Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The little snow village - My first decorations are up

It takes me days to put up my Christmas decorations.  I have an attic full of them - so many that I don't take them all out anymore.  Most are vintage / retro since they evoke so many happy childhood memories.  I'll try to post them as I decorate.

Below is my little Department 56 snow village scene.  I don't have a lot of the houses because I only have the entry table in the foyer to put them on.  They're an eclectic mix of different Dept 56 villages so some of the houses are different and some of the people are larger than others - but it doesn't matter to me - I still enjoy them.

Hope you enjoyed the little village.  I'll be posting more of my decorations as I get them up.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekly Saturday Morning Flea Market Treasure Hunt turns Christmasy

If you read my blog regularly, you can predict what my Saturday afternoon blogs are about and you'll know how I spend 99% of my Saturday mornings - treasure hunting at local flea markets and yard sales.  

From October through December, I have an eagle eye for spotting anything vintage Christmas and today was a no exception.    I spent a total of $12 today so let me show you what I found.

Department 56 North Pole Beauty Shoppe - one just sold on Ebay for $35
 Fitz and Floyd Candy Dish 1984 - Ebay price: $20
 Clothtique Le Possible Dreams Santa:  Ebay $10 - $15
 Very vintage - never used tinsel Garland - Ebay price $14.99 for 2
 Very vintage Icicles - new in original box - Ebay price $14.99 for 2
 Very vintage Union Wadding spun glass Angel Hair new in original box: - Ebay prices $10 - $30 
 Enough vintage poinsettia fabric to make a 120" tablecloth plus a little extra for other projects - I didn't price it on Ebay because this will be mine.  I paid $1 for it.
 hundreds of vintage miniature ornaments for feather trees and other small trees - worth maybe $15
All of this for a total of $12.  What a bargain.  I do enjoy my Saturday morning treasure hunts!  Now to find time to list all this stuff on Etsy or Ebay.  Ebay's new fee schedule made me want to just quit selling there, but it's still the best place to get the most money for vintage items.  Grrrr....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tablescape - Turkey plays leading role in dinner theater production

Ah, the poor turkey - one against so many!  Actually it was two turkeys today.  Small turkey's are tastier and we had thirteen for dinner so two smaller birds were salt-brined overnight in order to give us roasted perfection for the hungry crowd today.  I spent all morning preparing the turkeys, cornbread dressing, green beans and giblet gravy.  My other daughters spent the morning cooking all the side dishes at their respective homes.

Our family gathered at 2 p.m. in my daughter, Krista's new home which is much roomier than mine.  I had originally planned on hosting dinner today, but as the numbers grew, we made the decision to use her home.  My tablescape was featured in an earlier blog post here.  

Krista's mother-in-law is downsizing and recently gave her all of her Lenox "Eternal" china, some very pretty stemware (I don't recall the pattern - I think Cambridge?) and her sterling silver flatware.  It made a beautiful table, don't you think?

My daughter, Laura came in with her family.  Jake and Chloe greeted each other like two long-lost first cousins - they just saw each other a week ago.  My sweet grandchildren!

Below, exchange student, Sarah Czerny from Germany, was excited about her first turkey dinner.
Below, Sarah and Chloe are just a year apart in age.  It's been a blessing to have Sarah part of our family this year.

Nadir Sims-Mendes is also their exchange student from Spain.  She and my granddaughter Genevieve have the same quirky sense of humor and get along famously. Nadir was very shy when she came over in August, but my daughter's boisterous family has brought her out a lot.
Even the family dog, Winnie, wants to get in on the action.
We served buffet style.
The younger ones had their own table.
The desserts were heavenly!  Homemade chocolate cheesecake, sweet potato pie, and a decadent chocolate cake made by Sarah and Chloe.

Now it's time to pack up the flatware and go home.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Linking to:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Take a break from the turkey.....and do the QWERTY keyboard challenge

Ah ha - you were expecting a Thanksgiving blog - after all, tomorrow's the big day.  I took a little break from brining the turkey and making the cornbread for my dressing tomorrow and turned on my computer.  I started reading the blogs that I enjoy so much - who needs to read a book when there's so many real-life stories being told!  I ran across a challenge on my friend Jane's blog.

Do you have a QWERTY keyboard?  If you look at the keys on your keyboard, the first six letters you see are Q-W-E-R-T-Y.  

Jane took on a challenge today to write a story using all of the letters on the keyboard in sequence.  It is not an easy challenge!  Your story should contain twenty-six words - and remember, it must make sense.  That's the hard part.  Here's my story:

Quietly, William Edward rode the yellow unicorn into our pasture.  A squirrel darted forward.  “Gads! He just kicked Lorna”, Zelda  x-asperatedly cried. “Vicious!  Big naughty mare!”

As you can see, I took a little "writer's liberty" with the X.   Give it a try.  Even if you don't blog, it will be fun to see what you can do.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I'll be enjoying tomorrow with my family and hope you do the same.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

1967 - The day after Turkey Day on ABC - Who remembers this Commercial? I'm thankful for memories...

It was November, 1967 and we were stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  We had rented sight unseen a "small trailer" behind our landlord's house to live in while we were there.  The "small trailer" turned out to be no larger than today's travel trailers - I'm sure it was no bigger than 8' x 32' - but we were together and still newly married, so closeness was not a disadvantage.

It was our first Thanksgiving with no family around for either of us and I was very hesitant about trying to tackle a Thanksgiving meal, but I was determined to give it a try.  I'm from a large family, and the Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings was a tradition.....and I was steeped in tradition as all good Southerners are.

There were two other soldiers from the Carolinas that hubby invited for dinner that day.  I didn't mind - it's a waste cooking a turkey just for two. Dinner turned out to be pretty good, even if it was my first stab at it.  I had watched my mother bake a turkey and had memorized her recipe for homemade dressing from helping her make it so many times.  A small ten pound turkey was all we could cram into the little stove and I think we had to flatten him out a bit even then.   It was crowded in that little trailer that day, but the food was good and the company was welcome.  We were all thankful for the companionship that lessened the homesick feeling for all of us on that first Thanksgiving Day we had spent without family.

It's a beautiful memory, that Thanksgiving Day - one that I'll never forget.  That Thanksgiving season also produced another memory - a flashback that has stayed in my head for all these years.  I was alone for most of each day while hubby was on base, so TV became my best friend.  Have you ever had a commercial jingle that has stayed with you for awhile?  That's what they're supposed to do - to remind you of the product of that commercial.  Well, the ABC network had some special programming that year on the day after Thanksgiving that they wanted viewers to watch.  They had a jingle that they played over and over on commercials.  I've sung this jingle to myself at Thanksgiving EVERY year since.  I could never find anyone who remembered it so was I ever surprised when  I googled it and found an old clip of it on Youtube.

Aha!  Now you'll have trouble getting it out of your head too.  

We have so many things to be thankful for.  Say a special thank you to the men and women who serve our country proudly.  Share a meal with them if you have the opportunity. Do you have a special Thanksgiving memory?  Treasure it - and share it.

Note: God's word teaches us to share with others out of gratitude, not out of guilt or duty.
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive. " – Acts 20:35

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Morning Flea Market Treasures - June McKenna Santa Sculptures - What a find!

Today as I searched for treasures, I found them in an unlikely place.  Fifty plus Santa's spread out on the back of a flatbed trailer.  I started not to even pick one up, but seeing that many together looking like they may be from the same artist intrigued me.  I picked one up - June McKenna - 1986 - 2414 of 4000.  OK, it was signed and it was limited edition - but who was June McKenna.  I had never heard of her. 

I so love my iPhone!  I clicked on my Ebay app - typed in June McKenna - and up pops hundreds of Santas.  So she's well known - that's a good sign.  I started browsing through completed items and saw that they sell very well.  That was another good sign - now just to get a price from the seller.  The price was very reasonable so I bought all that she had.  She was flabbergasted that I wanted "those old ugly things" that had belonged to her husband's grandmother.  Poor grandmother!  If she knew that those unique Santas that she had collected so many years ago would end up on the back of a flatbed trailer, she would be sending some evil elves after her granddaughter-in-law. 

But...they were dusty - which when selling is a little detrimental to the value.  See - collectors don't like for you to clean things up - it may damage the paint so they prefer to do the cleaning.  Which means that I'm going to have to post pictures of dusty Santas and they don't show as well when you're asking a nice sum for them.   I asked the young woman how they got so dusty and where the grandmother lived.  She told me that grandma had lived in Ashland, Virginia and she had kept them in a room displayed all year long and as she got older, she failed to dust them as often as she should.  Once again, as she was packing them up, I heard her tell her husband that she thought they would never sell even one of them - much less all of them.   "Hurry up", she said, "before she changes her mind". 

When I got back home , I researched them a little further on my laptop.  Apparently, Ashland is where the sculptures were made which explains why she had so many, and why there were a couple of "samples" and "Artist Proofs" and also several artist signed limited edition pieces.   They had been bought locally by Grandma.

This goes to prove, once again, that one man's trash is another man's treasure.  I'm just grateful that I keep finding other people's trash.  And I'm also glad that I didn't go with my initial reaction and just pass them by - those "ugly, old, and dusty boys".

Here's a sneak peak at just three of them.  I did use a soft toothbrush and lightly dusted them a little bit. 
The one in the center is called Season's Greetings and is signed "Artist Proof".  His eyes have not been painted.  I wonder if that makes him more valuable or less valuable?  I'll just have to see.
I'll do a post later and let you know how well I did....or if I lost money.  Do you like to go treasure hunting? Tell me if you have found any treasures lately.   Also - how many of you have heard of June McKenna and would you have passed them by?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Thankful Heart

We are counting down the days to Thanksgiving - it's only a little over a week away.  At our house, there's the turkey and dressing (in the South, we call it dressing, not stuffing), ham, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, green beans, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, sourdough rolls...and that's just the main course.  Of course, there's pecan pie and homemade cheesecake and maybe a surprise dessert brought by my youngest daughter's mother-in-law. Below is a photo of our Christmas feast last year, so you'll get a general idea at all the food we have.
That's me in the center in green

This year, we'll be blessed with two additions to this same daughter's family.  Sarah, our exchange student from Germany and Nadir, our exchange  student from Spain.  It will be their first celebration of Thanksgiving in our country and we are thankful for having them with us.  There will be thirteen of us sitting down to our meal - our family and extended family just keeps getting larger and larger.

According to Wikipedia,  a day for thanksgiving  is celebrated both in the United States and Canada, but on different days. In Canada, it is the second Monday in October.  In the US, it falls on the fourth Thursday in November.  Here, it originated as a celebration giving thanks to God for a bountiful harvest.  In Canada, it began with an explorer giving thanks with a celebration for surviving a long journey but eventually also came to be a day to celebrate the blessings of a good harvest. 

No matter where it originated and why, we North Americans set aside one day each year for giving thanks, although most of us give thanks daily for the blessings we are given and the food on our table.  

If I listed all my blessings, this blog would go on and on forever.  I think at the top of most peoples "thankful" list would be (1) Family, (2) Health, (3) Friends, (4) The beauty of God's earth, (5) Food and Shelter, 6...7...8....  Well, you get the picture.

Below is a Thanksgiving prayer that I wrote - it was my opening prayer for our womens group at church tonight and I will share it with you.

Our Father,
In this season of thanksgiving, we give thanks to You for Your many blessings.
Though we are not rich, we have enough.
Though we are not wise, you give us the wisdom we need, when we need it.
Though we are not perfect, you give us your Word to guide us.
Though we fail you, you give us forgiveness that we do not deserve.
We thank you for this, our Lord – we thank you from the bottom of our hearts in the name of Jesus, your Son and our Savior.

Today and always, I have a thankful heart.  How about you?  Do you have something ever so special that you are thankful for?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Lady in Red - An Angel gets her Wings

Last week, in my post Beautiful Minds, I wrote about my sister-in-law, Faye, and her courageous battle with cancer.  Last night Faye breathed her last breath on earth as a mortal and her first breath in heaven. She will be greatly missed.

Faye (we called her "Sis") was my husband's sister, but was like my own.  When I became his wife 45 years ago, we, like Ruth to Naomi vowed,  "Your people will be my people and your God my God."  And it has been that way.  We both love each others family like they're our own.... and they are.

Sis lived her life full of love and laughter and I never once heard her say a harmful word about another person.  She saw the good in everyone and made everyone she knew feel as if they were her best friend.   To have known her was a blessing and her gentle spirit will be with us always.  The number of friends and family that surrounded her as she slipped peacefully from this world was a testimony to just how much this wonderful lady was loved.

Red was her favorite color and she wore it beautifully.  If you look through her photo albums, red is the predominate color you'll see.  Flowers, angels and dolls....those were some of her favorite things.  She and I shared a love of scouring yard sales and thrift shops.   She always came home with a treasure.  Christmas was a magical time for her and she recently pointed out to me that she had left up a small nativity from last Christmas just because she loved looking at it. 

Each day through her battle with cancer, Sis rose early and dressed for the day.  She could have easily opted for pajamas, but each morning got fully dressed from her closet of beautiful clothes.  She didn't consider herself fully dressed without lipstick on her lips, and her nails polished.

Here she is - the Lady in Red.  After radiation  took away her beautiful head of dark hair, she had a hat for every occasion.  Cancer didn't dampen her spirits - I never heard her complain a single time.
As we mourn for her, we also rejoice in the life she led - a life that showed she followed Christ.   I can just picture her now breezing past Saint Peter, reaching out to those who went before her - Her mom, her dad and Rayford, her husband and best friend.  .   

And this Christmas.....she'll probably try to hang a red wreath on the pearly gates. She'll make Heaven sparkle. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ebay - Pricing themselves out of the on-line auction market? Making changes and losing sellers

Once upon a time, I was in love with Ebay.  It changed the world for collectors everywhere.  We no longer had to hunt down the items we collected at antique shops, antique auctions and estate sales.  They were right there at our fingertips.  Type in "Florenza earrings" on the Ebay search bar and there were hundreds of them to choose from.  Search for McCoy Pottery and you would get pages and pages of vases that you had spent years trying to collect.  And roosters....oh boy - I loved collecting roosters.  Pre-Ebay, I had several - post Ebay and I needed to sell some off since I went a little wild buying them.  Roosters and old tins, vintage jewelry and cutesy kitsch items and Roseville Pottery - all were so readily available on this new shopping experience.

We collectors were in hog heaven.  It was a buyer's market - wide open to collectors all over the world.  We loaded up on unnecessary junk and thought we were happy.  But after awhile, things began to change.  Slowly the little antique shops with their musty smells and hidden treasures began to disappear one by one.  Our own little sideline antique business at a local flea market's sales started sliding and we could no longer find things at a bargain at estate sales to re-sell - they listed their good stuff on Ebay.   The small towns that we used to frequent  to purchase "American Picker" style were no longer fruitful places to buy.  They listed their good stuff on Ebay.   It was rather sad - an American way of life was rapidly fading away.

So, I started going with the flow by being a Seller on Ebay.  Things went well and I gradually moved from antiques and collectibles to other venues.  I was lucky to get in on some department store "overstocks" and started selling designer purses and shoes.  My hubby also got in the game and found a good supplier of overstock and "return stock" sports equipment.  In 2008, our Ebay sales combined was more than my day job salary that year.  Things were looking good.  But then, the economy took a nosedive.  Department stores no longer stocked so heavily so I lost my overstock ability to buy.  People no longer were impulsive shoppers, but more selective bargain shoppers.  But we still had the sports equipment (mainly fishing and hunting) to sell and continued to do pretty well with that.  A fisherman may do without groceries for a few days, but he'll never turn down a fishing trip.   But was bound to happen....

Ebay got greedy.  They upped their commission.  They purchased Paypal, the on-line banking institute that most everyone used to pay for their items.  They eliminated any other payment method except Paypal.  No longer could a buyer pay by check or money order - they had to use Paypal.  Some buyers left.  Not only did the seller have to pay a hefty commission through Ebay, but then they started charging a hefty transaction fee through Paypal.  Some sellers left.

The last straw happened recently.  Ebay decided that not only is the seller's fee based on the amount he sells the item for, but ALSO the amount he charges for shipping.  For example, I recently sold an item for $207 and the fee I had to pay was $19.  It was heavy and was going cross-country, so the shipping cost was $20.  Another $1.90 fee was added for that.   Then on top of that, I had to pay a transaction fee for accepting payment for the item through Paypal which added another $6.49.  All told, my fees for this $207 item I sold were $27.39.  Which now means I really sold my item for $179.61 instead $207.  And the fees would have been much more than this if I was not considered a "Top Seller" on Ebay.  As it is, I get a 20% off final value fees.   As you can see, there's not much profit to be made for the seller these days which is why I will no longer sell on Ebay unless I buy something dirt cheap.  I've found other venues to sell - there's for vintage items and for everything else.  Neither has the traffic that Ebay has, but it will build as more sellers move their business elsewhere.

With fewer sellers, who knows - maybe the old musty smelling, hidden treasure kind of antique shops will rule again.  I hope so because I truly miss browsing through those old places hoping to pick up a one-of-a-kind jewel in the rough waiting to shine again!  

Goodbye, Ebay - it was good thing we had going until you got greedy.  I'm afraid we have to part ways now.  And please, don't let the door slam you in the butt backside on the way out.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Flea Market finds and Treasures - Saturday morning treasure hunt continues...

A crisp and cold Saturday morning found me all bundled up in a heavy wool sweater and scarf at the flea market as I went in search for treasures today.  My goal was to find enough things to sell to compensate for the things I would buy for myself.  It was a fairly fruitful day.

For myself, I found this great old McCoy white vase for $3.  I've been looking for one with that shape for a long time.  I would have preferred a larger one, but you take what you can find.  The reason I wanted this shape is that I have a picture of a vase with the same shape hanging over the small table where I'm putting it.  I'll keep looking for a larger one and when I find it, I'll sell the other.  See how pretty it looks with an arrangement of Red Berry Nandina, branches from my "Burning Bush", and a few Dogwood leaves.  It's meant to be a transitional look from Fall to Winter.  I bought the little Squirrel with nuts salt and pepper shakers today for $1 and four placemats like the round red one under the vase for $2.  Paired with my Fenton bird and a church decorative birdhouse, it looks pretty cool, I think.

Below is the picture that hangs above the little table above. That vase is dark, but it's still the same shape.  OK, it's not ideal, but I like it.
Next, remember the napkin rings that I found on Ebay after a fruitless search for "leaf" napkin rings for my Fall Tablescape found here?  I had looked everywhere locally and everyone was sold out of Leaf napkin rings.  I could find them on Ebay for $12 for four rings, but I didn't want to pay that much for them so I settled for some vintage orange and brown wood rings from Ebay.  Today I found a set of eight, yes - I said eight - leaf napkin rings at the market and I paid a total of 50 cents for two sets of four.  I couldn't resist although I was pretty happy with the ones I had.  They are less bulky though - which do you like best?

All of these things are keepers, so where does the selling stuff come in, you ask.  I have this new fixation for Department 56 Christmas in the City snow villages.  A while back, I wrote about buying several pieces in this post.  I sold the piece I really didn't need and more than paid for the rest.  Today, I went over and bought several more pieces from the same person I bought the others from.  She had given me her phone number, so I left the market and went to her house.  I bought two buildings and several people and cars for $120.  I fell in love with the Harley Davidson Store below.  And I also bought a Department 56 Studio Building Anniversary edition just like the one HERE listed on Ebay.  I do plan to sell it because look what its listed for!  I would love to get that much for it, but I think the person listing this one is dreaming.  Here's the one I'm keeping.

And the one below is what I hope will pay for the other treasures I bought today. (smile)

I had a pretty good day, don't you think?  I love treasure hunting!