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How to use antiques to make your holiday gift giving a breeze.

So, it’s soon to be the most stressful time of the year, with crowded parking lots, dashes through the aisle for “that” new thing…Whoa nelly!
Lets take a deep breath and rethink, shall we?

The holiday season is supposed to be about showing those we love how much we value them, because during the winter season our ancestors often were cold or hungry, they shared one very meaningful meal with the people they loved, exchanged gifts and love, filled their bellies, enjoyed a yule log, all in hopes of making winter a little easier to bear.

So when you give gifts the season, it’s time to give something that shows you care, something that you put more thought into than the easily available stuff that everyone is getting/giving from retail stores. One way to be sure that nobody else is going to give the exact same gift as you are is to incorporate antique touches into your gifts, they are often one of a kind, evoking of warm past memories, and have the ability to become cherished parts of the family tradition, instead of throw away stuff from Wal-mart.

So here are some fun ideas for making your friends and family feel special this holiday season.

1) Give relaxation: An old footstool to prop up their feet along with a fave book or film and their fave hot coca mix. Foot stools are solid gifts that last, but aren’t invasive..if you know the person really well and have a feel for their decorating style, consider going larger and give them an antique rocker, very few people can resist the comfortable pull of an old rocker and a lap blanket on a cold day.

2) The good guest gift: Parties, parties, everywhere! My grandmother used to get an orange wrapped in a scarf or kerchief for Christmas during the’s apparently an old tradition that some families continue to teach appreciation. So here is a great way to update it, and to be sure you are always on the guest list. Find an inexpensive depression glass platter or bowl, the compotes are especially nice, fill with red/green/gold ribbon or holiday gift wrap cut with pinking shears, pretty side facing up with the corners draped/folded over the edge of your platter. Fill with oranges and take to your party, be sure to let the hostess know she can keep the dish.
Another spin on this is to make homemade fudge or cookies and present them in a depression glass candy dish, the green glass is perfect for this, as it can be had cheap and isn’t hugely collectable, so you won’t mind actually using it instead of just staring at it with guilt, and it’s already dressed up to match most holiday tables.

3) Candy used to come in wooden boxes and often those boxes were used long after the candy was gone to store love letters, cards, pressed flowers, etc. Small wooden boxes are readily available at most antique shops for under 20 dollars, so before you give her that cheap box of chocolate covered cherries that have melted and are gross, consider giving her a wood box of her favorites, using tissue paper, line your box, insert something nice and preferably pre-wrapped (Ferrero Rocher, Ritter sport bars, a Toberlone, those strawberry holiday cordials you can get..pick out something classy, folks, don’t go nice on the box and then get them the cheap foil wrapped santa claus chocolates..those are mostly wax, and kinda gross) If this gift is for your sweetie, consider taping a picture of you two together into the lid and writing a sweet message across the bottom corner of the photo (To my darling,______, Love, always, ___) like our grandparents used to do.

4) The crime buff: Flip over a vintage felt hat, preferably a fedora, into it add a season of their fave crime show, Perry Mason is a good stand in if you aren’t sure, it’s Noir but not really racy ,or their fave mystery books, some note pads and pens for writing down witness statements (or grocery lists) and maybe a small package of their fave coffee or cigars (if they smoke). If you have a little money to spend, a vintage typewriter isn’t amiss, but the hat gift basket stands alone nicely. You can use this same idea with a ladies hat to embellish a basket of spa items or perfume, it adds a nice feminine touch and possibly some good photo ops of your gal Friday wearing the hat.

5) The heirloom photo: Find their fave family photo and an antique frame, have the photo blown up to fit the frame and you have an instant heirloom that they can use every day.

6) Betty Crockery: If your intended spends alot of time in the kitchen, depending on what they like to cook, vintage cookware could be a huge hit, if they are a baking fiend, get them a pyrex or fireking dish, a cool vintage rolling pin, and maybe one of those crazy hand held egg beaters (you know the kind) add some boxes of cake mix, or little jars of sugar, cinnamon, and sprinkles, try using a vintage apron to line the bake tray and place your glass jars in there along with the egg beater, place your rolling pin in front of the bake tray and wrap in that cellophane stuff like a gift basket, and you should have a pretty happy little baker. If they like to cook on a stove, consider some nice iron cookware, some seasoning salts/rubs, a nice spatula or knife set (as long as it’s safe)..

7)The crafter ..consider packaging vintage notecards, victorian photos, a small box of buttons, a spool of ribbon, and an old photo album or scrap book together, you can even throw in some well loved photos of you and the friend or of family gatherings, package this in a nice old basket. Crafters also need organizational tools, so a printers drawer, wood boxes, empty sewing boxes and that sort of thing are usually appreciated.

8) the bacon enthusiast : make some bacon roses ( ) and put them in a cool vintage vase, that way, long after the tasty bacon is gone, they’ve got a great vase to remember it by.. If your intended is vegan consider putting actual flowers in the vase instead of bacon to avoid confusion. Add fun holiday ribbons around the vase to punch it up a bit.

9) Glamor girl..certain vintage gems never go out of style, so consider getting your gal a blast from the past with 1950’s costume gems, necklaces and bracelets are a great choice as they can be accessorized and tend not to be size specific like rings or potentially annoying like earrings from that era which were usual clip on or screw back. Brooches are a nice choice if your lady is older but most young ladies don’t bother. Consider wrapping the gift in a silk scarf so she can keep using the wrapping ‘paper’ too.

10) The man: Men generally are appeased by things which are tool or car related, but some men are more into vintage pen sets, antique watches/clocks, or a nice set of vintage cuff links. Decide which type of guy you are buying for and find a classy gift accordingly.

Remember to have fun, and don’t forget to pick yourself up something special too, even if it’s just a nice cup of coca and a good book..Don’t let the season get you down, if you are spending it alone, consider inviting others over who might be spending their time alone too.

Keep in mind as well , often what seems like a good gift in wal-mart turns out to be something they will never use, and even though it might be cheaper than an antique gift, the antique will be around long after the junk is gone, it’s an antique because it lasted.

Often cheap gifts from wal-mart make us feel like the person doesn’t really know us, the generic nature of mass buying can hurt feelings, so take a little time to create lasting memories that show the person they are important, and not just someone you had to desperately buy a gift for while you were fighting another mom for Butterschotch pony on Black Friday..

Good luck, and good cheer from us here!


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Electricity-or ” I can’t live with or without you”

So after yet another fun- time electric outlet scare , in which sparks happened and I had to manually flip the breaker off, since despite the flamey-ness it seemed perfectly intent on not flipping off the circuit..and then I couldn’t get a hold of my husband, which is another post for another time, but in the midst of all this chaos I realized yet again how we both take electricity for granted and how we should be able to live without it if needs be. So my next post will be about either temporary or semi-permanent ways to survive without the electric company in case of a catastrophic problem with your electric…

First things first, what are your first concerns when your electric goes out ?
Mine were:
1)The food in my freezer spoiling
2)Animals getting too hot
4)cooking (or lack there-of)
So we’ll address these issues one at a time:
If the power outage is localized and caused by a short storm, you likely won’t be in the dark for long, so just shove all your perishables in the freezer and keep the door closed as much as possible.
If things are starting to look kinda bleak, get your hands on some ice and shove it in your freezer or a cooler for your perishables, if you have a chance to plan ahead freeze two liter soda bottles full of water, you can either use these around food the way Victorians used the giant chunks of ice off the ice wagon or you can drop repeatedly and cut away the plastic casing for smaller format ice, for wounds or household. I usually keep about four of these bad boys in the bottom of my freezer.They will stay ice in moderate temps for several hours, I used several under my laptop for giggles and to keep the broken-fanned thing from melting on a day when it was 103 outside and they stayed ice for 12 hours or better even with external heat from the laptop. If you have those prepped already you can put them in a cooler with items you are concerned about as a old fashioned icebox type of deal.

If you are fresh out of ideas and someplace hot, you can build a bush cooler, which is basically a pot inside of another bigger pot, you pour sand in between the two pots as an insulator then you pour water on the sand..the evaporation causes can put ice or cold packs in the bottom of your second pot if you have it but if not put the item to be cooled in the inner pot and cover with a towel or blanket and put the whole affair in the shade..but as a warning this is only good for cooling, not keeping frozen or freezing items, it only gets to 60 at it’s very coolest only consider it as a last resort ..
If you have time to spare and frequently worry about power outages, you can build a cellar which is a pit dug into the ground, sometimes the size of a room, to store food items..the deeper the cellar the better the cooling in theory, though it’ll never match the power of your fridge, it will at least comfortably store your soda/spam/canned goods without making them explode..this method isn’t suitable for perishable goods unless used in conjunction with a cooler/ice box method to prolong the life of your ice by keeping it in a cool dark place.
If you are lucky enough to live near a spring or river, or even a healthy creek, you can build a springhouse, which is a building that water passes through, with a trough in the middle so that the water moves over your semi perishable items and cools them as it flows through your spring house..these often have the trough-house area and a dry storage area, they can be as plain or fancy as you please, with some folks just setting their goods in a basket in the shady ,shallow part of their river or creek with the basket tied down to something “so it don’t float away”..a spring house can store eggs, milk, and cheese, but not forever, it’s not a fridge like we are used to but in plantation days it served as one. Make sure anything you put in the trough of your spring house is sealed in a jar or basket so it can’t get contaminated nor contaminate your water, which presumably you are also drinking at this point.
If you have snow/ice outside then use it in a cooler, or straight up to chill your food..duh..

For your critters you can tote e’m down to your cellar if you have one, where it should be about 10-20 degrees cooler than above ground.
If you aren’t that lucky you may have to put e’m in cages or pens and take e’m outside in the shade and try to find a cool place for e’m with plenty of clean, fresh water, because if it’s hot out then your house will turn into an oven, but until it gets that hot you can open windows and try to get a cross breeze going,  if there isn’t one then you, and they will roast if you stay indoors. If someone you know does still have electric, call and beg their mercy for your pets, and if you have a barn, you can tote your inside pets to chill with your livestock ..but don’t leave your pets anywhere you wouldn’t want to be, and make sure they have water..can’t stress that enough.

If you’ve frozen those bottles as suggested you can put a towel over one and wet the towel down in your pet’s cage, it’ll help cool them off some and give them something to lay on/against that is cool if they get too hot..remember, most household pets, including cats ..don’t sweat like we do so you have to look out for their needs with caution, as they can dehydrate very quickly.

If it’s cold out you handle that situation the opposite way, try to cover your windows and doors with blankets and seal off any parts of the house you aren’t using, try to centralize everything alive into one room or area where you can provide a localized heat source. You can use towels and newspapers to stuff under doors of rooms you aren’t using..but be careful of your heat source, if it is fire or anything that uses up oxygen don’t seal things up too tight, you could poison yourselves..just try to eliminate heating parts of the house you don’t have to use, for example guest rooms are non essential during a ice storm power close the door, put a towel under the gap in the bottom of the door or hang a blanket over the door to avoid wasting the heat to that area, your furnishings aren’t going to freeze to death, but you and your pets might. , and by putting everyone in one room you have not only less to heat, but also body warmth concentrated to one area. You can also use this close space to cheer each other up by playing silly games. If things are really cold don’t be ashamed to stuff newspaper into your clothes or pet bedding, it does help insulate.

Light is actually one most people do know how to cope with, storm lanterns, camping lights, flash lights, candles etc are can also make tallow torches if you must by putting a wick into saved fat or tallow (I always have some stored for soapmaking) it will smoke alot but works in a pinch

How you gonna fix food?..well it depends on your situation, if you have access to the outdoors you can use an open fire, a camp stove or a dutch can even make ash cakes if you have a little foil or such handy ..indoors if you have a wood burning stove or fire place you are set, and with adequate ventilation even a camp stove will work.. you may end up eating alot of beans and bacon, or ashcake cornbread, but you won’t starve as long as you have plenty of canned food saved up and a healthy imagination.

I hope this helps some, good luck and remember: You don’t miss that electricity until it’s gone, so if there are non electric survival items you keep putting off buying, maybe now is the time to invest in them, ya never know when they might be handy to have.

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Printed books

So the popular thing now is books on computer tablets or whatever, which I’m sure is lovely..but what if the power goes out and the battery to your voodoo book machine isn’t charged?..What if your access to download a new book becomes restricted by lack of internet connection or zombie takeover? What are you going to read then?..
Books..they aren’t a worthless waste of paper, but rather a real, tangible manifestation that people are still creating and thinking (for the most part) and old books are precious little windows into a time gone by, not just with the story, but the way they were made, the small words we don’t even use anymore …for example: mare’s nest.. nobody uses it anymore .. what does it mean?

mare’s nest

A complex and difficult situation; a muddle: “your desk is usually a mare’s nest”.
An illusory discovery: “the mare’s nest of perfect safety”.

I mean ..c’mon folks you just don’t find gems like that in modern writing..
so stop trying to kill paper can’t throw your Nook at a zombie without him laughing..(which may sound more like gurgling) but you hit him with a stack of childcraft books you bought on sale at goodwill, and he’ll know you mean business..

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Darn those socks

Darning your socks or other items is a quick and easy way to save money and make your common household items last longer.. to darn a sock, take a ‘darning egg’ or a lightbulb, and a matching-the-sock yarn or embroidery floss, now,pop your egg/bulb in the sock and use it to go against as you sew.. go around the hole using a purse string stitch, nice and tight and pretty, but don’t pull it , just sew around the edge of the wounded sock area, then starting from where you ended your purse string stitch go behind the stitchline (using the purse string stitch as a support brace for your new stitches, make your stitches going back and forth across the surface of the hole, just nice evenly spaced, in and out single direction stitches (vertical or horizontal, your choice), then, when you’ve done a nice amount go the other way (whichever- vertical or horizontal you didn’t already use), weaving your stitch into the prior stitches, like screening or netting, only try to make it nice and tight without gaping holes, and just weave back and forth remembering each time to pass your thread behind the pursestring line before coming back up for another row..before you hit your last line make sure you are nice and tight, it needs to be tight enough to hold your string without a knot, so make sure your weave is nice and not spacy and full of holes ..then you should be able to cut your thread ..leaving a small tail to the inside of the sock you are done..congrats on saving yourself a little money!

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The American Dream-What is it to you?

I hear alot of people going on about the American free this or provided that is a part of that dream..newsflash, folks, dreams don’t cost anything.
The realization of those dreams might cost you, but since nothing in life is free and it feels good to work for what you have, what is the big idea with the modern attitude of ‘Gimme’ ?
I suspect it is because some folks don’t want to work for their version of the dream, they’d rather take away from everyone else’s dreams to be handed theirs, no more consequences, no more action versus reaction.
From being a small child I was always taught that if you wanted something from this world, you got up off your ass, went out and worked for it, with your two hands and two feet, with the brain in your skull and the heart in your chest, you made things happen and as you worked it brought you closer to the things you wanted, and it also taught you to appreciate what you had, it taught you values that couldn’t be bought, like not to steal because that person worked just as hard for what they have as you worked for what you have. Hard work taught alot of us in the school of hard knocks, but along with the calluses and sore muscles, we had pride and integrity that couldn’t be bought or sold. We had the freedom to try an honest thing to get what we honestly wanted, and if it didn’t work out, we had the freedom to chose to try again.
What about all those with open palms willing to sell the freedom to make their own choices about their bodies and minds , in exchange for a temporary free ride, that is neither really free, nor temporary..For what?..So you don’t have to go out and buy a box of condoms?..So you don’t have to actually pay your doctor the fair wage that he worked hard in medical school for? Really? Is it worth it?
Compassion and decency are well and good, and are the foundation of many charities designed to help the poor and needy get the care they deserve, along with hospitals who don’t turn away emergency room patients that can’t pay if their illness or wound is life threatening..I’m sorry but nobody is going to give you a free boob job..your life doesn’t depend on it, and if your occupation does, well it was your choice to become a stripper and if I have to buy my non slip shoes or khaki pants, you can buy your own damn boobies and lipo..
This is about my choice to cut out the middle man, to tell my M.D. ..hey I just want to pay you up front for your services, you don’t jack up your costs and I won’t be too broke to pay you, instead of feeding a giant government insurance monster for services I hardly use and don’t really need or want..and then to be told my money isn’t just for my health, but to support some asshole who sits on their bum and collects a welfare check while buying a designer handbag and driving a BMW..are you f-ing kidding me?..Fire those people at the IRS and then rehire them to invade the lives of those on Government assistance, cause if it’s okay for the gov to invade my privacy when it comes to my healthcare then I want the lives of those whose healthcare I’m also paying for to feel invaded too..
You know what my ‘American Dream ‘ is?..To work hard, to work hard and earn the things I want, to work hard and earn the comfort I desire, and to be left the hell alone by the Government…not to pay for the damn Welfare state more than I do already..

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Useful items that are likely hiding at your local antiques store

So today I bring you a post about things in your antiques store that may actually be useful.

So yes, I deal in antiques, but I also buy them, and use them. Here is a short list of useful items that can do more than just look nice and sit around.

Old rolling pins, seriously, you want some weight to your pin to properly roll out baked goods, and modern pins, with the exception of fancy-dancy specialty ones, can be lacking, choose a good rolling pin that will last for years to come.

Ice cream scoops..ever tried to use a regular cheap spoon only to have it bend? How bout a cheaply made scoop that busts off where the handle meets the scoop?..Look for a good quality scoop from days gone by.

Mixing bowls..made of glass and not cheap plastic, vintage Pyrex, Fireking and Glas-Bake are all collectable, but often the plain white version of these dishes can be had for stupid-cheap and hold up to cooking and baking better than that cheap plastic crap (just use caution and check if microwave safe..some, especially if vintage ,won’t be, microwaving them can cause glass sickness..which usually won’t hurt you, but will make your dishes sad)

Butter churns, just make sure they aren’t cracked,chipped or some moron hasn’t made a hole in the bottom.

Tools..vintage tools can often be more durable and better quality than today’s cheaply made tools..especially if they are well cared for, take care of your tools and they will take care of you..

Gardening/harvesting tools..often a small garden can be better tended with vintage hand tools instead of modern gas powered or cheaply made tools

Any other suggestions? Lets have e’m below.

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There be silver in them there coins..

U.S. silver colored coins, particularly quarters, silver dollars, etc..prior to 1965 contain trace amounts of actual silver, which is great if you are looking to horde coins like a dragon. It’s not much, but a large amount of them could add up over time. Ever see a crazy person sorting their coins? Maybe you should try it..or know, whatever..

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