Friday, September 30, 2011

Thrifty Acres - Airline Travel's Not Like This Anymore!

Hello! Attended a sale yesterday in which books and playbills from two estates were featured. The playbills spanned several decades - most were from the 80's to present day but there were some going as far back as the 1930's. At 50c apiece, I could afford the two I picked up, both from the 1950's.

I could have cared less about the play featured in the playbill - The Most Happy Fella (although on the back cover, someone had written "Nov. 17, 1956  Stupendous". I'm glad the theater goer enjoyed the play, but I'm glad there were some great ads within. The graphics are fun, and ads from older publications, I've found, are a wonderful window into How Things Used To Be. 

The ad shown below is a prime example: 

The ad clearly is promoting what we now call a "red-eye flight", but I've never known it to be like this! An after-theatre nightcap and snack for passengers, a club-lounge, and breakfast before arrival (the latter made me wonder just how long it took for that DC-7 to fly across the country!), and, of course, the red carpet rolled out to greet the boarding passengers. Quite the service!

What would one get during a red-eye flight now? I believe that at least one airline had stated they were going to start charging for offering pillows to its passengers - sheesh. I suppose the nightcap would still be offered, though not in a club lounge!

Then again, I wondered who would have had the energy to eat and drink in the club lounge so late at night after a night out at the theater? I think I would have just wanted to close my eyes and start going to sleep! Still, I could imagine a Rat Pack-type  crowd carousing it up on the flight back to Hollywood, or a movie director and his assistants on board discussing whether the play they had just seen could be adapted to the big screen. Might have been a fun time!

Airline travel still can't be beat, time-wise, for traveling long distances, but it sure has changed since that ad was run!

(In an aside, I was surprised at the preponderance of ads in the same playbill for women's girdles and bras - thought that seemed odd. But perhaps that just shows that I know nothing about playbill advertising!)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Homemade Houseboat

Where's your camera when you need it? Alas, I didn't have it on me when my husband and I headed toward our usual walking route, a boardwalk along the waters of Lake Macatawa, an inlet of Lake Michigan. Thus, no pictures of what was probably the most unusual watercraft I've ever seen. 

The boat was tied up to a dock that borders a waterfront restaurant. It had the appearance of a very large wooden box that had been placed upon pontoon-type floats. The sides of the boat - and the door - looked like they had first been used in a house. Through large windows I could see in and noted a sofa made up with bedding. The sofa, by the way, took up the length of one side of the boat, so that gives you an idea of how wide the boat was. Overall, the boat was smaller in size than the home office room in which I'm now sitting, and it's not that big a room itself.

It was clearly someone's homemade houseboat.. An American flag flew cheerfully from a flagpole mounted on the rear, and a portable grill was sitting on the small platform outside the door. There appeared to be an old TV in the boat adjacent to the sofa.

There was no one in the houseboat then, so we continued on our walk, but when we'd looped back around to head back home, the owner was in. He kindly answered my questions. Yes, he'd built the houseboat himself out of parts he'd gotten here and there. He had solar panels on the roof of the houseboat for power. He'd come down Lake Michigan from the Traverse City area and had put up in our town for the night because he'd run out of fuel. He was heading for Miami, FL. Said something about the route he was taking - through Tennessee at some point, then he'll reach the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile, AL. His dog Bentley was traveling with him - the dog had been to 23 states and two countries, the man said. 

Figured that after he'd reached Miami he'd sell the houseboat at some point and use the money the buy an old junker car to drive back north. He added that last year he'd sailed up from Miami, but didn't say how he'd gotten down there that time. Oh, and he'd previously made money by selling a "tumbleweed house" (a very small house) he'd built - that money was used in turn to buy the materials to build the houseboat. 

Since I hadn't had my camera with me, I returned to the dock with it this morning. As the weather wasn't the best this morning, I was hoping that the houseboat would still be there, awaiting better conditions before the man made his way south. But it was gone. 

Quite a story though. That guy definitely had a lot of ingenuity and a make-do spirit. I wondered if he'd been able to retire early from a job and thus was living on a pension; that would give him the time to make these excursions. And to go all that way on such a small handmade houseboat! There's probably more people out there who do this sort of thing than I realize, but it was my first experience with this sort of adventure. I hope that he and Bentley have a safe and enjoyable trip to Miami!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thrifty Acres - A Fun Find and a Trick Question

Hello! While at the thrift store yesterday I came across these vintage picture dominoes:

I don't know when these were made, perhaps in the 1950'? They're a little beat up, but I still loved the graphics! Here's a close-up:

I can see using these on a child's birthday card, but may think of other uses as well. I paid a dollar for the bag of 24. 

Now on to the trick question - study the photo below and answer this: what cost more, the wire stand or the two pie pumpkins sitting on it?

So, which one did you guess? Not sure? Well, the answer is: I paid the same price - $2.50 for the wire stand and $2.50 for both pumpkins.

I don't know how old the stand is; it may not be vintage, but has a somewhat vintage design. It measures 23"h x 10"w x 7"d. Thus, not very large but I still thought $2.50 was a good price for it. I may spray paint the black finish white at some point, but for fall I like the pumpkin colors against the black. 

I bought the stand at a thrift store last week, and bought the pie pumpkins this morning at our farmers' market. If they hold up okay and aren't bothered by squirrels, I will use them for pumpkin baked goods.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Made It - Decorative Wooden Block

Hello! Made another recent visit to the creative reuse store Learning From Scratch. In the past, there's always been wooden cube-shaped blocks for sale, but this time there were triangular-shaped blocks as well. As is true with the cube-shaped blocks, there were some irregularities in size and finish, but no matter - I figured they'd be fun to decorate. 

Fiddled around with one yesterday. I began by selecting a postcard I'd gotten at a thrift store; I picked one that depicts a market in Salzburg. I painted two sides and the bottom of the triangle with a coordinating acrylic paint. Pieces of the postcard were cut to fit the unpainted sides and then little touches were added. Here's the finished result:

One side covered with a postcard section and the edges are finished off with clear glitter.

This side has been painted and a phrase from a 1930's grammar book was glued on. Above the phrase I've added part of an old earring. More glitter around the edges. 

Here's the other postcard side, followed by:

The other painted side.

Other than the acrylic paint and the craft glues used to affix the earring pieces and the glitter, everything was from resale (creative reuse, thrift store, garage sale). Thus, this cost me very little to make, and as the triangular blocks are small (this one is about 2 1/4" high and 1 1/2" wide), it was also a relatively quick project. 

I like how this turned out, and also like how the possibilities for decorating the blocks are endless - vintage greeting cards, old cookbooks and sheet music are some of the other possibilities. I may even try pairing these with some of the cube-shaped blocks to construct houses. 

I think I'll have to go back to LFS to see if they still have these triangular blocks!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Made It - Hanging Display Piece

Hello! Last year I saw a cute hanging display piece for sale. It was only around $20.00, but was covered with decorative paper that didn't match my decor. I knew there were old wooden boards of a similar width in our garage, so I decided to see if I could make something similar. Here's what I came up with:

My main trouble is that we don't have a power saw, so I had to cut the board to my desired length by hand. Please ignore the slightly uneven edges! 

I chose this particular board because of the piece of old wallpaper affixed to it - I found it charming, though I have no idea why anyone would have glued wallpaper to a painted wooden board. But here's a close-up of the wallpaper:

To mimic the look of the item I'd seen for sale, I screwed in picture-hanging eyes, strung clothespins onto picture wire, then threaded the wire through the eyes and wrapped it tightly to hold the wire in place (yes, the original item had a similar wire-and-clothespin construction). Then all I had to do was nail a sawtooth hanger onto the back so that I could hang my finished piece. Okay, so it looks a little rustic, but I was still pleased to construct this out of materials I already had around the house.

It's fun to change the "display" around as I please - what you see hanging up there right now are some clothespin dolls that I found at a thrift store - forget what I paid for them, but it was very little. I love it when I find someone else's handmade crafts at a thrift store - saves me from having to make something myself!   

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thrifty Acres - Around the World with Vintage Matchbooks

Hello! Over the weekend I attended a yard sale run by an antiques dealer. I only made one purchase, a collection of vintage matchbooks. I paid $6.00 and later counted 123 matchbooks in the box. Thus, the price per matchbook was mere pennies apiece. 

Whoever collected these matchbooks was either well-traveled, or else had friends or relatives who'd gone to far-off places. For instance, some of the matchbooks were from Japan:

Love the graphics!

Next up is:

Hong Kong, followed by:

Mexico.  Continuing the globetrotting, let's visit:

Sweden. I would love to jet off to:

Paris! But I wouldn't complain if I had a chance to go to:

Switzerland and Austria either!  Or how about:

Spain and Ireland?  No passport? Then about staying in the US! Why not live it up in:

New York City - or head over to:

Hawaii! Back to the continental US, let's go to:

New Orleans!  As a change of pace from NOLA, I think I'll visit:

Virginia and Massachusetts. Next on the list is:

Charleston. I'm exhausted now from all that traveling, so I think I'll head back to my home state to check out:

some places in Michigan. The Grand Hotel is probably one of the best-known hotels in the state, but a quick Internet search revealed that the Tur Mai Kai is no longer in business. 

Some may consider it blasphemy, but I like to use vintage matchbooks in projects; I think they add a quirky touch. Here's a couple of examples:

These were made from vintage matchbooks I'd gotten previously. I've slipped similar items in a card or with a present just as a little something extra to pass along. I've used the same flower shape to adorn greeting cards as well. 

But I must admit, I sometimes have a hard time crafting with these vintage matchbooks, as I enjoy the graphics! 

And I hope you enjoyed my globetrotting tour of matchbooks as well!