Tag Archives: Kitchen

Home Movie: The Power of Cute

17 Nov

This is how Isobel ends up with a purse full of straws.

Thrifty Living: The Pantry

12 Sep

In order to spread the love of thrift store shopping, I thought it might be kind of nice to give you a tour of my home in some of the small, simple ways I use secondhand items in my daily life.  While the Thrifted Home Tour featured ways of incorporating vintage decor into a modern home, I hope this series will show you how secondhand items can be both lovely and useful, something I try to emphasize in my shop, as well. It’s one thing to have a lot of vintage items in a home that looks like it was preserved from the 1950s, but what I’m after in my life is blending vintage with items I already own in a way that’s workable and lovely. I don’t think homes are meant to be museums, even if they are very lovely.

Some of my most useful finds are these two, in my actual pantry itself, the chrome napkin holder and the Japanese octagon-shaped vase.  Originally I was going to use the napkin holder for letters on my desk, but its so much more useful holding index cards in my pantry. I use them for quick grocery lists, or if friends are over and we need to make a food run, or to write down ideas as I have them, or sometimes I’ll just grab a card and a pencil while I’m cooking and hand them to Isobel for five minutes of toddler-free cooking. The vase is perfect for holding pens because it’s sturdy and because it’s a vase the sides are tall enough that it’s never fallen over. I like to keep sharpies on hand in this vase for labeling things that go in the freezer.

I love the vintage teardrop-shaped bowl of monkeypod wood and often use it to hold cherry tomatoes. It’s so pretty to use at parties. But what I really wanted to show you in this picture were the tins. I have several vintage Daher tins that I love because they are so beautiful. I keep my favorite teas on hand in the brown tin below (with the rest stashed away in a red tin that used to hold biscuits). The blue tin holds large variety of teas, including teas I’m really not fond of, and this is the tin I get down when I have friends over. It makes me feel like a stunningly capable hostess, and this way everyone gets their choice and is happy. 

I keep a number of vintage tins lying around the kitchen and use them for a rotating cast of uses: homemade croutons keep better in a tin than in a plastic bag, I have one currently holding Isobel’s alphabet magnets, and another filled with beans. I use vintage tins for storage all over the house, and I don’t predict I’ll stop singing their praises anytime soon.

I admit I bought these adorable salt and pepper shakers for looks more than anything else. Instead of shakers I use a salt cellar and two pepper grinders. But since I keep these on the toaster it occurs to me I could fill one with cinnamon and one with sugar for instant cinnamon toast.

This vintage viking jewelry box is actually my salt cellar. I think little ceramic boxes like these make the perfect salt cellars. Whenever I find one  for the shop I always suggests its use as a salt cellar. Mine does its job perfectly.

Over here are my two pepper grinders, one a vintage Peugeot and one from Ikea. My eventual plan is for one to hold regular black pepper and for the other to hold more exotic peppercorns. In front of them you’ll note The Fish, a vintage bottle opener that came from my late Papa and Nana. When we have groups of people over for dinner it’s not uncommon to hear people asking, “Where’s The Fish?” Everybody knows The Fish.

I originally bought this cheerful yellow scale for the shop, but I couldn’t part with it after accidentally setting it down in the pantry and seeing how lovely it looked in there.  Strange how that happens! Salter is a really trusted brand for scales, and I compared it to my digital one and it is right on the money.

I feel that soap dishes often get overlooked in thrift stores. I don’t have an actual need for soap dishes in my house because we use refillable liquid soap everywhere, but I’ve seen such truly gorgeous vintage dishes that they are worth buying and finding another use for. I use this milkglass soap dish to hold our sponge.

It’s lovely and a better alternative than buying something new. Soap dishes could also hold jewelry, business cards, or keys.

I have kind of a Thing for vintage utensils, and not just because many of them are better made than what you can find now (although that’s true), but because everything on this counter came from various members of my family. You could plot my whole family tree just by tracking down the original owners of things found in my kitchen cupboards. This is true.

Giving the utensil bin a cursory glace while thrifting is always worth it, because of the quality of many of the older goods. I’ve seen lovely, solidly built nutcrackers for 19 cents! And look at that potato masher. It doesn’t fuck around. It’s heavy. The only thing to watch out for is rust. You can salvage an item that has a bit of rust if you work out of it, but you never want rust to contaminate your food, so be careful.

I really want to make at least a brief mention of the bowls I keep on my counter here, although I probably should cover them in more detail in another post. Mostly because my sweet potato has sprouted it kind of horrifies my husband. Also the grapes are halfway to raisins and I’ve left all the bottles for my various medical conditions out. There it is, folks. Now you can see what it takes to keep me relatively healthy and in good enough health that I don’t have to bitch about it on the internet all the time. But all these bowls on the counter are thrifted and they play a vital role in my kitchen.

I am lucky enough to have a large counter with bar seating. This means I can stack my lovely thrifted bowls on the counter in a way that hospitably offers snacks of fruit and maybe some nuts to visitors and also keeps vegetables handy so I know what I have to cook with. This set up also encourages healthy snacking in my family.  I have two vintage wire bowls. I am all about these bowls. I had similar heart bowls that were in my shop for awhile.

Well, I think that covers the pantry. As you can see, I use vintage and secondhand items in my daily life all over the house. Not everything you find while thrifting is going to be a huge score, but you might find something that turns out to be so useful it’s worth what little you paid for it many times over.

DIY Kitchen Set

11 May


We haven’t gotten around to getting Isobel a full-on kitchen set yet. I know she’d love one, since “cooking” is one of her favorite pastimes, but kitchen sets so expensive. I keep an eye out for them every time I go to yard sales but I haven’t found anything yet. When my Aunt Patricia visited at Christmas time I asked if she’d do me a favor and draw a few burners and a kitchen sink on a couple of large pieces of construction paper. I could laminate it, I thought. She could set it on the coffee table and put her pots and pans on top of it. It’d be neat, I though.

My Aunt Patricia is an artist, you see, and a type A one at that. She wasn’t going to just make a 2D kitchen on a piece of paper for her favorite great niece. Pfff.

The last time my Aunt came for a visit she toted along these two toys she threw together in an afternoon or two.

She molded the faucet and handles (and look at that! a little spray faucet! It comes out so she can use it to clean!) out of self-hardening clay, then painted them a metallic silver, then glazed them. The handles turn like a real faucet. She made the drain out of a lid and the strainer out of a bead and a found item from her studio.

The stove is so fantastic. She made it with working knobs that move a red circle around so you can turn the burners “on” and “off.”

Isobel decorated it with crayons, as you can see. This means she approves.

The knobs are made from wine corks. Genius.

It’s the details that make this set so awesome.

Thrifted Home Tour: The Kitchen

3 Mar


I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so in away, we were really lucky that it was renovated by the slightly deranged woman who lived here before we moved in. Lucky in that I’m sure the counters were in terrible condition (plus they were tile) the linoleum on the floor was most likely trashed, and she sprang for a few fancy upgrades: Corian counters and a fancy sink and faucet set by Kohler.

We weren’t particularly lucky in the fact that she chose a color for the counters (speckled navy blue) that I don’t get along with, and if that wasn’t enough, she had the cupboards painted turquoise. The walls were hastily painted the same bright blue color. She added unnecessary hardware to the cabinets and aggressively decorated the kitchen in a theme that can only be described as “Fork and Spoon.” Because she worked a fork and a spoon in everywhere she could, from giant ones on the walls, to very expensive (and very weird) drawer pulls.

Frankly, I’d like to redo the whole thing over again but we don’t have the money and since everything works fine, I could never justify it.

At least we got some nice floors out of the deal. They may be laminate, but at least they aren’t linoleum.


The thrifted touches in the kitchen are subtle, but they’re there. All the way in the corner is the infamous Keep Calm poster, which I scored on etsy for cheap. The frame, for once, was purchased from Target. The giant cutting board is one of my favorite things in the kitchen, but it’s old and beat up and due for some love. It was from a trip we took to Ikea in 2003 when we were outfitting our first apartment.


The two plates you see on the wall were originally a set of three. They are vintage and were given to me from my aunt. Unfortunately, I trusted the also vintage plate hanger on the back to hold them in place, and it disintegrated, and when it fell the plate dashed to pieces. I was very sad about this until recently, when my in-laws gave me a box of vintage treasure that had belonged to a deceased relative. In it was a plate, nearly identical to the one that broke.


All these bowls on my counter are vintage, and I keep them there constantly so fruit and vegetables are close at hand. Oh, wait, I forgot: the black bowl isn’t vintage. The Waltons gave it to me years ago. But everything else is.

This Vogue poster is very special to me. It was one of the first presents Anthony ever bought me. We were in high school at the time, both living with our parents, carless. He walked from his house to the antique store down town. He knew I had my eye on it. So he bought it, and walked from the antique store to my parents’ house to give it to me. Yeah, he’s a keeper.


I used to keep a bunch of terrariums on the kitchen counter, and I’d use that white sake server to water them. (With water. Not sake.) It was a wedding present from cousins. The brown pepper grinder is from our town’s Fancy Thrift Shop, the one I volunteered at, and was relatively expensive since it is Peugeot. Growing up I had a Peugeot bicycle. I didn’t know they made pepper grinders, too. I scored the Viking jewelry dish at an estate sale for $1 and I love it heartily. It’s supposed to be for jewelry but I cleaned it out and it makes the perfect salt cellar. Lastly, we have The Fish. It’s our bottle opener and it belonged to my Papa. It was my favorite thing to play with at their house and is inlaid with abalone shell from Alaska.


I probably should have gotten a better shot of the stuff on top of my fridge, because a lot of it is vintage. All of it is passed down from family, except from the coffee tin.


As you can see we have a glass-top electric range. Most homes in the valley have electric ranges, and I never used a gas range until we stayed at my aunt’s house in Half Moon Bay. Being able to actually smell gas while I cooked, no matter how slight, was very unnerving. I never got used to it.

The tea towels I got from Target. I have a crush on tea towels and found a bunch on etsy that I regularly visit and drool over.

You’ll notice we have two microwaves in our kitchen. One is The Untouchable microwave. It sits, in all its 80s glory, over the stove, and I avoid it like it causes cancer. Then we have our trusty little white duder, a wedding present from Grandma. The one over the stove was here when we moved in and I’ve yet to figure out how it works. I didn’t even bother to clean it out when we moved in. Why bother? I’m never going to use it. The only reason we haven’t taken it down is that it is directly connected to the venting system for the stove.


Above my trusty microwave is a vintage cheese spreader set. I’m kicking myself for not getting a better photo of it because it’s pretty rad. The top is inlaid with a marble tile for resting your cheese on, and the little door slides out to reveal a velvet-lined tray with all your cheese-slicing tools.

The little green dish, sadly chipped, is thrifted as well.


The tea in these containers is almost gone, but I love the tins and plan to keep them out forever. I bought them in Chinatown.


In yet another homage to my heritage, we have two Viking ship salt and pepper cellars. They were my Grandma’s.

Here we have the toaster oven. I couldn’t run a kitchen without a toaster oven. Sure, they tend to break, burn your food, and occasionally catch fire, but damn those things are HANDY. The phone hanging above the toaster obviously isn’t vintage (yet) but it is obsolete. After years of wanting to cancel our land line, we were finally able to. Our wireless phone is now an amusing toy for our daughter.

On top of the toaster we have a vintage tin that I keep tea in (the brown one), thrifted shell salt and pepper shakers, and some 1950’s monkeypod wood bowl. I love to keep cherry tomatoes there when in season.


Lastly, my cat Zorro, who was totally thrifted in that we got him secondhand: from a shelter.

This post is part VII in my multi-part series called the Thrifted Home Tour. I am showing off different rooms of my house to display how thrifted items can be worked into the décor to be useful and inspiring items. Partially it’s because I’d love to promote my vintage Etsy shop, and partially because that’s just how I roll. You can find parts one through six here.

Little Big Links: The Kitchen

26 Feb

Time-saving tips for the kitchen – Tips for running a cleaner, more efficient kitchen. I always aspire to do the dishwasher tip, but it doesn’t always happen.

The Picky Eater’s Taste Test – I dread the full-on picky eater years. This is a great strategy to help occasionally introduce new foods in a way kids get excited about.

Handmade Bowl Mug – I can’t decide what I like more, the fact that it’s a bowl-mug, or the deep malachite-like color.

I Eat Local Because I Can Tee Shirt – Finally, your love of canning and puns converge.

Treasure Craft Apple Platter – Shameless self-promotion. I’ve gotten a few emails asking about the size of this platter. Answer: large. I think I’m going to make some crudités for this platter and snap some pictures for scale.

DIY Sprouts – delicious eating from as local as a nearby window sill. Especially great project for those with kids.

Buddha Butter Dish – Fred Flare needs to stop making so many awesome things. (Or not.) Via SwissMiss


For more links, follow me on Pinterest.

Thrifted Home Tour: Dining Room

11 Oct

Here we have the dining room, a space used largely for eating meals, doing home work or crafts, and playing D&D. I would like to point out that the white folding chairs we’re using at the table are actually just temporary. We didn’t have enough chairs when we moved in so we bought those white chairs at Ikea to put there “just for now” until we could find nicer chairs. We’ve been here about six years now, so maybe I should get on that.

The black chairs at the table are vintage and cost a fortune to repaint all shiny black like that. I don’t think they had to cost a fortune so much as the guy who did it for us ripped us off. He was a jerk. But anyway, I do love their shiny, lacquer-like finish. Table, sideboard, and shelf probably look familiar to all you Ikea shoppers. And right you are! We bought them all at discount rates with names Smaug or Ektorp or something. By the way, Anthony and I had such a hard time installing that shelf that we fondly refer to it as “that time we almost got divorced during home improvements.” Fond, fond memories.

I leave that red fondue pot that I got at a yardsale because I’m trying to remind myself that I need to make fondue. I’m a little scared of sterno, but I’m trying to build up the courage. I love soup tureens and scouted thrift stores and yard sales for one for years before finding this one. The silver tray was purchased for a steal at an estate sale.

The tulip paintings are vintage from the 1920s and actually belonged to my Great Grandma. She hung them in her living room above the sofa. I know my Dad especially loves seeing them on display in my house as they remind him of her.

The dishes on display are a mixture of thrifted goodness and a few China town finds from San Francisco. I like collecting white dishware because 1. it’s purty 2. it creates a unifying theme of random objects and 3. I use all my dishes, and do you know what matches with white? White!

I didn’t get a good shot of the green chair in the corner but that is also vintage. We keep it around because we inevitably need extra seating in either the living room or the dining room. I think it was five dollars. The vinyl is starting to split, which is sad, but it’s lived a very useful life.

I adore these curtains but sadly they’ve been badly abused by my cats. Oh well. I bought them cheaply at Ikea and have been on the lookout for curtains at thrift stores for a long time but haven’t found anything the right size yet. I don’t plant to cover any of the bay windows. I like the way they look plain and let in so much light. On a related note I make sure to never walk into the kitchen naked.

I’m super in love with the vintage hammered-tin bowl on the table. I bought it for the shop, of course, but I think I have to keep it. It’s required.Someday, when the planets align the heavens are going to open up and I’m going to find myself at a thrift store holding the vintage light fixture of my dreams in one hand while holding a stack of cash in another. Until then I just keep praying.The last vintage item in the room is the high chair, which my friend Melynda generously purchased for me while yardsaling. I was only just pregnant back then and we referred to the baby as “Peanut” since we didn’t know that she was going to be a little girl.

I keep debating about whether or not to add more art or photos to the wall but so far haven’t come across anything vintage that seems to fit. But I’m not done looking.

This post is part IV in my multi-part series called the Thrifted Home Tour. I am showing off different rooms of my house to display how thrifted items can be worked into the décor to be useful and inspiring items. Partially it’s because I’d love to promote my vintage Etsy shop, and partially because that’s just how I roll. You can find part I here, part II here and part III here.