Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas 2015 - Gifts and Finds

Hello! I hope that you and yours had a very Merry Christmas. As the holiday season winds down, I'd thought I'd show off a few gifts and finds of Christmas 2015. 

My husband and I don't exchange gifts any more; rather, we do a "house gift" that we can both use. This year the "house gift" ended up being a new basement freezer - a necessity after the old one, full of food, died right before Thanksgiving. 

But instead of gifts, we give each other with nicely-stuffed Christmas stockings, filled with craft beers or hard cider, books, magazines, gift certificates, candies and more. (needless to say, there's usually overflow and so the stockings are presented wrapped in shopping bags or stuffed into a cardboard box. 

I'll show off a couple of favorites from the stockings:

In my husband's stocking, a pine cone I'd picked up on the campus of Berea College, KY, during an early October trip. As with the other pine cones I'd gathered from other trips in years past, this one  was decorated with glitter and has a gold cord hanger. Attached to the cord is a tag I'd made that states where and when the pine cone had been found.

I've always done a memory-type Christmas ornament for inclusion in my husband's Christmas stocking, such as glittering old watches or car keys, or decorating wine corks from significant events. 

Over the past several years, though, I've stuck with pine cones. By now they've come from all over the US. My husband suggested that maybe next year the pine cone ornaments could get their own Christmas tree since the collection has grown. I think he also made his suggestion because the Berea pine cone ended up being the largest one thus far - it's over 8" long and over 4" wide. It wasn't nearly that big when I picked it up on a chilly, damp day, but opened up to its present size once it came into our warm, dry house. 

In my stocking:

A tiny Nativity scene: a small glass bottle with the Holy Family inside. The figures and the base are made of clay. My husband says he "doesn't like to reveal his sources", but I'm guessing this came from the fair trade shop downtown. It's known this time of year for the variety of handcrafted Nativity sets from around the world. My husband didn't recall where this one had been made; perhaps a Latin American country. 

Its tiny size, by the way, is a mere 1 1/2" l x 1"h x 3/4" w. I would say it took considerable skill to craft those clay figures and arrange them inside the bottle. So sweet though; I love it!

A gift to me from our daughter:

A vintage-style calico cat ornament, in honor of my "little girl" - our nearly 13-year-old calico named Beauty. I promptly hung this ornament on the cat-themed tree in the dining room (the tabletop feather tree whose decor changes with the season). There, this pretty likeness joined various handcrafted cat ornaments, as well as a couple of collars Beauty had once worn.

I visited Ann Arbor's PTO thrift shop two days before Christmas. Although my main purpose was to peruse the huge arts/crafts section,  I was pleased to learn that all Christmas-themed items were 75% off. 

I didn't have time to look at every single Christmas item, as they were found in various sections of the store, but here's what I came home with:

A pattern for a no-sew Nativity set and directions for making vintage-style  snow angels. Behind these patterns is a plastic bag of German scrap vintage-style Santa scenes plus a few pieces of Christmas-themed vintage ephemera. 

Non-crafty, but also on sale at the PTO thrift shop:

10 years ago, this mug had been part of the scene at the Christmas market in Dusseldorf, Germany. Since "Santa Claus' Gluhwein" is mentioned at the bottom, I assume this mug came with the purchase of that beverage (a type of mulled wine). 

I don't know what expense was involved in the mug making its way from Germany to the US, or what the mulled wine had cost at the time of purchase. However, I'm sure that any price connected to this mug was way more than the 12c I ended up forking over for it.

The gifts and finds I've shown off here may seem small in size and/or price, but I feel they all have a big "price tag" when it comes to the amount of pleasure they'll give us in the years to come!


Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015!

Hello! Just a quick post this morning to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. It's not a white one here, which doesn't bother me in the least - much better for the Christmas Eve traveling we did for a family gathering elsewhere. We came back in time last night to walk around town for a good hour enjoying Christmas lights. It was a very nice day all around.

A note about the above ornament: it resides on my Santa tree (all the ornaments on it pay homage to that fellow). I got it years ago from a church rummage sale. The ornament consists of a small plastic Santa body for which someone had lovingly crocheted a suit. I think I paid 50c for it. I have much fancier and more expensive Santa ornaments on the tree - but this one is my favorite. Makes me smile every time I see it! 


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Thrifty Acres: Vintage Christmas Pins

Hello! I've read articles in which vintage pins(the costume jewelry kind) are shown off. These pins are often collected by theme, such as flowers or Christmas trees. 

Well, I have a modest collection of pins with a vintage Christmas theme, as seen below:

A few close-ups to follow:

These two pins were half-off Christmas finds at a thrift store, so I paid a quarter for both. They're made of heavy plastic and are labeled as being made in Hong Kong. I'm guessing they're from the 1960's. The Santa is a pull toy in miniature; pull the red bell that dangles down and his arms, legs and eyes move. He holds a gold bell in one hand and a sign saying "Merry Christmas" in the other.

The Christmas tree pin mimics the collectible tree pins I mentioned at the beginning of my post, but the pricier pins aren't likely to be have been made of plastic as mine was. They're aren't likely to be priced under a quarter by savvy sellers either. But I actually like the fact that some company had made my cheapo version. It doesn't look like plastic and adds a bit of bling to my outfits when I wear it. 

The next two pins, though, are of the nicer costume variety type. I don't know how old they are, but they had belonged to my late mother-in-law. They're likely from either the 1950's or 1960's. They're both fun to wear. 

A deer holding a spring of holly and a pretty bow-and-bell combo.

The last pin is in the handmade category:

A small Christmas stocking made of felt, gold trim, sequins, beads, ribbon and a jingle bell. This pin was in a bag of assorted Christmas trims. I wouldn't have purchased it on its own, but I do have a fondness for vintage Christmas crafts, so I kept it. Even though it's small (barely 2 1/4" high), it would have taken its creator a little while to make. I wondered how many times it'd been worn before it ended up at a thrift store. Of course, I'll never know. 

Well, as I'd said, my vintage Christmas pin collection is modest, but it'll be easy and inexpensive to add to it as I see fit.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

10 Favorites: No-Cost Holiday Decor Ideas

Hello! I finally got around to putting up all my Christmas decor yesterday. (I've learned to take a more relaxed approach by doing a bit each day.) However, it's fun to add in a few more decorations, especially if they are easy to make and inexpensive.
Thus, I was interested in a recent post from the Remodelista website entitled "10 Favorites: No-Cost Holiday Decor Ideas", which can be found here. This article, by Justine Hand, includes over 20 project photos - the "10 Favorites" refers to the list of decorating themes.

The term "no-cost" assumes, of course, that one has the necessary supplies on hand. But since there's plenty of variety in the 10 categories of ideas, there's bound to be at least some projects that truly are no-cost. Another bonus is that many of them are easy for children to do, like decorating a bare branch or a chalkboard. 

Speaking of chalkboards, upon reading the article I recalled that we had one sitting down in the basement. The chalkboard is part of a wooden perpetual calendar that had once seen daily use since its purchase 30 years ago. However, the frame got banged up after getting accidentally knocked off the wall, so the calendar was banished from the kitchen.

But why not run with "Chalk It Up" (theme #5) from the Remodelista article? So I dusted and cleaned up that old perpetual calendar, drew a quick design on the chalkboard with art chalk pastels (a vintage set found at a church rummage sale), and leaned it against a wall on the family room floor:

Instant, no-cost decor! And of course, I can change the "artwork" any time I want. Looks like this old perpetual calendar will no longer be relegated to the basement! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Made It: Christmas Ornaments 2015

Hello! I make Christmas ornaments every year for my nieces and
nephews. Last year's ornaments (seen here) seemed to go over very well (at least among the parents, who clearly thought the ornaments were harder to make than they actually were). I knew it'd be hard to top those with this year's ornaments, but I think I came up with something pretty good:

I made a few changes to a pattern called "Nordic House Ornament", designed by Karin Darocha. Her project was among a set of over 100 projects purchased for a couple of bucks at a thrift store a few years ago. As the set wasn't in its original packaging, I don't know what name it was sold under. (the projects were organized as a  calendar, with each project representing several days in a week. The Nordic House Ornament covered Dec. 16-19.)

The photograph accompanying Darocha's directions showed off a red-and-white color scheme, which I guess is the Nordic part. I used a variety of colors. She embellished her ornaments with embroidery; I did that as well, but also added vintage rickrack and vintage buttons. 

A couple of close-ups:

Looks like a blue Christmas. 

The muslin used for the house base isn't vintage, but most of the other fabrics used for this project are. I like the slightly mismatched look I gave these ornaments - more fun than having everything completely coordinated!

And speaking of fun, these were fun to make. My only challenge was to make sure I crafted a few that weren't too "sweet", in honor of my nephews. They are long past the little-boy stage, so no prints with little flowers for them. I do hope I succeeded in appealing to their sensibilities. If not, well at least I tried. 

These ornaments measure about 2 3/4" x 6 1/2". Darocha also included a pattern for a house that's 3 3/4" x 8 1/2". I'm thinking of making one of these in the larger size to use as a small accent piece in my newly-redecorated family room. 

Now all I have to do is pop these ornaments in gift bags and they'll be ready for gift-giving. It's always a good feeling when I get this project done each year. I've been doing this for over 20 years by now!


Monday, December 7, 2015

Thrifty Acres: Another Nativity Scene

Hello! I have a small Nativity collection. It consists of a Fontanini (an Italian company) set and a variety of smaller Nativities that were either gifts, handcrafted by me or found as secondhand. 

Since I'm now up to close to 20 Nativity scenes, I've become choosy about bringing another one home, even if it costs only a quarter. Thus, when I spied a Nativity scene with that price tag at a thrift store last week, I hesitated. Yes, it is vintage, but is plastic. None of my other Nativities are, so I wasn't sure how it would look next to them. 

But after all, the price was minuscule, so I bought it:

This is about 7" long and about 5" high, and was made in Hong Kong. I'm not sure how old it is, maybe from the 1960's?

I suppose it straddles the line between vintage-tacky and vintage-cool, but I'll lean on the side of the latter! It was the profusion of detailed palm trees that sold me on this piece:

The shepherd seen above shows some wear, as does Joseph, but other than that the Nativity is in fine shape. (tried to take a close-up of the Holy Family  but they didn't photograph well). 

Happily, this set goes along just fine with a grouping of fair-trade Nativity scenes:

The other Nativities seen in the photo are made of materials like wood, clay, and a nut (the tiny object seen at the base of the plastic Nativity). They are all charming in their own right - but I'm glad I brought home that vintage plastic one!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Made It: For The Third Baby Boy

Hello! As I'd mentioned awhile back, I was surrounded by neighbor moms-to-be this year. All three women had sons, one after another - September, October and November. This post will be about the last baby. I waited to deliver his gift until our daughter came home from college for Thanksgiving. She wanted to meet the new little guy and also wanted to see his six-year-old big sister, on whom she dotes. 

The parents of the September baby seemed to like the stuffed toy I'd made for their son, so I decided to make another toy from the same vintage pattern set(seen here). And here's how my latest baby toy effort came out:

This time, I chose a dog pattern because the family has a pet dog. The toy is about 9" tall, is made from two blue fabric prints, has an embroidered face and has a blue ribbon tie around his neck.

Of course, I made a card for the occasion as well:

Materials used:
  • white card stock 
  • dark blue scrapbook paper
  • blue/white checked scrapbook paper
  • art paper scrap
  • baby image cut from 1940's craft magazine
  • "Baby BOY" stamped in blue ink on white card stock scrap
  • "Benjamin" cut from vintage library card catalog card (anybody else remember that method of looking up what books were in the library?)
Close up of the baby boy image:

I do enjoy using images from older publications.

I also enjoyed making this toy and greeting card to welcome our newest neighbor!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello! May you and yours have a Happy Thanksgiving, and safe travels if you're going out of town for the holiday. 

Note: the above was a recent thrift store find. I was tempted to cut out these Pilgrim paper dolls and display them around the house, but for now I've left the set intact. 

Bonus: as mentioned on the back of the book, "An informative text supplies abundant details on accessories and also paints a vivid picture of a hard-working early Colonial family's lifestyle. Students and teachers of cultural history, costume buffs and paper doll enthusiasts of all ages will find this collection an accurate and colorful view of early American life." 

So, history and a fun way to commemorate Thanksgiving - not bad for a 25c thrift store purchase!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Made It: For A Baby Boy

Hello! A trio of neighbors were expecting this fall - September, October, November. I'd already showed off what a I'd made for the September baby here and now it's time to highlight what I made for the late October-born infant. 

The card:

Materials used:
  • white card stock
  • blue and white check scrapbook paper
  • teddy bear shape cut from scrapbook paper
  • "Baby BOY" stamped in blue ink on white card stock
  • heart shape cut from art paper scrap
  • "baby" cut from vintage dictionary
And now the fun little gift I made:

A soft ball, made from six fabric pieces sewn together and stuffed. A jingle bell was put inside along with the stuffing. The blue/orange color scheme matches the school colors of the parents' alma mater.

Both card and ball were fun to make! Sometimes I don't know which I like better, crafting with paper or with fabric - but with this gift, I got to do both!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Made It: Repurposed Printer's Tray

Hello! I'm in the process of redoing our family room. Have already made a big change with switching the walls from dark red to a warm white. Decided to create some new wall hangings while I was at it. 

Years ago I'd purchased a vintage printer's tray (have also seen these referred to as printer's drawers). If you go to places where antiques are sold, you may have noticed them; they're shallow wooden trays with multiple dividers. Back in the days of printing with hand-set type, these trays were used to keep the various letters, numbers, etc. organized. 

I don't recall how much I paid for my printer's tray, nor where I bought it, but I used it for a few years to display the smaller pieces in my squirrel figurine collection. I was never really satisfied with how the display looked, however, so at some point I dismantled it. 

My printer's tray sat in our basement since then, just gathering dust. I almost got rid of it, but now I'm glad I didn't, for I decided to try to repurpose it as a collage-style display of vintage postcards. 

(I should add that before I began this collage, I gave the printer's tray a nice cleaning and polishing).

This was not a quick and easy project, even with the use of a paper cutter and Exacto knife. There are 89 sections in my tray, so it took awhile to cut up that many postcard images. And among those 89 sections are several different sizes. The smallest sections measure about 1"x2", while the largest are  around 2 1/4"x6 1/4".

For the smallest sections, there was the challenge of finding images that made sense when cut down to 1"x2". And since all the sections are higher than they are wide, for the larger ones I had to find postcards with a vertical orientation. These aren't nearly as common, but I had enough images of waterfalls, trees, monuments and skyscrapers to fill in those areas. 

My postcard collection ranges in age from the early 1900's to the early 1980's. You'd think the earliest postcards would be the most interesting ones to use, but they have more muted colors due to the printing process in use at the time. Consequently, I have a mixture of decades represented in my creation. 

Okay, enough chatter, now I'll show off my repurposed vintage printer's tray:

The finished piece, which measures about 32"w x 20"h

Several close ups of postcard images to follow:

The Empire State Building, the "Billy Penn" (aka William Penn) statue on top of Philadelphia's City Hall, and a resort in New Hampshire.

The Statue of Liberty.

Motel sign. Vintage motels are among my favorite postcard images.

The Mackinac Bridge (in northern Michigan, for those not from that state) and a small town's commercial district.

A scene from Coney Island, New York.

Another small town commercial district - Dowagiac, Michigan if I recall correctly.

The Jefferson Memorial and a Dutch village scene.

The Henry Ford Museum (Dearborn, Michigan), a California redwood, and the Washington Monument. 

I'm pleased with how this turned out, although I have to admit, I think the images would have been more effective if the sections were wider. It still makes for a fun display though. 

If you'd like your own printer's tray, they're available on eBay and other online sites, plus they show up at antique stores and flea markets. I think that new, somewhat similar versions can be purchased as well.

You may not care for vintage postcards, but search "repurposed printer's tray" on Pinterest and you'll see lots of other ideas for reuse - seashell collection, earring holder, scrapbook paper decor, photos and more. 

Not sure that in my Pinterest search I saw anyone using vintage postcards in their printer's tray - but now you have!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Made It: For A Gem Of A Friend

Hello! I have a gem of a friend, someone who's very talented, fun to hang out with and very kind. So of course I wanted to celebrate her birthday with a couple of handmade items (I treated her to dinner and a loaf of homemade bread as well.)

I made her this card:

Materials used:
  • white card stock
  • page from vintage book
  • scrap from altered 1880's ledger page
  • red card stock scrap
  • label from vintage sewing thread spool
  • vintage button
  • "happy birthday" stamped in black ink
I wasn't sure what theme the card would have when I headed to my studio to make it, but once there I spied that vintage sewing thread spool label with the word "Gem" on it. That became my theme, and then all I had to do is find color-coordinating elements. 

I also did a little sewing as part of my friend's gift:

In honor of my friend's autumn birthday - and my love of squirrels - I made her a little stuffed squirrel. The body and tail are made from brown fabrics, and I added a vintage button eye and a ribbon tie. 

It's about 4 1/2" high and about 4" wide. The pattern was from a vintage needlework book; it was actually an applique shape for a children's quilt. I couldn't resist turning it into a stuffed shape. 

The squirrel and card were both fun to make and I was only too happy to make them for a gem of a friend.  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fall Harvest

Hello! I grumbled earlier in the growing season that the cool, cloudy July weather hurt my warm weather crops. Oh, I eventually got tomatoes and peppers, but not as many as usual. 

Fall crops have been another matter. We've had a number of mild, sunny days, coupled with enough rain to help things along. The offerings at the local farmer's market seem to be especially lush this year, and I've been happily loading up on kale, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. I do miss the absence of local tomatoes, but I might as well take advantage of what's still out there. 

I did a little fall harvesting of my own earlier in the week:

A nice basketful of greens: kale, collards, mustard greens and broccoli raab. The last green listed was sauteed with garlic in olive oil and served over pasta. The other greens were sauteed with onion and a bit of chopped ham, then steamed with cornmeal dumplings. Good eating both meals! 

Yes, I mentioned buying kale at the farmer's market even though I grow it at home as well. Greens cook down quite a bit in the cooking process, so you need to start out with a lot in your pot. I don't have a big enough garden to grow all that I use in my cooking (in fact, I did add some farmer's market kale to that ham/cornmeal dumpling dinner).  I feel it's still worthwhile to grow what I can, though - I can pick my greens at a younger, more tender stage, and my homegrown organic greens are certainly cheaper than buying organic greens. 

And if you noticed the two bowls lurking behind the basket, they contain the tomatoes I picked as well. I'd been concerned about a possible killing frost coming up, so I picked what could be saved and brought them indoors to continue ripening. 

We were spared that killing frost, at least where I live, but it was still chilly enough at night to make the tomato plants miserable. The greens are still fine, so I might be able to do another picking before winter settles in for good and the snow buries the garden. 

Nothing like fresh, locally-grown produce, no matter what the season!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Thrifty Acres: Santa Patrol

Hello! I collect Santa figures, so I'm on the lookout for them year-round. I generally buy only those that are vintage and/or handmade. 

Within the past couple of weeks I have added four Santas, paying a grand total of $3.75 for all.

First up:

This wooden St. Nick is 7 1/2" tall and was a quarter at a church rummage sale. It appears to be hand-carved and hand-painted, though  I don't know that for sure. Still, for a quarter it was worth the price. 

From the same rummage sale and also a quarter:

This is one of those toys that you push up from the bottom to make it move. Doing so with this Santa makes his jingle bell jangle. Super cute!

As you can see, the original label is on the base, and identifies the toy as having been made in Hong Kong for the Kohner Brothers company of East Paterson, NJ. With that info, I looked on eBay and thus estimated that this Santa was likely made in the 1960's. 

From that toy, which is 4 3/4" high, to this tiny Scandi Santa:

Even counting the yarn plume, it's only 2 1/4" tall. I picked it up for a quarter at a garage sale in Galena, IL. It's labeled on the bottom as being made in Sweden, so he'll go on display with my collection of Scandinavian Christmas decor. Someone had also written the year "1970" on the bottom, presumably the year it had purchased. So it's vintage to boot! Not bad for a quarter. 

Since I'd said I paid a total of $3.75 for my four Santas, obviously I forked over more than a quarter for the last purchase:

Yes, I paid three whole dollars for this: 

The above figure stands at about 16" tall and was spied at a local thrift store. Surrounded by Christmas decorations of much lesser quality, I was amazed that he hadn't been snatched up already. This is definitely handmade, and of very high quality as well. 

Close-up of the face:

And Santa's sack:

The clerk at the counter was befuddled; she said she didn't know what sort of figure it was supposed to be. I told her that Santas are portrayed in many different ways now and suggested it was a Woodland Santa. She wasn't convinced, but that's what I'm calling it. 

Woodland Santa's body is a log, and his arms are wooden as well. Wool, osnaburg, burlap, fake fur, doll's hair and twine were used for his clothing and sack. The sack holds twigs and a sprig of artificial pine. The Santa holds the sack in one hand and a long stick in the other hand. 

These may sound like mundane materials, but this is a very well-made piece. So well made, in fact, that I wouldn't be surprised if it had originally been purchased at a craft show or artisan's gallery. 

These suspicions were heightened when I examined the figure more closely once I got home. On one side of the log body someone had hand written a name (likely the artist), the date '89' and a copyright symbol. Unfortunately the name was written as only the initial of the first name, followed by a common surname. So I couldn't find out anything about the artist. 

Regardless, this is such a nice Santa it almost seemed like a crime to pay only $3.00 for it. Of course I was glad it was so reasonably priced. It's an ongoing mystery to me why thrift stores will charge 99c for a dollar store doodad, but will put low prices on handcrafted items that took hours to create. 

Christmas is still more than a month away, but with these recent purchases, I may be able to suspend my Santa patrol - that is to say, I probably have enough in my collection by now. But if another vintage St. Nick or craft show refugee appears in a thrift store or rummage sale, the allure may be too great to resist! 


Monday, October 26, 2015

Galena Again

Hello! My family visited Galena for the first time in August, and this past weekend my husband and I made a return trip. Then, the weather had been very hot and humid. Saturday, it was overcast and in the upper 50's. It was supposed to be sunny all day but the sun apparently didn't know the forecast and stayed hidden the whole time. The pretty vistas on the way to Galena were shrouded in fog.

We hoped the iffy weather would keep people away but it did not. We'd thought Galena was crowded enough in August but it seemed there were even more people in town this visit. Later on, we were told that fall is Galena's busiest season. Nevertheless, we had a pleasant afternoon there. 

One advantage of the cooler weather was going here for lunch:

Otto's Place is highly rated on the online restaurant review sites, but its daytime weekend offerings are more along the lines of breakfast or brunch. The food seemed a little heavy for the blazing hot weather during our August jaunt, but the menu looked perfect for cooler weather. 

Like so many buildings in Galena, the structure that houses Otto's Place oozes charm - dark red exterior with nice trim details, and inside there was a tin ceiling. The building dates from 1899 and is named for the man who had it built to house his own eatery. (Sadly, he died before it could open, but the Otto's Place owners named their business after him.)

It is a bit off the beaten track, on the edge of a neighborhood located a few blocks away from the busy downtown. The quieter setting made the restaurant all the more pleasant, we thought. 

Waits to be seated aren't uncommon, but we lucked out and were shown a table almost right away. I was a bit dismayed when the waitress informed me that both of the two entrees I was trying to pick from to order were both sold out. I "made do" with a spinach, Swiss and bacon omelet. It was perfectly made, as were the home fries that came with my order. My husband had a veggie omelet, also very good according to him. 

Thus, I can recommend Otto's Place if you visit Galena. 

As I'd said, Otto's Place is in a neighborhood, and as I hadn't been to this part of town during the previous visit, I decided to walk around and take a few pictures:

The above plaque, which reads "Miner's Cottage Circa 1840" hangs by the side porch of the house in the first photo. 

A bit of gingerbread trim.

Besides Christmastime, older homes seem to look their best in the fall.

This looks like the sort of house that could be haunted. There is a ghost tour business in downtown Galena, but I don't think this is on the tour. 

The neighborhood is also home to Grant Park, named after one-time resident U.S. Grant. The park sits atop a hill, giving visitors a view of the downtown area and beyond:

Note the houses up on the hill. Part of downtown Galena is in the foreground. 

A statue of Grant presides near one end of the park that bears his name.

It's a short walk of maybe all of five minutes to take a pedestrian bridge across the Galena River from the neighborhood to downtown. The crowds were in full force there, strolling up and down the blocks and popping in and out of shops. I did the same, but didn't buy anything. It was too crowded in some of the stores to even get a good look at the wares. That's okay, I wasn't really in a buying mood anyway. I was perfectly content with windowshopping. 

Actually, I did make a couple purchases - at a sale being run by an antiques dealer getting rid of some of his stuff; it was going on a couple of blocks from Otto's Place. Prices were reasonable. I spent a whopping two dollars for a large piece of fabric and a vintage wooden Santa figurine from Sweden. I collect wooden Scandinavian Christmas objects, so this little Santa will be grouped with the collection come Christmastime. 

It may sound like a rather tame day away: eating breakfast food for lunch, followed by time spent looking at looking at old houses, buying a couple of things at a garage sale and ignoring all the brand-new, pricey goodies in downtown Galena. But I had a very nice time anyway!



Saturday, October 24, 2015

Thrify Acres: Back to 1876

Hello! We've had "Back To The Future Day" recently, so now I'll go back to the past, as in 1876:

Above, the Illustrated Historical Atlas of the counties of Ottawa and Kent Michigan. This is a facsimile of the original 1876 version. As the publication date of my facsimile was 1975, I suspect it was issued as a centennial edition. 

Sure, I'd love to have an original edition, but it'd likely be rather expensive. I'm fine with the two bucks I paid for this at a local thrift store. 

I'm not from either Ottawa or Kent counties, so the historical write-up in the volume is lost on me. There's enough info to be interesting to natives of the area, though, and I might even look through it sometime. 

I bought the atlas for the illustrations; there's great details in the black and white drawings and thus a fascinating look at life in 1876 emerges. 

"Farm Res. of A. C. Ellis Esq. Polkton T.P. (township) Ottawa Co. Mich." Looks like Mr. Ellis had a very tidy farm.

Horses and grazing livestock at the "Farm Res. of Eliphalet Walcott, Sec. 14 Wright TP Ottawa County Mich."

"Lake House on Fisk and Reeds Lakes". Boats, people on shores, trees - all beautifully rendered.

However, I'm not sure if the following was drawn as well:

I didn't realize that cows had backs so straight that you could get a table on them! This illustration just looks all wrong to me.

Back to the landscapes, which is where the artist excelled:

Well, okay, so it looks like the man is riding on a giant pumpkin instead of a loaded haywagon, but I liked this anyway. 

Note the border of leaves around the pigs. 

Wonderful drawing of a horse, as befits one whose name was Highland Golddust. 

The atlas goes on and on with illustration after illustration of towns, farms, and livestock - just way too many to show off here. So instead I'll close with a couple of businesses that were around back then:

"William O'Connor's Grocery & Liquor Store, 537 Division St Grand Rapids, Mich." Since the address was given, it'd be interesting to go to that part of Grand Rapids now and see what's there. I'm sure the store is long gone.

"General Store of J. A. Liebler, Caledonia, Mich." The drawing shows a woman pushing a baby buggy, a horse pulling a wagon load of barrels, a woman by the doorway, and others on the street. And look! Not only did Mr. Liebler run a general store, but he was also an undertaker, as seen on the small structure next to the store building.

Sure, it's fun to go back to the future, but I enjoyed going back to 1876!