Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reuse & Repurpose: Rolling Around



If  you've frequented thrift stores or garage sales, you know that globes of the world could almost make up an entire planetary system by themselves.  I am always drawn to them, spinning them around to see which countries still exist and which have changed their names.  

And no matter the state of the world I find, whether one pre-or post Yugoslavia or another before Hawaii became part of the United States, I love the idea of having a globe; I just don't have the space to display them in my New York City apartment. But these new lamps I saw for sale in the West Village  Kikkerland Store inspired me to think about how to transform a vintage globe into a pendant lamp.

First, I'd buy a hanging fixture, such as the Hemma cord set at Ikea for $5, and drill a hole right through the North Pole, just big enough to slide the cord through and catch at the the opening to hold the lighting element. Next, I would take a lightweight hack saw and cut off just about 1/8th of the entire globe on the opposite end, aligning my cut just below The Tropic of Capricorn. 

Finally, I'd finish off  the cut edges with brown electrical tape, snake the cord through the top hole, and get ready to light up your world! (And now you know my next craft project!)


Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Window Shopping: Drawers Open!



The safest way to keep me from spending money in a thrift store is to simply bar  me from entry. But who says I can't peruse the windows, especially if they're showcasing the wares at one of my favorite haunts in New York City, Vintage Thrift.




I wasn't planning on walking by Vintage Thrift this morning, but when I did, how could I not be mesmerized by its windows: the bright vintage typewriter, the carousel holding stamps, the school grade cards and the old metal desk lamps?




But wait, the drawers are open! Just take a peek at all those old vintage desk supplies inside. It's as if this desk was picked up from a school in the late 1960s and placed right in the window.


For some off-duty reading for this teacher (or principal), there's a comic book, a deck of cards and a MAD magazine.


And finally, there's a peek into the school yearbook with one of the funniest headlines I've ever seen, "Track Team Struck by Ill Luck."

But for me, today was a very lucky day!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Meet the Muppets


Oh yes! It is I, right between Bert and Ernie!

Taken back in the early 1990s when I was an editor at the now defunct Children's Business at Fairchild Publications, this Polaroid image take me back the day of wide ties and (eek) pleated pants. While I'm usually pretty astute at remembering why and what I was wearing at the time of a photo, these choices have me completely at a loss for explanation.

Do take into consideration, though,  that this was taken just before the concept of flat-front trousers picked up in the mid-to-late '90s. It was also the first time goatees became popular after a long respite, but before the days we had the correct tools to keep them neat and trimmed. I do remember those fancy Giorgio Armani glasses that came with clip-on sunglasses, which, by the way I lost and replaced three or four times. And wow! I really did have hair. See for yourself!

As for Bert and Ernie, Bert still has his unibrow, and they both have hipster 'dos, high on the top and sheered on the sides. And to this day, these two Muppets still show their stripes, both vertically and horizontal. Thank goodness some things never change.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Frugal Fun: A Mad, Mad Tea Party


Tea? For 25 little girls? No problem! It all started when my good pal Allison Hemming of The Hired Guns asked me where to get inexpensive tea cups for a Mad Hatter birthday party for her seven-year-old daughter, Fiona. My natural response? Thrift, of course! 

I hit garage sales and thrift stores in New Jersey and Vermont, as well as my favorite, most trusted New York stop, Vintage Thrift, to curate a mix-and-match teacup set fit for the birthday girl and her mad-hatted entourage. But the work didn't stop there. Before I knew it, I was neck deep in creating the look for this fun-filled  affair.  Oh, twist my arm...



For the tabletop, Allison and I used pretty much what we had on hand: playing cards, metal bird; odd dishes; vintage linens, garland, children's toys, novelty salt and pepper shakers, you name it!  Allison's mother's gorgeous silver tea set shimmered as a focal point, especially after Allison gave it a hearty polish.



Allison bought green Astroturf that we cut into lengths to create runners for our extra-long serving tables that enhanced the garden them.  



One mother made magical mushroom cupcakes that we displayed on fanciful cardboard tiers found at Penelope Wurr's adorable shop in Brattleboro, Vermont. Look closely and you'll see a real mushroom that Allison found in the woods near her home in Jamaica, Vermont.


A pair of lawn ornament bunnies from Allison's Vermont home were transformed into table decorations.


My mother whipped up these colorful, casual napkins out of a favorite, thread barren vintage tablecloth. She simply cut them into squares with pinking sheers.


What's a party without an activity? Here, party goers were invited to customize Mason jars with press-on gems and paper Alice in Wonderland characters and then fill them with Jelly Bellys, M&Ms, gum balls, rock candy and candy fruit slices. I placed another Astroturf runner atop a vintage white tablecloth to keep our theme consistent.


Talk about a sugar high! These party girls are at work filling their jars with treats.


A second activity centered around making necklaces with strands of ribbons I have collected over the years and tiny metal keys that I bought on Etsy. I place the keys in a butterfly dish I picked up years ago for $1.00 at The Red Racks Thrift Store in Independence, Missouri.



Witness all the craftiness at work.



And here is Miss Fiona wearing one of the necklaces and sampling a cupcake. What a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad day of fun!


Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Day Dolly Touched Me!


Anyone who knows me also knows that I love Dolly Parton. I have been a fan since childhood, and while I've only met her once, I feel like she is one of my most trusted friends who never fails to inspire and entertain. So to celebrate her newest recording Blue Smoke , here's a photo of Dolly and me taken almost 12 years ago on the release of her Halos and Horns CD.

I heard about the meet and greet just hours before it was to take place at the now closed Virgin Mega Store in Times Square. To get tickets to the event, I stood in line at the crack of dawn and purchased my CDs. Then later in the day, I returned to store and lined up to meet Dolly.

Those were the days just before everyone had a digital camera so on my way to the event, I grabbed a box camera at the drug store to somehow document this monumental meeting. While I stood in line for hours, the moments passed quickly as we all swapped stories and we one-upped each other with our Dolly knowledge. (Nobody topped me, I'm happy to say!) The next thing I knew, I was third in line and quickly made a pact with my new friends that we would all take pictures and share them with each other.

I was up next. I was so nervous I didn't know what to say, and Dolly could sense it. I told her she was beautiful, and couldn't help staring down at her infamous bosom, especially since I was standing and she was seated about three feet below me. I know my voice cracked when I told her I felt like a kid who was meeting Santa Claus for the first time, and she said to me, "Well, I'm just Granny Claus."

As soon as my CDs were signed, I was whisked away into the crowd and couldn't believe what had just happened. Then a few days later I was reminded as all my photos started to arrive. The one I'm sharing here is my favorite because unbeknownst to me, Dolly hand was firmly planted on my arm.

Why, Dolly touched me!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Spittin' Image



One of the best jobs I ever had was one that definitely put me on a specific career path that I was only aware of later in life. At the age of 15, I began working in a vintage photography studio, Spittiin' Image, at Kansas City's amusement park, Worlds of Fun. At that young age (and with a full head of hair), I had no idea that one day my love for fashion would merge with my passion for all things old.

Fun was the key word, since no matter how high the mercury rose, how smelly the costumes became or the number of double shifts I pulled a week, I never, ever once felt like I was working.

So when I gaze upon this sepia toned, faux tin type of myself at about the age of 17, I remind myself that whatever I do to make a living must reap more than a paycheck. And I remind myself to maintain a healthy balance between what I must do and what I desire without letting the dollar signs cloud my vision.

So what will I be doing this summer?

Something FUN!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter



Monday, May 19, 2014

Frugal Party Planning: Two, Four or More for Tea

Photograph by Stan Williams

When a dear friend asked me where she could get inexpensive teacups for her daughter's Mad Hatter birthday party, my response was predictable: Thrift, of course! The task of assembling this  porcelain potpourri took only a few hours, thanks to the bounty of goodies available at the Town-Wide Garage Sale in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey and a quick stop at a trusted thrift store.

On the hunt with my thrifting pal Michael Quinn, we targeted odd cups and saucers that we could mix and match to create a cheery assortment.

Kettle's on!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter


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