Monday, March 29, 2010

How to Hide an Embarrassing Collection in Plain Sight

Here's some handy advice for those of you with collections that make your friends and loved ones look at you with both eyebrows raised. You know the look I'm talking about, it either makes you argumentative (this collection HAS merit) or change the subject quickly when you can't justify your treasures.

You need to incorporate them onto/into an ordinary object, so no one really looks at them twice, if you're lucky:

See how I hid my hideous flower pin collection on this poor innocent lamp? Pure genius, if I say so myself. ;-) I'll talk about this collection in another post, after I figure out why it exists!

Another really easy way to hide a strange collection is to combine it with an innocuous collection as follows:

See how all my weird little animals that sneak into my house are hidden in my perfectly innocent plant collection? Same with rocks I pick up all over the place, into the plants they go! Then there are all the little broken elves that jump into my pockets from free boxes at garage sales. Guess their original owners didn't have the heart to toss them either.

Of course there is another, more honest, more empowering way to display your odd collections. Come to the Dark Side and be an unrepentant pack rat like Kathy. She never explains her collections; there is always an assumption that they are all fabulous, maybe a little eccentric, but never weird!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Freaky Friday!!

Ready or not, here's another installment of W.W.T.T?, or Friday thrift store horrors! The shopping trip started off badly, and by that I mean we didn't see anything too monstrous. We are getting really confused about our shopping goals, well, besides having fun! Are we looking for really good bad things, really good things, or some combination of both? It's hard to rate our shopping expeditions, because we have such conflicting goals. However, last Friday was both good and bad; we found some great things (hooray) and some bad things (hooray).

Here is the first good bad thing we came across, after going through about two thirds of the thrift store. Thank goodness we saw it; I for one was starting to panic! Although, how you could miss this chubby gilded cherub is beyond me. No really, what home would be complete without one? The mind boggles at the room it must have graced with it's presence, the boudoir perhaps?

Then, right near it was this lovely oil painting. I don't think it would have been so painful if it had been about one fourth its size--and framed differently. Thankfully for this blog, the artist didn't chose to go that way:

The funny thing is, that with judicious cropping, it actually might not be too bad, well maybe, if you like pink. ( We should talk!)

At another thrift store we saw this homemade (at least I hope so) Southwest wall hanging:

You know, I kind of like wall hangings, but this one just went a little too far. Please consider the following closeup:

Gotta love those fuzzy cacti? Not to mention the lovely flowers all over it. ( For those not from the Southwest, the flowers are always on top of the arms!) Less is almost always more! We have been noticing a lot of southwest-type decor in thrift stores lately. Guess it isn't going to be back in fashion anytime soon ;-)

While walking by a shelf in the same thrift store our eyes were assaulted by the following item:

It looks so innocent, just a cow. Now you also need to know it was about 10" tall, so this is no tiny bit of bric-a-brac. Then you notice the colors, the lines around its nostrils, the horns and udder. What exactly is going on here? Yes, I know that female cattle can have horns, but usually milk cows have their horns removed to prevent injury. Beloved Husband remarked that the similarity between its eyes and nostrils is disconcerting; are there four eyes, four nostrils??? And this poor bewildered cow put me in mind of something we saw last week but didn't post:

This little fella really bugs me. Are they trying to scare the children out of believing in the Easter Bunny? In reality he is a horrible pink--kind of Pepto Bismol pink, which come to think of it, is kind of appropriate considering all the candy some kids eat at Easter. Then look at all the detail in his eyes, his nose is a different color than his fur, but less detail than the eyes. Now, look at his teeth, one of the noble rabbit's identifying characteristics, they are the same color as his fur, as his ears! That's just wrong!!

As always, hope you enjoyed our post. Please feel free to email us your pics of thrift store/garage sale atrocities. We will post them and give you the, We know we aren't the only ones who notice this stuff!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oh No! They're Following Me !!!!

I have been amazed at the pattern that seems to develop in our thrifting. We see one truly awful thing, and the next thing you know, there is another one. Considering the horror of finding one, it amazes me that another turns up. I have never been able to figure out, if there are always lots of these things out there, and we just get more attuned to it, or they really are haunting us trying to scare us witless. Well, it happened again. After the last scary potholder, I was checking out another thrift, and low and behold there was another possibly worse example. I didn't have my camera, and worried it might be gone by the time I got back, but then I came to my senses, and knew it would be waiting for me.

Notice the lovely colors of the other potholders nearby. I am just guessing here, but I bet the same person made all of them. What do you think?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thank God it's Friday!

It's Saturday evening (only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday!) and past time for this week's thrift store shudders. Hold on to your hats...

We found these two potholders on different days--but at the same thrift store! I think that if they had both been hanging on the rack at the same time, life, as we know it, may have ended. To tell the truth, the first one is more strange than anything. The colors, the shape, the pattern--it's just weird! But that second one is godawful! If it had been mine, I would have used it immediately to take a hot casserole out of the oven. It could only be improved by melting.

Next up is a what were they thinking (w.w.t.t.?) item. Honestly, would you carry this as a purse, or even a coin purse? We took a picture of the opening just to prove it was a purse, a zippered bag, a ... ?

This next thing needs no introduction. I cannot conceive of a reason for its creation; please, please, someone provide a reasonable excuse for its existence:

And then we found another one!!!!! At a different thrift store no less, so they had to belong to different people. Really, two individuals would buy these? Oh, the humanity!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, that's enough carnage for one post. It could have been worse, someone dropped off their scary CLOWN collection--but that is really just too easy ;- )

Thanks for looking!

Wait, Wait, more Football!

Just had to add this gem that showed up at a garage sale last weekend. What is it about football that brings out the tacky? Oh well, for those romantic football nights I give you this charming candle. Notice that it is an oil one, so you will not destroy the beauty of the main candle. All Bronco fans should have one. ( Just to let you know, I am a Bronco fan, but I am not rushing out to get one of these, nor will I give one to my hubby, also a fan! )

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday or maybe Thursday

Yet another Friday has come and gone. Well, actually we went on Thursday, as we had prior commitments on Friday. Sometimes, you just have to shop when and where you can, and we always manage to do it somehow.

This week we have a few things for those couch potato football fans in your life. What man wouldn't need this lovely football crock pot for all those cheesy dips? Now really, is there some reason the regular one won't heat up bean dip? Oh well, I am sure it looks better in the man cave.

Now, if that doesn't get you into the football spirit, here is the matching light. It is made of a sort of squishy plastic, so I suppose when it quits working, you can wrench it off the base and throw it. I know several woman have probably snuck these out of the house under cover of darkness hoping hubby wouldn't notice it was gone. "Honey, have you seen the football light? No dear, maybe your buddies were playing catch with it?"

Now, just in case you think we are picking on the men this week, we have this lovely entry. Really, granny squares never looked so bad. Apart from the lovely colors, just imagine resting your head on this charming pillow cover. Sometimes yarn is not a pretty thing.

Just these three choice items this week, but I am sure there are many more treasures just waiting for us to discover.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Birds of a Feather

Hey there, it’s time for another installment of Crazy Collections. Now, I don’t think that most of Kathy’s Dragonware is crazy, just that Tijuana cup and saucer. For goodness sakes, everyone knows a dragon would just pick a bull up and fly away with him. But that is the fun of having a collection; there will always be parts of it that make you laugh out loud!

A couple of years ago I found two Mexican Feather Art pictures at one of our favorite thrift stores. They were just so interesting in appearance, and one had a dramatic if rather comic interpretation of a cock fight…ahem ROOSTERS! Both had the traditional carved frames and were so well done, that I kind of fell in love with them. Of course, once you get a couple of something, you start seeing them all over the place. I only have 6, but that’s because I’m only going to buy good, traditional ones from now on; or that is what I tell myself. I can have rules about my collections too—I’m just not as disciplined about following them. The phrase from “from now on” should indicate to the reader that I currently have some “not so good ones” in my collection. One in particular, I challenge you to find it, is wrong on a couple of things, but of course, you always need a bad example in a collection to illustrate what’s right with the rest of your treasures.

I have tried to research Mexican Feather Art to little avail. However, I found a website showcasing someone’s Feather Art pictures and how to collect feather art:

She reports that she has 87 of these pictures, which makes my poor collection seem like small change.

Another related website:

(I apologize in advance for all the pop-ups in that article; it was worth reading if you are interested, but it is annoying!)

This Los Angeles Times article is about the difficulties of maintaining or lending feather artwork, and does talk a little about the history and significance of feather art. A couple of passages seem particularly appropriate to Mexican Feather Art.

“Feathers have come to roost in art and ethnographic museums because many cultures have conferred great value on them. Symbolizing fertility, abundance, riches and power, they have been used as currency or tribute and have been incorporated into ceremonial attire, ritual objects and decorative arts”.


“But the feathers themselves haven't had a lot of respect in the modern Euro-centric art world. Latin American feather art was in great demand by the Spanish conquistadors who took spectacular examples back to Europe. As Catholicism spread in the New World, the art form was adapted to Christian subject matter, liturgical objects and ecclesiastic vestments. Many of the best pieces were given to popes, kings and noblemen who shared them with an appreciative audience. No less than French 18th century philosopher Voltaire praised Mexican craftsmanship, including featherwork, for having "the most beautiful patterns with the variety of their colors and tones." Suzanne Muchnic, Times Staff Writer Los Angele Times October 14, 2007

My favorite source of information about Mexican Feather Art comes from the back of a picture. Here it is written word for word:


The art of feathercraft is very ancient, remounting its origin years before the Spanish conquest of MEXICO in 1521. A noble race of Indians from the state of Michoacan called the THE TARASCOS used hummingbird feather in the robes and crowns of their Kings, being worthwhile to mention the fact that up to this day their old capital city is named TZINTZUNTZAN, or “hummingbird”.

It is well known that birds have a prominent place in Aztec mythology and Mexican history, as the Mexican symbol is in itself represented by an Eagle perched on top of a cactus devouring a snake. History speaks that this was the fulfillment of the Aztec prophecy for the location of their capital on the present site of México city.

Quetzalcoatl, known also as the feathered serpent of the Aztec tribe, was a light-skinned deity who is said to have taught the Toltecs their art and craft, and is still considered as the evening star that constantly watches over them.

Cortés, the Spanish conqueror of Mexico speaks many a great thing of the feathered jewels of the Aztecs. The last Aztec Prince by the name of Cuauhtemoc (EAGLE THAT FALLS) brought about the final battle against the invaders, who burned his feet unsuccessfully persuading him to reveal the whereabouts of a great tresaure (treasure).

The hand carved cedar frame you are now holding, together with the artistic and beautiful bird in it, are the result of very patient and skillful hand work, which require painful manual labor, traditional from ancestors, being altogether a symbol of a million bird songs that anciently haunted our great forests, which still hold something of that mysterious beauty.

Productos Regionales de Toluca, S. de R.L.


I understand that the feather art being produced these days does not use wild song bird feathers. I cringe a little when I look at my feather art thinking about all the birds who unwillingly donated feathers to the artists. It’s kind of like fur coats—once they are made you can’t unmake them. The vintage feather art has an innocence about it; the makers believed that feathers were meant to be used just like gemstones, gold, or beautiful wood.

So, after all that digression, here are my Mexican Feather Art Pictures:

This last picture is the one I consider a lesser example. It has a very plain frame, and the painting on it seems a little off to me. However, the feathers themselves are wonderful! It was a bear to take a picture of, much worse than the others. If you are curious to see what I look like, there is a reflection of me in the glass. It happened every time, no matter how I positioned the picture 8-(

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friday, Finally!

Well, another Friday has come and gone. We had a bumper crop this week. Some weeks are like that. A couple of our best finds will be saved for future posts, as they fall into a theme! Sometimes I think some things seem to follow us. We have garage sale days, where every sale we go to, we see the same things. It's like trying to find a specific item for weeks and weeks, only to have it show up in droves as soon as the elusive thing is purchased somewhere else.

This lovely animal greeted us as soon as we walked in the door. Scared us to death. Where do you put a 2 and ½ foot long leopard sculpture? (Anywhere he wants?) I would love to see the room where the decor is all jungle-themed!

Next up we have the ever popular fiber optic plastic bonsai tree with butterflies. Really, why the fiber optics? I know there were really cool when invented, but some things would be better off without them. Well, maybe not this.

This next item is really sad, and just goes to prove that every company makes mistakes. This almost 20" tall vase is marked Royal Dux Bavaria. Most things from this company literally sell in the hundreds of dollars, and this poor item can't be sold for $19.99. Can't imagine why-could be the bilious shade of green perhaps?

Now in the world of textiles, we have the following two entries. I think this one is supposed to be a garden, but really if you must bring back a souvenir, this is probably not the best choice. At least it was not a pillow cover, but a wall hanging, otherwise, you would wake from a nap looking mighty odd. I usually love these things, but, honest to God, sometimes less is more!

Our last entry for today is this oh-so-lovely polyester rug. Notice the foot for scale (thanks to my partner in crime for the use of her foot). This charming piece was made from scraps of 60s polyester sewn to a pieced denim backing. Really, I would be terrified to set foot on it. I swear some 60s fabrics have a life of their own. I know they just won't die, as we keep seeing them in the fabric section of the thrift store. Honestly, I think they can be thrown out now, of course they would probably last hundreds of years in the landfill too! If there was a nuclear war, only polyester and cockroaches would remain. ;-)

Here is a close-up for those of you that are gluttons for punishment!

Well, there are our Friday frights. Feel free at any time to let us know if we have surpassed our super ugly bunny on the right. Somehow, I think it will take a while.

There Might be Dragons!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Friday, Friday, Friday!!!

Friday is retail therapy day--period. During the summer we go to garage sales & estate sales first, then thrift stores, then lunch. In the winter, it’s just thrift stores and estate sales then lunch. It’s the day I look forward to all week; if for some reason we don’t shop on Fridays I’m kind of snarky the whole day. I’ve tried to analyze why going shopping on Friday is so important. Well, it’s girl bonding time when we talk over our week and commiserate or congratulate each other. But it’s also the day when anything can happen; we could find a number one Barbie (that’s the very first one for you non-doll types) or some other fabulous thing that would get us air time on Antiques Roadshow. I have to believe that people who like to go to garage sales and thrift stores are basically optimists, the glass is always half full. Or, maybe, it can just be ascribed to the treasure hunting bug that is as old as history; we are descended from tribes of hunter/gatherers, after all. We want to believe that there is something magical out there to be found if we just look hard enough; and brother do we look!

Now, I’m not saying we don’t find treasures, we do, and we will share some of them with you later. What we mostly see is just ordinary stuff that we do or don’t happen to have a use for, at the moment. But almost as good as finding a treasure is finding something we judge to be entirely without merit, an eyesore. Those things that are so ridiculous that they make us laugh, and wonder how they came to exist. This last item will be the basis for a weekly post called “What were they thinking?” or W.W.T.T.? since we are lazy typists. We will try to post on Friday, but stuff comes up so it could be the weekend or even Monday when it gets done. Right now we have a backlog of Friday W.W.T.T.? photos so we’re doing it a couple of days early.

Now for the clunkers of the week:

Usually I love garden gnomes, but there is something kind of creepy about this one. Could it be his oddly full and pouty red lips, his long eyelashes, the overall poor quality of his paint job? Why is he hanging around with Care Bears; that is just a weird grouping. Not to mention that the care bears themselves worry us a bit.

The next item is just over-the-top ornate. It was 2-3 feet across and apparently belonged in a castle or palace—if only it wasn’t made from resin instead of metal. You can tell that the previous owners got home and then realized they had made a mistake. Instead of returning it, they packed the clock in its box and made a bee line to the local thrift. Really, on a small scale, in the picture, it doesn't look that horrid. Trust us. It was.

OK, I have to admit that the next thing isn’t all that ugly even with its 1970’s avocado color. What tickled me about it was that the previous owner still had the original tag after 30 years and thoughtfully attached it to the handle before dropping their faithful coffee pot off at the thrift store.

Well, that's all for now. Stay tuned for another installment of What Were They Thinking? Friday.

Howdy, no Doody

Kathy: I can’t remember a time when our family didn’t go to garage sales or auctions. I can remember sitting under my folks feet at auctions with coloring books when I was probably only 4 or 5 years old. It was a weekly occurrence, and we considered it just part of life. My Dad furnished our whole house with lovely American Golden Oak furniture that was picked out of dumpsters in alleys at a time when it wasn’t fashionable. He lovingly restored each piece, and several hold pride of place in my own home, as well as gracing Mom and Dad’s still. I began buying “stuff” at an early age, but I had good taste. The first piece of jewelry I ever bought was a lovely 1940s sterling silver deer pin that I purchased for the grand total of 10 cents at a school carnival thrift store. I still wear it regularly. That is not to say I have not had lapses in taste, as we all have. I also have a couple of absurd collections that I hide from most people, as I am sure they would think I was nuts. We hope to share some of our odd passions as well as our fun moments. We decided others might enjoy our amusement at those “what the heck” moments when we realized that people follow us around the thrift stores to laugh with us!

Deb: My family has always believed in reusing and recycling even before it was fashionable. It probably goes back to my Mom being the youngest of ten children during the depression, and or that there were five kids in my family. It was a special thing when you got something new—and you took care of it! We certainly were not deprived, we had Barbies, bikes, and most everything a kid could want in those days. But I can remember stopping by someone’s trash and my Mom picking up a bicycle and putting it in our car; it was lucky that my Dad could fix anything. We also got lots of hand-me-downs from cousins and friends, which we wore and passed on in our turn. My parents swapped things with friends too—cars, pool tables, and even an old player piano. So, being a secondhand “Rose” runs in my blood, as well as first-class packrattery. That comes from my Dad and Grandpa-- if you ever need something go see my Dad, I’m sure he has one or two somewhere in his pole barn.

Why are we wasting time blogging when we could be shopping?

The next logical course in enjoying secondhand things is to laugh at horrible secondhand objects. It isn’t always hard to understand how things end up in a garage sale or at a thrift store—they are just so ugly that you question why they even exist. Of course we understand the concept of colors, patterns, and combinations thereof going in and out of vogue. Can anyone ever forget the love of harvest gold and avocado green of the 1970s, anything goes in the 1960s, pink & turquoise in the 1950 or even more recently the southwest color scheme of sage green and pink? So we get that things should be considered in the context of their origins. BUT there are objects out there that were never good, as we like to say to each other. Consider crocheted or knitted Afghans of whatever color Grandma had left over after a project—shudder visibly!
Having said all of that, we don’t have degrees in interior design or art. Kathy attended our local college and took art and art history classes—that’s as close as we come. However, we both are easily amused and opinionated, so that should count for something.
We would also like to it make perfectly clear that we aren’t laughing at your grandmother! We are poking gentle fun at THINGS and the sensibility that created or paid for them. Everyone has a lapse now and then-- it is conceivable that the most wonderful person in the world could have dreadful taste. We will be sure to show you what dreadful things we own-- some things are just so awful that we have to drag them home because they make us laugh every time we see them. That is why we decided to blog about our adventures in secondhand shopping-- we want everyone to laugh with us and at us. We sure hope that you share your own "what were they thinking" things as you come across or recognize them.

OK, without further ado, here is the most horrible thing we have ever seen so far in 80+ years (that’s combined of course!) of going to garage sales, jumping into dumpsters, combing through estate sales, and visiting thrifts stores.

People have argued that this isn't the ugliest thing they have seen--our response is that they did not see it in person, a photo does not convey the full horror! The funny thing is that was gone the next week when we went back on our weekly trek—we wonder who dragged it home. It wasn’t us, we swear, although it did cross at least one of our minds ;-)