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Sunday, October 31, 2010

estate sale extraordinaire - update

Happy Halloween everybody! Just wanted to give a quick update on the last post. We went back to the estate sale yesterday and, even after four days, there was still a lot of good stuff.  We snagged a set of TEN Fire King Blue Mosaic coffee cups and the matching sugar bowl and creamer.  I've already listed them here and here. We also got some old magazines and this great funky fabric calendar from 1970. We picked up a couple of silver plate pieces as well, but when we polished them up, one had some plate loss, so that's a little bit of a bummer.  But, overall, we did so well at that sale, that I can't really complain about anything!

Have a ghoulish night!

Friday, October 29, 2010

estate sale extraordinaire

It usually takes Jeff and me about 15-30 to go through an estate sale, depending on the amount of good stuff available. My favorite area is usually the kitchen; I generally head straight there upon arrival, while Jeff prefers to hit the basement and/or garage.

This past Wednesday we headed to a sale in the southeast part of town. Sales that start on Wednesday are usually pretty busy first thing after they open since there aren't many sales on Wednesdays.  That's why we decided to wait until 10 to go since it started at 9. I just didn't want to stand in line even if it meant missing something good.

So, we got there at 10 and walked right in. There were quite a few people there but it was a good size place so there weren't a ton of people in any one room.  As it turns out, that was a good thing since the place was PACKED with a little bit of everything including a LOT of glass. The company coordinating the sale had set up tables in the dining and living room areas and they were full of glass.  That was in addition to the regular furniture in the place, all of which were covered with glass items.  I literally didn't know where to start. Ultimately I decided to hit the kitchen and come back to the glass in the other rooms.  Well, the kitchen was also full of glass in addition to regular kitchen items. It was even in the dishwasher, pantry and laundry room!

From there, I headed to the garage since it was right off the kitchen.  Well, it was full of glass too! There were cabinets full of it and more tables had been set up to hold even more. Most of it was depression glass as well as other pressed and cut glass. As I was finishing up in the garage, Jeff found me. He had been in the basement and informed me that it, too, was full of glass.  I went back in and finally perused everything in the living and dining rooms as well as a downstairs bedroom.  Glass, glass, and more glass along with old books and ephemera.

I finally went upstairs to three bedrooms, two of which were full of, you guessed it, glass.  The other was only jewelry and it was full.  The bathrooms had glass items. There was also a ton of vintage clothes and shoes, of which I know nothing about and so stay away from.

I made my way down to the basement to see for myself all of the glass that Jeff had mentioned.  It was in every room of the basement, in cupboards and on shelves and on every other surface available.  There was a spare refrigerator down there as well.  I opened it expecting there to be glass, but, surprise, it was full of candles! And it was running.  Guess that's one way to keep your candles from melting in the summer.

I went back upstairs and found Jeff.  We compared found items and reviewed everything in our hold pile. Generally, we grab whatever speaks to us as long as it's not too expensive and then regroup to discuss whether to pop for more pricey stuff.  We had found lots of goodies that didn't break the bank, so the discussion quickly went to what glass to buy. We could've spent $1000 and probably not bought all the glass in that place. Ultimately, we decided that we would take what we had and focus on posting it and all the other stuff we hadn't posted yet on Etsy.  And then we'd go back on Saturday to see what we could snag at 50% off, since that was the last day planned for the sale.

While we were there, we learned that the couple who lived there had gone to assisted living. They are in their 90s and probably lived in that house since it was built in 1948. I guess you don't move that much when you have that much glass to pack and haul! I wonder if they had kids and, if so, what it was like being a toddler in that house!

By the time we packed the stuff in the car and drove away, it was a few minutes after noon.  We had been there for two hours and I still feel like we missed seeing some good stuff because there was just so much to look at. Can't wait to go back tomorrow to see what's left. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Photography for Dummies

Probably the most difficult thing about selling on Etsy for me is getting those "Etsy quality" photographs. Seems like you need to be a pro to do what some of those uber-talented sellers do with their photos on Etsy. Prior to starting an Etsy shop, my photo experience consisted of taking candids....badly.

Fortunately, photographing still life is easier in some ways than taking candids. The items don't move, you have more control over angles and lighting, and they don't complain if you have to take one more shot. All of that makes it easy enough to take ok pictures, but I have a feeling that reaching "Etsy quality" will take lots of practice.  Good thing cameras are digital - personally, it takes me about 20 shots to find 5 that I can live with. If I had to use film, I'd have gone broke well before I ever made my first sale! Not to mention all the wasted paper and chemicals.  With a digital camera, you can take 100 shots if you need to. Of course, if you have 5 items to list, taking 100 photos of each will take the entire day if not longer. Because not only do you have to take the time to stage the item and shoot it, but then you have to review and whittle your choices down to 5 and then crop, adjust, resize, and save those 5. 

Bottom line is that I have no doubt that Etsy will make me a better photographer, but given the time it takes just to get passing photos, it may be a while before I reach what I call "Etsy quality." But I will keep trying because I can see just how much of a difference good photography can make on Etsy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

i heart jadeite (or jadite)!

Although Anchor Hocking did not "invent" the jadeite color, its Fire King brand probably provides the best known examples of jadeite in existence today and, for that reason, when most people talk about jadeite in the context of kitchenware, they are generally referring to Anchor Hocking. In fact, Jeannette Glass company is the one who coined the term "jadeite" in the 1930s. However, since there are few examples of Jeannette pieces in jadeite, this post focuses on the Anchor Hocking Fire King line.

Whether you prefer to spell it jadeite or jadite, you will probably agree that these green Fire King pieces made by Anchor Hocking are fabulous. Several Fire King patterns were made by Anchor Hocking in the jadeite color, including Jane Ray, Alice, Shell, Charm and Swirl. Of them, my favorite is probably Jane Ray.

Anchor Hocking produced jadeite from the 1940s-1960s.  And since Anchor Hocking changed its Fire King marks periodically, a piece can be dated (to about a five to ten year range) based on the mark on the bottom.  You can find useful pictures and information for dating Fire King at this site

While you can find many great examples of jadeite on the market, be prepared to pay for them, particularly since the resurgence of the color brought about by its best know fan, Martha Stewart. And if you are very serious about collecting a set, beware - the glass was made to be affordable (and, in fact, was often given away as a promotion) and so there are many inconsistencies among pieces, meaning that your set may not be uniform in color.  Maybe that doesn't concern you in which case, collect away! But if you are one of those folks who wants nothing less than a perfect, uniform collection, jadeite may not be a great choice for you.

There are lots of great jadeite pieces on Etsy, just a few of which are shown below. If you are already a collector or want to start a collection, be sure to do a search of the Etsy site to see all of what's available.

This fabulous sugar bowl in the Jane Ray pattern is offered by Cheshire Cat Antiques:

This beautiful dinner plate in the Alice pattern is offered by Jadite Kate:

This elegant cup and saucer in the Jane Ray pattern is offered by JessJamesJake:

This wonderful refrigerator dish is offered by Olde Things :

And, finally, this mixing bowl int he Swirl pattern is available at my shop: 

Happy hunting!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why vintage is a good fit for me

Those of you who know me (or have at least read my profile) know that I left my job just over three months ago.  In that life, I was a trademark paralegal at a west coast based law firm.  I spent over 11 years there and was able to do things (buy a house, travel) that I might not have been able to do otherwise.  And I learned a lot.  A lot about the legal field and a lot about myself.  Thing is that I learned that the legal field wasn't my passion. 

Fast forward a few months and I'm still not sure that I've figured out what I want to be when I grow up.  But I do know that I am thoroughly enjoying "doing the vintage thing." So what is it about it that clicks with me? Easy. It's history, it's recycling, and it's shopping.  Three things I can get into.

Every item that I sell has a history.  Granted, most of the time, I don't know the exact history of the piece, but if nothing else, it's fun to ponder. And in researching a piece, you can often see original advertisements for the piece which can be fascinating.  For instance, I was recently researching Lisk roasters and found that they were recommended for use in Chambers stoves.  And that lead me to this great site - - that provides history of the Chambers company and shows wonderful photos of the Chambers Home Economics Dept. and dealer displays, among other things. Here's one:

How great is that?  For a history buff like me, it's GREAT!

Recycling is something that I firmly believe in and practice as much as possible.  I was the recycling police at my old firm - pulling stuff out of the garbage and transferring it to the recycling. Buying vintage is one more way that I can reduce the size of landfills.  Like recently I decided that it was time to replace our chipped, broken, and ugly coffee cups.  Instead of running to Target (which I would've done not long ago), I picked up a nice set of four at a garage sale for 50 cents. Not sure if they are vintage, but they are functional and much better than what we have. Those of mine that are not chipped or broken will go to Goodwill where some broke college student will be happy to buy them for 10 cents a piece.  As for the chipped and broken ones, maybe I can find someone to use them as part of a mosaic or something.  I'm trying to see the recycling potential in everything.  I won't always be able to reuse something and inevitably I will have trash going into the dumpster every week, but every little bit helps.  And hey, maybe by selling vintage I can convince others that it's a good idea. 

Finally, I like shopping.  Some kinds more than others (I am one of those rare women who loathes clothes shopping for the most part).  Quitting my job means living on less - that was the major trade-off that I knew I'd have to make. So by selling vintage, I can satisfy my need to shop. Because for me at least, it's not about having the stuff, it's about buying it. So selling it is no problem - I don't form an emotional attachment.  And while you can spend a lot buying vintage, even at yard sales, if you get lucky, you can hit lots of sales on a Saturday and make $20 last the whole day.

So, really, what's not to like about buying and selling vintage?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

End of Sale Season

I love fall.  The crisp air, the beautiful colors in the leaves, Halloween.  The bad thing about fall (other than adjusting to a freezing house in the morning) is that it's the end of garage sale season.  As the days chill, fewer and fewer people are willing to brave the weather to host sales. 

We've been fortunate to have an extended summer this year, particularly by Colorado standards, and so we were able to find a few yard sales today even though October is almost over. But they are becoming more scarce. Next weekend we will probably be looking at estate sales only.  Don't get me wrong - I love estate sales.  Well, most of the time.  I don't mind standing in line, even in the cold, as long as I score something good.  Of course, you don't know whether you're going to get lucky. Many times, you stand in line thinking you'll never get in, or you get in only to find that there are already 100 people in a 1200 square foot home, or someone knocks you out of the way to reach something first, or there's just nothing there that speaks to you. Or you do find that one great piece only to realize that it's marked at retail price. 

Estate sales generally have better finds than yard sales, but the fact is that you are going to pay more and you will likely have to go through much more hassle to get it.  So, like most things, there are trade-offs.  Your chances of finding those choice pieces at yard sales are slim, but if you find them, you will likely pay almost nothing for them.  Plus there's the benefit of being outside (not crammed into a packed house with a gazillion other people). And, in the summer at least, there's one on just about every corner. 

So, as we say goodbye to yard sale season for at least six months, we take comfort knowing that we can still get the fix we need as sale-junkies at estate sales.  They'll just be that much more crowded now that they're the only fix in town for other junkies like us.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday's Treasury!

I have started participating in a treasury challenge and just completed my second treasury, so I wanted to share it.  Please have a look and leave a comment if you are so inclined!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday: Collectibles to Consider

In this weekly post, I will discuss different collectibles that you might want to consider collecting.  It is in no way meant to be an authority on any of the items discussed, but rather just something fun that might inspire you to start or continue on the vintage path.  I will feature items for sale that I find online, mainly from Etsy.  These will be from multiple sellers and may or may not include an item from my own shop.  I will not be able to update the postings to remove items that are sold, so if one item is no longer available when you reach the seller's shop, please take a few minutes to browse their other items, as you might find something else that charms you!

Vintage utensils and gadgets are good examples of how things used to be made to last which is probably why many have survived so long despite heavy use over years or decades.  And a high survival rate translates into lower costs for the beginner collector.  Collecting need not be limited to fans of kitchen items, either; many of the older gadgets are mechanical in nature and so may be of interest to those who collect hand tools or other mechanical items who are looking to branch out their collections.

One thing is for sure - it seems that even back in the day, ladies of the house had a gadget for just about everything.  There were flour sifters, apple corers, potato ricers, pasta cutters, tomato slicers, cake breakers, cake servers, graters, mashers, egg beaters, egg scramblers, pastry blenders, and pastry wheels, in addition to peelers, grinders, scoops, whisks, and choppers. And that doesn't even include spatulas, ladles, tongs, flatware, knives, etc.!

Given the variety, you have the option of collecting all of one piece (e.g., all rotary beaters), all pieces of one era (anything from the 1950s), pieces of similar color despite the type or age (all green handled items you can find), or pieces made from the same material (tin measuring cups or melamine spatulas). As with many people who start a collection, you may initially buy whatever you find as you find it and then decide what you like best and narrow your focus from there.

Following are a few of my favorites from Etsy to whet your appetite for these great items:

Le Petite Flea is featuring these lovely green handled pieces

TinsAndThings has this cool tomato slicer

REtroGalore has this SUPER cool egg timer gadget

Vintage & Co is featuring this great flour sifter

And, finally, from my shop, a potato ricer

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

SEO no!

This morning, as I was trying to finalize a topic for today's blog post, I kept getting distracted by an overwhelming sense of dread that I would never be able to conquer the nightmarish world of search engine optimization (SEO). So, rather than just ignoring it and hoping it would go away, I decided to make SEO my topic. Given the amount I know about it, this should be a short post! :)

For those of you who know as much or less than I do about SEO, it's what it says it is - optimizing search engine results to benefit your business.  As my technologically-challenged brain understands it, content of your site dictates where you come up in search engine results.  So, by carefully choosing terms or "keywords" that are most often used in searches, and using those terms on your site, you improve your ranking in searches.  Of course, I am WAY over-simplifying it and, for all I really know, there is some kind of magic involved.

In reading through the Etsy forums, there's all this advice about how to choose and use keywords to drive traffic to your site.  At this point, it's all about as clear to me as Chinese, but my little shop needs traffic and will die without it, so I must learn the language.  But, I can't help but wondering - if a lot of people are honing their SEO skills (which seems to be the case based on the amount of discussion online about it), and not every one can be at the top of a search, is there any point? Can't I just hope for luck and maybe a little magic? much for not ignoring it :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

i heart pyrex!

For some reason, Pyrex and I have just clicked.   The color pieces especially.  There's just something so beautiful in its simplicity and classic style.  And I remember some of the patterns from when I was a kid, so I suppose that makes it more relevant and interesting to me. 

Another great thing about Pyrex is that it is affordable.  You can find lots of great pieces for under $30.  In some cases, you can even find it unused and/or in its original box.  Of course, a lot of vintage Pyrex pieces were used and used a lot, so expect to find faded and scratched pieces fairly often at garage sales or flea markets. Condition is important so choose wisely.  Of course, if you fall in love with a particular pattern and don't mind that a piece is less than perfect, then by all means, buy it! Then, when you find the same piece in better condition later, you can make that your display piece and make the other an everyday use item.

Needless to say, Corning made LOTS of Pyrex patterns, so there's a lot of information to know.  The folks at have done a great job cataloging information about the various patterns and also provide tons of other helpful information. So, if you've been bitten by the Pyrex bug like I have, take a few minutes (or more!) to browse the Pyrex Love site.  You'll be glad you did.

Pyrex listings on Glass Panic:

Happy Pyrex Hunting!

Friday, October 15, 2010


Whew, what a morning!  We went to two estate sales and the humongoid "Beautiful Junk" sale at JeffCo Fairgrounds.  Time constraints prohibited us from seeing everything at the Beautiful Junk sale, so we are considering a return trip tomorrow! We'll see....

Today was VERY productive though, I am happy to report.  Both estate sales produced good finds.  The one bummer is that the single piece of Pyrex that I was salivating over was GONE at the first sale, even though we got there when it opened, went straight to the kitchen section, and seemed to get there before anyone else.  My guess is that someone contacted the people and did the deal on that piece before anyone else had a chance.  Guess there's a lesson in there somewhere.  If there's something you really want, you gotta be a little aggressive and not just assume that everyone else is playing by your set of rules.  Whoever got it is probably doing a happy dance and they should.  It was marked at $6 and retails for about $100 in great condition.  Couldn't tell the condition from the photo of course, but it looked pretty good.

Like I said though, we did score today so I can't be too grumpy.  We found several other pieces of vintage Pyrex, some vintage Franciscan dinnerware, quite a few enamelware piecess, an old potato masher from the 50s, a BEAUTIFUL Dansk dutch oven, and some assorted glass items.  All in all, a good haul.

Off to index our purchases and research.  Then going to work (doggie work).  This weekend will be full of picture taking and posting.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday Treasury

Just one more quick post to show off my newest Etsy treasury.  Enjoy!


Jeff and I hit two sales this morning.  The first was a disappointment.  The people weren't set up fully, and we didn't really see all that much that spoke to us.  The second was more of a success.  It was an estate sale in Federal Heights. In addition to the 500 (it seemed) piggy banks and beanie babies (yikes!) we managed to find some nice Pyrex bowls from the 60s and a sugar and creamer silverplate set that we are still learning about.  All we know right now is that it was produced between 1860-1928.  We also found this cool wall cabinet.  Looks like it was a medicine cabinet but we are going to use it as a spice cabinet in the kitchen.  It needs to be painted first.  And we are going to replace the mirror with glass or chicken wire (not sure yet).  I think it will look really cute hanging in the kitchen with towels or utensils or something hanging from the rod at the bottom and spices inside.  And it will free up some drawer space which is a bonus.  And, here's the best part - it was ONLY $4.  I'm psyched. 

Looks like there is good estate sale tomorrow that has another cool Pyrex piece (I am so into vintage kitchen stuff right now!) so we're going to go there and there's also a huge (read GIGANTIC) sale at the JeffCo fairgrounds tomorrow that should be intense.  I feel like I need to hydrate for that one.

Off to list the Pyrex and learn more about the silverplate pieces (I hope).


Wednesday, October 13, 2010


About six weeks in, our Etsy experiment is moving along.  Ok, so maybe not as quickly as we'd like, but, hey, we've gotten a few sales and are hopeful that the upcoming holiday season will propel things even more.  At this point, we are focusing mainly on vintage glass and kitchen items, plus some vintage luggage, a few lanterns, enamelware (which, in our book, is technically glass, since the process involves fusing glass material to metal).

For the first 3-4 weeks, we found items, researched them, cleaned them (some of them - others are better if you don't clean them), photographed them, wrote descriptions for them, and posted them.  For the last week or two, I've spent a bit of time in the Etsy forums (both lurking and posting).  That's when I realized just how much there is to KNOW about running a successful Etsy business.  As someone who can get overwhelmed easily, I just tell myself to learn what I can today and tomorrow I will learn something else.  I have been struck by how helpful the other Etsy sellers are though.  They are willing to share their knowledge with us newbies which has been invaluable.

Ultimately, the purpose of this blog is to share information about pieces we find, Etsy, running a vintage business, and anything else that's relevant.  Truth be told, it's also a way for us to get our name out and bring some attention to our little shop.  As if marketing isn't hard enough, we have to learn how to do it online, which involves things such as blogging, Twitter, and Facebook.  As two nearly old fogies (in that we were born BEFORE the digital age!), that can be overwhelming.  But we shall perservere!

Oh, before I forget, I wanted to mention Etsy treasuries.  A treasury is created by either a buyer or seller to feature the items of other sellers.  You are not supposed to feature your own item, but rather "share the love" by giving kudos to others.  Turns out that making them is so much fun!  Here are the three I've done:

And, finally, here is a link to our shop:

Have a fabulous day!