Friday, December 28, 2012

The Gift of Thrift: What's Cooking?

One of my favorite pastimes is perusing old recipes and taking in all of the once-popular ingredients, such as Jello, oleo, maraschino cherries and fruit cocktail. On a very rare occasion, I still let a bit of Velvetta cheese or Campbell's cream of mushroom soup creep into a dish, and for all the snickering and upturned noses they induce in toney New York "foodies," these creations are always the ones gobbled up lickety split.

Every Christmas my sister excels at giving me the best Gifts of Thrift, usually delightful old cookbooks with Technicolor photos of jiggly green salads and unnaturally tanned poultry. This year, she outdid herself: four boxes jam packed with recipes, most handwritten on 3x5 cards, complete with commentary. Several, like " Big Batch Salmon Casserole" and "Jelly Roll Salad," were given the distinction of "very good." Others, like "Rhubarb Salad" with cherry Jello were called out with "Ovle likes this." (I can only guess that Ovle was her husband.) But only two recipes in the batches were marked with the honor of being deemed "super": a seven-minute frosting and "Heavenly Pineapple Mold" made with lemon Jello, pineapple juice, cheddar cheese, and a cup of Dream Whip.

Sounds divine!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Object of My Desire: Hey Cookie!


We went cookie crazy this weekend at our sweet friend's decorating party. Here is a small sampling of the results. (She told me she baked 36 dozens of these pretties in preparation for her gathering!) I, of course, turned what was intended to be a wreath into a holiday pineapple. Can you spot my kooky creation?

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Frugal Fun: Paris Sidetracked


As you may know, one of my favorite places in the world is Paris. I've been fortunate to spend many wonderful visits there, and I can honestly say I've never found myself bored -- even once when I was there during  a national strike that closed all the museums for my entire stay.

But it's images like the one above that always reminds me of why Paris holds a special place among my dearest memories. Where else would a teeny, tiny electrics shop -- big enough for only a Vespa inside -- with its wares so marvelously displayed in it vitrine?


I discovered the Provençal restaurant Chez Janou, which prides itself in offering more than 80 types of Pastis. Here's a shrine to that region's drink of choice.


My visit included several museums and a dash through the Christmas market near Place de la Concorde where I took in the view of the spectacular Ferris wheel.


We also stopped at l'Artisan Fleuriste, a gem of a flower shop on rue Vieille du Temple in the Marais that advertises its far-from-typical florals on a vintage Citroën Ami 8.


Just a few steps away, Brit menswear brand Fred Perry had extra-large nutcrackers on show to crack some very large nuts.


And back on boulevard Beaumarchais, a lit-up star was displayed on a wall covered with Brooklyn Tins tile wallpaper at the gracious shop of wonders,  Merci .

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Find: A Summer Post from the Past




I wrote this post a while back and decided to share it with you again since its from one of my favorite locations featured in The Find.

There's something irresistible about the simplicity of a beach cottage -- one practically under-decorated with finishes that have faded under the sun's constant caress and textures speckled and splotched by the salty air's kiss.

Since winter's chill is on the way, I thought I'd share a couple of the  heartwarming images that I photographed on the Fire Island community of Saltaire while doing research for The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details.

Mary-Ellen Weinrib, a home stylist who has spent her summers on Saltaire for more than 20 year, took me on a tour of her home and I snapped away inspiration that I haven't shown anyone until now -- a framed poppy canvas casually leaned on the mantle of a weathered fireplace, an intimate view through a painted screen door into a crisp-white guest room, or even the lovely, washed-out family photographs that accentuate the setting of a brilliant sun porch.


Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Object of My Desire: Give Me a Ring


Even though people laugh at me for keeping it and the only people who reach me on it are robo calls and Citibank, my land line is still hooked up. Yes, I use my mobile phone as much as everyone else, and even my parents know that when they want to reach me they call the cell. That said,  I can't seem break with the thought of having a line dedicated solely to making and receiving phone calls.

The other reason I keep my hard connection is that even when all the power goes out, electricity still flows through the phone line. It only works in a power outage, however, if you have an old-fashioned phone where the handset is connected to a base with a cord; mobile models won't work. I learned this lesson well during Sandy when absolutely nothing worked for a week: no mobile, no Internet; no lights and no phone, since the one I was using connected remotely to its base.

That's what sent me shopping on Etsy to find a phone that reminded me of the one I had in my bedroom when I was a teen. It was a model similar to this, except that it had a rotary dial. I saw plenty of those, too, but I decided to trade up to this model made by AT&T in 1989.

This orange-ish relic from the past is now all hooked up in my bedroom and ready to ring, and unlike a mobile phone, it cradles nicely between the ear and the shoulder without burning my ear or cramping my arm.



Always Frugal, Always Fabulous

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, November 16, 2012

Paris, j'arrive!



I bought these three little Eiffel Towers in a shop near the Louvre in Paris a few years ago, and since, I've kept them on my bookshelf reminding me of my favorite place in the world. And today, I'm off to Paris for  Thanksgiving, a holiday not celebrated there, but one that will be forever extra-special because I'll be spending it in the City of Lights.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, et à bientôt!

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Frugal Fun: Spaghetti Heads

Photograph by Veli


Can't seem to figure out how to wear your hair or eat your pasta? Use your noodle!  Why not pile it on your head and top it off with a fork!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, November 2, 2012

Found Fridays: Left in the Storm


Perched on a lower Broadway step in the aftermath of Sandy, this rosy little vase appears to have had a cocoa party!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In the Dark: Looking to the Light


Since 8:30 p.m. on Monday, my apartment has been without electricity.

Thanks to the evil and nasty Sandy who blew into town on my birthday,  all of Downtown south of the Empire State Building is without power.

That said, I have little to complain about. Wicked Sandy caused no destruction to my home or my property. I have an office that I can walk to where there is electricity and Internet, even though it is an hour-long hike. And the weather has been beautiful, making the treks Uptown have been quite pleasant, except that at night it's pitch black once you pass the Empire State Building heading down Fifth Avenue.

Here's the view from Union Square last night. Even though the power outage has been annoying, there's no heat in my seventh floor apartment, and I don't dare open the fridge, I feel extremely fortunate.

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Object of My Desire: Things to Crow About


The best thing about having people over is that I get to use all the thrifted goodies I've collected over the years. Pictured here and filled with fresh figs is a ceramic carrot I picked up for $1 at Film Biz Recycling, a white porcelain plates a neighbor gave us when she moved away, a stack of yellow napkins I snapped up at a garage sale in Independence, Missouri and a Japan-made, rooster-themed serving platter from the 1970s that Veli picked up at a Jersey Shore church rummage sale for $2.50. All I can say on this stormy, Sandy-obsessed day is cock-a-doodle-doo!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, October 19, 2012

Found Fridays: Fit to Be Tied


Oh, the things you see on New York Sidewalks! Right across the street from the Waldorf-Astoria, it appears that a necktie escaped from its owner and is getting ready to hail a taxi.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous, (and Awfully Silly!)

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Object of My Desire: Smooth Moves


This stitched squirrel appears to be celebrating the season in a thrift shop window located in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Look closely and you'll see a single googly eye glued to this festive critter  displayed in a frame atop a bed of silky vintage scarves.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reuse & Repurpose: Photo Ready!


A few months ago when my team and I created "The Kingdon of Jewels" for Swarovski, we decided to have frames made for the entry area to to feature Bérénice Marlohe, the face of the brand, who happens to be the new James Bond girl. As with most merchandising displays, they eventually must come down, and sadly, often get scrapped once the showroom is restored to its normal state.

Not these lucky frames! Michael Quinn harvested them and carted them back to his Brooklyn apartment. Last weekend, one traveled all the way to Central Park for our friend Heather Alexander's dress-up birthday gathering where guests chose from an array of props to pose with behind the enormous gold frame.



The party is just getting started as merry makers get dressed for their big moment.


Here's the birthday girl with Michael and the Annie doll he found at a yard sale for $3.


And finally, Veli and I got into the action. Don't even ask what I'm trying to look, but it's the first time I've ever been photographed with a big pink bow on my head!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Object of My Desire: Hot Stuff


This past summer my sister shared with me a packet of old recipes she found at an estate sale, and of course, I entertained myself for a few hours reading the many handwritten and typed cards all stirred into this batch of culinary treasures.

Here's one I'm going to try come Christmastime: Red Hot Jello Salad -- perfect for my newly acquired Tupperware Jello mold. I just can't seem to figure out how to get the apples and nuts into the Jello after it's chilled. any ideas?

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Frugal Fun: Treasure Hunting at Home



I do a lot of thrift and vintage shopping, but as you may have realized, I do very little actual purchasing, because if I did, you'd see me in a starring role on Hoarders. Being that I live in a New York apartment -- generously sized by Manhattan standards, but still far from a sprawling living space --- when I bring an acquisition into my home, I must immediately find a spot for it stash it away with my other collected treasures.

When I acquired this Mid Century dining room this past summer, I had in mind to inaugurate it with this cheery table cloth I nabbed at the Santa Monica airport flea market back in March. But where was it? I often put things away in places I am certain to remember them, but when the time comes to put them into use, you guessed it, I can't find them!

It was more than a month after my dining room was in place when I opened my closet door and right before me hung this tablecloth on a hanger especially chosen to keep it handy for use. Mystery solved!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Object of My Desire: Something to Crow About


I am not exaggerating when I say that every time I stop by the Vintage Thrift Shop in New York, I have to control my own tendencies of becoming a Thriftzilla -- someone who becomes so enamored by the variety, quality and prices of goods in a thrift store that he or she gobbles up everything in sight, leaving nothing for the next customer.

That's why I always shop with a camera so that when my inner Thriftzilla starts to creep out and nab a sweet find, like this poultry pair, I snap a picture instead. Would these ceramic sweethearts have looked adorable in my hutch filled with kitschy goodies? Absolutely. But am I just as happy to have my cheery photo and post it on my blog, leaving the cute couple for the next lucky shopper?  Of course.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thifter

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Find: A Manly Space



Since men's wear designer John Bartlett is scheduled to show his Spring 2013 collection today, I'm sharing with you some images of the handsome Greenwich Village apartment he shared with his partner John Esty. Many of these images, all shot by Jim Franco, were photographed for The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details


Photographs by Jim Franco for The Find


Bartlett said he liked the idea of hanging this sinister meat hook next to decorative plates created by decoupage artist John Derian.


Photographs by Jim Franco for The Find

Pet jewelry that once belonged to John's beloved Tiny Tim once hung on an antique farming tool. Modern mixed with traditional around the dining table.

Photographs by Jim Franco for The Find


Even though this Edison bulb didn't work when John found it in the street, he placed it on the window sill to admire its transparency and simplicity. Upholstery strapping was woven together as the backdrop for a handmade lamp/bulleting board.

Photograph by Jim Franco for The Find

Esty and Bartlett cut out images from vintage Holiday magazines and decoupaged them onto this unusual lampshade.

Photograph by Jim Franco for The Find

Discarded metal terrazzo  molds become borders for an array of found objects.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Object of My Desire: Ripe Riches





One of the summertime treats I will miss once they go out of season is watermelon -- the kind that are fresh from the vine and so ready to eat that they almost crack open by themselves, revealing a bright red flesh that I could eat every day. I don't eat watermelon in winter months; the ones you buy out of season taste like nothing to me.

Veli sent pictures of these juicy slices straight from the Dolac market in Zagreb, Croatia. Note that these are real watermelons, with real  seeds, which are much sweeter than the seedless variety that have become so popular. And what about seed spitting contests? Isn't that supposed to be part of the fun of eating watermelon? Rind tossing just doesn't quite the same appeal.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, September 3, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Reuse & Repurpose: Opportunity Knocks



Looking up above the the booth of men's apparel brand Rogue at the recent Project show in Las Vegas was an entrée to a different kind of light  -- an industrial chandelier using as its base a discarded door.



Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Frugal Fun: Pucker Up


There's something about vintage woodworking class creations that I simply cannot resist, especially when it carves out a specific space in pop culture's timeline. While I was at the Las Vegas Project show last week, I spotted this sweet relic of the 1970s sitting atop a stack of vinyl in the Silver Jeans Co. booth.

 "I wanna' rock and roll all night ..."

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, August 24, 2012

Found Fridays: Page Turner


Look what Veli found on the street in a box of discarded books: the Better Homes and Gardens Decorating Book from 1968 in perfect condition.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Frugal Fun: Floral Fantasy



Why do I like window shopping at Anthropologie so much? It costs nothing and I always walk away with a bounty of beautiful ideas, like these cascading, handmade paper flowers.

Always Frugal, Always Fablous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Find: Sea Scenery


I've shared this post before, but it remains among my favorites.

Of all the images in The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating With Thrift Shop Treasures, Flea Market Objects, and Vintage Details, this one of the shell encrusted fireplace of Southern Living's Heather Chadduck has been a crowd pleaser.

Made with shells from a local seafood restaurant, Chadduck applied them like a gigantic puzzle to the surface with tile mastic. Photographed by Jim Franco, this image is also among my favorites, since it shows how you can take something that cost absolutely nothing, and with a little elbow grease and ingenuity, turn it into an eye-catching treasure.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrifter

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Object of My Desire: Arch Support



While taking my new Canon camera out for a spin Saturday night, I captured this image of the underside of the arch in Washington Square Park. Every time I walk through it, I'm taken back to my days at the University of Bordeaux in the south of France where the major hub -- Place de la Victoire -- was also graced with a dramatic arch in its Porte d'Aquitaine.

Then, of course, there's the grand Arc de Triomphe in Paris, where the view from its top is stunning. Since you're closer to the ground than from atop la Tour Eiffel,  you get a bird's eye view of Paris that to me is one of the most memorable I've ever seen.


À tout à l'heure!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Gift of Thrift: Fluttery Fun


Sometimes picking a theme when assembling The Gift of Thrift can make offerings look as if they were made for each other. Take, for instance, this sweet and frilly birthday card from the 1960s (garage sale, 15 cents) that went a bit over the top with its poof of yellow feathers. I selected it from my collection of vintage greeting cards for a friend who has impeccable taste and knows how to celebrate to the nth degree of fun.


From there, I went to my vintage trunk where I retrieved this vintage set of made-in-Japan, Alfred E. Knobler trays ($1, thrift store)  that echo the established fluttery theme.


Finally, for a light-hearted twirl, I added this needlepoint ice skater ($1, stoop sale), that to me, seemed to belong in the mix with its yellow accents and fanciful theme. 

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reuse & Repurpose: Wheels of Fortune




Do you have bunch of old bicycle wheels hanging around like these at Splendid in SoHo? Spin them into an eye catching focal point as they did here with a bit of yarn and a touch of imagination.


Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Frugal Fun: Whip It!


Why do I love this little $1 find from a Los Angeles garage sale? Because it reminds me of good times with good friends at The Buggy Whip right next to LAX. And the Green Goddess Dressing ...

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Gift of Thrift: Bless You!


Every time I go to a garage sale, I always have my periphery set to discover the Gift of Thrift -- one that's almost heaven-sent and couldn't be found even if you were aggressively seeking it out. My thrift karma must have been extra-fine the day I spied these monogrammed handkerchiefs for $1 at an Independence, Missouri, garage sale.

They were still in their original packaging, with remnants of a Montgomery Ward price tag on their box. But what really caught my eye was the embroidered "E" that corresponds with the last name of a childhood friend whose birthday was creeping up.


At the same garage sale, I bought a bag full of birthday cards for another $1, and my birthday present was complete. Once I got home, I found a black grosgrain ribbon, wrapped it around my thrifted goodies and my Gift of Thrift was ready for the mail.

Mr. E, if you're reading this, you realize I spent a whole $2 on your birthday gift.

Bless you, and gezundheit!

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,


The Elegant Thrifter

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