On the hunt for mid-century modern

September 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

My sister and I are big thrifters, especially when it comes to mid-century architectural furniture.  We’re always on the lookout for Danish-modern pieces from the 1960’s, and the Pacific coast is our hunting ground.

If you’re bothered by profanity or a lack of enthusiasm for contemporary Christianity, read no further, because this post is likely to offend you.

I’ve been looking for a desk for Dave.  Requirements are mid-century, teak, and something that can be closed to hide the bills and paperwork.  I found something new here in Oregon, but thought the price was a little high.  The following exchange is between me and my sister Kristin, and I apologize for our lack of respectfulness (I’m green, she’s blue).

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Thrifting in Oregon

September 15, 2013 § 9 Comments

I haven’t done much these past two months on Oregon, except recover from Shingles.  I didn’t realize that it could be so painful.  I spent two months extremely exhausted, and couldn’t figure out why.  Everything tired me out.  I’d come home at the end of the day, and wouldn’t be able to manage much more than to feed the animals and then drop into bed.  Dave said I was overdoing it.  My back was aching, and a heating pad wasn’t helping much.   I figured Dave was right, and I needed to stop working so hard.  Then, one morning two weeks ago, I awoke to a strange red patch on my skin, covering about 2″ in circumference.  In a matter of hours, the rash grew to a size that covered the entire right side of my torso.  It was blistery and painful, and landed me in the emergency room.  I thought I had a skin infection…it turned out to be Shingles.

“Oh, thank goodness,” I told the ER doc, “I was afraid it might be cellulitis.”

“Actually,” he said, “Cellulitis might be better, and you’re going to need an anti-viral and some pain medication to get through this.”

I accepted the prescription for the anti-viral, but spurned the pain medication.  How bad could it be, I wondered?  It’s just a rash.  Eight hours later, I was writhing in pain.  It was very bad; it felt like someone was hacking out my spine with a pickax (no exaggeration).  I sucked it up, and didn’t take the prescription pain medication, although I did avail myself of over-the-counter ibuprofen, which was very helpful.

Today, I’m feeling much better, although I’m still not 100%.  The pain is still there, and the rash is also still apparent.  However, I’m much improved as compared to several weeks ago.  Shingles is chicken pox for grown-ups, but much worse.  It can kill you, actually.  It’s painful and long-lasting.  I recommend getting the Shingles vaccine.  Ask your doctor about it.

While recovering, I comforted myself with thrifted cookbooks.  There are several thrift stores near the house, and I was able to pick up several “antique” cookbooks for a few cents each.

Cookbooks

Several of these I remember my mom using when I was a kid.  It’s fun to look at the pictures, and remember family meals, dinner parties, and holidays.  I love the “Betty Crocker: Dinner for Two” one the best.  It’s from the 1960’s, and although my mom never used it (our family was too big for dinner-for-two), it does bring back memories.  The aspics, stewed vegetables, congealed salads, and tips for making a happy home remind me of growing up.

I love old books, and I especially love old cookbooks.  Old cookbooks bring back happy family memories.

What are your favorite nostalgic memories?

Week in review: 9/14/2012

September 14, 2012 § 7 Comments

I picked up a baby changing table at the thrift store.  It was $30.  Dave’s probably going to have a cow because I brought another piece of unwanted junk into the house.  My plans are to remove the lip from the top, and then make a stainless steel top.  I’ll refurbish the entire piece, sanding it down, and either staining or painting it.  Maybe it will get some little wheels for the bottom, which will allow us to easily wheel it outside to use as a sort of drinks trolley.  I’ll let you know how it turns out…I’m not planning to work on it for awhile.  It will be one of my projects for this winter.

Dave was so exhausted one evening that he came home from work, and went right to bed.  Since it was just me, I abandoned our regular dinner menu, and just made a quesadilla with two corn tortillas and some cheese with green onions and a little fried bacon.

Our intern at the office gave me a little box of cookies.  I’d show you the cookies, but alas…someone ate them.  I wonder who that could have been?

My friend Cheryl and I have birthdays that are very close together.  I knew she’d been wanting a little mirror for awhile, so I was pleased when I saw a box of several brass mirrors at a local shop.  I gave us each one for our birthdays.  I think hers is still brass, but this week I used a little Rub and Buff on mine, and made it antiqued silver.  After it gets another coat, I’ll hang it in the hall.

Thrift store stainless steel cannisters

July 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve just returned from a week in the Texas Hill Country, where I attended a graduation at one of the San Antonio military bases, and also spent several days with family in the Austin area.  This afternoon on the way back to Houston, I stopped at a thrift store, and found this stainless steel cannister set.  It was $1.99, and will look perfect in our little mid-century farmhouse.  I especially like the engraved bands at their bottoms.

Although I’ve already cleaned them up considerably with some Bon Ami scratch-free pumice cleaner, they need a little more scrubbing with some of Dave’s car polishing cream to smooth out the scratches.

I do love a good thrift purchase!

50 ways to help the environment

June 14, 2012 § 15 Comments

Because I work in high-tech, some people assume I’m a use-all-the-energy-you-want-conservative.  I frankly consider myself middle of the road, and have conservative and liberal friends.  My conservative friends call me a tree-hugger, and some of my liberal friends laugh at me when I say I’m fiscally-conservative.

The fact is that politics have become so partisan these days, it’s hard to be responsible and green without offending someone…so, Dave and I just do what’s right for us (and we try not to worry too much about making people mad).  We live as green as we can, make our best effort not to be wasteful, give back more than we take, and think about our purchases (for the most part, even though antique Porsche sportscars do tempt a certain someone).

So, I’ve been thinking about all the things we can do to make a difference.  Some of these things are really big, and some are fairly small.  Some of these things you might not be able to do, for one reason or another.  The important thing is that you do as many of them as you can.

  1. Buy used, when you can.  When you buy a used book, household furniture, or other items, instead of buying it new, you’re saving it from a landfill, and also reducing wastes associated with manufacturing.
  2. Switch to e-books.  You can read them on your smartphone, laptop, or e-reader.
  3. Use the library.  Why buy, when you can use your community’s local library?
  4. Ask your bank, energy providers, and other entities to bill you electronically.
  5. Use your bank’s electronic bill-paying service to reduce paper waste.
  6. Stop thinking of soda as something you need to drink every day.  Coca Cola was invented as a medicine…why not use it as such?  Keep a few Cokes around for when you have a headache or stomachache, and otherwise stay away from the stuff.
  7. Compost.  Make a bin outside where you can compost your kitchen waste, mail (yes, you can compost your junk mail), catalogs, phonebooks, coffee grounds, and lawn clippings.  If you live in the city, you may be part of a community that accepts compost (check with your community to see).
  8. Recycle what you can.  This means taking cans, glass, plastic, and paper to the recycling station in your community.  If you’re fortunate enough to have a curbside pickup service, what are you waiting for?
  9. Dress classically.  This means buying non-trendy clothing that may cost more but sticks around style-wise for a lot longer.  Think Katherine Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, with their cashmere twinsets, Hermes scarves, leather ballet flats, pearl necklaces, and trench coats.  These things never go out of style.  Dress classically, and you’ll forget about having to throw out-of-style items into the trash.  And no, I’m not suggesting that you dress like some sad little 1980’s person, wearing yucky old polyester jackets and pleated pants.  I recently wore my aunt’s 1940’s green brocade cocktail dress to a party, and received endless compliments.  That cocktail dress is still current because it is classically designed.
  10. Give to Goodwill and other thrift stores.  Give unwanted clothing, furniture, and household items to charity.  Not only do you get to keep the tax deduction, but you’re preventing your things from ending up in some landfill.
  11. Stop eating pre-packaged foods.  Sure, they’re easy, but you can do so much better on your own…really you can.  You do not need to buy pre-made frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for your kids.  Save your money, and save some landfill from all of the packaging.
  12. Stop using fabric softener.  Half a cup of vinegar in every load works just as well, and there are no chemicals.
  13. Refrain from using products that use dyes and fragrances.
  14. Stop or limit the use of products that contain phosphates.
  15. Grow vegetable plants at home.  Whether it’s 1-2 plants on your balcony or an entire garden in your backyard, either way, you’re living greener than you would be if you were buying everything from the grocery store.
  16. Plant herbs in small pots on your inside windowsill.
  17. Buy local.  Buying locally-produced meats and vegetables saves on shipping costs.
  18. If your car is very old (and gets horrible gas mileage), consider taking it out of the system entirely and bringing it to the junkyard.
  19. Work from home.  Even one to two days per week (or month) saves on energy costs.
  20. Carpool.
  21. Take the bus or ride your bicycle to the office.
  22. When you buy a new car, consider low emission diesel cars, which are getting low (or better) mileage than the hybrids, without having to worry about batteries.
  23. Plan your errands such that you waste a minimal amount of energy.
  24. Install programmable thermostats and eco vent fans.
  25. Make your own bread.
  26. Eat at restaurants less often.
  27. Eat at least one meat-free meal per week.
  28. Join a co-op, where you can collaborate with others to purchase items in bulk (where economical), either from a farmer’s market or from a bulk distributer.
  29. Start a neighborhood co-op.
  30. Consider a gray water/blackwater system if you are building a new home (if allowed by your community).
  31. Use a water reclaiming system to water your lawn (i.e a rain barrel).  Some communities do not allow this, so please carefully consider before installation.
  32. If you must use candles, consider soy-based candles, which are less toxic.
  33. Make your own dog treats.  Why spend $5 – $15 at the store when you can make your own?
  34. When replacing your HVAC system in your home, consider spending more money to get a more efficient system, if you can afford it.  The pay-off may take awhile, but in the long-run, you may come out ahead.
  35. Install 1-2 solar panels on your roof.
  36. Buy dishware at thrift stores.  If you stick with all white or a neutral color scheme, then your purchases will all work.  Dave and I have some very nice antique Fostoria crystal that we’ve purchased in this manner, and no one (until now) knows that we bought it for a few cents for each piece).
  37. Turn off your air conditioning if you’re not at home.  If you live in a colder climate, then turn down the thermostat when you leave.
  38. Don’t smoke.
  39. Bring your own bags to the grocery store.
  40. Cancel your gym membership, and just walk or ride your bicycle a few times a week.  You’ll still get plenty of exercise.
  41. Brew your own coffee (Starbucks is great, but you don’t need to go there every day).
  42. If you have a Keurig coffee-maker, use the home-brew cannister to make your own K-cup.
  43. When building a new home, consider spray polyurethane foam (SPF).  It seals and insulates.
  44. Consider the impact of switching to compact fluorescents (which produce mercury waste), against incandescents, which produce heat waste.
  45. Rotate your tires every 7,500 – 10,000 miles.  Check your tire pressure once per month.
  46. Cook extra food so you’ll have leftovers for lunch the next day.
  47. If you’re going to use the oven, cook several things at once to optimize energy.
  48. Filter your own water, and put it into portable containers.
  49. Consider the packaging sizes when purchasing bottled drinks.  Do you really need individual-sized packages?
  50. Buy boxed wine.  It uses less packaging, tastes fine, and lasts longer opened in the refrigerator.

Secondhand pottery plates

June 6, 2012 § 4 Comments

I have a friend who is an artist.  Actually, I have many friends who are artists.  However, this particular friend I am writing about today is my potter friend, Mark Oehler.  A potter, he makes his living fabricating practical wares.  Many, many years ago, when I lived in Mark’s community, he and I worked out a little deal…he’d make me a few dinner plates, and I’d make a sketch of him for an advertisement for a local newspaper.  It turned out to be a good deal for both of us, since over the years, that initial plate transaction has evolved into my purchase of many pieces of beautifully-crafted merchandise from his shop.  I can’t visit Reeds Spring, Missouri without stopping in to buy a few pieces.  Today, Dave and I have nine beautiful one-of-a-kind dinner plates, many bowls and serving pieces, a lamp, a teapot, many mugs, some vases, and a sculpture.  Although my initial four plates were part of an artist’s exchange, and were technically “free,” the pieces I’ve purchased since then represent an investment of many hundreds of dollars of original practical art.

Mark has given us a love of fine pottery and hand-crafted homewares.  As a result, we’re always on the alert for beautiful handmade wares.  At a research practicum in Bethel, Maine, I picked up a couple of pottery cups and a trivet.  At a local artists’ mart, I purchased two beautiful vases (one of which ended up as a Christmas gift for my banker).   In Galveston, I bought several clay sculptures for our walls.

Almost all of the art in our home is original, whether it is handthrown pottery, paintings, or welded metal sculptures.

Some of our art has been found at local thrift stores.  It gives us pleasure to find something in a thrift store, and then bring it home and put it on display.  Over the years, we’ve found some terrific bargains, including several original paintings, some vases, handmade pine baskets, masks, and quilts.

Last week, we were thrilled to find eight handthrown plates at one of our local thrift stores.  Made from porcelain clay (notoriously difficult to work), these plates are glazed nut-brown with a light blue band.  The size is inconsistent, varying as much as one inch from plate to plate.  Their differences make them even more endearing to us, and at less than $8 for all eight plates, they were certainly a bargain.

We christened them at dinner this week, and are looking forward to using them at many more meals.

Make your own coffee table out of garbage!

May 9, 2012 § 7 Comments

Dave:  Help me drag this pallet to the trash.

Libby:  I’m saving that.  It’s good wood.

Dave:  It’s a shipping pallet.  It’s garbage, and we are NOT saving it.

Libby:  Just leave it there.  I’m going to make a coffee table out of it.

Dave:  A what?!

Libby:  A COFFEE TABLE, like the kind the Petersiks made on Young House Love.

Dave:  We are not having a table made out of garbage in our house, and we are not the PETERSIKS.

Libby:  Not in the house.  On the patio.  Just think of how rugged it will look with our outside chairs.

Dave:  This is some crazy-ass blogging idea, isn’t it?  You’ll make some splintery table, then write a story about it in the blog.  And before you know it, EVERYONE will be making crappy coffee tables out of garbage.

Libby:  I only need one more pallet to make the coffee table I’m envisioning.  Can you get a pallet from work?

Dave:  How about if you just ENVISION this in the trash pile?  How about that, because that’s where it’s going.

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