I wish I could invite all of you to my house for this sale. I'd give you all French bises on each cheek, hand you a nice glass of champagne and after you've finished shopping, I'd offer you my homemade mousse au chocolat served with fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint. We would proudly talk of the recent heroics of the Americans on the train and how they were the toast of Paris, despite wearing golf shirts to receive their medals from the president of France.Read More
It's been about one year exactly since my husband and I made an emergency trip to France because our son suffered a serious accident. As I wrote about here, last year, it was a harrowing experience. I can only emphasize that if your child decides to study abroad, do make sure that your passport is up-to-date as well. Check and confirm that his health insurance covers him even when he is out of the country. Also, insist that he program his phone with that country's version of 9-1-1.
One year later, the kid is healthy, and that's my takeaway advice. Oh, and if the hospital's visiting hours are restrictive, go shopping. It passes the time very quickly.Read More
In a rather small corner of my rather large kitchen is this framed needlepoint rooster. It is one of my most beloved possessions. My Persian grandmother stitched it when she was a young girl living in Hamadan, Iran, probably sometime in the 1920s.
Her name was Zarrin and she was very talented with a needle. After her father died, she supported herself and her mother with her own handiwork. Then, in 1927, she met and married my grandfather. I think this is a piece she did before her marriage.Read More
I'm hanging out my sign. And going to bait my hook. Because in my world, the salmon are running. I mean to say that this is the height of the vintage season with estate sales, antique fairs, outdoor flea markets, and garage sales taking place every other day. Plus, if you have been to my shop lately, you'll notice that the pickings are getting a little thin. So I'm off to fish.
Come to think of it, stocking my shop is like fishing. It takes time for each vignette to come together. Often I'm searching for months for the right elements. Then comes the photography, which is like cleaning the fish. I'm picky about that. And finally I weigh and measure and write up descriptions. That's akin to battering the fish, frying them crispy, and serving them up with some nice sides.Read More
In my line of work, I see the drama play out nearly every week. At your garage and rummage sales, I purchase the things that your grown children don't want. And it's killing you. Recently, a woman whimpered to me as I bought her beautiful but fragile cane chair with a floral seat needlepointed by her great great aunt: "My son won't take it," she lamented. "Really?" I asked. "Does he know that his ancestor probably raised, harvested, spun, and dyed the wool in that cushion? That she probably sacrificed her good eyesight for that cushion?" She looked at me and shook her head. "He doesn't care. It's too Grandma-looking."
Kids these days! What are we to do when we need to downsize our possessions but they don't or can't take the things we've held on to -- for years -- with them and their homes in mind?Read More
Growing up in Waukegan, Illinois, along the shores of Lake Michigan, summers never seemed terribly hot. When the heat did arrive, I had a favorite place to hide -- the bookmobile. Did you grow up in the era of the bookmobile? In my neighborhood, the Waukegan Public Library's bookmobile arrived on the same day each week and I would be waiting, sweaty, my bicycle discarded in the weeds, my shoulder bag full of last week's selections. Oh what cool comfort I derived from inside that book-lined van.
Forty years later, I still love children's books. What is it about them that is so appealing? (By the way, Anthropologie carries reissued sets of vintage children's books and they can't keep them in stock.)Read More
Yes, I'm having a sale. New inventory and old is all discounted this weekend only. (By the way, if you subscribe to this blog, you got early notification.) Use code july4sale at checkout for 20% off through Sunday evening.
One of the collections on sale is brand-spanking-new. It is called "The Life Aquatic Wall Collage" (pictured above) and it was inspired by the Wes Anderson film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I've watched Anderson's movies over and over, drinking in the saturated colors, the quirky costumes, the precisely perfect sets. He creates a world so nostalgic that you feel the way you do flipping through your parents' wedding album. Everything has a fairytale aura that has no basis in reality but that captivates our imagination just the same.Read More
What would Grandma do? I ask that question all the time. She is gone but her voice is in my head, and whenever I'm in doubt, I hear her loud and clear.
I'm in doubt a lot these days. It comes with the territory of selling online. Opening a business is like embarking on a home improvement project that seems straightforward until you tear down a wall and find 3000 brown bats roosting between the joists. (Read about that here.)
When I walk into my basement storage room and see the boxes of inventory, staring at me with an accusing look, like I'm not doing enough to make people love them, I get a pit in my stomach that all small business owners can understand. It even has a name: the "Trough of Sorrow". (Paul Graham, world famous internet start-up investor, came up with that.)Read More
This week, I attended a wake. It was the eighth time I attended this particular wake. My friend Ellen holds it on the last day of school. We gather at 1:00 on her patio. Some of us wear funeral black. We mourn the end of school and the beginning of dog days spent in the company of our darling angels. Yes, we are bad moms. But we are bad moms together. Our bad-momishness is enough of a thread to tie us together for an afternoon of grapefruit gimlets.
That's how the best parties happen. You take a common thread and transform it into a luscious party bow that wraps around a bunch of people and ta-da!Read More
We all know this mug. After all, John Wayne is a bigger-than-life symbol of the American West and Old Hollywood. But did you know that John Wayne was a homebody? And a consummate collector?
"The Duke" made more than 142 films all over the world. While on location, he spent his downtime haunting local thrift stores and antique shops. He lugged home all sort of art, furniture, and objects. His weaknesses were guns, kachina dolls, Japanese ceramics, Native American relics, bronze sculptures, and fine English furniture. Here is what he told Architectural Digest back in 1977:Read More
Summer is upon us! Remember that old Farmer's Almanac adage about getting your flowers planted before Memorial Day? Never mind my yard, this year I planted in my shop. Why don't you take a moment and stroll down my virtual garden path? You'll see a lot of butterflies and flowers.
Mostly butterflies, actually. What is it exactly about those creatures that we love? When it's the middle of a Wisconsin winter and I see butterflies adorning things at estate sales, I reach for them instinctively. They are interlopers that flit in from another world, like a beloved child home from college. I marvel at their wings -- as thin as a nightgown. And is there a biological reason why they're so colorful and showy?Read More
I am pleased as punch to share the news that I am a new "tastemaker" at the lovely online destination, Lila Mae. A few new Finder Not Keeper collections are exclusive to Lila Mae, including the Serengeti Vignette, pictured above.
Lila Mae is an eco-friendly destination for high quality products that are sustainably made to minimize the environmental impact. Most of you have figured out that everything I sell is used, antique, and vintage, which means my collections are almost as green as the moss growing on my copy of Aldo Lepold's A Sand County Almanac. So Lila Mae and Finder Not Keeper are a good match.Read More
It was hard enough to say good-bye to the 1960s the first time. Now we have to do it again? Mad Men, that silky smoky show which captivated millions of viewers and inspired me to buy every piece of midcentury barware I found, is coming to a close. Don Draper is free falling through the skyscrapers on Madison Avenue one final season and we are bereft.Read More
I think it's ugly. Is it the Pepto-Bismol wall color, or the hideous burnt umber tones in the wood? Either way, this composition did not start out ugly. Under the studio lights, it looked really pretty. The rods and cones of my retina told my brain that the colors complemented each other. I believed my brain and patted myself on the back for assembling a visual lovefest of vivid pastels.
But a camera lens is not an eyeball and through my photographer's camera lens, the pink wall went from a soft blush to something more like salmon. The antique tea table, which is a rich brown, turned burnt orange. And through the camera lens, I saw that the sleek decanter and cordial glasses didn't suit the polychrome plates.Read More
"This book will state many things which would otherwise remain unsaid."
How's that for a hint at what scandalous ideas lie within the pages of this remarkable book? Its author, Dr. Th. H. Van de Velde, a Dutch physician and gynecologist, was not exaggerating.
"I show you here the way to Ideal Marriage. You know the honeymoon of rapture. It is all too short, and soon you decline into that morass of disillusion and depression, which is all you know of marriage. But the Bridal Honeymoon should blossom in the perfect flower of ideal marriage. May this book help you to attain such happiness."Read More
The woman in line ahead of me asked the woman in line behind me a question: "Who owned this place?" I stepped aside so the answer could be conveyed: "A physician by the name of Emmett or Bennett or Barnett," came the response. The first woman exclaimed, "Oh! Well if it's Dr. Emmett, I'll be darned because he was my doctor!"
Inside the condo, I saw that Dr. Emmett/Bennett/Barnett had a penchant for travel to exotic locales. He collected wonderful artifacts from the South Seas, the Orient, Africa, and Australia. I grabbed a couple of inlaid mosaic tables that looked like they came from Morocco.Read More
This is a photo of Minnie the Doorstop Scotty. Minnie is short for Minerva, as in Miss Minerva McGonnagal, the esteemed professor at Hogwart's. My cast iron Minnie is antique and heavy, making her an excellent protectorate of the young wizards and witches of Gryffindor House.
In actuality, I named my Minnie after a living Minnie here in Milwaukee. She is a dear dog with a wavy coat, short legs, and a sweet disposition. I have always coveted her.Read More
My husband is half South American and half American South. He grew up on fried chicken and iced tea in a midcentury modern home filled with Colombian art and textiles. His ladylike mother speaks in a soft southern voice while his father's thick accent and debonair manner always remind me of that lovable Latin, Ricky Ricardo.
Recently, my husband's work requires him to travel to South America. It is a valuable opportunity for his career while also providing him a way to see the land of his ancestors and reconnect with the Colombian branch of the family tree. But most importantly, it is a chance for him to shop!Read More
This collection is called Prairie Textures and it comes with two interesting stories. The first is about the unframed canvas. It is a watercolor study of a calf and I think it is wonderful. Unsigned but wonderful. Such thick cottony paper. Such expertly mixed colors. I admire the confident brush strokes. And the economy of brush strokes as well.
I bought it from the estate of a gentleman who had sold the family's dairy farm to move to the Big City, meaning Milwaukee. He lived in a loft apartment down in Bayview and his place was kitted out like a 1960s bachelor pad. Swanky barware, Danish teak furniture, a stunning collection of Blenko blown glass, stacks and stacks of vinyl, very expensive audio equipment, and really good lighting. Not at all what I expected from a former dairyman.