Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reuse & Repurpose: TKO

You never know where you'll discover an ingeniuos example of repurposing old items, and today's example comes from the Jack Gage American Tavern in Kansas City, Missouri. On the suggestion of my photographer pal Bob Greenspan, we stopped in on the new establishment a couple of weeks ago for a late dinner, and I became mesmerized by the unique bar décor.

The waiter told me that the piece came from an actual traveling boxing show that toured the U.K during the early- and mid- 20th Century. The top photo is of the boxing tent's exterior in 1955. Once the owners of the Kansas City establishment brought it to the U.S., they carefully cut out pieces in it to show off their offerings and their big-screen TV, and saved the interior pieces to show off as artthroughout the restaurant.

What a knock out!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Frugal Fun: What A Scream


With the Summer of 2010 having made room for autumn, I wanted to share with you some thrilling images of my Labor Day Weekend visit to Coney Island in Brooklyn. While they've made many changes to the boardwalk and the attractions there, the experience still retains the charm of years past, and yes, the The Cyclone still stands just as it has since 1927 rocking and rolling along its wooden peaks and valleys.

Now I had ridden The Cyclone many years ago and assured Veli, who had never been on a roller coaster before, that it was a piece of cake. Remember, I practically grew up in an amusement park in Kansas City, and for me, the scarier the coaster the better.



The sign in the entrance seemed slightly more alarming than I remember, but in a matter of seconds we would be twisting and serving along the ocean skyline. Good thing I left my wig at home!


Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Find: Global Pursuits


I can say quite confidently that if I had oodles and gobs of extra money lying around, I would most definitely spend it on travel. I'd jet off to Paris any time I feel, head over to LA on a whim, zoom off to meet new friends in Canada and then park it for a while on a tropical island.

Repeat! Revise! Repeat!

That's why I love this image shot by expert lens man Bob Greenspan in his Kansas City home for The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details. Not only does it show an easy and appealing way to display a common, thrifty collection, but it is also indicative of the wanderlust that both Bob and I both share.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Object of My Desire: A Teeny Tiny Cup

While my sister Cheryl and I were hitting garage and estate sales last week in Independence, Missouri, we kept our eyes open for goodies that we thought our mom might like for her upcoming birthday. I picked up some old wallpaper and ribbons that I used to gift wrap a vintage puzzle I had for Mom, but Cheryl hit the jackpot at an estate sale with this miniature treasure -- a crocheted teacup and saucer no bigger than a thimble.

I don't have a lot of crochet items myself, but I love admiring them for the many hours, the steady hand and the untiring eye their creators must have put into their loving task. And every time I see such an accomplishment, I'm always reminded of a friend of my Grandma Churchill who tatted lace on a broomstick and my own Grandma Williams who was known to work up a doll-faced potholder ensemble or two.

Mom has certainly spend some hours crocheting over the years. There's still the blue-toned afghan she made that has been in the family since I was a child and the delicate angel decorations that sometimes make it to the Christmas tree. And then Cheryl, when she puts her mind to it, is the power afghan crocheter extraordinaire. Just ask my LA pal Ruth Handel who has had one of Cheryl's jewel-toned creations on her living room sofa since she married.

I've limited my own display of crochet pieces to another of my sisters afghan masterpieces that rests happily on a side chair in my living room. Every time I wrap up in it on a chilly day or offer it to an overnight guest, I imagine it offering the same kind of cheery welcome as this warm and cozy little cup of tea.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter


Friday, September 24, 2010

Garage Sale Goodness: The Gift of Thrift

The Gift of Thrift is unlikely to be something you are specifically shopping for. Instead, it's probably an item or two that seem to appear magically when you least expect it. That's what happened as I was walking through Carroll Gardens Brooklyn one Sunday and spied a sign promising a stoop sale. Even though my traveling partners grumbled and groaned about going out of our way to indulge my curiosity, we headed over and I immediately spied this octagonal jigsaw puzzle made by Springbok in 1967.


I thought of all the fun we used to have as kids putting together puzzles, and how my mom and her mother seemed to always enjoy accomplishing the most difficult jigsaw puzzles in either monotone colors or with teeny tiny pieces. Mom's birthday was coming up and I hadn't found a gift for her yet, so I snagged this find right off the sidewalk for $1.

Once I arrived in my hometown of Independence, Missouri, last week with my cardboard treasure packed in the bottom of my bag, my sister and I were off to garage and estate sales. And before I knew it, I had found both the wrap (a 5-cent piece of wallpaper) and the ribbon (about 15-cents a roll) and Mom's birthday gift complete.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Garage Sale Goodness: Rolls and Rolls

I truly believe that half the fun of receiving a gift is in the way it is presented. I never seem to have enough ribbon in my cupboards, so when I saw this box packed with gorgeous goodies for $3 at an estate sale last week in Independence, Mo., I couldn't resist.

Many of these vintage rolls still carried the price tag from the shuttered Ben Franklin 5 and Dime that once was a crafter's go-to in Englewood area of Independence, and all of them were made in the United States or Germany. There were wide ribbons and scalloped ones, some of velvet and others of satin. A few were decorated with designs while others carried deep, rich hues. Either way, I hit the ribbon jackpot and will be all tied up for a while!

I know, that was a corny one!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Garage Sale Goodness: Bowled Over



Midwest garage sales are magical places where treasures show up without much effort and sellers seem almost embarrassed to take your money. Now I know this J.G Meakin ironstone bowl isn't in pristine condition, but for 50 cents it's completely useful and to me, its scrapes and dings only add to its charm.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Garage Sale Goodness: Thrift Karma Revisited

On the second day of hitting garage and estate sales with my sister in Independence, Missouri, I had to call my thrifty pal Ruth Handel to share with her some anecdotes from our amazing treasure hunt. I had just picked up several boxes at $3 apiece packed with ribbons, ephemera and Christmas goodies at the home of an accomplished puppetry enthusiast and breathlessly recounted to her my discoveries.

Ruth promised to come to Kansas City one day, and at the end of the conversation, I asked her what she might be looking for. "I'm not looking for anything. I don't need anything," she told me. "I just like to go and look, but if you happen to see anything nautical; that's what I'm kind of in to."

We said our goodbyes, and my sister and I went back to my parents house where I started savoring the contents of of my $3 boxes. Packed into a box of old leaflets and travel brochures, and without my knowing it, I had netted several sea-worthy discoveries -- three cardboard sailor boys, a British guide to sea safety and a booklet about tying knots. Into an envelope they went on their way to Ruth in Los Angeles.

If you're asking why the vintage TG&Y construction paper is grouped in there when it's not necessarily nautical, I thought Ruth might use it to make some folded sailor's caps!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, September 20, 2010

Garage Sale Goodness: The Objects of My Desire



On my first day of hitting garage sales with my sister in Independence, Missouri, we were lured away from our GPS-designated path by a sign that promised everything for $1, and here is what I found -- two prints from Paris, purchased by a couple on their visit there in 1970 and noted on the reverse side in neat, cursive script.

As much as the scenery has changed in my hometown, it always amazes me how the streets of Paris have remained mostly unchanged as they are portrayed in these pretty French finds.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, September 17, 2010

Recharging: A Foreign Accent


As I take a break from major blogging this week, I leave you with this photo of a box of goodies taken on a recent flea market visit in New Jersey.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recharging: Witchy Woman

As I take a break from major blogging this week, I leave you with this photo of the Sabrina Magic Paper Doll taken on a recent flea market visit in New Jersey.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Recharging: Pretty in Pink

As I take a break from major blogging this week, I leave you with this image of these pretty, pink Pyrex stacking bowls.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Recharging: Pick it Up!

As I take a break from major blogging this week, I leave you with this image of a novel way to display your wares from a recent flea marketing trip in New Jersey.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, September 13, 2010

Recharging: Junk in the Trunk


As I take a break from major blogging this week, I leave you with this image of a trunk full of treasures from a recent flea marketing trip to New Jersey.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, September 10, 2010

Found Fridays: On the Tracks


As I was standing on the subway platform waiting for the train to Coney Island last weekend, I spied this pinkish red thing that appeared to be hiding underneath the tracks. Maybe a lobster had escaped a shopping bag, I thought. Wouldn't that be hilarious if, while boarding the train, a sly crustacean leaped out and scuttled off to save itself from the boiling pot of water that surely awaited it?

As it turned out, my imaginary lobster tuned out to be a shredded piece of plastic, but it planted the old B-52's song in my ear:

"We were at the beach. Everybody had matching towels. Somebody went under a dock. And there they saw a rock. I wasn't a rock; it was a rock lobster!"

Have a rockin' weekend!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reuse & Repurpose: Hanging Around


At first I thought they were lanterns we saw hanging in the window of Desiron in SoHo, but on closer inspection I realized they were paper sculptures made out of the pages from old books by artist Susan Benarcik. They appear to be cut into a uniform shape and then strung together on a string to create a fluffy, layered fantasy. Not only did Veli capture these creations with his BlackBerry, but he also managed to get what looks like my shrunken head in the left-hand corner! Even though it may not seem like it all the time, I can assure you that it is still attached to my full-sized body!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Frugal Fun: Stooping to the Occasion


You may recall that a few weeks ago I participated in my very first stoop sale in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, thanks to Heather Kerr who hosted the whole affair. Here is the video to prove it, and as you can tell, it was more about having some serious fun than making serious dough!



Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Find: A Midwest Marvel

Here's another image from The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details that is among my favorites. One reason I'm so fond of this scene is because it came from a house in my hometown of Kansas City, and the other is that the featured pieces of furniture, the two Hans Wegner chairs, were found in the garbage and refinished by photographer Bob Greenspan, who also took this image. I also like the whimsy of the trio of non-working atomic clocks on the back wall and the boldness of the bright red fireplace that divides the living area from the dining room.


Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Object of My Desire: Summer's End

Here's one of my favorite pictures of The Luxor, a 1966 Criss Craft Sea Skiff that we used to spend our summers on in Fire Island. Here's how she looked in her better days and how I will always remember her.

Have a relaxing Labor Day Weekend!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Gift of Thrift: Getting Cozy

There's something about the idea of a cozy that tickles me. Maybe it's because I grew up in the era of crafting cozies to hide seemingly unpleasant items in the bathroom or small appliances in the kitchen.

Crochet seemed to be the most common technique to make an acceptable cozy when I was a kid. I've seen parasoled ladies hiding extra rolls of toilet paper under their skirts, floral fantasias enrobing boxes of tissue and grannies covering up kitchen utensils in their backsides.

That's why I had to pick up this little number last year at the Los Angeles County Fair. It looks like a little girl's dress, but no! It's a blender cozy, with a tiny pocket in front for I can only imagine what. Maybe a miniature spatula or measuring spoons?

Hope you mix up something nice for this last holiday weekend of Summer.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Frugal Fun: Rooftop Dining

Eating out in New York always brings with it some sort of unusual experience, epecially when taking a meal outdoors, just like the recent brunch we had on the rooftop garden of Justine's in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As I was sipping my iced latte, I looked over the ledge of the dining area and notices a pepper shaker that must have rolled off a table and hit the skylight below. I also imagined a testy guest demanding pepper and an irate waiter tossing the container at him, missing, and flying off the edge. (Our servers were quite lovely, thank you, so why would I think something like that?)
Then I leaned over a little farther and discovered a choice of knives -- one for butter and another for steak!

And then when I stretched my head out even farther, I saw a virtual tabletop of useful items -- a fork, another knife, a menu, a broken champagne glass with a cigarette butt in it and the lighter that may have lit it.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reuse & Repurpose: Wise Woodworking

I've seen so many high-end retailers taking reclaimed wood and making furniture out of it, but I don't think any of them close to the creativity and artistry I saw the other day from Pam Kern who oversees the fantastic blog Frippery.

Feeling inspired to make a new coffee table, she went back to an old shed that was once her kids' fort and harvested some pieces of wood for a tabletop.

Next, she found an outdated coffee table in the garage and discovered the base for her new creation.
Then she cut the wood into appropriate lengths and used a nail gun to attach them to the base.

And finally, she cut out stencils to apply meaningful words and number combinations to the table's surface.

Et voilà! A one-of-a-kind table packed with personality that would be hard to put a price tag on.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter

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