Tag Archives: Tour

Guest Post: Montmartre Vignettes

27 Jun

Today’s guest post is brought to you by my good friend Gisela, who recently founded photodudette.com, a photography website I can’t get enough of. Gigi posts her own amazing photography, tutorials she’s found, and examples of other great photographs on the web. She explains what mes a photograph a good one and why it works.  What I love most about the website is its message: what makes a good photographer is the person behind the lens, not the equipment. This is very validating for someone like me who has very basic gear. Expensive equipment only takes you so far. What matters is you.

Gigi is a world traveler, originally from Portugal and currently living in Paris. She lives with her husband and two cats. We met on flickr when I begged to join her group, The New Domesticity. We became fast friends. Her personal style is classic and timeless and fits Paris perfectly. I’ve long admired her dressing room self portraits. Today she is going to take you on a little photo tour of Paris, specifically Montmartre.

Monmartre encapsulates both sides of Paris: the sacred and the profane, coexisting side-by-side, a vibrant city center at the intersection of crass and culture. And Gigi is going to give you the tour.


Montmartre is a charming place.

Metro station Abbesses has one of only three art nouveau glass canopies still in existence in Paris. Walking around in the narrow and steep streets you find many treasures. Wallace fountains, street art, quirky cafés and restaurants.

Everywhere you look you see Paris much like it was when van Gogh, Renoir or Picasso lived there. This was the place of artists. Many well known painters, writers and philosophers called it their home. A place of creativity, excess drinking and cavorting, if you know what I mean.

Today it remains a symbol of Paris’ art spirit and bohemian fun with commercial street artists and, at the base of the hill, the sex clubs.

One of the reasons I love Montmartre it’s the view. At the top of the hill there is a snowy white catholic church, the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, and a wonderful view of Paris. We can see everything from up there. It’s like a gigantic “Where’s Waldo?” of famous buildings. The Invalides, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame, the Panthéon. You name it. Because Montmartre is one of the few hills in Paris, you can see for miles.

After soaking in the view you will be ready to go down hill and enjoy a show at the Moulin Rouge or a new cordless toy, which ever floats your boat.

Thrifted Home Tour: The Nursery

13 Jun

I have put off writing this post for the Thrifted Home Tour for about a year now because of PPD, and although I’ve technically never done the library or the guest bedroom either, the nursery was the room I balked at. For almost two years my sister lived in our guest bedroom so that room was off limits, and our home library has needed a lot of work so I never really took pictures of it to include it in the tour, although I should just for the awesome green vintage filing cabinet alone. I did post photos of the office/library here and you can see years-old photos of some vintage goodness in the guest bedroom on flickr, including the trunk that came over with my family from Sweden. It held all their worldly goods and you can still see the address to “Amerika” carved on the side.  You can read the previous installments of the Thrifted Home Tour here.

(What is the Thrifted Home Tour? I’m glad you asked! I’ve decorated my entire home with vintage goods either passed down from family members or found while trolling estate sales or thrift stores. 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. I think more people should decorate their home with thrifted goods. Here’s why .)

I made these curtains myself from Heather Ross fabric I ordered from someplace online. They look horrible, and this is because I tried to make them after I went on maternity, and getting down on the ground with a giant belly to cut fabric was DUMB. Don’t try it at home.

The nursery set got a lot of views on flickr and I still occasionally get emails from people about something that was in the photos or if they can use a shot for something. It was featured on Esty, Ohdeedoh, and Spearamint Baby. I had the most fun creating this room and I can’t wait do to it all over again when the time comes. We had a miniscule budget but I managed to put this room together by shopping thrift stores, Etsy, and my own family’s hand-me-downs.

I guess I should start explaining things now since I’m several photos into the tour. The chair in the photo above belonged to my grandparents, as did the side table next to it. The chair itself is pretty gross one side. All the cats decided it was the perfect scratching post, but I chose that chair not for its looks but for its comfort. I’ve slept in that chair while cradling the newborn Isobel many times, as has Anthony and I think maybe even my sister and mother. The pillow in the chair was an old one I bought for my first apartment at MacFrugals. It is UG-LY, but I bought a ten dollar pillow cover from Etsy seller Lindylou2. I still love it.

The blanket that’s draped over the chair was handmade by a coworker’s mother, and the one draped across the crib was made by Anthony’s Grandma.

I bought some cheap album frames from CB2 and filled them with record album covers from the thrift store with the exception of Sgt Pepper, which was my parents. My mom actually saw the Beatles at the Cow Palace way back in the day and I talk about it at every chance I get. Because DUDE she saw THE BEATLES. The magazine holder next to the chair came from my grandparents and we filled it with storybooks that we now read to her at bedtime.

Anthony and I scored both the bookcase and the dresser from a yardsale from an old neighbor. My Dad painstakingly painted the dresser pink but we left the shelf the way it was. All told I think we spent about fifty or sixty bucks for the set. Our buddy Jose gave us the thrifted “How Things Work” books which are amazing and have since been saved for Isobel for when she’s older. I miraculously came upon some old, hardbound Highlights for Children books at a book sale, and one of the doll’s quilts was thrifted as well.

The vintage print was found in a Costa Rican fairytale book from the library. I made a color copy and framed it an an old frame from an Estate sale. I got the wooden mushrooms from Etsy seller craftsty. Isobel now uses them as part of her cooking set. I got the firefly jar lights from etaknamdoow.

The closet was filled with clothes that were gifts plus a few things I picked up while thrifting or were hand-me-downs. People’s generosity was so overwhelming, it’s bursting at the seams. I decided it needed to be organized so I made these closet dividers for it and I posted a tutorial here.

I created a template for these guys that’s available for free over here.

I still use these to organize Isobel’s clothes, though we’re running to the end of the sizes I made them for. They are really lovely,  but I’m not going to lie–they were a lot of work. But seriously, they are useful, so check out the closet divider tutorial and see if you can streamline the process for yourself.

The changing table we scored for I think fifteen bucks at my favorite local thrift store, and the baskets underneath all came from Target. You can find where to purchase the cloth diaper pail liner here, and the pail itself is actually an unused garbage pail bought new from Target. You can see the lovely pink dresser my dad painted, too.

The cats above the changing table were purchased for fifteen bucks at an antique store, and Isobel used to look up at them and giggle when she was just a few months old. The old hamper next to the changing table (the wooden one) was my grandpa’s and back then I used it as a table to store wipes, powder and other essentials. Once Isobel was mobile enough to get into them I moved them to the dresser. The hamper now stores all of her dress up clothes.

I got a lot of comments on Isobel’s crib, and I wish I still had a link for it. We bought it relatively cheaply from the Babies R Us website. It was a moderately priced crib, so maybe $250? Cute modern cribs were so expensive and after striking out on Craigslist we just went ahead and bought this one. The joke’s on us though! Isobel coslept for all but about three months of her life. Hopefully kid #2 will spend more quality time here.

We ordered the decal off Etsy but I’m not going to post a link. I didn’t have a great experience with that seller so I’m not going to link to them. A quick search for “vinyl decal” or “wall decal” will yield more results than you eve r thought possible, so scour Etsy if you’re looking for something similar.

There’s sweet Peachie, sleeping on the changing table. I miss him and Tinkerbell incredibly.

This butterfly mobile is so gorgeous. It was custom made for us by Etsy seller Khamm75 and in full disclosure I have to say that I adore this seller. We convo’d a bit and she liked my photos of the mobile so much she offered to buy them for use in her listings. I had my eye on this birth date print so we arranged a trade, and now when you click on mobile listing you see my photos. She is super nice, great to work with, and her shop is filled with gorgeous wares.

It looks amazing above the crib next to the mobile.

There’s my sweet Peachie boy again.

I found this vintage owl picture while thrifting and a friend of mine said the owls look really pissed off. I didn’t think that before but ever since she said that, I always think that and it makes me giggle. They do look kind of miffed. It  adds to their charm. Below it is this great vintage brass lightswitch plate purchased from Etsy seller lexigirlcreations. I looked through a lot of light switch covers (so that’s what I did with all that carefree, childless time!) and it was by far the best.

The woodland animal pictures were handmade a long time ago and I found them while thrifting for ten cents each. The first picture is a chipmunk on a mushroom and the second features a fox and some butterflies. I luff them. Below is a yellow thrifted bowl that I keep Isobel’s hair accessories in and a thrifted bowl decorated with babies playing ping pong on it. I use that bowl for storing the rubber bands that I used to keep infant socks together. The light is vintage Irmi from the seventies. It was actually in my nursery and my mom saved it! The gold frame was also thrifted but the adorable ABC print inside came from Etsy seller studiolyon. She was another fantastic seller to work with. I also spent an inordinate amount of time researching ABC prints because I had seen so many fantastic ones featured on design sites and they were all at least $50 before shipping. This one was awesome and nine dollars. I guess sales exploded after I put up the nursery set since it was featured at different places and she sent me an email thanking me. Which is ridiculous, because we should be thanking her for producing lovely art affordably.

I found this frame and the mushroom plaque while thrifting.

This is what Isobel looked like most of the time while in her crib: awake. Here she’s chilling next to some elephants a great aunt made for me as a baby.

Isobel’s closet was ridiculous from before she was even born. We got tons of clothes as gifts but got even more things handed down from cousins and friends. I saved some of the really cute gift bags from her shower and used them as closet organization and storage for things like slings and receiving blankets.

There’s my sweet Tinky, hiding in the closet.

I didn’t get this footstool till later on during a yard saling expedition, but it was nice to have.

And I’m going to end with a photo of Tinky, who probably slept in the crib more often than Isobel.

Offbeat Home

8 Mar

My home is featured on Offbeat Home today. Check it out here.

Many thanks to Stella for bringing this opportunity to my attention.

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.

Thrifted Home Tour: Living Room

17 Jan

When we bought our house back in 2005, home prices had started to drop, and we felt we were fortunate for being able to get so much house for the price we did. Oh, if I could go back in time and punch Past Me, Present Me would totally do it. We could live in a mansion now for what we paid back then. But at the time, I thought we scored big, despite the decrepit roof and nasty, nasty carpet. As it was, we didn’t have any leftover money to fix the house, beyond some dire repainting and fence repair.

In most cases, repainting is simply a cosmetic issue, but the person who lived in the house before us had criminal tastes and was also very lazy. She had painted the kitchen cabinets turquoise (to match the navy blue counters, natch) and the laundry room a painful school bus yellow. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, she took a yellow painted brush and painted a giant yellow circle the size of a dinner plate on the otherwise very nice camel-colored bathroom walls. Just a circle. Of school bus yellow. And not even a very neat one.

So we painted and patched and put in new fences and fixed the pond and did what we could. Be we had no money left over for big furniture purchases or major renovating. We’re still living with a ramshackle roof and embarrassing carpet to this day. My one splurge at the time was an insistence on painting the fireplace deep brown. I couldn’t abide the calico-colored bricks in my living room. The deep brown paint was just right and sort of gives the effect that the fireplace is made of blocks of chocolate. Yum.

We did eventually make a trip to Ikea where we purchased a sideboard for the dining room, the two large shelves that flank the TV in this room, and our multitude of library shelves, which I’ll show you later in the series. The shelves in this room have doors on them, which I felt was essential, as I don’t want to look at my crap all the time.

Something was still missing from this room: color. It suffered from a great lack of personality and was awash in a sea of beige. One weekend, Anthony and I just decided to do it: let’s paint the living room. We went to the hardware store not knowing what color we’d come home with. Anthony picked the color: Green Tea. I was more than a little apprehensive. Shouldn’t we choose something more… sedate? As Anthony put the first brush strokes of color on the wall, he said, “It looks… AMAZING.” Even as the green was going up, I had my doubts. But, with the help of our friends John, Justin, and Depeche we got the walls painted over a weekend  and to this day I LOVE it. Best risky decision ever! (Yes, painting is a risky decision for me.)  (Oh, am I a Wild Child.)

Aside from the TV cabinet (Target) and large shelves, everything in this room was secondhand. Oh, actually, our wedding photos aren’t, and the curtains were from Target, but everything else I think. The two big chairs and our couch were the last things I purchased at my beloved Salvation Army. It closed a few weeks after without any sort of warning and broke my heart in three places.

I really love the bones of the couch even though the upholstery’s had it. Any notions I’ve had of saving the couch have since vanished, as Zorro’s taken to using it as a scratching post, even though we put an actual scratching post right next to it. Asshole. Tinky and Peach never scratched on furniture like this and now Zorro’s teaching his bad habits to The Moron Twins. Also? A 25lb cat scratching on something is QUITE A BIT DIFFERENT than a 10-15lb cat scratching something. If you’d like to know how, piss off a badger and a cat at the same time and see who does the most damage.

The green and brown chairs are from the sixties and the seventies, respectively. I love the green chair with every fiber of my being, but Anthony hates it. Sure, it’s adorable, he’ll allow to that, but it has a fatal flaw: it tends to rock backwards somewhat… over enthusiastically.  As in, if one sits in this chair and leans backwards too far, one tends to fall over in it. A minor thing for sure, right? The brown chair is “leather” and I wouldn’t hesitate to replace it with some Herman Miller goodness, if ever I could ever afford some.

In this corner we have the wedding photos in an Ikea frame, a family crest plaque that was my Grandma’s and a clock that I adore that was my Nana’s. I have a couple vintage frames that I collected and I’m going to redo my wedding photos. Soon-ish, hopefully. The lamp is from the 50s or 60s in my estimate and was thrifted, as were the two Dala horses. I was very lucky to find those horses, as buying Dala horses tends to be expensive. My family has a couple already, being that we’re Swedish and all, but they are much smaller. The coasters were thrifted and the side table belonged to my Nana. The chest below the side table holds our cat toys. Of which we have many.

The lovely green chair with the embroidered flowers belonged to my elderly neighbor who passed away recently. My family had been close to her since we moved into my family home in 1985. We were close to not only her, but also to her children. Her children gave my family this chair plus another one like it. Zorro is trying to ruin it which makes me rather stabby.

The large blank space above the couch puzzled me for a long time. I couldn’t decide what to put there, and eventually hung a number of things I totally hated. when I came upon a cache of decorative plates at a thrift store, I knew I wanted them on that wall. Finding the San Francisco poster online sealed the deal. The matting and frame for the poster were found while thrifting. Trying to frame a poster of uncommon dimensions is a nightmare. Until I found this frame while thrifting I thought I was going to have to see about custom framing, which would have been out of the question for a very long time.

The plates themselves are for the Empire State Building (back when it held the ‘World’s Tallest’ title) the Carnelian Room in SF, the Pacific Plaza in SF. On the other side we have a monogrammed “H” plate along with a plate commemorating 1,000 of the British Monarchy. I know, right? It seems like we were just celebrating its 500th! The last plate is my favorite and depicts Seattle’s Space Needle in gold from the World’s Fair. I actually found a few other plates just like it on my thrifting travels, so look for it in my shop some time soon.

Oh look! It’s the Moron Twins! There here to greet you. And lick their junk.

And there’s Zorro.

Behind the green chair we have one of my favorite posters. It’s a propaganda poster, but for the library. It’s a reproduction of a vintage print. I found it while buying stuff for the library I work at, but was fortunately able to order it from home with my non-business account. Again, finding frames for art can be a difficult business. It would have been very expensive to have this custom framed, but I volunteered at a local thrift shop one summer and found this very 70s print of a girl, standing by a barn. It came in this lovely, solid wood frame with a thick, heavy piece of glass. And my poster fit inside perfectly.

The little table belonged to my Nana and Papa and is a sewing table from a Very Long  Time Ago. It is still filled with antique thimbles, ancient thread, and bias tape from 50 years ago. When I was cleaning it out I found my Papa’s polio vaccination card. Yes, really.

I found this lamp at a thrift store but I didn’t have a shade. No matter, I found this one at Target. Ideally, I would have wanted something straight and taller, but you take what you can get. I keep some vintage milk glass on the table because it looks so pretty in the light, along with my vintage egg terrarium. Although empty in this picture, it is full and happy now.

Milk glass, terrarium, and lamp: all thrifted.

Here’s another shot of the living room. I still love the green. Oh, and that felted wool afghan over the brown chair was thrifted, too. Superb quality, obviously handmade: someone is going to Hell for donating it, but not me! I bought it for a song.

Oh, yeah: the vintage “seasons” picture over the TV is stretched canvas and I love it immensely. I bought it while I still lived with my parents because I saw it and couldn’t imagine life without it. It has followed me from house to house, and a house wouldn’t feel like home to me if it wasn’t hanging up somewhere.

Woodland needle point and Avon perfume peacocks: thrifted. CHEAP. I have a few of the peacocks, so I might sell some of them in my shop.

A closeup of the crests, depicting my English-Scotch and Swedish heritage.

And here I saved the best for last: note the rings on my side table. I put those there just for you, internet!

This post is part VI 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 five here.

Thrifted Home Tour: The Entry, The Hall, The Laundry Room

11 Nov

For this part of the tour I am going to group three small areas together: the entry, the hallway, and the laundry room. They are works in progress and they could all do with a fresh coat of paint and new flooring. Let’s face it, when finances are tough the last thing you’re going to be worrying about is the paint color of your laundry room. I’m not promising this to be the most exciting installment of the Thrifted Home Tour, but everyone has these rooms in their house that you think of as The Before areas. You know, later you’ll invest in them and make them all cute, but right now they serve a purpose and you’ve made them as cute as you can, but let’s face it: these are, at best, my “Before” shots. I hope to Sweet Baby Jesus Picard that sooner or later I’ll be posting adorable thrifted “After” shots.

While these might not be the cutest rooms in the house, I do have a curiosity to see the way other people’s storage and utility areas function, so in a way I’m inviting you to rifle through my cabinets and peek into my closets.


The first thing you’ll notice about the entry is the tile floor courtesy of the 1980s. It’s pretty hideous. When we have enough money to replace the carpet I’d like to see if we can get rid of the tile, too.

We freshened up the look of the entry when we moved in by repainting the door white. That really did brighten up the space. (It was a very dingy off white color similar to the walls.) Ideally we’ll repaint the entry whatever color we decide on for the hallway since they are connected.


The beveled mirror is from the 1930s and was previously owned by my late Nana. I love it. Isobel loves it, too, and she shows her affection by coating it with a layer of fingerprints.

Below the mirror we have a small console table purchased at Ikea about five years ago. All the cats we’ve ever owned adore it both as perch and as bunk bed. It’s the perfect spot to hold keys and sunglasses (they live in the thrifted brass bowl) and is a useful spot to store things that need to leave the house with us lest we forget them.


The gold plastic dogwood wall hanging was thrifted and so was the wreath hanging on the door. I love the vintage mushroom and fruit basket that was picked up at an estate sale, and Isobel loves to play with it, too.

The photo on the table was my first Mother’s Day present from my MIL Olivia. When Isobel was a wee four weeks old she took her for her first photo session and I got to shower by myself. Heaven! I often glace at the photos of her as a newborn while on the way to work or to the store and I marvel at how much she’s grown. And I miss that little peanut that she was, but wow. Do I ever enjoy regular showers.

I really like that we have a window near the door because it lets in a lot of light. I’m a huge fan of natural light. But an exposed window like that is asking for trouble. When we first moved in I can’t tell you how often people would come to the door to sell us something and I would find them with their faces pressed to the glass looking in. Um, no thank you. It was awful. I scoured the internet for a solution and came upon some great window film via Not Martha. I ordered it, husband put it up, and we haven’t had a problem since. I have a lot of the film left over and was originally going to put it on the window above my sink, but that no longer appeals to me. I’m thinking I’ll offer it for a giveaway if anyone’s interested.

Many more window film shots


This is our hallway. It’s boring and in need of paint, new carpet, and framed photos.

(The cat may stay.)

Since Anthony has a new job the first project I’m attempting is to cover the hallway with framed photographs. I’ve already started putting together a collection of photos I want to add and now I’m researching frames.




Our dryer is also from the 1980s and although we’ve had a couple of scares it hasn’t crapped out on us yet. I keep a thrifted basket on top of the dryer to hold dirty rags. I don’t like throwing rags with cleaning chemicals onto my dirty clothes, so I keep them here and toss them in the wash at the last second.


The amber-colored vintage jar is for coins and other things my husband forgot to remove from his pockets before the wash. This might not be an issue for every household, but my husband is a champion at leaving things in his pockets.

This is The Bounty. I love it and want to hang it over the dryer. We got it at a yard sale for a dollar. It’s kind of beat up but that just means it’s authentic.

Here we have our storage shelves. Try not to swoon from all the glamor:

There you have it! The three most exciting rooms of the house.

This post is part V 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 and part IV here.

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.

Thrifted Home Tour: The Bath

14 Sep

The next stop on our Thrifted Home Tour is the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. For someone who can’t abide clutter I still want my bathroom to look pretty and I think the best way to go about this is with interesting thrifted décor. Some of the worst decorating offenses happen in the bathroom. What a wretched fate for such a small space! It’s subject to all manner of hideous themes and poor color choices.

I tend to like uncluttered spaces and this is doubly true in the bathroom where space is usually limited and items need frequent cleaning. Less clutter = less cleaning which I can tell you from personal experience is the true meaning of life.

The lotion in this picture came from my husband’s cousin Depeche and the candle and brass tray were thrifted. The sand dollar was a present from my friend Melynda.

This soap dish was thrifted and repurposed as I’m assuming it’s actually a compote dish. I can’t tell for sure if it had a lid at one point but if it did it’s nowhere to be found. Colorful dishes like this are perfect for holding soap. As is true in a kitchen, things in the bathroom need to be both beautiful and useful.

This clock is one of my crowning glories. Mushrooms, butterflies, it’s the majesty of the 70s in one lovely time piece. The clock stopped working, unfortunately, so I’m going to take it to see if it can be repaired. Please, baby Picard Jesus. Make it so.

The lighting in our bathroom is pretty bad so a few of these photos could only be salvaged by processing them in black and white. But you get the idea. The candle holders, sake cup, and teapot were all thrifted. The mushrooms were a birthday gift from Melynda. She sure is generous, isn’t she?

One of my favorite finds ever are the handmade, hand painted, Mexican bird paintings. The artwork is a combination of painted design and painstakingly-crafted feathers glued to form the shape of the bird. They were handmade in Juarez a long time ago and they are just lovely.

The vintage tin on top of the toilet holds, uh, lady supplies.

I bought the wooden shelf while on an epic yard saling adventure with my friends that ended up with us getting stranded in the middle of nowhere, having to push our car around, and waiting for the smarmy tow truck dude. I was secretly pregnant at the time so I took pictures while my friends pushed the car and seemed like a total jackass. But I wasn’t a jackass! I was just pregnant.

I suppose it’s possible I was a pregnant jackass. I’m willing to allow for the possibility.

Anyway, even though Angela drives a tiny Lancer  we somehow fit an amazing amount of yard sale goodness into it, including this wooden shelf. (Angela’s car is actually so tiny I wrote a song about it called, “Hold me closer, tiny Lancer.” I think it’s going to be a hit.) Everything on the shelf was thrifted with the exception of the tiny jade vase, the deer candleholder, a bell, and the white mortal and pestle. Those items are all family heirlooms with the exception of the mortar and pestle, which my bestie Angela gave me. It says, and I’m not kidding, “Coors” on the handle.

So! There you have it. My bathroom at chez Castillo. The main thing I’m trying to get across is that thrifted items can be beautiful, useful, and tell and interesting story. If you find that you need something, look to acquire it second hand before going to a big box store. It’s kinder on the environment, more interesting, and often cheaper. While you’re at it, stop by my shop. I’d be happy to take requests for anything particular you want me to keep my eye out for.

This post is part III 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 and part II here.

Thrifted Home Tour: Closet

25 Aug

This post is part II 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.

I’m actually far from done as far as closet decoration goes. One of the items on my Life List is to pimp my closet. What does that mean, exactly? I want to go all out and paint and wall paper and buy all wooden hangers so my closet isn’t just functional, but a thing of beauty. Ideally, I’d want to put in a skylight, but I doubt I will ever have the money to make that happen. A girl can dream, though.

Onto the closet! I particularly love decorating small spaces. I usually have so many ideas that the minimum of options a small space provides is actually very helpful. And I have a great closet. It’s not huge, but it’s a nice size and it has the perfect built-in organization. If we ever move I’m going to replicate what we have in this closet (if possible) because it suits my needs perfectly.

This shelf is mostly for Anthony’s things, some bracelets, things he removed from his pockets, ear buds, glasses, that kind of thing. That white milk glass dish is the absolute perfect size and shape for accumulating pocket change. Once it starts getting full we raid it for burrito or ice cream money. The lovely lady in the photo is Anthony’s sister, in a beautiful vintage frame. The vintage alarm clock works when wound and the hands glow in the dark. Perhaps one of my favorite finds EVER is the vintage BART plate. For those of you not familiar with San Francisco, the BART is kind of like the subway for the Bay Area. It’s most useful for commuters who live well outside the city as a quick way to travel to it. I used to ride the BART quite frequently. My friends and I would drive halfway to SF and hop on the BART in Pleasanton and speed into the city in about 45 minutes.  Once in SF we’d wander around the city on foot or via MUNI. I haven’t done that since I developed Crohn’s disease because the walking is too much for me, but we used to do it all the time. One of my Dad’s favorite jokes is about the Fresno Area Rapid Transit system.

Heh. Heh. Heh.

Apparently the worst possible time to be on the BART is after the Oakland Raiders have lost a game. God help you if you are ever around a mob of pissed Raiders fans in Oakland. Terrifying.

Anyway, this is about the greatest vintage commemorative plate I’ve ever found because not only does it celebrate the BART but it’s done in a font and in a style that is evocative of Star Trek. I started geeking out everywhere when I saw this plate, and still geek out to a degree every time I see it in the closet. I might have to be buried with it.

Our closet has enough space to fold sweaters, hang pants, coats and dresses, and hold all of our shirts. I wish I had decorative boxes for my shoes, but I don’t. (When we can afford to closet-pimp, it will happen.) Below the coats you can see our light and dark colored clothes hampers. They used to look really nice until the cats realized they make excellent scratching posts. I have a large plastic tub next to the hampers that I call my ‘memory box.’ It stores all the things from my life that I will eventually scrapbook or store in some better way. It’s 99% photographs that need to be scanned at the moment.

Above my coats and the shelf that holds my sweaters I have boxes that contain our wedding albums, Anthony’s diploma and a vintage tin that I use constantly. That vintage tin holds all the buttons and snippets of thread that come with your clothes. I keep it in my closet as opposed to my sewing box because it’s a lot less of a pain in the ass. When I find extra buttons, I’m usually in my closet, and the only way I’ll be sure it keep them if I need them is if they’re convenient. The vintage tin is not only convenient, but it’s adorable as well.

To the left of my coats I have my jewelry area. Whereas Anthony had the BART tray shelf I have this one to hold all of my jewelry. I really don’t have a lot of jewelry, actually, but I have collected a lot of vintage dishes and boxes to hold what I do have. Little vintage dishes for desks or jewelry organization are probably my favorite thing to shop for. The blue box is a bento box I got in Japan town on my honeymoon (excellent jewelry storage!) and the black lacquer box belonged to my Grandma. She served as a military nurse in Korea and brought this home as a memento.

Above the shelf I have a straw star I got at local Skandinavian cultural heritage festival (RIP Skandifest), my faerie wings from halloween, a vintage gold frame, a door hanger, and a blue good luck eye that I bought in Half Moon Bay one year. That floral polyester scarf is going to end up in my Etsy shop one of these days. Really. I’m not… going… to keep it… I swears.

The shelf also holds other useful things like undergarments, swimwear, hats and gloves. The plastic boxes are not at all cute and will be changed when I pimp my closet.

Next to the shelf is a belt or tie rack that was there when we moved in. Super useful it is, too. Not very attractive, of course, but it’s useful.

I hang my two bathrobes (one vintage) on the inside of my closet door and occasionally use that hook for purse storage. I will definitely change out this hook when it comes time to pimp this room because it’s not a perfect fit over the door which prevents the closet from closing all the way. That’s okay for now, though, as Isobel likes to shut herself in the closet and I never worry she’ll get locked in.

We did add these wooden pegs to the closet. They were very cheap and we got them at one of those huge home supply and hardware stores. This is where I keep the majority of my purses and scarves. I keep a very well-edited closet and if it doesn’t fit then it doesn’t stay. Rutheless! I know. But the organization keeps me happy and ideally I only keep and wear the stuff that I really, really love.

What closet storage methods are your favorite? What could you not live without? What never really did it for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Thrifted Home Tour: The Bedroom

7 Aug

Today is the day I plan to make good on my promise to post a Thrifted Home Tour to feature examples of thrifted home décor throughout my house. Some of the stuff in the photos I’m just ‘trying out’ for the Little Big shop and you’ll see it in Etsy soon. Anthony’s convinced I’m going to get too attached and not be able to let some of it go, but he’s wrong! I, uh, just haven’t gotten around to listing it yet. Yeah.

Anyway, I think thrifting is far and away the best way to decorate a house. As I mentioned earlier, it’s kind to the environment, creative and unique, and often times much less expensive. Trolling thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets is a hobby and obsession of mine. Over the years I’ve found enough goodies to decorate my entire house and then some. Let’s start the tour off with the bedroom, shall we?

First off I must apologize for the quality of these photos. Our master bedroom gets fabulous light from about five o’clock to seven o’clock May through June. The rest of the year it’s as bright as cave. I cranked the ISO way up so the pictures would at least turn out, but the sacrifice is quality.

Here we have our bed decked out with vintage pillows and linens. Finding thrifted linens that you like, in good condition, the proper size for your bed, and at an affordable price is a challenge. I will let you in on a little bedding secret, though: if you drool over the fancy crocheted and knitted blankets on etsy, but can’t afford the price tag, you’re not out of luck. Lots of people undervalue their grandma’s knitted Afghans and crocheted throws. Instead of keeping them they take them to Goodwill. A gorgeous blanket that would cost upwards of a hundred dollars on etsy will cost you far less in a thrift store. Lucky you for finding an under-appreciated blanket!  Now, I’m not advocating not shopping at etsy, on the contrary, I fully support the goods of handmade artisans. I just can’t always afford them.

I’m particularly happy with how my bedside table is looking these days. I frequent a Catholic thrift store run by the nicest volunteers. When I came upon this Madonna-esque picture Isobel was still a newborn and it pulled at my heart strings. I know it’s meant as religious art, but each time I look at the lovely blue illustration I just think of that sweet feeling of Isobel resting her tiny head on me. The candle holders were a thrilling score and the vintage peacock perfume holder? Icing on the cake.

Anthony’s side of the bed is less thrifted-oriented, featuring a giant d20, a vase my friend Jenn gave me ages ago, and a thrifted copy of Stranger in a Strange Land that Anthony has finished reading by now.

I spent many, many hours in this thrifted chair, nursing and rocking Isobel and looking out the window while I waited for sleep. In fact, looking at that chair is making me kind of sleepy. The Afghan is from my grandma (appreciated!), the bird’s nest wreath was from the dollar store, and the needlework owls and vintage candle holder I just adore. The magazine holder and throws are thrifted.

Next to the bed sits a very old thrifted garbage can from the 60s and a set of vintage suitcases. I used them recently on our trip to Santa Cruz but I love the way they look so I leave them out to enjoy. Our crappy dresser from Target is next to the suitcases. I really don’t like it but I haven’t found anything better while thrifting yet.

Above the dresser is an adorable thrifted pair of needlework mushrooms (heart!) and vintage plastic floral wall décor that I just love. I really feel like I’m not done with this wall yet, but I’m okay leaving it like this till I find the perfect treasure.

I’m quite proud of the arrangement on top of the dresser. Just about everything is thrifted. I miraculously found two vintage milk glass initial mugs with Anthony’s and my initials on them and put them on a monkey pod wooden tray. I added delicate silver shamrock dishes (I usually set my wedding ring or nose ring in them), a vintage frame with an enlarged photobooth photo, and two vintage glass jars. One jar contains a lock of Isobel’s infant hair and one holds treasures from some of my favorite places: shells, acorns, rocks, bits of driftwood. The non-thrifted parts are the DND scrabble pin I bought Anthony off of etsy and the Librarian pin that I wear when I want to feel fancy.

Next to the wooden tray I have one of my most prized thrifted finds: carved agate mushroom bookends. When I found them I died and went to heaven. For reals.

On the other side of the bed I have a large wooden trunk that I inherited from my Nana. It’s still mostly full of family memorabilia. On top of that I have a vintage shopping basket stacked with yarn (some of it thrifted! I took advantage of someone’s de-stashing efforts), a thrifted silver tray, silver Indian bowl, vintage brass pitcher, thrifted silver frame with disgruntled baby Isobel photo, and some miniature silver Viking ships that were my Grandma’s. If there’s one thing I learned from taking photos of my house it’s that I have a slight Viking theme that I was previously unaware of.

The striking black and white sails painting was picked up for five dollars and the framed marigold painting cost ten. The silver cat silhouette was originally a weird yellow color and housed a painting of a duck. I spray-painted the frame silver and created this silhouette of a photo of my beloved Tinkerbell in Photoshop. She used to be the first thing I saw when I woke up in the morning. Now she still is. The metal green lamp in the corner? Thrifted for thirty bucks. I may have started babbling with joy when I found it.

The only other thing I really have out in the room is a large mirror that used to belong to a dresser but functions perfectly for me as a stand-alone mirror. I keep a lot of stuff in my closet and bathroom that I will show later. I really hope that more people discover the joy of thrifted décor and if you have any questions, please add them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.