collection obsession: vintage vacuum flasks

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I love thermoses and carafes — vacuum flasks as they’re technically known. Maybe it hearkens back to my Snoopy thermos in first grade, filled with perfectly piping hot tomato soup for lunch, or to my first date with my now husband, who poured me a sip of syrupy espresso from his trusty Nissan stainless thermos (still in action to this day). But now, I find myself snatching vintage thermoses up on every thrifting trip I’ve been on of late. I’m pretty choosy about which ones I buy, so I’m careful to inspect them for (1) gross odors (2) shattered or cracked glass liners (yes many of the vintage varieties were glass, which makes them fragile) and (3) the condition of the seals. Most of what I’ve bought has been pristine — hardly, if ever used — which helps seal the deal. If you’re willing to risk it, eBay is a treasure trove of vintage vacuum flasks: this beauty is $9.99, BIN (with returns accepted).

My favorite? That heavy, unbreakable stainless Uno-Vac in the back. That bad boy has seen some life — and is still, amazingly, spotless and funk-free inside. Later this week, Ol’ Ironsides (as I’ve dubbed it) will be filled with 24 oz. of something delicious (which, depending on the weather, will be either hot or cold) and brought along on our hike into the forest as part of our five year wedding anniversary celebration! — Megan B.

post off: do you keep a well-stocked bar?

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Growing up, our house didn’t have a bar per se, more of a shelf in the entryway closet with booze of unknown antiquity and a handful of bottles of homemade Kahlua (that I occasionally snuck from… shhh! don’t tell mom). As an adult, I’ve grown to appreciate the art of a well-made cocktail — specifically, the Negroni. I’ve taken such a liking to them, I decided to bite the bullet and stock my home bar with the components. Dry Fly Gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth are now proudly on display, along with my assortment of Fee Brothers Bitters and a couple of vintage cocktail shakers. I’m sure I’ll add more to it eventually, but for now, it’s all I need. Those bottles and shakers all arranged make me feel so fancy and grown up. How about you? Is your home bar spartan, like mine, or does it look more like the (impressive) photo above? — Megan B.

photo courtesy of flickr user Rennett Stowe

mother’s day gift ideas: toothpick holders

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When my mother-in-law started collecting toothpick holders several years ago, I have to admit, I didn’t really get it. Then I bought her a collector’s guide and my jaw about hit the floor when I saw all the different holders. Literally thousands — and that’s just pressed glass. There’s also toothpick holders made of metal (silver, pewter) and porcelain.

Although toothpick holders are no longer considered part of a well-set table, they come in handy for other uses. Filling out the front of a bookshelf, holding a miniature bouquet or keeping your rings safe, to name a few.

Toothpick holders have sold for as much as $10,000 at auction (that’s not a typo). I usually find good ones to gift for well under $20 but have occasionally paid more. With a lot of collectibles, however, there are recent reproductions so if you’re spending a lot, check out some of the collector’s guides first. They’ll help you identify the difference between old and new. You can also find information and links on The National Toothpick Society website. — Sarah L.

feeling a little royal? decor inspired by kate & william’s wedding

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With the Royal Wedding just one week away, we are suddenly feeling our Anglophile tendencies bubbling up to the surface. Ebay is already flooded with souvenirs and memorabilia, but there are also a few hot designer items we have our eyes on now. Our favorite British deco mag, Living Etc has put together a fun auction of unique Royal Wedding Plates by designers like Donna Wilson, Jonathan Adler and Lee Broom, who designed the Pearly Prince & Princess plate shown above. Bidding starts at £30 (about $60) and all proceeds go to a charity group, Shelter. Email your bid to livingetcplates@ipcmedia.com by midnight on the 29th for a chance to win.

For those who are more committed to the royal theme, check out this adorable Crowns and Coronets wallpaper from Graham & Brown. If plastering your walls isn’t enough fun, it also comes with self adhesive jewels you can add to give your wall some extra sparkle.

Even without plates and wallpaper, you can bet we’ll be up early on the 29th, eating scones and watching in glee as Kate takes her walk down Westminster Abbey’s center aisle. Are you planning to watch?

ebay find: mad men cookie jar

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Just spotted on top of Salvatore’s fridge — the cookie cookie jar. Yes, I’m that far behind on watching “Mad Men.” But it’s good to see the same cookie jar that I grew up with back on t.v. again. (The first time I saw it on t.v. was circa 1989 on “The Wonder Years.”) Made by Los Angeles Potteries and sporting a walnut-shaped porcelain handle, the cookies cookie jar dates to 1955. On eBay for $149.99 or make an offer. Smug advertising guy not included. — Sarah L.