macra-mazing: vintage macrame plant hangers

macramazing

I’ve been obsessed with macrame for a few years now, ever since I lucked into two vintage macrame lawn chairs (FOR FREE!). There is something about macrame that screams 1970′s to me — in a good way — like reruns of “Three’s Company”. Maybe I’ve always wanted to be Mrs. Roper… So now, you’ll find me thrifin’ in a floral caftan (not really), scouring the aisles for little pieces of fiber-woven nostalgia, notably plant hangers. I scored the lovely jute number you see in the photo for 3 dollars, bagged with a larger unfinished hanger. Thinking that it may be a good source, I seplaceed Etsy for more and found quite a few lovely examples, like this and this. But honestly, I had no idea that vintage plant hangers would fetch $20+, so I guess the next step would be learning the craft. This vintage leaflet looks like a good resource: and for the bargain price of $3.25. Have you ever worked with macrame? Any books or tricks of the trade you can share? — Megan B.

traveling in style: vintage soap cases

soap cases
soap case storage

I bought my first aluminum soap case on a whim, not knowing what to do with it but liking it all the same. It sat on my desk for a month, maybe more, until I figured out it was the perfect size for my phone earbuds and a flash drive. (Since I take both with me for work, they always ended up floating around in the depths of my purse. Not anymore.) Soap cases are also the perfect size for stashing business cards, corralling coins or any number of small oddities. My latest find? A vintage Girl Scouts soap case. You can find the aluminum dishes for under $10 on Etsy or eBay. Other pressed metal cases start in the $30s, like this one on Ruby Lane. Lastly, there’s silver soap cases. I’ve seen examples starting at $100, but this $500 Gorham case takes the cake. — Sarah L.

collection obsession: vintage vacuum flasks

thermoses

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

mothersday

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.