Thursday, April 14, 2011

Garage Sales!!!

I am at a crucial point in my year...Garage sales are about to begin and I am happy, and nervous all at the same time.

What if things aren't good this year?  What if people aren't selling off their rusty goodies because American Pickers has increased in popularity even more this past season? 
What if some of my favorite perpetual garage sales don't re-open? 
What if the weather Never gets warm enough to actually go to any garage sales?!

Love the looks on their faces here...
I'm actually not THAT worried...and I have been to several already this year, I am still fairly new but I am noticing that early season garage sales seem to fall into a few categories..

1.  The We-Did-Amazing-Advertising-On-Craigslist-But-All-We-Have-Is-Baby-Clothes garage sale.  I have already been to two of those this year, and think that the current trend is to use the words multi-family instead of we have newborn to toddler clothes, a couple beat up toys and a tractor.  These people are always so sweet, I always wish I could justify buying something...but I can't, so I always say I will tell people about the sale and I try to. :) 
As a side note--this garage sale tends to have multiple cats present for the duration.

Here Kitty, Kitty

2.  The Awkward-Silence garage sale.  We went to one held indoors by a moving company.  It had been advertised for weeks and we were really excited.  Not only was it a disappointing was in a small room where everyone was really really quiet.  Jonathan and I wanted to discuss whether or not to continue looking, but you could hear a pin drop.  We ended up doing the--'Hey, Hon...gotta get to that Thing' thing.  Of course as we exited everyone stopped and looked at was weird.  I'm pretty sure that Norman Bates was running it, also. 

So So Scary

3.  The Over-Eager-Can-I-Help-You-Find-Something garage sale.  Sometimes these garage sales are later in the season, but we ran across one early this Spring...everywhere we went there was the lady of the house...scurrying, talking, making announcements.  I appreciate being made to feel welcome, but not spied on.  We finally got away from the watchful eye of 'Big Mother' when a gust of Spring wind blew her faux flower display over on her as she was making yet another announcement.  After making sure she was okay--we ran for the car while she was distracted by piles of fake hydrangeas.

All kidding aside...I actually really love that so many garage sales come with a slice of humanity.  People are so busy with their own lives, that there are so many of us who don't even know our neighbors names...It always makes me sad when people breeze in and out of Walmart without even saying hello to the little old guy who is greeting them (ours is Dewey)...I like that at many garage sales--people talk.  The folks running them sort of have to sit there, the folks buying from them usually have to ask questions...the objects are passed from one person to another in a community. 

It's Americana with a 50 cent price tag.  And that's worth a pretty penny.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Interview with Kristin and Nan at TheVelvetBranch

The Velvet Branch is a unique name…And a mother daughter team is unique as well!! 
Please tell us how they both came to be.

The Name...

Kristin: We thought a long time. We wanted a name that would represent both of our home décor tastes, something that was original and something that didn’t limit us into doing only vintage or only hand painted items. My taste is bold, graphic, and glam, while my mom’s is more organic, natural, and simple. What’s more glam than velvet and more organic than a branch? 

How it Came to Be...

Nan: It’s rather a long story; I’ll try to give you the short version. I lost my job when the economy tanked and then I had a battle with breast cancer. These circumstances made me realize that I didn’t want a big, stressful, corporate job. So, urged by a dear friend with her insistence that I was crafty and talented as well as inspired by the success of our Etsy friend Todd Manring, we decided to turn a hobby into a business.

Where do you find your fabulous pieces to refinish?

Everywhere we can! A lot of our time is spent scouring Craigslist and scoping out yardsales and thrift stores. The side of the road is an unbelievably good resource as well. A lot of times people will just throw something out versus giving it away or refinishing it. This is a real shame; we hate to see that kind of potential and history tossed to the landfill. Friends and family also assist us finding pieces that need a little love and attention.

Do you decide together what the design will be for a piece of furniture?  Do you work from ‘inspiration pieces’ in magazines and the like?
We do always ask the other person for their input and opinion on pieces that we’re painting. If one of us is immediately inspired, the other one knows to step back and let it happen. We are constantly inspired by other people’s work, but what inspires us the most is the furniture piece itself. The shape or function will usually be the catalyst for the ultimate outcome. 

We love a piece with functionality AND beauty so that is always a goal for furniture that we choose.

Have you ever completely disagreed on the direction a piece of furniture should go? 
Who ‘won’?
Yes! _ We try to compromise and make sure that we are both represented in everything we do. For instance, one of us will “win” on the color choice, but the other will “win” on including some detail, like a pattern or trim. Often, one of us just has a clearer vision for an item than the other. 
If all else fails, Mom wins.

When did your love of vintage, and your redesigning of it start?

For as long as I can remember, we’ve shopped at thrift stores and reinvented things to suit our own tastes. What other people called junk never deterred us from seeing true potential However, we didn’t think of starting our own business doing this until a very close friend suggested it. She has been encouraging us and giving us advice all along the way.

Apart from the Etsy shop, what other things do you enjoy doing together?

Both of us have unique taste in movies (foreign films, documentaries, the occasional chick flick), so that’s something that we really love to do together. We also spend a lot of time talking, supporting each other through life’s ups and downs, shopping, and eating good food. Dad is a great cook and spoils us regularly with phenomenally good eats.

Where do you do the work?
We work out of the house. Most things are done in the basement, but if it’s a nice day, we try to do as much work outside as possible. Keeping track of our Etsy shop, bookkeeping, and assorted other duties are performed on our laptop on the kitchen counter. Our finished products are stored mostly in the spare bedroom but they have slowly spread throughout the house. My dad always encourages us by saying when we finish painting something that, “We’ll have to keep that one.” It is an ongoing joke but makes us feel good, too.

Tell us some about shipping your product, have any tips for the larger items?
Shipping is the hardest part of our business. We work really hard to get the best shipping prices for our customers and to ensure that our items arrive safely. FedEx is the best way to send smaller to medium sized items but for large things like dressers, we use a furniture delivery company. They pick it up from us, blanket wrap it, and deliver to the door step of our customers.
We have spent hours packaging an item. Since we live in The Furniture Capitol of The World, we are often able to reuse boxes and packaging materials from the furniture showrooms. We like to use foam wrap or flat Styrofoam sheets around furniture as well as added corrugated or styro corners. Also, we double box all fragile and hand painted items for extra protection. The office of a local dairy gives us their shredded office papers for packaging smaller things. We hot glue larger boxes to add stability and strength.

Animal Vegetable Mineral.
Nan: lamb (so cute and wooly!)/ cauliflower/ emerald (my birthstone and my favorite color)

Kristin: I’m a sucker for big, fat, wrinkly, bulldogs/ broccoli or spinach (toss up)/ diamond (my birthstone and who doesn’t love diamonds!)

Most fun you have had on a refinish.
Nan: We did a silver dresser several months ago. I had such a clear vision of what I wanted it to look like and it came out great! I actually made the flower stamps out of potatoes. That was so much fun and I loved the finish I got with the metallic and opalescent glaze and the texture with the striation. And I was so pleased to have the original mid-century hardware.

Kristin: We just finished a custom cabinet that was this antique, rustic wood piece. I painted it flat black and then painted an Asian geometric design on it in glossy black. It looks awesome with the subtle pattern that catches the light and vintage copper hardware. Now it’s a contemporary storage cabinet with Asian flare!

Mother’s Day is coming up, what’s one of your Best mother daughter memories?

Kristin: When I was a kid, I took dance classes and I loved getting ready for the recitals. My mom would put on my makeup, do my hair, and get me into the sparkly costumes. It was such a bonding experience.

: Kristin was living in Raleigh, NC and I went to help her pack in preparation for moving back here to start our business. It was just the two of us working together and having a good time. It really felt like the beginning of something life changing. AND, we did go out to eat and to Starbucks for coffee and a scone. Yum.

Anything else you would like to leave us with, any advice?

We know it is cliché, but do what makes you happy! The freedom that owning your own business gives you is incredible and when you’re doing something you love, it’s hard to have too terrible of a day. As far as being creative with paint, just remember, it’s only paint. Be fearless! If you paint something and don’t like it, you can always repaint it. That’s what we always say. 

And we should know; we have painted and repainted many times.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Giveaway!! Upcycled Furniture & I Love Paint

Congrats to ReinvintageArts--winner of last week's giveaway with AmyKristineVintage!!
Many of you who have been reading along know I love vintage....and as attested to in early early posts (back when dinosaurs roamed this blog) I refinish furniture, and love refinished furniture.                  

You could paint just about anything cream and I would love it 
( well Almost--- probably not a litter box, or oatmeal).

In my mind, paint is the answer to almost any decorating dilemma.  Paint and Sticky back tile.  We once did a backsplash in a rental with sticky-back tile--you would not have believed how authentic and gorgeous it looked!  I have always wanted to try the ole paint your countertops to look like granite...haven't summoned the courage yet--but one day I will!!
Yes, this is a painted countertop below is the link for more...just finish reading Here first :)

We still have a couch we painted brown to look like leather.  After we painted it with simple latex paint, we used several coats of paste wax, added some brads and boom!  Man Cave couch.  Here's some pictures... These were taken several years ago, without blogs in mind and in a parsonage --                       I had no control over the ugly paneling.


After--Just Kidding...still Before!

Voila! After


Told you--paint can fix anything...

This week's featured Etsy Shop is a Mother/Daughter team that can attest to that!!                                They are The Velvet Branch--and have some of the most drool-worthy furniture on the whole site...

This week they are giving away a 25.00 gift certificate to their shop so you can get some of that goodness for your dwelling!!  

Here's how to enter (you get one entry for each of these):

Comment on any post this week
Sign up to be a new blog follower
Follow me on Twitter, tweet your favorite Velvet Branch item, and let me know!

***A note here, I have some unclaimed prizes and have unfortunately had to draw new winners--please, please make sure I have your correct info so that you don't miss out!! :)***

Happy Entering to You!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Epic Sax Guy--

Love the Sax Guy!!!  

Some of the teenage guys in our worship band introduced us to this, and I laughed my head off at the sax guy.  Youtube has tons of remixes and loops going....check it out--it's crazy funny!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Please Die.

As someone who sells vintage for my livelihood---nothing makes me happier than a return to past fashion.  Mostly.

There are exceptions to every rule, here's a few that I wish would stay buried forever.

Platform Sneaker.

Why Prada, why?!! 
This is back for Spring 2011...and I don't know why.  What is really horrible about high end designers doing this is how it affects those of us who can't afford Prada.  I mean, you can own something completely hideous and when you get a look of What?! from people you can say...'It's Prada' suddenly--permission granted to wear pure ugliness.  All these ugly styles filter down to the rest of us after re-interpretation by Joe in the corner office at Wally World.  The same thing does not work when you say 'It's Walmart' me I've tried. 
 Instead of permission you get the sympathy look--not nearly as fun.

Pegged Pants
We killed this one in the mid nineties...then it came back to life in 2008 like some freaky zombie...Now it's back, thanks to Armani?!  This reminds me of a spider I tried to kill the other day with a washcloth.  That was all I had on hand to try to exterminate the creepy crawler with.  Every time I thought it was dead, I hadn't squished it enough.  Then I threw it on the floor and just started stomping on it like crazy.  Maybe it got away, maybe it didn't.  But I felt better. 
I'm printing this picture out so I can do the same to it. 

The Mullet...or The Mohawk
This particular picture is tame compared to some of what I saw out there, mostly touted by Soccer players.  Love Soccer, not so much this style. 

Here's the thing.  It looks good on really attractive men with amazing athletic prowess in terrific shape.  It looks cute on little boys aged seven who want to be a soccer player when they grow up.  It looks sloppy on a teenager who didn't bathe for three days because he needed to get to that last level on Grand Theft Auto.  It just looks sad on the twenty something guy who used to play sports, but is still good at Wii bowling.  But we all know that it doesn't stop there.  There's some guy wearing this in a Joe Dirt sorta way, thinking he's 'in'.  It's not fair to him, or others that this style is back.  I blame Spain.

Popped collars
Please Stop.
Seriously.  Stop.
No Really, Stop.  Right now.

Of course, I am only poking a little fun at fashion...Who am I to judge? 
As I write this I am sitting comfortable in my leisure suit.

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Giveaway!!! Vintage Game!!!

My husband and I love a good board game.  Or video game.  Or baseball game.  And we aren't alone...America-heck, the world- is obsessed with playing games of all sorts, and has been for years and years and years.

The oldest game discovered thus far by the archaeological world dates from 3000BC.  It is a game of dice.  Evidently there was some sort of caveman version of Vegas replete with Dino Mafia and Tony Bennett.  He still looks the same....

I am a student of all things archaeological and Egyptian, I love the history of that culture and the way it is woven into so many other nations histories...and the ancient Egyptians had a sort of 'chess like' game some call Dogs and Jackals.  I like the name better than Chess.  You lost when someone took Caesar Millan off the board.

We have collected board games for years--registered for them for our wedding, even.  Jonathan's favorite is an old "Murder she Wrote" game.  I am not a huge fan, it always ends the same way...Jessica tricks you into confessing while the police chief hides in the closet.  Personally, I love Risk.  So maybe I have a slight Napoleonic complex.  Who doesn't?  I mean, seriously, if you could conquer the world and have great furniture, wouldn't you?!

This week's giveaway here on the Beteabon blog is from a terrific seller--Amy at AmyKristineVintage.  She has loads of fun items, but this is one of the ones that spoke to me personally...we played it when I was a kid, and we used the sticks for other games as well.

So could you--it would be amazing as part of an art piece, or as a funky home decor accent.  Make kabobs...poke people in the behind when their backs are turned, use it to illustrate to your children how to use a toothpick...Or you could bury it in the backyard for future generations to find, misname and marvel at. No matter What you do--it is a great prize, and a wonderful piece of vintage history. 

Here's what Amy's giving away this week!

To enter-
Comment on this interview, and any post this week
Sign up to follow this blog
Pop over to Amy's blog @ let me know you did, and it will get you an extra entry!!

Happy Entering!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Interview with Amy at Amy Kristine Vintage

Your banner graphic is Wonderful, did you design it yourself?
I wish! My artistic skills are pretty much nil. I worked with Solid Art Collective on my logo and banner design, and she was very helpful and patient. It was a fun process, and I am very happy with the result.

Does the little fox have special meaning?
In a way it does. My lovely boyfriend and I like to email each other cute pictures of red pandas and foxes, as a way to make each other smile, so it’s an animal that is close to my heart.

You come from a line of 'treasure hunters' are you the first to open your own shop?
What prompted you to open on Etsy?
I am the first to open an online vintage/antique shop, although I do have an aunt that has a booth at an antique mall, which means I always have someone to go to garage sales with.
Opening a vintage store was something I had been thinking about for a while, but timing was the deciding factor. I finished up college, and decided to finally give it a shot. I hoped that it would be a great (and flexible) side job once I go to grad school for my PhD in history.
However, this is definitely my first choice for what I could do for the rest of my life, so if I am able to increase my sales in the next year, I may end up being an antique and vintage dealer forever (fingers crossed!).

We are going to need to see a picture of the 'even cuter dog', please.
I think everyone with a pet thinks theirs is the cutest! Our dog is a 5 year old Golden Retriever, his name is Hunter, and he is a total sweetheart.

Where are your favorite sort of places to find your vintage items?
My top choices for hunting wild vintage are definitely auctions, with estate sales and garage sales being a close second. Unfortunately, in Minnesota they tend to be pretty infrequent during our long winter. During those times, I have a few great thrift stores I frequent on a weekly basis. But, I try to check out any place that might have vintage items, such as occasional sales, antique malls, and rummage sales. 

What has been your favorite find recently?
It is pretty hard to pick! But I think the weather starting to turn has made the Schmidt picnic basket one of my new favorites, as I can’t wait until we can have picnics every weekend. It’s easily one of the things I love the most about spring and summer. It combines three of my favorite things; showing off my cute vintage baskets and linens, cooking and being outside!

Animal, vegetable, mineral.
While I am an animal lover and a veggie lover, I would have to say mineral. We got to visit some family in Washington DC this summer, and went to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum. The gem and mineral exhibit is amazing, and it rekindled a fascination with rocks I haven’t felt since I was 6!
How is your home renovation going?
It is going well, although it definitely slowed down a bit over the winter. Last year, we had refinished the floors, painted, replaced fixtures and fixed the fireplace. Painting, sawing, sanding or drilling I can do, but I am a bit clueless when it comes to plumbing and electricity, so it helps a lot that my boyfriend used to refinish houses! Everything that’s left to do is either outside or in the basement, and we have to wait until after the spring melt to start back up again. So this summer, I will probably be blogging about refinishing basements, landscaping and cement mixing. The house was built in 1929, so it has been a fun balancing act to make it cute and ours while maintaining the house’s style.

Your shop has been very successful, could you share with us some things you believe have helped it to become so?
I think selling what you love and always working towards improvement are important factors. I am constantly shopping, cleaning, listing, researching and promoting, and am always looking for ideas that may help my business. And I think it is important to sell items that you would buy for yourself or as a gift or your friends or family. I have also noticed that many successful shops either have a large quantity of lower priced items, or a small selection of carefully curated items. Mine is a bit in between, but having a large variety of items and a range of price points has helped me so far, and I hope to present a shop with colorful and fun vintage décor items at a decent price. That being said, there are many things I would still like to fix and improve in my shop, and sometimes being very self-critical can help you to step away from your shop and truly see what is and is not working.

All in all, sell what you love and show the customer why you love it, either through the description or how it is presented in the photographs. And kindness and generosity is a wonderful thing in business, don't be afraid to showcase or assist other sellers and artists, as that is what will make you feel good at the end of the day!

Thanks Amy for giving so Generously of your time!!
Here's what Amy's giving away this week!

An incredibly cool set of vintage pick up sticks!!  This could be your ticket to the look that is so in right now in home decor...unuasual vertical pieces that draw the eye...things like feathers, and vintage arrows are often used--but how cool would pick up sticks be?! 

To enter-
Comment on this interview, and any post this week
Sign up to follow this blog
Pop over to Amy's blog @ let me know you did, and it will get you an extra entry!!

Happy Entering!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Giveaway Winner!!

Congrats to Amber, our Mantiquities giveaway winner!!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Longing for the Farmhouse

Several years ago, when my husband was pastoring in a Very small rural community, we lived in a farmhouse.  Sounds perfect doesn't it?

Well, it sorta was.

RollingHills Vintage
We had been renting a home in town, and I use the term loosely...there was a bank, a grain elevator and a hardware store...when someone bought the rental out from under us. We still owned and were trying to sell a home in another part of the state--we couldn't buy a house, couldn't find a house to rent and had a narrow timeframe of less than three weeks to be out of the rental we were in.

Normally in situations less stressful than this one I panic.  Full blown get the bag she's hyperventilating, sing Hakuna Matata over and over to her, smack her in the face and call her Shirley panic.  This time, not so much.  I knew we would find a place. 

So we drove. And drove.  And drove around the area.  Nothing...

Til we drove out in the country and passed (about a mile and a half from 'town') an old farmhouse that no one was living in.  I'd call it abandoned except a family still owned it, they lived two towns away and had rented it out but the renters who had lived there for years finally moved six months prior.  It was perfect for us.  We contacted the family, rolled up our sleeves and dove in.

When I say perfect it's easy to picture a whitewashed home, with a front porch and gigham curtains, isn't it?  This wasn't that farmhouse.  This was a paint is badly peeling, someone didn't care for this properly sort of farmhouse.  We removed, with the help of some friends, layers of wallpaper...more than a wedding cake--we took up cat urine soaked carpets to reveal the hardwood underneath.  Windows were replaced, holes in the basement were patched, floors were joisted up and then....

Post Road Vintage
There I was, sitting in a kitchen with creamy white cabinets, sunlight filtering through old lace curtains given to me from a farmwife down the road...and I realized I was as close to Glory as I ever was on this earth.  We had to leave that farmhouse when my husband got a post in a different church over a year later, and I think in a way I always hope underneath everything to recapture that moment in my life.

I know it's just a place, but I think some places speak to us--they might be different for each person--but they sing a tune that we know too and make us feel at home somehow.

Sometimes I catch myself in a melancholy state, and wonder where in the world my mind is, and why I am not 'feeling' like my sunny self.  Then I remember, and I think somehow--I am longing for that farmhouse...for the way that morning felt when it came a mile and a half from town, for open windows and quiet thoughts, for entire days spent mowing acres and acres of sweet green grass and clover.  No phone ringing one house over, only a few cars passing...alone with my thoughts and a chorus of birds that only sing country songs.

I am longing for a farmhouse.