Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lilacs and a Garage Sale

I discovered on the weekend that the lilacs are finally in bloom here in southern Ontario.  Always a sure and fragrant sign of spring. 

Another sign of spring is the Toronto Bead Society's annual "garage sale and social", where we chat and eat and check out what various members are offering for sale as they sell off bits of their stash for other members to buy.  I got some great bargains last year, looking forward to seeing what is available this time around.  Not that I need any more beads, of course, but it doesn't hurt to look, right?  And you know how I love garage sales!  I know for a fact that the Dixon Chick is going to be selling so I'm going to want to check out what she's got, in case there are any Swarovski crystals on offer at bargain prices!! And my friend Nancy Groshens promised to bring some of her vintage jewelery to sell, she always has the most unique items.

This year, as a special treat, Adela Kodonova (http://www.adelakodonova.cz/), a Czech fashion jewellery designer who is staying in Toronto until the end of the summer, teaching classes and enjoying being a member of the TBS, and who works for Jablonex, will make a short presentation about their farfalle beads and will have a special gift for members on a first come, first served basis.

That's tomorrow night (Wed June 1st) at Ryerson (one week earlier than usual due to a scheduling conflict with the university). See you there!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Shopping at Christie

Here are a few more photos from the Christie antique show on Saturday:

Do you remember that scene in "Under the Tuscan Sun" where Diane Lane's character (thanks for correcting me, sis!) sees the former actress nuzzling a baby chick?

This hat looked just like the one that woman was wearing in the movie:

Not that I could pull off a hat like that!  But I did buy a few things, although I was surprised to come home with as much money in my pocket as I did.  Two weeks ago at the Flamboro show, I ran out of funds quite early in the day and this time, with cash burning a hole in my pocket, I just didn't see very much that I had to have. Isn't that always the way?

I did get myself an antique yard stick, a package containing several styles of vintage lace and crocheted trim, another package of rick rack in assorted colours and sizes:

and yes, one more antique photo album (I told you, it is becoming an addiction!).  This one is much smaller than the others I have, measuring only 5 x 6 inches, and has an unusual cover:

The top half of the clasp is missing and the spine is falling apart but for $20, I simply couldn't resist the unusual pictures inside:

and the decorated pages:

I missed out a couple of things I would have enjoyed, like this wooden drop leaf table and chairs that would have been perfect for either my kitchen or my balcony:

There was a $50 price tag on the table and the chairs were marked as $48 for the set of 4 but the vendor told me the whole set was just $50.  I wanted to give it some thought, so I took a look around the rest of his booth and by the time I came out the other side, a mere 2 or 3 minutes later, someone else had bought it!  I was consoled by the fact that he told me the purchaser had been thinking about it for the past two hours but still, it was a bit of a shock when it seemed that it was snatched out of my grasp so quickly!

I also would have loved this cupboard with its peeling paint exterior and narrow drawers, complete with metal plates identifying the drawer contents, such as "wrenches", "grinder parts" and "micrometers", but even if it wasn't already sold by the time I saw it, I would not have been able to afford the $1,500 price tag.

I was pretty sure I didn't need a $1200 moose head either:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Christie Antique Show

Another spring Saturday, another outdoor antique show.  This one was held at the Christie Lake Conservation Area.

The day started off quite foggy:

but I headed off with my friend Barb and her sister Heather to Dundas, Ontario. We arrived about 8:20, very soon after the gates opened at 8 a.m. but already the two closest parking lots were full.  We made the trek from our car to the vendor area and started going up and down the various aisles, checking out the wares of about 300 dealers.  

Barb and Heather, just before Barb bought the red wooden basket in the photo

We stopped for lunch around 11 a.m. - who knew antique shopping could make one so very hungry? A hot dog for me and Barb, and schnitzel on a bun for Heather.  We couldn't decide between the mini donuts and the apple fritters for dessert so we had a little bit of both and we were not disappointed.

After lunch, another 4 hours perusing what was on offer.

Here are a few shots to show how wet things were, like the mud in the farmer's field where we parked:

rubber boots were the footwear of choice, although this flimsy summer skirt was a little out of place:

these kids were having fun later in the day:

lots of hay on top of the mud made it easier to get around:

It stayed grey most of the day, with the occasional peek of sun but more often, dark grey clouds and every now and then, a strong wind that tended to knock things over in the tents and displays of unprepared antique dealers, but it never did rain and for that, all were grateful.  We saw lots of interesting things, although overall, we agreed that many things seemed overpriced, as they tend to be at the Christie show.  Nevertheless, a good time was had by all!

No black panthers but there was a tiger and a leopard.

Oh yes, and a giant bear.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Another Photo Album

Do you remember when I blogged about my day at the Aberfoyle antique market two weeks ago (read it here), I mentioned that I picked up something fabulous for $50?  That something was this vintage photo album:

It has a celluloid* cover and a very worn fabric spine that might be corduroy or velvet.  It is a bit smaller than my other two albums, measuring 7.5 by 10 inches.

Having spent $10 for the first vintage photo album I got and $35 for the next one, you might be wondering why I would spend the generous sum of $50 for this rather shabby looking album.  Ha!  Here's my story:

There was a price tag of $85 on the back of the album. I asked the vendor how much he would take for it and he made a phone call to the owner, who said he wanted $65. I said that was a bit out of my price range (knowing I didn't have that much cash on me) but I'd think about it, and started to walk away. He called me back and asked me what I might pay for it. I lowballed it at $50 and he immediately said he'd sell it for that price, never mind what the owner said. I couldn't get my money out fast enough! I didn't want him to change his mind or open the album to look inside.

For this particular album, while rather damaged and not too glamourous looking on the outside, is actually filled chock full of photos and tin types!  Many of the photos are labelled on the page borders with family names.  Many seem to be members of the Kidd family and one of the photos even has a stamp on the back of H.G. Kidd, Photographer, East Angus, P.Q. (which stands for "Province of Quebec", for you out-of-towners).

Including one of this handsome young man (identified only as "Cousin"):

Having looked at tin types as I wandered about the antique show and found them priced at an average of $10 a piece, I figured I was getting a good deal for this album that contains about 25 photographs, many of which are cabinet cards (a style used for portraits dating from the 1870's, being thin photos mounted on cardboard) and eleven tin types.  I figure $50 was a bargain!

*You may be asking, what is celluloid? I know I was, so of course, I had to Google it.  Here's what it says on Wikipedia:  "Celluloid is the name of a class of compounds created from nitrocellulose and camphor, plus dyes and other agents. Generally regarded to be the first thermoplastic, it was first created as Parkesine in 1862 and as Xylonite in 1869, before being registered as Celluloid in 1870. Celluloid is easily molded and shaped, and it was first widely used as an ivory replacement. Celluloid is highly flammable and also easily decomposes, and is no longer widely used. Its most common uses today are intable tennis balls and guitar picks.  Celluloid was extremely useful for creating cheaper jewelry, jewelry boxes, hair accessories and many items that would earlier have been manufactured from ivory, horn or other expensive animal products. It was therefore often referred to as "Ivorine" or "French Ivory". It was also used for dressing table sets, dolls, picture frames, charms, hat pins, buttons, buckles, stringed instrument parts, accordions, cutlery handles and kitchen items. The main disadvantage the material had was that it was flammable and fragile. Items made in Celluloid are collectible today and increasingly rare in good condition. It was soon taken over by the more robust Bakelite and Catalin."  Now we know.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting Ready to Boogie

Mary Ann Moss, author of the vastly entertaining blog Dispatch From LA and teacher of the online class called "Remains of the Day" (read about it here), is getting ready to offer a new online class called "Full Tilt Boogie" which she describes here.   More details and the class sign-up will be coming in June (for which we are waiting with bated breath) but for now, all we really know for sure is that we are to search on eBay, at antique shows, flea markets and yard sales, and/or in our grandmother's cupboard to find vintage photo albums.  I immediately took her advice to heart when she first mentioned this new class back in March and found this album on eBay:

As you can see, the cover is flaking away, every time I touch it, more bits fall off but chances are we'll be covering that up somehow, so I'm not too concerned and it's not exactly a design that I am anxious to preserve.  However, the album does have a faded, green velvet spine and measures about 8 by 11 inches, with the clasp intact:

I picked it up on eBay for only $10.  It cost just a bit more than that to ship it but I figure it's worth it.  The inside pages are in really good shape:

Then when I was down in Virginia last month, trolling an antique market with Heather, I found this beautiful album:

Just a bit of a dent in the bottom right hand part of the front cover, as you can see (one wonders what the story behind that small indentation might be - was it the result of warding off the attentions of an unwanted suitor? deflecting a sword thrust or stray bullet? chewed by a beloved pet?), but with this lovely worn velvet fabric on the spine and back cover:

However, the pages inside of this album are not in such good shape:

but again, I'm not too worried, as Mary Ann says she'll be teaching us how to make albums using just the outside covers and/or the inside pages of our photo albums, so I'm ready either way.

As my friend Diane says in her blog post (read it here) on this same topic, it is definitely addictive once you start looking at these albums and picking up a few for yourself. Tomorrow I'll tell you about the amazing deal I got on yet another album two weeks ago when I went to the Aberfoyle antique market.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Trip to the Vet

Both Gardenia and Lady Killigrew (the calico and the muted calico) were off to the vet today to be spayed. The calico and the muted calico.  All went smoothly for Lady K (or "Maggie" as I call her) but poor Gardenia has to stay overnight. 

Apparently when they opened her up to do the operation, she was full of infection inside.  It seems we took her in just in the nick of time.   She'd had a bloody discharge from her rear end a few days ago, for which I had called the vet, who told me it was a sign she was about to go into heat and that we should bring her in to be fixed sooner than later.  I was in total agreement - having lived through 5 days of meowing, howling, pacing and constant general cat noise from Maggie last week as she went through her cycle, I wasn't looking forward to doing that again!  But there must have been more going on inside than just that although she hadn't shown any signs of distress (as cats normally don't, they tend to hide any symptoms as a protective mechanism, often until they are feeling so bad they just can't hide it any more).  However, when I went in tonight to pick up Maggie, I was told that Gardenia was doing fine and resting comfortably, they are just keeping her in as a precaution and hopefully she will be able to come home tomorrow.

the glamourous Gardenia
In the meantime, her kittens seemed to be doing fine on their own today.  Their soon-to-be new human mom came to meet them for the first time and they are now officially "on hold" until she can come back to pick them up next week.  Before all this happened with Gardenia at the vet today, the idea was that the kittens would have one more week with their mom before being adopted but I'm not sure how that will shake down now that momma girl is going to be taking some antibiotics and recovering from a no longer quite as simple procedure.  But we'll see.  One day at a time.  Right now, everybody is where they should be and doing well.

Maggie, in one of her new favourite spots (photo taken pre-surgery
but she's stretched out there now too!)
Hey, did you know that the calico is the state cat for Maryland? Apparently because their colouring resembles that of the state bird, the Baltimore Oriole.  I read this on the Internet, so it must be true. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chatting with Aunty Brenda

Long time readers of this blog will recall that in January 2010, I received a postcard from South Africa addressed to the former occupant of my apartment, "Great Aunty Brenda".  I wrote about it here.

Another postcard for her arrived last week, only this time there was a last name on the card, so I was able to do a little detective work and look her up on Canada411.com.  I gave her a call and left a message explaining that I would mail it to her new address if she would let me know her apartment number. 

She promptly returned my call and we had a lovely chat.  She explained that it is her great niece who is sending the cards and she too is surprised that she is still sending them to the old address but that she doesn't have too much contact with her either.  We also discussed the wonderful apartment in which I currently reside, which she misses - the light, the space, the view, the pool downstairs, the convenient location.  However, she wanted to stop driving and needed a home more centrally located in the city so she made the decision to move more than 2 years ago and lucky for me that she did, leaving this place vacant for me to rent.

Brenda advised that she didn't want me to send her the actual card, so I have passed it on to my boss to give to her daughter, who is a rabid fan of Harry Potter, because this card came from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida by way of Hogsmeade Village.  Or so sayeth the owl postmark.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

$5 Well Spent

I stopped at a favourite antique store on my way home from the cottage the other day and picked up a few special pieces:

a spiral-bound 1959 chemistry book:

with handwritten pencil notes on the pages:

this lovely, shabby and/or rather distressed looking cigar box:

which had a few goodies inside - an old, dried out, decaying stamp pad with a beautiful red and black tin cover that I will cut up and make into something else, some sewing supplies in an Allenbury's pastilles tin (including some very cool silver spiral buttons), some kind of measuring implement that looks like teaspoons but isn't, and a little plastic matchbox-style container holding a couple of sewing machine needles.

and this fabulous Peek Frean's biscuit tin with a gorgeous peacock on the lid:

and seahorses dancing around the sides.

Hmm, just Googled that cookie tin and found someone has it listed for 20 pounds (which is more than $40 in our currency)! Of course, theirs looks like it's in much better shape than mine (but mine might just need a good cleaning) and has a bird motif on the sides.  Perhaps mine is not quite as vintage as theirs?  [While we're on the subject, you might enjoy this 2007 article about a cookie tin collection.]

I paid $5.00 for the lot so even if the cookie tin isn't a rare vintage find, it's money well spent, if you ask me!

Monday, May 23, 2011


These ones were so close, I had an excellent view from my balcony!

Happy Victoria Day 2011

We here in Canada are celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday today. 

Sure, she's been dead for 110 years now but we don't let a little something like that stop us.  Her actual birthday was May 24th but the official date for this holiday is now recognized on the last Monday on or preceding that date. 

Traditionally, 21 gun salutes were often used to mark this official occasion.  Alternatively, according to Wikipedia, "in New Westminster, BC, the Victoria Day weekend is distinguished by the Hyack Anvil Battery Salute, a tradition created during colonial times as a surrogate for a 21-gun salute: Gunpowder is placed between two anvils, the top one upturned, and the charge is ignited, hurling the upper anvil into the air." 

Nowadays, we mostly set off fireworks, as some of my neighbours did last night.


Sunday, May 22, 2011


The weather at the cottage yesterday went through several variations.  It started off as sunny and warm, quite lovely:

But by late afternoon, it had clouded over and a gentle rain had started to fall:

Which quickly developed into a heavy rain with winds strong enough to create small whitecaps on the lake:

but eventually, all was calm again.

No matter what the weather, it's always nice to be back at the cottage for another season.