I keep a Junkin’ Journal that keeps me organized – – ideas, shopping lists, measurements, dates of auctions, dates of town-wide yard sales, addresses of thrift stores located in new cities I’m going to visit. My preferred journal (I have several going at all times) is a Leuchtturm 1917 in an A5 size with dotted pages. I’m a bit of a stationery snob.
So, for example – I printed out a picture of a desk that I am working on – I used a tape runner to fix it into my journal, and now I can write in measurements, make decisions about design, sketch out ideas. It’s a perfect tool to help me save time – to devote to more projects!
I can also keep track of my collections. I want to collect a full set of “Fairlane” by Steubenville Potteries – so I’m tracking my finds in my Junkin’ Journal:
I started collecting Vintage Ironstone in the last few months, slowly growing a beautiful ensemble in my hutch. I was inspired by all of the beautiful collections seen pictured in decorating magazines, blogs, and videos of farmhouse decor. It’s not easy to find – I come across a piece or two every week, but early in February, the thrifting gods must have been smiling on me, and I brought home a ton of beautiful examples for a song.
I don’t know much about it, to be frank. But a little research revealed that Martha Stewart is credited for the recent rise in popularity of white ironstone when she featured it on her show and in her magazine. Here is a link to a Martha Stewart video that is well worth the watch – it will help you to identify features to look for, and give you some ideas about potential values.
Another website identified that some of the most collectible pieces were “sugar jars” – something I had never heard of before. Older examples are generally “chunkier” in style and have a bluish cast to the glaze and are also much larger than their modern counterparts. That was good news for me, because a large bluish sugar jar was among my purchases.
My grandmother — known as “Nanna” to EVERYBODY — until recently has lived alone in her apartment and filled her days with trips to the senior’s centre to play bridge, cheering on the Toronto Blue Jays, baking cookies, tarts, and the occasional lemon meringue pie, marathon-styled shopping trips (which would make Hannibal’s slog across the Alps seem like a cake walk) and keeping her hands busy knitting tiny hats for preemie babies and crocheting warm vests and toques for children in Afghanistan. Stubbornly independent, she was fussing with her Christmas decorations a few weeks before the holidays, and tripped on a chair leg, fracturing her hip. This is where I should probably mention: she’s 101 years old!
Surgery went surprisingly well – – I’m sure it was an unprecedented success for the young surgeon. But it was clear that she would not be able to return to solo flight in her apartment, and an extremely difficult and emotionally challenging move to a retirement home happened just this week.
All of this has meant that a lifetime of belongings had to be broken up in a shockingly rapid pace in order to empty her apartment and comply with her
demands wishes. In the ‘first round’ of picks, I chose the Pyrex mixing bowl set (which I discussed in this blog post) and in the ‘second round’ I brought home the items pictured above.
I sorted out another box of things that I would like to bring home – though I left it in the apartment with a note that “Nancy would like to have these if no one else wants them”. It includes pieces of glass and china. I’m also hoping to be the one to get the hutch from her dining room. But with eight grandchildren, and uncountable numbers of great-grandchildren, and yes, a burgeoning tribe of great-great-grandchildren, I know that I need to be gracious and share.
There was a very brief and minor squabble over the washing board – not even worth mentioning, except to highlight the extent to which these humble items are precious to us.
Next was the Yorkshire Pudding tins – so called, because nothing else was ever made in them. I have never had a better Yorkshire Pudding than those that popped out from Nanna’s oven. I’m thinking I should probably get the secret recipe while I still can!
The teeny-tiny star cookie cutter in the centre of the photo cut the top crust of itsy-bitsy mincemeat tarts baked every year in the dozens and dozens she would share with her family – a favourite gift being a Christmassy tin full of “Nanna Cookies”. Nanna believes that miniature cookies are more genteel and therefore the optimal size in all cases – which is sufficient explanation for the set of six nearly microscopic cookie cutters shown pictured in their box. She also maintains that there is far too much sweetness in everything – I can’t bear to reveal to my deluded family that the secret recipe for her famous chocolate chip cookies came from the back of a Chip-its package with the measurements for sugar slashed to 50%. And of course, the chocolate chips must be semi-sweet, not full on sweet!
I suspect that these beliefs about cookies have been one of the contributing factors to her longevity – and I’m not referring to dietary restraint here, specifically – no, I think the lesson her is: we should take delight in even very small pleasures, make diligent efforts to share with everyone around us, and to create lasting memories with our loved ones.
I’m pretty good a recognizing a quality piece of vintage glass, but I’m not very good at identifying it. I just can’t even begin to figure out what search terms to use. I mean…it’s glass, right? And it’s …umm….. yeah, I don’t know.
I enjoy watching Michelle Levinson of Thrifting 101 on YouTube and I’m amazed by how she can identify the manufacturer and date of origin, and even an approximate value. I’m sure it’s the result of hours of study and research, but she makes it look effortless. Luckily for me, I found a Facebook group dedicated to vintage glass identification, and I am watching–and more importantly learning–in the back ground.
Last Friday I picked up a beautiful piece of glass at the Thrift on Kent for $1, and I just knew it was a great pick! But I have knowledge of the details – maker, date, value. So I posted a few photos of my find (and a few other recent picks) and this is what I’ve learned. It’s 6.25″ across. Imperial Lace Edge no. 7455B Belled Nappy, Blue Opalescent, early 1930s. Hazel Marie Weatherman , author of Colored Glassware of the Depression Era, called this pattern Sugar Cane. It came in several colours: Amber, Crystal, Ritz Blue, Green Opalescent, and Green.
This ruffled bowl is 5.75″ tall, and about 6.75″ across. It has an iridescent sheen to it. There are no discernible markings. The good folks on Facebook identified it as Hearts and Flowers pattern by Northwood in pearl iridescent glass, circa 1912.
This is marked Fenton. 7.5″ tall, and 6.25″ across. I had it filled with glittering Christmas balls as part of my holiday decor. I paid $2 for it at a thrift store. It is a no. 9222 CG Comport. Since it has a logo, it likely would have been made in 1972 or 1973. 1973 is the last year these were produced. This pattern was a copy of the Tiffin/US Glass “Rose” line. Frank Fenton had new molds made when he discovered the pattern and fell in love with it. It was originally called “Roses” but later catalogues called it Rose. The colour is “Colonial Green” – sooooo 1970s!
No markings that I can detect. 6.5″ wide, 3″ tall. This diamond shaped compote is by Indiana Glass in “Pineapple and Floral”. I saw a photo of the same piece in milk glass…I waaaaant one!
This is black with no markings I can detect. 3.5″ across, 3″ tall. Hazel Atlas produced this depression glass pattern in the mid-1930s under the name of Cloverleaf. The major pattern has a band of three-leaf clovers encircling each piece. Here’s a link to the official Hazel Atlas website. This sherbet bowl came in several colours: green, yellow, and pink.
Overall, 5.5″ across and about 2.5″ high. A member of the identification group commented: “This looks to be Anchor Hocking Vitrock, aka Flower Rim. From the 1930s.” This helpful opinion gave me enough information to do some more research. This creamer is Vitrock by Hocking Glass, and was made between 1934-1937, making it authentic Depression Glass.
I had REALLY tried to be a little less spendy this past week – and focus more on selling some stuff! I’m going on vacation in less than three weeks, so it would be nice to have a little extra “mad money”, but I’m incorrigible!
However, despite the LENGTH of the video, I did make fewer purchases – I swear!
Now, for my find of the week! I am restyling a spare bedroom in a “nautical” theme to match the octopus dresser I painted. Initially, I was horrified by the $19.99 price tag, but then I saw the original tag!
Here’s the basic cleaning supplies that I use for freshening up thrifty vintage purchases. The video posted below demonstrates how I give new life to dirty and dingy enamel ware, milk glass, and grubby bisque ornaments.
It’s well worth your time to give the icky items a good look to see if there is something beautiful under that layer of dirt. One example from today is a vintage Pyrex mixing bowl that I picked up today for $2.50 – a wildly inexpensive price. (I’ll show it off in my next thrift haul video!)
At the end of the video, I’m trying to decide whether to leave the enamel coffee pot “as is” or whether I should let it stand with a bleach solution in it. Well, I’m glad I made the effort – the interior of the pot is sparkling!
Just before Christmas, my 100 year old Nanna took a bit of a tumble while she was fussing with her Christmas decorations–seems she tripped over a chair leg or something–and fractured her hip. It was very scary watching her head into surgery, and a very anxious ninety minutes while we waited for the surgeon to assure us that she had come through it okay. Fast forward a few weeks, and she celebrated her 101st birthday! She is still in hospital, but the general consensus is, that she cannot return home. She is up an walking, and becoming more independent (I’m telling you…this lady is a force of nature!) but now we need to turn our thoughts to packing up her household and preparing for a move to a retirement home.
The only thing I really wanted from Nanna’s apartment was her Pyrex mixing bowls. I have nearly 50 years of food memories associated with these vibrantly coloured bowls. Mom had the yellow one too (and I have vivid flashbacks of the potato salad and scalloped potatoes served up in her’s). I have been looking for years for an affordable set of my own, but had to settle for a more modern set (on the left).
Now that I have brought home the treasured mixing bowl set, the more modern set–picture on the left–are going to youngest son’s apartment. Why? To quote him, “I have nearly 25 years of food memories in them.”
Like mother, like son.
To welcome the bowls home, I felt the need to put them to use with something old-fashioned, heart-warming, soft and comforting. Ah yes – molasses ginger cookies.
Molasses Ginger Cookies
Makes 3 Dozen Cookies
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 2 tsps baking soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cut fancy molasses
- turbinated sugar (for rolling cookies dough in before baking) – you may substitute white granulated sugar
Heat oven to 375 degrees, placing rack in the centre. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves.
In a second bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, egg and molasses. Beat at high speed until light and fluffy.
Stir in flour mixture. The cookie batter is going to be very stiff, so finish the final mixing with your hands.
Form balls of cookie dough by the tablespoon full, roll into sugar to cover the outside surface and place on baking sheet, one dozen at a time. Do not press. Bake for nine minutes and allow to cool.
This past summer, I learned how to paint furniture using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and a few directions from Shelby, daughter of the very artistic Jordan family, who are stockists of this product at TWO local shops: ArtHaus150 and Kathie Jordan Design.
Since that time, anything that doesn’t move gets a lick of paint! Here’s a look at some of my finished projects: