was a lemon-yellow pie safe with a wonderful weathered look. Pie safes are cabinets with chicken wire or punched-tin doors that keep the varmints out while the pies cool. The vendor was asking $325 for the antique one we found, but Jennifer bargained her way to $275. Easy as pie!

Four and Twenty Blackbirds
Since Victorian times, professional bakers (and grandmas!) have used ceramic pie birds to funnel steam out of pies and prevent them from bubbling over. Blackbirds are the most common pie vents, but if you keep an eye out you might be lucky enough to spot a blue bird, a rooster, or even the elusive red cardinal. These little birds are bursting with personality so get yourself a classic crow for about $15 and place it in a niche as a whimsical objet d’art. But be warned, pie birds are so cute you may wind up with a whole flock!

Flying Saucers
No country kitchen is complete without pie tins, especially ones embossed with phrases like “Mello Rich Pie” and “Flaky Crust.” Back in the day, bakeries had their names embossed in the bottoms of their pie tins. A homemaker who reused the pan would be reminded how much easier it would be to buy a fresh pie from “Mrs. Smith’s.” Legend has it that college students used to play toss with tins that read “Frisbie’s Pies”—a game that led to the invention of the Frisbee! These days, Frisbie pie tins can sell for $50 apiece, but we found a “Py-O-My Ice Box Pie” pan for just $3!

Decorating A La Mode
Ice cream scoops look cheerful even when they’re not serving up sundaes, so why not add a scoop of fun to your pie décor with a few of these old-fashioned dippers? Collect ice cream scoops in turquoise, green, and yellow, then hang them on a narrow wall, one over the other. You can get scoops for as little as $1 at the flea market so pick up an extra one for your gadget drawer, and you’ll be ready to serve anything a la mode!

Expect To Pay
Ice Cream Scoops $1 to $20
Embossed Pie Tins $3 to $50
Rolling Pins $5 to $20
Recipe Pie Plates $5 to $25
Silver-plated Pie Servers $7 to $25
Wooden-handled Dough Crimpers $12 to $40
Pie Carriers $15 to $35
Pie Birds $15 to $75
Pie Safes $250 to $2500

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Get Jiggy With It!

When we went to The Southern Women's Show in Orlando, we met the folks from Purple Cows and got to see their CraftGeek Wind It. What a cool tool! We just used it to make napkin rings for Thanksgiving. It's a wire jig with templates so you can easily bend wire into smooth spirals and swirls. (If you've done any wire bending with round-nose pliers, you know this is tricky!) We embellished the wire loops with fall leaves, but we couldn't help adding a little steampunk touch--a skeleton key charm!

CraftGeek Wind It 7100

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Thankstionary!

Recycle a children’s picture book by gluing a different color piece of paper over each page. Pick something you are thankful for like mom, kittens, and ice cream to feature on each page. Decorate the pages with pictures cut out of old magazines, rubberstamps, and magic markers. Try to do one for each letter of the alphabet.

What You'll Need:
children’s picture book
different color pieces of paper
magazine pictures cut out: mom, kittens, and ice cream
old magazines 
magic markers

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

8 Things To Do Now To Get That Cozy Fall Feeling

With Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving around the corner, it's the perfect time to get in the fall mood!

Spring Into Fall
Welcome the season with a harvesty display on your front porch. Just load up an urn with a bundle of late summer sunflowers and wrap it in a bonny plaid ribbon. Complete the scene with a pile of painted pumpkins and a woodsy pinecone owl. What a hoot! 

Dress It Up
Swap out casual summery throw pillows for more dressy ones embellished with embroidery, gems, and sumptuous trims. Silky sari fabrics in spicy hues like cinnamon, ginger, and clove lend an air of exotic elegance without being too formal or fussy.

Make A Little Switch
With a small space like the bathroom, changing seasons is all in the details. Guest towels in terra cotta and Turkish blue add a dash of warm color. Earthy accessories like a cast twig dish topped with verbena leaf soap will harmonize with your bath no matter what your décor.

Get Back To Nature
Capture an autumn moment with a bouquet of birdy branches. Gather sticks and give them a metallic patina with copper and silver spray paint, then tie on organdy ribbons to echo the last-to-fall leaves. Finish with feathery faux birds perched on the ends to look like a flock stopping over on its way south.

Turn Over A New Leaf
Fall is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll when you set a rustic farm table with modern style. Die-cut leaf placemats in bold red let the beauty of the weathered wood shine through. And with cosmopolitan black-and-white plates and brushed silver napkin rings, you can take Manhattan to the countryside!

Savor Fall Colors
Adding an appetizing autumn palette to the kitchen is as easy as pie! Go for dishtowels and mixing bowls in colors like marigold, persimmon, and green apple. A red fluted pie plate with a recipe printed inside gives the look a vintage twist. Setting out your wooden spoons and cutting boards reveals them as handcrafted decorator pieces––that you already own!

Get Glowing
Put the whole house in the mood with an aromatic candlescape inspired by the great outdoors. Have the family collect acorns, pinecones, and seedpods from the yard. Place these natural materials in mismatched mason jars, then light them up with flameless candles in scents like mulled cider, spiced orange, and chai latte. Autumn aromatherapy!

Blanket The Room With Texture
Starting to feel a chill in the air? Then snuggle up with a warm throw. Hunt for fabrics that fit the season as comfortably as a favorite sweater. Plush wovens and faux fur in espresso and teal will inspire you to curl up and get cozy.
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