Thursday, March 31, 2011

auction 101, part one

One of my favorite auction finds--I love the idea of a flower show in a casino.

I recently spoke to someone who wants to go to an auction, but was nervous about it, so I gave her some tips. Her dilemma is not uncommon, so I am going to tell you everything you need to know about auctions over a series of posts. Today I'll tell you an easy way to find an auction (if you live in the U.S.-- if you don't, sorry).

Go to  Enter your zipcode in the yellow box at the top, choose a mileage radius and category (I do "antiques-household-collectible"). A calendar will pop up with all the auctions in your radius. Click on them to find ones that interests you. The beauty of this is that auctioneers post photos (usually just a few days before the auction).

Auctions vary from the very high end (think Sotheby's) to the low-end (garage sale leftovers). Pictures help you find the right one for you, but it's also about legwork. You may have to visit a variety of auctions to find one that suits you in terms of inventory, prices, and atmosphere. I will write about those three things (and also how to bid) in future posts.

Enjoy your day!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

finding spring

The snow is finally gone. Most of it. So I took a tour of my yard.

crocus--strong and lovely

Mo can finally go outside.

moss and lichen
grape hyacinth and lilies of the valley will appear here.
 Every year I re-glue mama bunny's ears.
craigslist purchase last week--I needed color.
I love to read here in the summer.
Are you finding spring?

Monday, March 28, 2011

pink & grey

One good think about Monday is Anne has her bird-inspired design gathering over at Bird/Like.
This week's bird was the pink and grey Australian Galah. I made a small dining room. Don't laugh at my efforts to make it look like a room. Okay, go ahead and laugh. I am starting to get the hang of it. A few more months of Mondays is all I need ... It is great fun--you should try it.


Etsy store is open, under the name pinecone vintage.
I hope I don't regret using a different name for this store. It was because of my 2-state, tax issues, nexus worries, none of which are probably valid.
I like writing the descriptions.
Only a few things listed now. I'll add one or two a day for the next couple weeks.

Enjoy your day. It's nice and sunny here in Massachusetts, and crocuses are appearing, though they may run off to Virginia when they get word that it might snow later in the week.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

biblio amore

books, from Friday auction
Some will be going in the (soon to be open) etsy shop.

I remember The Pilgrims Progress from Little Women--
 Marmee gave it to each of the girls for Christmas.

that's amore

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

why I love the catskills, part one

That is the view from my house. 
I have a waterfall in my yard.
There's not much more to say. 

I guess I could tell you that I hate my house.
 But I love the property so much that's okay. 
Houses can be changed.

There's lots of stone too. And ferns and moss and trees

and icicles.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

mountains, wilderness, or plain vanilla?

                                                                                                                       photo: University of Georgia School of Forestry

I ordered small balsam fir pillows from a company in Maine that has been making them since 1931. They are so aromatic---fresh and piney. If I ordered 24 (which could be a mix of styles and sizes) I could get them imprinted. They make nice souvenirs so I decided to do that. But what to put on it? Catskill Mountains sounds nice, and there are mountains (albeit small East Coast ones). There is also a vast wilderness park. Lots of rolling hills and dairy farms. Lakes and rivers and waterfalls. I decided to keep it simple: The Catskills.

I put most of them in this big basket.

and a couple here
and here

I wish I could transmit the aroma to you.


p.s. You might want to check out this article on American rustic via the lens of the NY Times.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

to etsy or not to etsy

Last fall, when I was getting ready to open my store in the Catskills, several people casually said (something to the effect of) "you'll have an online store too." Assuming. "Uh, no, I don't think so," was my answer." Because: I know how much work it is. But I've changed my mind. I think. My store is only open weekends and I have a garage full of inventory and the energy to do more with it, but I can't do it in the Catskills right now. Living 240 miles from my store has its challenges. Also, most of my customers are weekenders and tourists. Many of the stores there close for the winter. Some are only open in the summer. Some have Etsy stores too.

Let's skip right over the other E or selling through my store website.***edited to add in response to Anne's comment, and because I was too lazy to think it through when I wrote this: I love the idea of having an online store on my website, but right now I have a very small store in a very small town and I think it would take years to build up enough of a customer base to make an online store successful. I love the way White Flower Farmhouse does it. That would be my dream. But her store has been open for years, she has a very successful blog, and she's located in a much more populated area than my store. All of which translates to more potential customers for her.  With Etsy there are a ton of buyers browsing and I think that gives me a better chance at this stage. ***end of edit

 I adore Etsy and have made friends in Etsyland and sell marvelous things in my store made by Etsyites. Etsians? Etsy people? So what's so hard about an online store (you might ask if you don't have one)? Here's my personal take on that question and the obstacles I've been working through when deciding whether to sell vintage goods on Etsy:

1. Pictures. You have to take good pictures. Really good pictures. I have a little point and shoot I try to remember to take when I go on vacation, but mostly I use my cell phone and I don't understand when people talk about light and shadows when it comes to taking good pictures. I just sort of glaze over.

That's not a good picture.

Does that make you realize you must own a steam gauge? I didn't think so.

2. Shipping. You have to list shipping rates when you post an item. If you sell vintage items, rates vary wildly. You need to learn about priority, parcel post, first class, flat rate, media mail. Possibly UPS and Fed Ex. You need a scale, packing materials and boxes and will they be new or recycled and where to keep all that c--p. Decisions about insurance and delivery confirmation. Shipping international has it's own set of issues. Confusing.

3. The store itself. Oh yeah, that. I want my store to have a personality, an identity, and I think that's hard with vintage and gets into inventory choices and so forth. I won't bore you with my thoughts about this, but I take it seriously.

There's more of course. For me, two stores, two states, which means tax stuff, name decisions. Et cetera. And there's a lot of competition, a lot of damn good stores on Etsy. And I'm sure there's plenty of things I haven't even thought about. So I don't take this lightly. But I think I'm gonna do it.

Good idea? Bad idea?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

barrister bookcase followup

I put the bookcase that I wrote about last week in the store. It looks perfect. I can't believe I thought about stripping off the paint! I heard a couple talking about stripping it and I almost told them I won't sell it to anyone who is going to do so. Can I do that? I know I described it as robin's egg blue, but out of my garage and in the light I see that it's really more of a faded green.
I put nature-related used books on the top shelf and balsam pillows and incense on the second. I stored extra field bags and notebooks on two of the other shelves.
On top is the Mincing Mockingbird's book and a gorgeous vase from Red Hot Pottery. She (Christine of RHP) calls it the Florapalooza vase, which cracks me up.
I am really in love with this bookcase!
Do you have a piece of furniture that you have a special attachment to?

Monday, March 21, 2011

owls with spectacles

Anne from Bird/Like has a bird-inspired design board party going on. Today's inspiration bird is the Spectacled Owl. At first I read it wrong and thought it was Speckled Owl. I love the image of an owl with spectacles and so had to do a room with books in it. (Actually, in my house every room has books in it.) I had fun with this because I like the connection between design and nature and also because I am learning from it. I have no training in design and putting together different combinations and getting inspiration from all the choices on olioboard is giving me new ideas and insight.

I still don't have the hang of actually creating a room, so I threw together some elements for a family room for a family that loves nature and books--kind of like my family. I picked the bookcases looking for something an owl could perch on. The frog bookends are kind of twisted humor because I think owls eat frogs. I love the print on what I thought were curtains, but when I clicked on the source it's actually a shower curtain from Target! I'm leaving it up anyway since this is all make-believe I will pretend they are lovely drapes.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

how did it happen?

A year ago I had no idea I was going to open a store. My husband and I had it in mind that someday we might open a little business in the Catskills where we have a weekend house, and we even looked into buying a used books store there (Bibliobarn--best used books store ever. Alas, no website, but you can read about it and other great Catskill used books stores here.)

I would need several pages and some therapy to explain why I, who never even worked in a store, now own one. Long story short--I had been doing difficult depressing work for many years (work involving child abuse, mental illness, domestic violence and, well, you get the picture). I needed to do something fun. I only realized that after my best friend and my stepmother, both inspirational women who lived life to the fullest and had fun doing it, died last year. And... I had been collecting vintage art, and my father and stepmother had an antique business so it was not completely unfamiliar to me.  I was looking into taking a space in a coop, when my friends George and Gerry told me they were moving out of the store I'm now in, into a bigger store in the same building. The rent was low, the stakes were low, it would only be open on weekends, I signed a lease last September and opened in October. It's also 240 miles from home so I've put a lot of miles on my car. Man, it happened fast!

Friday, March 18, 2011

crazy bird people

Check out this wacky bird post from BIRD/LIKE. For one thing, there's a picture of taxidermied bird shoes. And an Egyptian birdhouse the size of a lighthouse. And a Hitchcock's "The Birds" Barbie.

And if you haven't seen it (or if you have, I'm sure you want to see it again):

I probably have 200 birds in my store (and it's a small store). Wooden birds, ceramic, plaster, metal. Birds on curtains, notecards, field bags. Lots of books about birds. But I'm not worried--birds are classic. The rest of the world can move on to newts or armadillos--I stand by my birds.

Oh, and in case you missed it earlier this week, watch Crimes of (bird) Passion here.
Enjoy the weekend--it's almost spring!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

evening light--one of those moments

I got to Margaretville mid-afternoon and spent a couple hours getting the store ready for the weekend. The barrister bookcase looks amazing--no way I'm going to strip it. I'll take pictures so you can see. I think it will be NFS (not for sale) for a while--a useful display piece. (Or maybe I'm just in love.)

Anyway, it was so wonderful to leave the store at 6:30 and have it still be light outside. Then I went food shopping and it was still light outside. I drove home on Margaretville Mountain Road and it was still light outside, though dusk and I kept reminding myself to watch out for deer. And I was listening to Grace Potter sing Falling or Flying, and I had one of those crystalline moments. The music, the countryside, the evening light. Everything looked beautiful--all was well with the world. We need those moments now and then.

Here's Grace Potter. Skip ahead to 2:00 for the song if you want, but she's pretty cute in the first 2 minutes too.

wild roses and Irish music

They aren't Irish, but they are wild roses. I took this picture in Maine. They bloom in abundance on the rocky New England coast. Dark water, grey boulders, green and pink wild roses.

Leaving Boston this morning for the 240 mile drive to the Catskills.

Lovely Irish cottages on Flickr.

Celtic music shows you can listen to any time on a Celtic Sojurn.

And The Pogues:

Enjoy your day.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

shabby chic & barrister: do those words go together?

I buy furniture for the store at auctions, and occasionally estate sales, garage sales, and craigslist. I work hard to keep prices low, which means I have to buy very low. Which means it usually needs work---some combination of cleaning, painting, waxing, sanding, staining. I like rustic shabby chippy furniture and I always have to calculate what and how much to do to---bottom line---sell it (and have a happy customer). My current dilemma:
I bought a 5-stack antique barrister bookcase, which I'm very excited about. I love the faded robin's egg blue paint. I've never seen a painted barrister bookcase before. This one is oak. The top is not painted and when I saw the beautiful oak I thought maybe I should strip it--the wood is gorgeous and so much more barrister-like than robin's egg blue.
Also, one of the knobs is funky. I unscrewed it and realized if I put a smaller knob, like the others, on it there would be a sizable unpainted area visible. Another reason to strip it.
I don't think the Globe-Wernicke Co. envisioned their bookcase in a shabby cottage/farmhouse setting. They built them to be placed in paneled law libraries and filled with hefty volumes of statutes and cases.

But you know what? I'm going to leave it shabby and blue. It's unique that way. Oak barrister book cases are easy to find. This one is special. And about that knob--I'm going to put that section on the bottom. If it bothers me I'll figure out a solution. (One of the cool things about barrister bookcases is they come in sections--you really do just stack them--no screws or bolts. That makes it easier to move them--and you don't even have to take the books out; there is a handle built into the top of each section.)

I plan to take it to the store this weekend. I can always change my mind and strip it; but I'm pretty sure I'll leave it. What would you do?

Monday, March 14, 2011

colorful and shiny objects

This video of bowerbirds will make you smile. I promise.

 I learned about bowerbirds from Anne, a landscape designer and lover of nature, who lives in California. According to Anne, male bowerbirds build  "elaborate stick structures, called bowers, which they decorate with colorful and shiny objects, including berries, flowers, and even ballpoint pens, drinking straws and other discarded plastic items."  So Anne had the awesome idea of inviting people to use the bowerbird as inspiration for designing a room with Olioboard. I never used Olioboard before, but it's free and easy and way too much fun. I made a bowerbird inspiration board for a solarium.

You can see more bowerbird inspiration on Anne's blog via:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

i have a crush on a lamp.

from last night's auction:

and I feel guilty because I want to keep it and not sell it. and because I feel like not using capitals at the beginning of my sentences today. and especially because of the earthquake in Japan and i'm writing about a 60-year old cat lamp. Those things are not equal on the guilt-meter.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday inspiration

stuff I like this week:
1.  The time is changing, though I don't understand how, which means more daylight, no more sad (a/k/a winter blues), more evening walks, peeping flowers and birds.

2.   Writer's sheds and off the grid huts.

3.    Cutting For Stone, which takes me to another time and place (Ethiopia).

4.    Brick City, about Newark NJ, which reminds me of the many years I worked in Paterson, another small city in NJ, and of how I don't want to forget that part of my life even though I'm now doing something completely different.

5.   Dominique Browning on plastic, which like is the wrong word for, but is inspiring me to reduce the godawful amount of plastic that comes into my house.

6. Finding this flower person blog and this one too because flowers are probably my favorite thing, excluding my family.

More inspiration here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

candles, men & me

candles & matchboxes on barnwood shelf

When I decided to open a store, I said to myself, "no candles, no potpourri, no ruffles and flounces". I didn't want the kind of store that men run away from. Maybe it was on my mind because I have 3 sons or maybe just because I like simple primitive stuff (with exceptions of course). But that was pretty much my design plan--a store that men would like as much as women. (And no, we're not going to get into gender stereotypes and politics here. Just go with it please.) Anyway, candles. Somehow I had come up with a bad public image of them. There are a lot of icky overwhelming artificially scented ones out there. But I actually like candles--the glow on a winter night when I'm too lazy to build a fire is comforting. And the scents, when well done, are intoxicating.  So I went in search of candles for the store and got some cool ones from Skeem. The scents are light and pure and the designs of the containers are inspired by nature, thus perfect for my store, and they are reusable--you can put paper clips in them or cotton balls or anything that fits nicely in a small glass container with a tin top.

You can see some of them in this picture (especially if you click to enlarge). The one with the bird on top is white lotus, the octopus is wild orchid and the others are blood orange, guava persimmon and dune sage. The box with fish on it is one of the match boxes I bought too. See how I casually put it on the Fishes Golden Guide? I am feeling so clever. I just put them out--let's see if anyone buys them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

sauntering and rambling

Thoreau's cabin on Walden Pond measured 10' x 15' and cost $28.12 to build. He lived there for two years, two weeks, and two days. 
It was furnished with a bed, a table, a small desk and lamp, and three chairs — “one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”
The above are reproductions of the cabin that you can visit. The original was moved to a farm, used to store grain and gradually destroyed as its parts were used for other buildings. 

This is a picture of the original desk where he wrote Walden. It's at the Concord Museum where you aren't supposed to take pictures but I snuck this one with my camera phone. It's a wonderful shade of green.

I was thinking about Thoreau today when I went for a good walk for the first time in ages because it's been snowy and icy for months. In the essay Walking, Thoreau wrote : "I have met but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks,--who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering..." I love the word saunter. And also ramble. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

last weekend, in the store

I have a wonderfully grungy old table that I covered with a haphazard array of spring feverish items.
I chose things that were green or somehow related to nature.
I'm happy with how it turned out--it's sort of a microcosm of the store. A blend of vintage and handcrafted. You can see the Cottage sign by Lisa of Shinar Mountain and Serendipity Chic Design, who made all my store signs. Also vases from Red Hot Pottery, a clock from Decoylab, and Skeem candles and matchboxes. One of the best things about opening the store has been connecting with creative people. I sell a lot of used field guides--my favorites are the pocket-size Golden Guides you can see scattered around the table.

places I'd like to be

                                             pink house, Yountville California
                                            boat house, Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard
                                               faded green house, Yountville
                               grey shingle beach house, Hull Massachusetts
                                             attic bedroom, Hull