Sunday, January 27, 2013

Get ready... Get set.... Blog!

They say that getting started is always the hardest part. I have really been wanting to start this project, but then found myself procrastinating about it. (and believe me, I can take procrastination to a state-of-the-art level)   Never having had an audience for my writing before is a little scary. I wasn't sure exactly what the voice would be.

My name is Yvonne, I have loved vintage things long before I knew what 'vintage' was.  I also love sewing and creating things.   I share my life with my husband Chris (a columnist for our regional paper and a games journalist for the web) and my two awesome kids (Peter & Autumn) who are now both teenagers and my best antiquing & thrifting buddies.  Also several fur-kids:  Calvin, a highly intelligent if somewhat paranoid mini-dachshund; Charlie, a sweet, hyperactive beagle-mix; Turtle-turtle,  a turtle my son and his grandfather rescued when my son was little; and Lightning, feline mistress of the house.   I am a total animal lover, and an animal crusader (a term I coined awhile back as 'activist' often seems to have such negative connotations, like chaining yourself to trees and mailing bombs to research facilities.  I'd much rather write a strongly worded letter).

I am a bit of a pushover for taking in ones that need homes too, but I am also a strong believer in ethical pet ownership. (getting a bit off topic here, but I expect that at some point in the future I will share pictures & stories about them too).

In trying to come up with a name for my blog, Chris suggested "old shit I collect"  and while both extremely amusing and a very accurate description, I didn't think it had quite the nuance I was going for.  It seemed like 'vintage' and 'retro' were heavily used in other blog names, and I couldn't figure out a way to make mine stand out.  Many of the other names I thought up that were clever and time appropriate were already names of other blogs (that mysteriously had nothing to do with vintage or retro stuff)  So I chose to do something abstract but personally meaningful.  Do I actually drink 15 cups of tea a day?  On a good day, yes. On a bad day, damn straight!   Being of Dutch & Irish heritage, tea is something of a birthright.  (F*ck the coffee)  although I might add that sometimes I make a cup of tea, take a couple of sips and then get involved in whatever I was doing....then realize my tea is cold and need to make a fresh cup.  That happens a lot.   I will also mention that in Holland, you can go into a bar and order a cup of tea and they will not look at you like you have 2 heads. That is so seriously cool   (cue Bob Hope in "Road to Utopia"- goes into a bar and orders a lemonade, bartender looks stunned, and Bob growls back at him "In a dirty glass!")

And as for the Cat....  they make the best writing companions. They don't wiggle around too much on your lap like the dogs do, and will give you an honest opinion on what they think.

So what do I collect?

  • My favorite time periods are the 1950's and 1960's
  • I love vintage sewing stuff: machines, thread, notions, fabric, patterns (especially patterns!) I probably have at least a hundred if not more.
  • Housewares & furnishings from afore mentioned era's
  • Vintage clothing & Accessories 
  • French stuff (Oui, je suis une Francophile! J'adore les vielles choses francaises )

Why do a Blog?

I have a lot of lovely vintage things I've collected over the years. I am really interested in history and how our material culture reflects that. I have discovered a wonderful online community of people with similar interests  and want to be a part of and add to that.

In some ways too, I would like to regain my sense of self.  I think most Moms that happen across this blog would understand, but would be hard-pressed to describe exactly to people without kids what I mean.When you have kids your life gradually becomes an extension of theirs. This isn't a bad thing, you can think of it as working on your Thesis, but instead of a few years of post-grad school, you're working on it for more than a decade.
 First with the diapers and feeding, then chasing and playing and legos and school and playdates and PTO and scouts and.....  You become known as "______'s Mom" instead of by your own name.

I used to have a fashion sense: I would sew a lot of my own clothes, do fabulous things with fabric,  and accessorize! Nowadays yoga pants and a sweater seem to be my staples.

I used to read books, (lots of 'em) Now if I make the time I end up feeling guilty because there is always other stuff that needs to be done.

It sounds like I'm complaining and that's not really what I mean to do. You just get to a point when you really want to figure out where the person you were went to.

Where do you get your stuff from?

Here in New England, 'thrift' is part of our blood. Some trace it back to Puritan ideology,  Ben Franklin extolled the virtues of it.   I don't have a large budget to spend on items, so I need to be resourceful in my means and methods.

Swap-shop:   Not sure if this is a local thing or if other towns have these.  At our local dump (transfer station) there is a ramshackle metal building; the idea is simple- if you have something you no longer need that has life left in it, you leave it there. Other people take things.  Except for the dump sticker, there is no cost involved.  A lot of times people have a strange idea of what 'still usesable' means so there will be a lot of trashy stuff, but I have made some awesome finds there. Another downside though is there are some people that literally camp out there on Saturdays waiting til things get dropped off and swoop down to grab them (many second hand store owners get their merchandise that way)  The dump attendants have tried to put some restrictions on time allowed to stay, but it's not always enforced.   Unfortunately too, the cost of the dump sticker has become extravagant over the past few years.

Thrift stores:   Goodwill and Salvation Army are two that have large stores in my area.   I find these are often better sources than antique stores,  but you often have to dig through a lot of stuff to find your treasures, so a good knowledge of your vintage aesthetic is helpful.  Sometimes these items are 'diamonds in the rough' and require a little TLC.

Side of the Road:   Believe it or not, it's a fairly common thing around here.  Sometimes its just furniture, sometimes yard-sale leftovers, A keen eye and a quick turn signal are helpful.

Antique Stores: There are a couple of kinds of antique stores.  There is the high end ones where everything is in pristine shape, neatly laid out in cabinets, you don't want to touch anything for fear of breaking it (and thus needing to pay for it) and they charge top dollar for their merchandise.  I don't like those kinds of stores. The other kind are often warehouse kinds of places where things are layered in, there is a little digging involved, you get some dirt on your hands and you can usually barter.. but in the end it's worth it because you found SOMETHING AWESOME! These are the kinds of places I like.  Unfortunately, as both are often under the heading 'antique stores' in the searches, it's hard to tell which kind is which without actually going there first. 

Yard Sales:  As with other places, these can be trash or treasure. I made a resolution a few years ago as to pick and choose which sales are worth checking out.  Many a time have I followed miles of 'yard sale this way' signs only to find some old kiddie toys and a couple of boxes of mixed dishware. Seriously not worth the half a tank of gas getting there.    There are some local churches that do multi sales a few times a year.  Neighborhood multi-family sales are also a good source. 

Free-cycle: ( While this is more of a thrifting source than for antiques, it can always surprise you. We have gotten half my son's record collection off of people cleaning out their stuff.  This is a similar version of a swap-shop, but online. It is organized into local communities, people post 'offered' items they no longer need, or 'wanted' for items they might be looking for. 

Gifts:     This is a bit of a vague heading, but many of my most treasured items were given to me by my grandmother or other relatives; not in any formal sense  (like its my birthday)  but just that they were trying to find new homes for some of their things.   An older lady friend of my mother's had a son who worked for Proctor Silex, and had a lot of old Corning Ware she wanted to downsize. Would I like any of it?  Would I?  It may as well have been my birthday to have several vintage pieces of Corning to add to my kitchen!    
    So while I'm not suggesting you start be-friending old people in hopes of being gifted something,   If you make it known to family and friends that you are a 'good steward' in that you appreciate things, especially of an older nature,  you may find that things will come to you.    A few times my Mom has come visiting and brought things from people I hardly know... I ask why?  and she says 'Because they knew you would appreciate it and take good care of it.'