Why 'My Mink Betty'?

Why 'My Mink Betty'?
I'm not your common, everyday twenty-something year old and when I graduated from High School I got an equally uncommon gift. My parents found for me a beautiful 1940's mink stole at a garage sale. It had belonged to the woman's Great Aunt Betty who had married late in life to a man with money and had only allowed him to buy her this one luxury. The unusually styled stole has the name, Betty L. Jones, embroidered in the satin lining so that's what I call her. They never had children of their own and the mink was passed to Aunt Betty's niece and on to her daughter. Until it got to me, no one since Aunt Betty had worn it. Now Betty the mink and I go to the theater together on special occasions and I hope that someday I can take her to the Symphony or the Ballet. Although Betty hadn't been worn or loved for many years she was waiting for someone to love her again as are most other things I look for when thrifting.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Estate Sale Doppelganger and Pyrex From Heaven

Several weeks ago my mother and I went to a few estate sales that were practically next door to our house, not expecting to necessarily come back with much, and we were pleasantly surprised. 

Here are some of the things we found.
The first sale really was nearly within spitting distance of our house and yielded the most things we just couldn't leave behind and the most things interesting enough to photograph.  This sale was run by family, and they were so happy to get the house cleared out, they priced everything really low.

We bought an assortment of small things from around the house.  A few zippers, a pair of pinking shears, assorted pins and a pair of collapsible embroidery scissors came from the sewing room, while some games, glue sticks and the silver bird plate were in the living room.  

Also in the living room was this beautiful Hi-Fi set-up. 

It was marked only $15 and looked practically brand new, even though it probably dates it to the late 60's or early 70's.  I didn't buy it, but I almost wished I needed another turntable just so I could have an excuse to own something so nice. 

Recently I explained to my boyfriend what macrame is and it has become a running joke that he LOOOVES macrame so when my mother and I saw this - a HUGE macrame hanging table set - we couldn't stop snickering and I needed to share.  That thing was gigantic! It went from the ceiling almost to the floor. 


Next was the kitchen.  When Mom in ahead of me, she couldn't believe her eyes.  There, on the shelf above her head, with the heavenly light shining on it and the choir of angels singing its' praises, sat a pristine 471 Pyrex Bake-Serve-Store in aqua Butterprint FOR 25 CENTS.  Of course we took it home, what do you think we are, fools?


A friend's little boy turned 2 recently and was given a toy kitchen so we picked up the tiny Tupperware cream pitcher and canape cutter for him but the citrus peelers are for us.  The tea tin has a flat back for a semi-circular shape.  I just love the butterflies and flowers.

On our way out of the sale, Mom noticed a pile of resin planters, and decided to call my father to come look at them. This is how the conversation went: 

Mom:  Hey! You know those planter boxes you're going to build to put along the side of the house? 
You know, where you keep your collection of crapola?
Dad:  I was going to build something?
Mom:  Yeah, remember last month, when I said... um, I mean YOU said you would? 
Dad:  Ummm sure, I'll get right on that. 
Mom:  Well, maybe you don't have to.  They have a ton of resin planters at the estate sale that you didn't want to go to and you can probably get them for pennies, but they have to ride home in your car because some of them still have dirt in them.  
Dad:  I'm kind of doing something.
Mom:  Did you get the part about if you buy them I'll stop asking when you're going to build those planters?
Dad:  I'll be right there.

 No sooner had we put our purchases in the car, than I saw my father walking up to the house.  Or so I thought.  Five-foot-nine, 160 lbs, hiking boots, blue jeans, brown T-shirt covered by an unbuttoned flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up, ball cap, glasses, beard, about 60 years old... wrong face.  It was eerie, and he was heading for the gardening supplies.  Mom called Dad again and said, "You better get over here, your doppelganger just showed up and he's buying all your stuff!"

When Dad arrived, he and Mom went into the garage, and Dad zeroed in on a pile of metal plant stakes.  As he picked one up, Mr. Doppelganger said, "Those are mine, but there are more over there."  Mom and Dad burst out laughing and then had to explain, and everybody laughed at the whole situation. Then Dad bought a whole stack of planters.

At the next sale, Mom was thrilled to find an 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup/mixing bowl for $3.00.  It's huge, and SO useful.

This lovely Pyrex citrus pattern juice carafe was $1.00. I already own one of these. Mom bought this one for holding her Crystal Light in a much classier container than vintage Tupperware.  Because Crystal Light should be in crystal, right?  Well, crystal is too expensive, so glass has to be good enough.  

This was not found as a record bowl but as a RED record - A tribute to Artie Shaw to be exact.  I snapped it up and made the bowl for my boyfriend for Valentine's Day and he loves it. 

I think it's the prettiest record bowl I've ever seen.  It's too bad colored vinyl is so hard to come by. 

I really wanted to take this home with me, as alligators are just about my favorite animal, but I couldn't justify the $5.00.

The third sale was run by a woman who buys storage unit contents at auction and sells the crud she can't get much for very inexpensively.  We bought a whole bag of stuff for $4.00 - many small things, including a wool/angora sweater for unraveling, a bunch of jewelry bits that will probably show up in another post, some more toy kitchen stuff and the most interesting thing we found. . .

an Aladdin Pump-A-Drink.  It's hardly been used.  Mom remembers when these were all the rage in the 70's.  Everybody had to have one.

They came in a number of styles.  No need to pour the coffee; just push the button on the top.

So, with a trunk full of purchases, Mom and I headed for home.  Later, as I'm unloading my stuff from the car, I hear:

Mom:  Let's go to the store to look at paint for those planters.
Dad:  I'm going to paint something?

I'm linking up with the following parties:
Thrifter Share
Show and Share
Vintage Bliss Tuesdays
Roses of Inspiration 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Spring Is Coming

I know much of the country is buried in snow, but around here...
The crocuses are blooming!


In little patches around the yard...


mostly deep purple ones...

 but some pale purple...

and some white...

and if you look closely in the upper right, you'll see the first daffodil just emerging.

Take heart my frozen friends, Spring is coming.

I'm linking up with
Roses of Inspiration

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Simpler Way To Make Fire Starters

Today's post is written by my mom.

We use our fireplace insert to heat our house almost every day, so we build a lot of fires.  I used to make fire starters by mixing melted wax with sawdust and pressing it into the cups of egg cartons.  Those fire starters work very well.  But I have since found an easier way.  Whenever I made sawdust fire starters, I was left with the tops of dozens of egg cartons.  One day I decided to see if I could make fire starters out of the leftovers, and this is what I came up with.  

Fire Starter Strips

 They don't burn as long as the little sawdust cups, but they fit between logs and two of them are just enough to start a small pile of dry pine cones.  There are two giant pine trees in front of our house and I collect the cones when they drop and save them in paper bags in the woodshed until winter.  The cones make great kindling. 

The best thing about fire starter strips is that they are very easy to make.  Plus they are practically free.
If you think this kind of fire starter might work for you, I will try to tell you how to make them.
First you need a pot for melting wax.  You don't want to use one of your good cooking pots; you need a designated melting pot.  I bought this one at Goodwill because it was A) cheap and B) heavy. 

You can see it's got mineral residue and a bit of wax in it from multiple uses.  I never wash it.
Next you need a large can, the kind that held 2 lbs of something.  If you don't have one, I recommend buying a can of hominy. Hominy's good stuff.  You can use a smaller one, but I like this size better.  You are going to make a double boiler by putting the wax you want to melt into the can, putting the can into the pot and then putting water in the pot.  DO NOT TRY TO MELT WAX OVER DIRECT HEAT!

This is my can of premelted wax, left over from the last time I made fire starters. I got the wax by melting down some candles I bought at a garage sale.  I can usually get half-used pillars for 25c-50c each.  Once I got a grocery sack full of them for $1.00. 

Here are my tools: scissors, newspaper, an old oven mitt, and a canning jar lifter. 

In addition to the wax, you'll need a supply of cardboard egg cartons.  Cut off the closure strip and remove the lid. 

Cut up the top until you have a pile of strips like this.

Then cut the strips in half.  You should end up with an assortment of strips of cardboard about 5 inches long.

Lay some sheets of newspaper on the counter closest to the pot and set the bottom of your egg carton on the newspaper.  Make sure the newspaper covers the counter up to the stove, NOT like it is in the picture.

Fill the can with the wax chunks.  One reason I like using a big can is that a pillar candle will fit in it.  If you have a smaller can or a really big candle, cut to fit.  Put the can of wax into the pot and add water up to about one third the height of the can.   If the can starts to tip, you have added too much water.  Heat the pot on high until the water boils.  As the water heats up, the can will rattle a bit.  This is perfectly normal.

When the water in the pot has come to a full boil, turn the heat down to just below boiling and heat until all the wax is melted.  Keep adding wax until the can is about three-fourths full.  Resist the urge to touch the can.  It will get REALLY hot.  If you absolutely must touch it, use the oven mitt.  There is no need to stir the wax, just let it melt until it looks all shiny.  I usually test it by sticking one of the cardboard strips into the wax and trying to stir it.  If I meet any resistance, then there are still some unmelted chunks of wax. 

Once the wax is melted you can start dipping the cardboard strips.  Push each one in almost to the end.  You may need to let the strip bend a little to get it all in.  Then lift it out.  This part should go rather quickly.

Hold the strip over the can until the wax stops dripping - this takes maybe 5 seconds. 

Set the waxy strip into the bottom of the egg carton to dry. 

Here is the finished fire starter.  You can see I now have two cartons.  I cut up another one while I was waiting for the wax to melt.

Here are all the fire starters in their drying racks.  One egg carton yields about a dozen fire starters.

When you have finished dipping all your cardboard strips, CAREFULLY remove your can of wax from the pot of hot water and set it on a pile of newspaper to dry.  This is where the jar lifter comes in very handy.  You can do it with oven mitts, but they will probably get wax on them.  I could leave the can of wax in the pan to cool off, but that takes several hours, and I usually need the stove before that.  

Don't just put the water down the sink.  After it cools I sometimes line a strainer with paper towels and pour the water through that to catch any wax.  Or I might just dump it outside.

I timed myself doing this.  It took 20 minutes to go from empty pot to fully melted wax, but then only ten minutes to make all the fire starters and clean up.  The wax will harden on the strips very quickly.  They can be removed from the rack in a couple of minutes, making space for new ones, so you can do several batches rather quickly. 

We keep our fire starters in a basket next to the fireplace.  The end without the wax is the one to light.  Once I got the idea to dip both ends.  Not a good idea.  You need the bare end for it to light easily.  I also tried other kinds of cardboard: toilet paper rolls, soda boxes, corrugated strips.  None of them worked very well.  I think it is because the egg cartons absorb the wax better.

Has anyone noticed the irony?  I started making these because I had a bunch of leftover egg carton tops.  Now I have a bunch of leftover egg carton bottoms, lol.  I suppose I could become the egg carton caterpillar queen.  

I think I'll just recycle them.

One last note:  I don't have any little kids in my home.  I wouldn't melt wax with little kids about.  But I learned how to make fire starters from the Boy Scouts, so use your own judgement about how old your kid needs to be in order to help with this. 


I'm linking up with the following parties:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. 
 Here are some thoughts on love from 

I made a set of envelopes out of this book for a friend from church.

Then I made some cards, too.



Here are Calvin and his friend... er mortal enemy Susie Derkins.

Their relationship is um...



Fun fact: Susie Derkins was based on Bill Watterson's wife.

See how nicely the book pages

make into envelopes.

For my own valentines, I made envelopes out of some old sheet music.

A friend from ravelry sent me a nice pen, so I am sending her

some envelopes, note cards and seals.

Some of the envelopes were made using this

envelope punch board that Mom purchased from JoAnn on sale for about $13.00.  (They are having a big sale this weekend.  Check the website for coupons.)

Some were made with this homemade template.  Instructions for making your own are here.

I hope you all have a lovely Valentine's Day.

I'm linking to the following parties:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What IS a chenille?

I took a little trip to the Goodwill Outlet with my Mother and our entourage recently.  (My boyfriend carries my stuff and my friend Rachel's baby is really cute.  That's an entourage, right?)  Going to the Outlet is bound to be an adventure, as you never know what will be there.  You have to sort through a lot of junk, but there's always something to be found.  And whatever it is, it probably won't cost you much.

 I got everything in this picture for less than $2.40.

I picked through several boxes of ornaments and salvaged these unbroken ones.  I am especially happy to have found some indents.

 I gave the stamp set to a friend who LOVES The Little Prince.

The little gold-toned item in the center of the picture is a wax seal stamp.  I've wanted one since I was a little girl, but they cost at least $12.00 new.  This one cost 3c.  It stamps the initial "T", so maybe I'll change my name to Tabitha.  My six-year-old self has loved that name ever since she first saw a re-run of  Bewitched.  Or maybe Tilapia.  She thought that was very exotic too.

Most of the rest of the things are craft supplies for making ornaments next Christmas.  I want to try and make some putz houses, so I'm hoping the wooden trees, wreaths and drums can be used for that.  I plan to glitter the angels. 

I salvaged some metal tops off of broken shiny brites because we had these at home.
Mom found them at an estate sale for $1.00.  She almost fainted.  Aren't they gorgeous?

The box is pretty cool looking too.

I found this set of playing cards in a haunted house-themed board game.  There are four of each card.  The object of the game is to collect all the cards in the deck.  You deal out all the cards, make stacks, and then the players turn over their top cards at the same time.  If two cards match, the first player to yell "SCREECH!" wins those two cards.  Play continues until one player has all the cards or the nearest adult's head explodes.  It sounds hideous.  But they should be good for playing Old Maid or Go Fish.

This little basket has a sticker on it that reads "Match Mates by International Laminations." It appears to have been made by fusing fabric between layers of plastic.  We think it's from the 70's.  It's now corralling my craft supplies.


I also found this chenille bedspread.  My second one! Within two weeks, even.  When it rains, it pours.

Me: (pointing into the bin next to me) Look, Mom! A chenille bedspread!
Mom: (apparently blind from 10 feet away) No, that's a towel.
Me: (holding out the bedspread with my boyfriend's assistance) Look, Mom.  A chenille bedspread.
Mom: Ooh look! A chenille bedspread! 

After that fuss, my friend Rachel asked me "What's a chenille?" and I couldn't believe that she didn't already know.  I then explained to her that it is a wondrous and lovely bedspread of a style that is not commonly produced today.  

When I got home my Mother and I started to wonder to each other "What IS a chenille?" and I figured it out! A Chenille is an exotic animal, some kind of wild cat I suppose, prized for it's beautiful and soft pelts.  Chenilles come in many colors and with lovely patterns on their pelts.  Most of these creatures have dotted or striped, simple geometrically patterned fur in only one or two colors but sometimes hunters could be lucky enough to find a Chenille with a flower basket or other intricate design emblazoned on it's backside.  Chenilles were hunted to near extinction in the 1940s and 1950s due to fashion forward housewives prizing their pelts as bedspreads and blankets for their homes.  Sadly, due to this over-hunting it is very difficult to find a Chenille in the wilds today and so few people are willing to part with their beautiful heirloom pelts that I am reduced to looking for them at thrift stores and estate sales wherever I can.  

I think they come from the same place as pink and blue poodles, because my six-year-old self knows they're real; they just live in some far away place... like Australia.  Australia has exotic animals, right?

I hope you find lovely things in your travels, too.

I linking up with these parties:

Show and Share
Vintage Bliss Tuesdays
Thrifter Share
Vintage Inspiration Party
Roses of Inspiration 
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