Why am I so obsessed with EGG CUPS?

Egg Cups – I have amassed well over 150 of them at this point. I stumbled into this collection obsession. Many years ago my mother gave me a few egg cups that belonged to my grandmother – “Nana” as I called her – and an obsession was born.

Nana Molly lived with Grampa Bill on the first floor of a 3 tenement house in Lawrence – a mill city located on the Merrimack River in Massachusetts. They were “renters” who never owned property of their own. Grampa worked in the mills from the time he was 14 until he was 72. He never attended high school because his mother was a widow and needed him to go to work to support the family. His mom always told him there were “bad boys” at the high school anyway and she didn’t want him to get into trouble. Most of his working years were spent in a paper mill – a hot, dirty job that he never complained about. He felt fortunate to have a job that gave him the means to support his family – the most important thing to this once-orphaned man. Nana worked in a variety of mill jobs starting at a woolen mill, where she met my Grandfather, and many years later testing radio transistors for ITT. Grampa worked 2nd shift at the paper mill from 3 – 11 so he always had a big breakfast before he went to work. I loved staying at Nana and Grampa’s place and sharing this simple pleasure with them.  I loved sitting down for a cup of tea and toast and a soft boiled egg presented in a fancy little egg cup. We had to wait for the kettle to boil for our tea and then make sure we let it steep or the tea would not be just right. We had to meticulously peel off the top of the egg’s shell to reveal the warm, yummy goodness inside. We buttered our bread with margarine – or “Olio” as Nana called it –  taking care not to break the toast. As I look back on it, it was not the meal itself that I cherish from those days. It is the care that we took to prepare it and the time we spent together. The process taught me patience. In today’s hurried world of Keurigs and breakfast bars we don’t often have the time to let the kettle boil or peel an egg. What was a simple meal then is now a luxury in my busy life. Certainly not the food but the time we took to prepare such a simple meal and just enjoy each other’s company. We used tea cups and saucers for the tea, we put toast on a plate and cut it in triangles and we made it a “special occasion” by serving the egg in a dainty little egg cup.

Every time I buy an egg cup it reminds me of those special mornings. I don’t just collect egg cups – I spark a memory, I slow down and I connect with my Nana.

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Fireplace Makeover with Reclaimed Barn Beam Mantel

Bad news – We had to completely tear down our leaking 20 year old brick chimney. Big bucks $$$$$. Who knew that chimneys could be so expensive?

Good news – Since I had to get a new chimney it was an opportunity to do a fireplace makeover!! 🙂

Here is the “before” picture of the fireplace and bookcases that my talented husband built.

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I wanted a more contemporary look and wanted to lighten up the room so we decided to paint the bookcases. This was a really tough decision because I knew that once they were painted I could never go back. We eliminated the arches for clean, more contemporary lines. I really love the look of stone so I decided on this beautiful stone blend.

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I also wanted a reclaimed wood mantel so we scoured architectural salvage places and found the perfect old hand hewn barn beam.

Here is the final completed project.

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It was a long, messy haul but I couldn’t be happier with the results! To complete the clean, light, more contemporary look I tried to be very strategic and selective when decorating the shelves and tried not to overload them. This was hard because as a collector and vintage Etsy shop proprietor I had to resist the urge to display all of my finds! A lot of the fun items that used to be displayed on these shelves will be finding a new home when they are listed on my Etsy site Lizzie Tish Vintage.

Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what you think 🙂

 

 

Angels among us…

It has been a week of highs and lows. We lost a couple of friends who were taken from this life too soon, I had a wonderful 35th reunion with some high school classmates reminding me just how quickly time passes and I experienced a random act of kindness. My family and I were about to take a bike ride on a NH rail trail on Sunday when my son’s tire popped. A Good Samaritan who had just finished her ride insisted he take her bike and we would meet up later in the week to give it back. How sweet was that? People are good. Life is good. Thanks to all of you angels who touched my life this week and reminded me of that.

Nativities and Nudies

We had a Sunday to kill in Worcester MA. We spent the night in Worcester after a Garth Brooks concert that made me understand why he has such a loyal fan base. My husband found an ad online for a mill space that had been used by companies that did estate sales and house clean outs. They had to liquidate everything and be out in 3 weeks due to urban renewal.

There was 40,000 sq. feet of treasures. I typically would jump at the chance to dive in but I felt overwhelmed. It was too daunting even for an avid picker like me. Rather than leave empty handed I figured I’d go through a few boxes that looked promising.

In that 40,000 sq. feet of boxes filled with remnants of people’s lives I found a package filled with 3 nativity sets. Each stand no more than 1″ tall.20160302_084629

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20160302_084234Keeping each tiny creche company while they waited to be rescued by some industrious picker were these pinup girls by Ted Withers from the 1950’s. My, what an interesting life someone who saved these so long ago was leading!

20160302_093658The pinup girls and nativities are looking for a new home and can be found on my Etsy site – LizzieTishVintage. They prefer to travel together as the pinup girls found religion while they were stored away with no less than 3 baby Jesuses all those years 😉

 

Joy doll rescued from Savers gets a makeover in Thailand

 

I just love it when something I’ve found in a thrift store gets a new life with someone. This little Joy doll from 1965 was found at Savers for $1.00. Her sweet big eyes begged me to take her home.

I cleaned her up just a bit and listed her on my Etsy site – LizzieTishVintage. Within 24 hours she jetted off to Thailand for the makeover of her life. Her loving new mom was gracious enough to send me a pic. I am thrilled! What do you think of her adorable makeover?

Suzy Homemaker

 

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If you are an avid #antique store junkie like me, one of the fun things you discover are toys from your childhood. Once you move past the “Boy I must be old!” feeling you get when your favorite #toy as a child is in an antique store, you can move on to reliving the fond memories it evokes.

photoDiscovering Suzy Homemaker, the “oh so wonderful” competitor to the #EasyBakeOven, had me gushing in the middle of an antique mall. Thankfully my husband was there to share my glee and convince me I didn’t need to take her home with me.

If you weren’t lucky enough (or old enough) to have a Suzy Homemaker oven, let me share with you what you missed.

The Suzy Homemaker was a pint-sized version of your Mom’s stove. It was produced by #TopperToys and launched in 1966. In a pretty aqua green with knobs that turned and an oven that really baked and top burners that warmed as well, it was made for hours of domestic bliss. It would never pass muster with toy manufacturers today because it had a light bulb inside that created the heat to bake your cakes but often would burn your skin if you weren’t careful. Mom wouldn’t let me near the big oven so I could practice my homemaking skills on this little cutie dreaming of the day when I would be cooking for my own family. To me being a “Suzy Homemaker” meant being like my mom.

Wikipedia has a different view of a Suzy Homemaker

“The term “Suzy Homemaker” has since become a common phrase in American English. The toy appliances and doll became much-desired toys among girls from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. As this generation grew up, “Suzy Homemaker” eventually became an insult directed at women judged as excessively domestic. It was used in this context by feminists initially, to imply that a woman was reactionary and overly conservative in her habits. In this sense, the “Suzy Homemaker” term meant any woman who embodied conventional social expectations without questioning them….In 1981, Newsweek magazine ran an article on the Future Homemakers of America titled “So long, Suzy Homemaker”. Social conservatives have been critical of what they see as a derogatory stereotype.”

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 What? Was I the product of a generation hell bent on creating more Stepford Wives? Should I feel victimized somehow? After reading Wikipedia I somehow feel duped and my glee has diminished.  I became a marketing executive juggling a full time career and a family of 5 – certainly not the overly conservative, excessively domestic woman that they seem to think the Suzy Homemaker was churning out! Actually, if someone called me excessively domestic I would take it as a compliment because as hard as I try I’m no Martha Stewart!

I should let Wikipedia know that my older brother used the Suzy Homemaker just as much as I did. He became a plumber that also knows how to cook for himself. Suzy Homemaker was simply teaching life skills that everyone could benefit from. Nowadays they would call it “Little Homemaker” and market it to both girls and boys because after all, aren’t we all #homemakers?

Photo courtesy of #ClickAmericana.com

 

Yard Sale Withdrawals

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Ahh… winter…the time in New Hampshire that you dread unless you are a “winter enthusiast” that embraces all of the bone chilling sports the snow has to offer. For the record, I am not one of those people. For me, January though March is one long struggle to keep myself busy with as few trips as possible into the great outdoors. When the temp dips below 30 I hunker down in my sunroom dreaming of Spring…and yard sales.

For yard salers like me, Winter is a wasteland. I miss early Saturday morning outings with my hubby in search of treasures. Would I miss it this much if I could go any time? I wonder if it is like living someplace where the weather is consistently warm – do you begin not to appreciate it because you have it all year round? In New England, Spring is like waiting for your next birthday when you were a child – and a present that you can’t wait to unwrap.

Here are a few things I’ll be doing this winter until I can get my yard sale fix.

Visit local antique stores – It’s fun to see what people are collecting and selling. Antiques have trends just like fashion. You learn a lot about “what’s hot” and “what’s not.” Make sure to ask the clerk what is selling. Chances are they we tell you mid-century is hot!

Go online – Ah! – the virtual yard sale – and open 24/7. Ebay, ETSY, Goodwill.com, local yard sale groups on Facebook – the list is endless.

Purge – I tell myself this every winter. I have grand plans for “the big purge” and preparing for my own mega yard sale in the Spring. After 22 years in the same house I envy people who move and are forced to decide what is worth keeping and what you can live without.

Go to the gym – For me, this is about as likely as “the big purge.” I always have such good intentions.

Work on my ETSY business – There are always lots of new things to learn about running my small ETSY business – better photos, better inventory, better promotion. I have found that the most important factor in running a successful vintage shop on ETSY is having cool stuff that people want. Stop by my shop sometime or drop me a line here on my blog or on Facebook. Blogging and chatting with other vintage enthusiasts about their latest finds also helps get me through the long New Hampshire winter!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/LizzieTishVintage

 

 

 

 

We’re Diggin’ for Yard Sale Gold – Like Howard Carter in King Tut’s Tomb

Everyone dreams about finding a copy of the Declaration of Independence behind some discarded painting at a yard sale. That may not be likely to happen to you but there are still lots of “little wins” that can make you feel like you have won the lottery on any random Saturday.


images-1While most people are sleeping in on a Saturday morning – a well deserved 
slumber after a work week full of early morning routines – my husband and I head out early after carefully planning our “treasure map” from this week’s listings of estate sales and yard sales. We are giddy with anticipation of what we might find. Like hikers and runners and other adrenaline junkies – this is our rush. In another time we may have been archeologists like Howard Carter searching for a lost tomb. (Come to think of it I had an unusual fascination with all things Egyptian and King Tut in high school.) Today we are digging too – old barns, dark cellars and dusty attics – ripe for the pickin!

How do we classify something as a treasure? Something we bought for next to nothing that has a significant value.

Here are some great examples of some of our recently uncovered “artifacts”.

McCoy Pottery Bowl

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Sometimes you find an item and instantly you know that you’ve hit the jackpot. Other times you experience delayed gratification when you get a piece home and do some research. That is what happened with this beautiful McCoy Pottery bowl. I picked it up at a yard sale for $1.00 and was delighted to find that it was worth $100+. Let’s just say that one lucky Etsy customer of mine was happy to give it a proper new home for a price that was just north of that amount.

Rojankovsky Artwork

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Art is not something I know a lot about. I tend to shy away from buying it unless it is something I personally like or find intriguing and would be willing to display it in my home. That was the case with the long forgotten Rojankovsky portfolio I found in a stack of ephemera at an estate sale. The piece looked intriguing and something I would enjoy looking through when I got home. It was “fill a box for $5.00” so I tossed it in with my other miscellaneous items. I was basically getting it for free so “Why not?” (This is how hoarders are born BTW 😉 ) I didn’t think it was worth much but was shocked to find the portfolio was a RARE piece titled “Quand la bise fut venue” from 1929. The portfolio, featuring 6 art deco pochoir illustrations, was by Feodor Stepanovich Rojankovsky – also known as Rojan. He was a Russian émigré illustrator. He was well known both for his childrens’ book illustrations that were featured in many of the Little Golden Books. Modern art was more of his passion – the children’s illustrations paid the bills. The portfolio was a promotional brochure for the La Grande Maison de Blanc Opera House in Paris where he had an exhibit in 1929. The “free” piece was my biggest online sale to date selling for hundreds of dollars.

Reed and Barton Cocktail Shaker

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We were “free styling” (I love that term from American Pickers) in Raymond, NH one day and hit a yard sale that didn’t look very promising. Tools, tools and more tools – my husband was thrilled. The only good thing about a “tool” yard sale is that most guys who sell tools have no interest in anything else and are willing to rid themselves of “girl stuff” for next to nothing. That was the case that day. I was standing by patiently while my husband decided whether he needed a “spare for his spare” of some power tool and heard the words “Reed and Barton” uttered by another tool hunter reading the bottom of an exquisite cocktail shaker. It didn’t run on batteries so he decided it wasn’t for him. I made a Ninja move toward the cocktail shaker and paid the man the $1.00 he was asking. That was the day I decided that “tool” yard sales weren’t so bad. I sold the cocktail shaker for 100 times my $1.00 investment – better than the stock market any day!

Mid Century “Atomic” Pulley Lamp

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Mid century anything is hot right now. I love it and try to incorporate some key pieces into the eclectic/garage sale/estate sale vibe I have going on at home. Some things just don’t seem to fit in no matter how much I’d like to keep them. This pulley lamp that I bought at a church yard sale was screaming “take me home” when I found her. My husband thought I was crazy but I assured him I would not be the only one to admire her. I was quickly proved right when the “likes” starting racking up and the sale was added to my “top ten sales on Etsy” list.

Wooden Skis  

Vintage wooden skis definitely fall under the category of one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Here in New Hampshire, one of the early U.S. playgrounds for skiing, there is never a shortage of old skis just waiting to make their way out of old barns and il_570xN.812643709_edz9basements and onto ski lodge owners’ walls. They go for big bucks online. My husband is always on the hunt for them and has sold 4 or 5 sets for 10 times what he paid for them. Sure, he had to lug them home and clean them up but the avid recycler in him is happy to find them a new home – and the money ain’t bad to boot!

Molyba…what?

Did I mention my husband is an avid recycler? Sometimes this is a bad thing (like when I can’t park in my garage from the overflow of cardboard boxes he has brought home from a construction job so he can “recycle them properly”) and sometimes it’s a good thing (like when he decided to purchase all of the metal rods he found in the basement of an estate sale only to find that one of them was a precious metal called molybdenum and was worth hundreds of dollars). The box lot of metal for $5.00 netted him 100 times that. He always heads to the basement first at estate sales hoping to replicate that glory but days like that are few and far between.

When an unlucky friend makes the mistake of asking us about our outings they typically have to listen to us go on and on about our latest exploits. They invariably will say, “Call me next time you are going.” I warn them…like a man with a metal detector on the beach you have to do a lot of hunting to find treasure….and more often than not you come up empty. If you don’t like the hunt then sleep in on Saturday. Besides, you can always find some of the cool things we’ve tracked down waiting for you on our Etsy page at Lizzie Tish Vintage and Classic Camping.

What are some of your greatest finds? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.

“Estate Sales 101” – Finding and Negotiating the Best Deals

In my last post I shared some of my go to apps and websites for finding estate sales in your area. In this post I’ll share some of my strategies for finding and negotiating the best deal once your there.
Tip #1 – GET THERE EARLY FOR THE BEST STUFF

If the sale looks like it’s going to be a “honey hole” then people just like you are scoping it out too! Get there early. More often than not only a limited amount of people will be allowed in at a time and numbers will be handed out. You want to be number 1-10 so you can walk in the door and get the hottest items. If the sale starts on Friday then you should be there if you have your heart set on something. Go on the last day of the sale for the best deals but don’t be surprised if there is not much left.

Tip #2 – BRING A BUDDY

If you have a friend bring them along and tell them “see you later” as soon as you get in the door. It doesn’t make sense for you to stay together and look at the same items. Divide and conquer! Each of you should go in different directions and be on the hunt for the best items. Make a game plan before you go and decide what you are looking for. I always send my husband to the basement and he is as happy as a clam!

Tip #3 – IF YOU MIGHT WANT TO BUY IT THEN HOLD ON TO IT

Move through the space quickly and make a pile of all of the items you are considering. If you pass an item by there is a good chance someone else will pick it up. If you snooze you loose! Typically the people running the sale will hold items while you shop. After you have looked at everything in the house go through your pile and decide what you actually want to buy.

Tip #4 – BUNDLE

Now that you have your pile, try to negotiate a lot price for everything you want. Typically when you are buying a large number of items you are able to get a better deal than pricing items individually.

Tip #5 – NEGOTIATE

Don’t be shy! Dealers are used to negotiating. They will be surprised if you don’t make a lower offer. The worst thing that can happen is they say the price is firm. Nine times out of ten I am able to negotiate a better deal.

Most of all have fun. It is a treasure hunt after all!

Can’t wait to shop at your next estate sale? Visit Lizzie Tish Vintage for over 250 great vintage finds.

“Estate Sales 101” – Tips for Newbies

imagesSo you want to start attending estate sales and hunt for bargains? In my next series of blog posts I will discuss strategies for finding the best sales, how to negotiate the best bargain and when you should attend.

Here is the question I am most commonly asked.

How do you find out about estate sales?

There a a lot of ways to find out about the next great estate sale. Here are a few of my “go to” resources to keep up to date.

Both www.estatesale.com and www.estatesales.org  will allow you to search by zip code within a set mileage radius. They feature listings primarily from estate liquidation businesses that pay a fee to have their sale promoted on the site. Because of this, you typically find well run sales and lots of photos of what you can expect to see at the sale so if you have multiple sales to choose from you can plan in advance on what you will hit first.

Craigslist is also be a good resource but I prefer an aggregator app like Yard Sale Treasure Map that will pull estate sales and yard sale listings from a variety of media and aggregate them into one convenient location. You can search by radius and select the day of the week that you are going to go and the listings will be at your fingertips in an easy to navigate map! Just click on the pin and you can get directions to the event in Google maps. Thinking of hitting a number of estate sales or yard sales? Select the ones you are interested in and the app can create a route for you to follow. What a great tool!

Look for my next post on Estate Sales 101  – “How to Negotiate the Best Estate Sale Bargain”

Can’t wait to start shopping? Visit Lizzie Tish Vintage and I’ll share some of my finds with you!