Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Genius Antique Shop Idea: In the Rough Room (Americana Roads Antiques Part 2)

Remember the amazing treasure trove we toured in my last post? (That spool cabinet...COVETING!)

As promised, welcome to Part 2, featuring the oh-so-fun In the Rough Room.

Now, I'm not enough of an antiques buff to know if this is actually that unique of an idea, but I was just totally taken with the concept of an "as is" junk room in an antique store. It was such a neat experience as a shopper to find this picker's paradise in an out-of-the-way room off the main store which is otherwise so gorgeously meticulous.

I was smitten with this compartmentalized shelving unit (maybe an old mail sorting cabinet?).

I would love it as an oversized trinket cabinet, like this but with deeper shelves.


Back in the regular showroom, I fell in love with this salvaged wood table. I think Tomás could make us one!

I actually might like it a bit more rough ... double entendre anyone? ;-)

Vintage luggage looks super chic stacked. Imagine this...

luggage for sale at Americana Roads this.

from 6th Street Design School, lots more great luggage ideas!

Even with nothing in them, these vintage photo frames look beautiful grouped together!

Love the shape of these little mirrors!

Messy bookshelf is a perfect addition to my library love Pinterest board!

Someone left this message on a vintage chalkboard. Couldn't have said it better myself!

"this is a place with old stuff"

The sign on this box of old photos gave me a good giggle!

If you live in the NEPA area or happen to pass through, be sure to stop at Americana Roads Antiques. Even if you're looking to buy, it's a great place to get vintage-inspired decorating ideas.

What's your favorite antique shop? No matter the location, tell us about it!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Awesome Local Find: Americana Roads Antiques in Springville, PA (Part 1)

What aspiring farm girl doesn't love a great antique store?

Last weekend, my parents and I were lucky enough to stumble upon Americana Roads Antiques in Springville, PA. I made a small ($17) purchase, but way more valuable than that, the items and displays at Americana gave me lots of inspiration for things I'd like to incorporate in our home one day.

Americana doesn't have a website, so I'll do my best to give you the grand tour right here.

Here's what you'll see when you drive up. I actually decided to stay in the car and knit while my parents ran in, but my dad was back out in minutes to tell me I just had to come in. I'm so glad I did!

Americana is located on Main Street in Springville
View when you walk in the door

The first floor is set up with kitchen and sitting room displays.

Love the antique glass bottles in this cabinet

Have you ever seen an antique spice box before? I would put this on a display cabinet in my kitchen or dining room.
I just loved this piece; complete with nutmeg grater!

I'm used to seeing (baby) grands in black...I love the polished wood look of this one! It would take up a good chunk of space in a room, but since I can (kind of) play piano, and more importantly, really enjoy playing, I think the space consumption would be worth it if we actually put the piano to use. Functional beauty, baby!

Tag said "Hazelton Bros., est. 1849"

Now this piece was THE awesome find of our visit. This is a rotating spool cabinet by J. & P. Coats. Rebekah (the very sweet proprietor who showed us around) explained that a shop owner would have used this in the 1800s to display the Coats thread he had for sale. I just adored how Rebekah had it set up as a side table. Again, I love the idea of not merely displaying an antique, but using it and incorporating it into your daily life as well.

My new love

Roll up that front panel, and you can see how the thread is inside.

Squeal, just love the rolltop (rollside?) panel!

 Another side is glass-paneled so customers could see right inside to the spools of thread. 

It's like an antique vending machine!

There's a hinged flap at the top where the show owner could restock and drop in new thread.

Notice the numbers-gotta love that organization!

However much in love we were with this extremely rare and unique find, it was already sold - for $1,500, which I think is a very fair price considering how special it is. I just hope that a similar one crosses my path again one day when I'll be able to afford to take it home with me!

I was really taken with this little beauty, too. It's a 19th century foot warmer, marked at $155. I love the primitive punched heart design. I think this would look really neat on a mantle or on the floor near a fireplace or woodpile.

I'm a sucker for antique house goods turned rustic decor!
Tomás really loves copper and cast iron cookware and kitchen utensils, so I can see us doing something like this in our kitchen. Of course, as per the recurring theme in this post, I would want the cookware to actually use the cookware, not just display it. (*Does anyone use vintage cast iron for cooking/baking? I'd love your take on the feasibility of using that versus modern cookware--comment at the end of the post!)

Could hang over counter space or an island
This was my parents' drool-inducing find. It's an 1890's medical cabinet, where a surgeon would keep his instruments (yikes!). It's marked at $1,950. My mom is thinking about getting it, but she wants to make sure she'll put it to use and isn't yet sure what she would do with it. Any ideas on what to store in here?

Very neat how the shelves swing out!

See those adorable, tiny antique books? That was my big purchase of the day! $17 for all six. For now, I'll use them as props when I take pics for my Etsy shop, and then I'll find a cute way to display them when we have our own house.

I've never seen such tiny books--none of them are over 6" tall!

See that cute screened-in pie safe? We really liked that, too. Tag says $595.

I think that pie safe would look great in a kitchen, storing pots
and pans. Also might make a good little pantry.

The last thing I'm going to show you today is this awesome suspended ladder used as a shelf for those baskets. How cool is this? I'm not sure where I would put this or what I'd use it for, but I heart it very much.

That's a pretty long, photo-laden post for one day, so I'll let you digest and bring you Part Dos in a few days. Don't forget to comment below if you have any knowledge about using antique cast iron cookware!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

They're Ba-aaaaack! Clean and Disinfect Your Bird Feeders

that's some good seed, lady!
"Mom, Mom, get up, they're back! The birds are back!"

i've missed these little pudgers!
Isn't it so cute when the little ones wake you up with such excitement early in the morning? 

Will you still think it's adorable when I tell you that I don't have any kids, and that was actually 26-year old ME running to my parent's room this morning to tell my mom the news? 

Not so much? Well, let me explain...

our neighbor's shed washed up against our bridge
Our neighborhood was hit pretty hard by flooding in September as a result of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. In addition to the damage, mess, and helplessness such an event causes, an additional major bummer has been that we haven't had any wild birds at our feeders in months. Ever since the flood, our usually busy feeders have stood untouched.

can you tell I was having fun with photo effects today?
One farm girl skill I've got down pat is a love of nature, especially birds, so this has been a pretty sucky winter in terms of bird watching. I love to sit in our sun room with my binoculars and field guide, observing and identifying the feathered characters that stop by. I've really missed that this year. 

finally some winter beauty
So, when this morning I noticed the cat staring out the window with that jerky attentiveness that can only be caused by a little flying fluffball, my heart jumped a bit. I looked out in the garden, and there on the dried stalks were a half dozen American gold finches, chowing down on thistle seeds!

welcome back, friend!
Now that I knew that the birds were still around here somewhere and were starting to reconsider our yard as a hangout spot, I decided to clean and refill our feeders.

How to Clean Your Bird Feeders

I'd never cleaned feeders before (my mom's always taken care of that), so I Googled an article form Cornell Lab of Ornithology to find out how to properly do so. This will be a lot easier in the summer when I can do it outside in big buckets or plastic tubs, but the sink worked fine for today.

I filled one side of the sink with hot soapy water (I used Dawn, because I figure if it's safe enough to wash oil off penguins, it's got to be okay for the bird feeder). I put the first feeder in and let it soak for a bit, then scrubbed it with a dish sponge.

The Cornell Lab article said to then soak the feeder in a a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. I started measuring very carefully to make sure I'd get the ratio right, then I realized it was going to take forever, so I just filled the sink with hot water and threw in some Clorox. I probably ended up putting in about 4 cups of bleach. I don't know how that came out in relation to the 1:9 solution, but I don't think it could have been too far off. It seemed to get things clean, but it didn't reek like bleach either.

once I moved the first feeder to the bleach solution sink, I put
the other feeders in the soap water
Once everything had been washed and rinsed (I rinsed VERY well to make sure the bleach was off), I set everything outside to dry.

After a few hours, I put fresh food in the feeders, and my sweet hubby hung them outside. Now I'll really be on the watch out for more homecomers!

can't wait to see who stops by!
My question for you all is, how do you clean your feeders? Do you know a better way? Please share!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Absolute Beginner's First Knitted Dishcloth (You Can Do It!)

Have you been practicing your slipknot and casting on?

NO?! (mock horror)

Well I guess that's alright, considering you're a real person with a life and everything. It doesn't matter since I've included the casting on tutorial video again in this post, because that's how much I love you. So no worries.
You're going to learn to make this!
This post is going to walk you through how to make your very first knitting project, a cute and functional dishcloth. It's very important for me to stress to you that you CAN do this, even if you've never even picked up a pair of needles before you. I have been knitting for two and a half weeks now (seriously, that's it, never even tried it before), and I was able to pull this off. So trust me, you can do it too.
I got mine at A.C. Moore and Michael's
You need:

*A ball of Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn (check out all the awesome colors!)
*A pair of #7 knitting needles (I got Clover Takumi bamboo--less slippery than metal, and bamboo is a very renewable resource!)
*You'll also need scissors and a yarn needle (or bobby pin or paperclip) at the very end when you're done.
Close up so you can see what kind of needles I got
Now before we get started, let me give you a quick pep talk (inspired by this post by Ashley of Make It and Love It):

You will probably kind of suck at this to begin with. The needles will feel really awkward in your hands, stitches will fall off, and you will very possibly end up with some unexplained holes here and there (this is still happening to me). Your first project is not going to be perfect; it may even be slightly hideous. But it will be YOURS, and you will be proud of yourself, and you will get better the more you do it. Don't stop or give up because things don't feel or look right. You'll get it in time.

Okay, enough of that touchy-feely stuff. Here we go!

First, you need to tie a slipknot at the end of your yarn, and then cast on 29 stitches. Here's a video to remind you how.

You should have a total of 30 stitches on your right needle (the slipknot plus the 29 you cast on). Now it's time to knit, baby! Follow along with the video, and feel free to pause and backtrack as needed. And shout out to my mom for the great camera work! :-)

After you knit your first row, you just start over again. Here's a video on starting a new row.

Now you just keep knitting your little heart out until you have enough rows that your dishcloth is more or less a square. To prove that I'm still a beginner that somehow ends up with holes in her knitting, here's a piece of evidence.
Now where did that come from?
Every few rows or so, count your stitches to make sure there's still 30. I tend to end up with 31 or 32 (not sure why!), so here's how you fix that.

Once you've got a square (and don't worry if it's days or weeks or whatevers later; work at your own pace), you're ready to finish off your work. Watch this tutorial to see how to bind off and tuck in the ends of string.

After you tuck in the tail of the string you finished with, you can do the same thing with the tail from the slipknot.

And then, drumroll please... YOU DID IT!
My finished dishcloth, holes, bumps, and all
Use it, frame it, or unravel it to start again, whatever floats your boat. Regardless, show it off for a bit first, and come back here to post a photo or tell us how it went!