Sunday, December 12, 2010

What a hoot

Meet David James, the owl who is a cookie jar in his spare time.

Angela aka “the Bounty-Huntress” was giving away this beautiful owl rescued from Goodwill in celebration for her 38th Birthday. I put my name down, crossed my fingers, and waited…..and I won, Hurrah!!!!!!!! David James made the trip all the way from Austin to NYC. He arrived with a bellyful of tootsie pops, and wrapped in beautiful vintage paper.

The boyfriend looked bemused as I excitedly unwrapped him. However, he did approve of him immediately, as the boyfriend is a Brit and by coincidence his team, Sheffield Wednesday, is nicknamed “the owls”. The owl was immediately named David James after some famous Sheffield footballer. David now sits happily on my Manhattan tiny kitchen, looking over all activities with his sleepy, wise guy looks. He is an owl, after all.

Thank you Angela!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Clowning around...

The mission: Sophie and I go the Cure thrift store to buy a winter coat.
The results:
One vintage Oleg Cassini top and a dancing clown.

I took my friend Sophie to The Cure thrift shop to try and thrift her a winter coat.

Off we went, on the winter coat mission. We perused the selection, chatted to the very friendly shop assistant and had a look at what The Cure had. One very promising winter coat was a little too tight, humph…..but we then spotted…..oooooooohhhh ……a very spangly sequined classic black vintage Oleg Cassini top. It fit Sophie like a glove. And such a timeless piece, an investment - we told ourselves. If Oleg Cassini was good enough for Jackie O, it was good enough for Sophie.

As we are paying for the Oleg Cassini top, I spot the most adorable vintage music box of a dancing clown. We cooed over it, and decided he was lovely. The music is so dream like, I might just decide to start collecting vintage music boxes....We abandon our winter coat mission with a spangly top and a dancing clown.

The issue with specific thrift missions is that they are seldom successful. The point of thrifting is the surprise of never knowing what you are going to find. It is best if you remember that you need something specific as you thrift, and help it guide you to the right thrift shops. And whilst looking, why not get distracted with vintage clowns?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I've developed a recent penchant for retro kitchen utensils. These are easy to get at antique markets and of course...ebay. I haven't been able to thrift any yet, but I'm keeping my eyes peeled.

Here are some of my favourite retro kitchen items:

1- vintage cookie cutters (big on my nostalgia factor - when I was a kid, me and my mom used similar cookie cutters to make gingerbread cookies!). If you are on the hunt for old cookie cutters, the ones with the wooden handles tend to be most coveted as they are from the 1920's/1930's. I got these at an antiques market in Brevard, North Carolina, with my aunt Sallye.

2- An icecream scoop. This blue is classic of the 1950s, classic American diner.

3- My wonderful 1950's 'high speed' beater. Love the juicy red handle! And all these years later it works a treat. I got it on ebay.

Here in NYC thrift stores are quite savy about the value of vintage collectibles. When I've spotted retro kitchen items they have been usually for auction, I remember seeing them at the Vintage Thrift Store.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The grand bazaar - the grand daddy of all markets

I had the good fortune of having to travel to Istanbul with work. I took all the things a grown woman needs: suit, laptop, business cards, mom. Yes, my mom met me in Istanbul and in between work meetings, we hit the streets with a map and plenty of sight seeing and shopping stamina.
We headed straight for the world famous Grand Bazaar, established in 1461 and one of the largest covered markets in the world. Walking its winding corridors is an amazing assault of the senses: the smells of spices and apple tea, the sounds, the music, the selling chants, the beautiful fabrics, the brightly coloured tiles and lamps, you really can - and will - get lost and explore for hours.

We bought plenty of delicious Turkish delight and apple tea. We also decided we wanted pretty throws/bedspreads. My mom bought a beautiful raw coloured bedspread - it took her about 30 mins. I decided I wanted a brightly coloured bedspread, spotted one interesting looking shop and decided that would be the one.

You see, there is a whole routine to buying a throw or a rug. You are invited into a little crowded market shop/stall covered with fabrics everywhere. You then sit down and are offered apple tea. As you sip your tea, your seller chats with you about what you are looking for and starts unfurling the fabrics. The more fabrics you see, the harder it is to walk away without buying anything, so choose your shop carefully!
I was looking at suzanis - the most gorgeous bright silk embroideries from Uzbekistan. They are handmade by women as a way of showing off their handiwork when they get married. They are beautiful and full of symbols. As I made up my mind as to which suzani I wanted, the seller flirted away (as Turkish men do), offered us more apple tea, telling us suzani history and chatting about Istanbul. I must have seen about 20 suzanis (my mom rolling her eyes about my indecision). An enjoyable hour and a half later (and an exasperated mother), we emerged with two pillowcases and a suzani full sized bedspread (and the vendor's phone number - who kindly offered himself as an Istanbul guide...) for about $160. I bargained for ages - essential behaviour at the grand bazaar - starting from the standard offer of half the price. Triumphant we walked into the sun filled streets of Istanbul.

My suzani is bright pink with large circles symbolizing his and her families. Notice how at the center of the large circles you have a flower with two different colours (representing a man and a woman) and then the flowers blossoming and radiating out of it - representing the growing family. Also the square rim bordering the suzani is in two colours - white and a dark green - representing the good times - and the bad times - that marriages go through. Little circles in the middle of the suzani represent the couple's children. I just love it!

Istanbul is a fascinating city, an exotic blend of Europe and Asia, with great shopping and bargaining as well as numerous culturally interesting sights, such as the stunningly beautuful Blue Mosque.

Check out thrift Mondays at Apron thrift girl.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

An instant classic: the thrifted typewriter

My boyfriend has always wanted a typewriter. As I knew that his birthday was coming up I decided I would thrift one. I searched high and low, and then one day - there it was. In Hell's kitchen on 39th, for $40, looking forlorn in a corner. I dusted her off, brought her home and offered her up triumphantly.

I love hearing the rare rat-tat-tat and swoosh when on occasion he fancies himself an old school writer and sits at the desk typing away. One day I glanced at the paper still sitting tightly in the typewriter and it read:

I once wrote a story for my girlfriend about a beach, a typewriter and a game of scrabble. My typewriter has no ONE key and the O sticks. It also has no attention-grabbing mind-numbing portal to Google, Facebook and Czech lesbian websites. All it does is write each document hammered into the page with a sense of purpose alien to modern PCs. I imagine it is from the 1930s or so. Where the typewriter has been or who's fingers have struck it are unknown to me. What was written here? Did you write novel as I'd like to believe? Have characters sprang from these simple machinations? Have you written love letters that changed the recipient's life for ever? Perhaps poetry has poured through your metal chassis or a thesis on organic chemistry that changed the way we conceive this planet of ours?

From my boyfriend L, the writer

Check out the thrift parties at apron thrift girl and southern hospitality.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Paperback thrifter

In the heart of Soho, on sleepy Crosby street, lies one of the most unique thrift stores in the city. Unbeknown to the hordes of tourists on the neighboring Broadway, lies a thrift book store haven complete with its own cafe. Housing Works book store is in a beautiful building of typical Soho architecture. The store is very large and has a great book collection - all second hand.

For the casual browser, the books are curated into helpful sections at the front of the bookstore, wittily described:

As well as being a fabulous bookstore, Housing works bookstore is also a great place to work, study and meet friends. It has a fabulous cafe, complete with Wi-Fi, and a great cafe where you ca grab a coffee or a cold beer. Housing works bookstore has an action packed events programme, with readings, discussions and Moth sessions (competitive story slams) - I highly recommend.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hudson treasures

New York City has a way of sucking you in and keeping you busy for weekends on end. However, even the most hardcore of New Yorkers need to get away from the City once in a while. It feels good to get away from the buildings, crowds and sirens and be reminded of space and silence.

Whilst chatting about weekend getaways, a friend recommended Hudson, a little village not too far away and apparently an antiquer's paradise. I didn't need any more convincing and the boyfriend didn't need much persuading. We were off that Saturday morning.

The train trip to Hudson is a beautiful 2 hour ride up the banks of the Hudson river. Just being on the train, with newspapers and sandwiches, already felt like an adventure. Once we got to Hudson, we headed to the Bed & Breakfast that I hastily booked online, the Croff House. A beautiful house, impeccably decorated and with attentive friendly owners looking over every single detail. To be honest, the room was so wonderful, I could have happily hibernated there for the weekend, what with the fireplace and the claw footed bathtub... I'd love to return in the Autumn when the leaves must be spectacular and we have an excuse to stay inside.

When my friend had said that Hudson was an antiquer's paradise, she was quite right. Hudson is a beautiful, lovely, small town with over 65 antique shops over 5 blocks. A shop owner told us that in the 60s the city was in dire straits as there was little employment and people migrated to NYC and Albany. However, in the 80s, one antique shop opened. Slowly, many followed and the city flourished to become an antiques hub, with art galleries, restaurants and cafes, and summer homes.Much to my chagrin, I managed to miss the city's one thrift store - it closes on Sunday. However, the antique shops kept me very busy. There are antique stores for all tastes and covering all periods. Some look similar to art galleries - with prices to match - whilst others are nicely junky and cluttered.

Besides the great antiquing, Hudson also has some nice cafes, restaurants and a bar in a bookstore, where you can have a beer whilst enjoying a book.

Among all the antiquing we found a $40 industrial looking iron office lamp, a bright shade of blue. After all the antiquing and relaxing in Hudson, we boarded the train back to Manhattan, the lamp tucked under my arm.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My very first Pyrex

I spotted it on my usual weekend trip to Housing works. In the household section, at the back of a shelf, was a mustardy yellow and very retro Pyrex casserole. The lid rattled slightly and it had a nice heavy feel to it. I promptly paid the $12 (yes, Manhattan prices....) and brought it home.

Pyrex was made in the 50s and makes for the perfect kitchen accessory for any vintage lover. The stuff was built to last and the designs are wonderfully retro. As a result, it has now become quite collectable. It makes the perfect item to thrift, so keep your eyes open for it. If you thrift some Pyrex, check out the Pyrex love website to figure out what you've got. I believe my casserole is part of the Butterfly gold collection, who knew?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Cure thrift store

Throughout the winter I trudged through the snow, braved the wild winds and got drenched in the rain as I braved the elements to thrift in the city. Now, as New York City welcomes its first days of spring I've decided to emerge from my prolonged blog hibernation. Let me tell you about a thrift store I discovered this past winter: The Cure Thrift shop. My friend Flora, my fellow thrift addict, told me about it and promised great things. Well the girl was right - this place rocks.

The best thing about the Cure is the furniture, this is the best thrift furniture in Manhattan. The place has everything and is organized in room sections:
  • Bedroom
Kitchen - check out the super cool retro oven
  • Office - some nice mid century furniture dotted around

  • A book area. Flora perusing the selection.

This thrift store is gigantic (remember there is no space in Manhattan!) and I was very impressed. I fell in love with a couple of furniture pieces, and although I spotted some good deals, the majority had a hefty tag - cheaper than an antique shop but not exactly thrifty. You pay for the good selection and nice layout. The basement is filled with clothes, shoes and handbags - and has a men's section. Luckily they have a big spring sale going on - they advertise their sales on their website and on craigslist - and for the last two sale days they will be holding a $15 per stuffed bag. Watch this space!

For the love of thrift rating (from 1 to 10):

Selection: 9 (10 if you're looking for furniture)
Presentation: 9

Niceness of staff: 8

Bargain factor (ie pricing): 7
Thrift turnover: 8

The Cure thrift store is on East 12th and 4th avenue and is open late on week days (8:30) and on the weekends (8pm).