Jun 26, 2014

My Favorite Things Part 3

Updated 26 June
please note that I just discovered many comments that never made it to my email! Please see comments section for my response, and I apologize to all who took time to comment, but never made it to me. Cyber "connections" can be so frustrating! 


I hope this week is going well for you. I went out of town for a bit, and when I returned, I brought with me a nasty cold (or flu?) and as I make my way through my second box of kleenex, I thought I would finish up my mini series on a few of my favorite things that happen to be vintage, that I use routinely. I have enjoyed the emails I have received, learning about what you like to use as well.

Before I show you a few of my favorite things, I would like to announce the:




Click HERE to see the site!

In case you have no idea what I am talking about - the last two posts were in honor of NOVICA, an artisan website that is affiliated with National Geographic. I purchased a leather messenger bag - that I just love and - see my last post. NOVICA asked that I review their site, offered me a gift certificate to order something to review (my messenger bag) and offered a gift certificate to a lucky reader. In case you wonder how the winner wins...I write down numbers on little scraps of paper, and put them in a bowl, close my eyes and whichever number I choose, it correlates with a commenter in order that the comments were received. I happened to pick #1, and Sandi was the first one to comment. I numbered all the way through the second post. Congrats Sandi, and I will be emailing you with the details.

Now to a favorite silver cup of mine. This belonged to my father, and after he died, my mother gave it to me. It sits in my bathroom all the time (holding Q-tips, or eye drops...whatever). But I found a new use for it recently. After my first knee surgery (and my second), I couldn't stand to shower, so I took lots of baths. I grabbed this one day, and I used it to pour water over my head so I could wash and rinse my hair. During some pretty painful soaks, I did find it comforting to use my dad's cup - sort of like him "petting" my hair/head like he so often did as I grew up. If you were lucky enough to have a loving dad (uncle, grandfather), you know what I am talking about - that heavy, big, warm, gentle hand that finds its way to your head and strokes the top and down to the nape of the neck and then up again to the top of the head with a little finishing pat. I don't remember him leaning down and kissing me on top of my head...I think that must be a mom's job...but dads seem to like to "pet" heads, I think.  :-)

Another favorite vintage item have is somewhat "new" to me. I found this wonderful old (and heavy!) handmade pin cushion at an antique fair. I began sewing after 30 years of not touching a machine, and I discovered that having several pin cushions, is way easier than just having one. Seems like no matter where I am at my work table, the pin cushion was always out of reach - now I have two - one at each end! I love how the end of the cushion is hand sewn with what most would call "crude" but I think of it as more "folk-artsy" stitches. I wish I knew what was stuffed inside to make it so hard and heavy, but still can be pierced!   

Another tool, that I absolutely love and use a LOT, is my vintage chinois. I just love this and I got it for about $10. A brand new chinois can run up to $140 (but there are many that are less expensive than that)! 

My vintage chinois works just as well as a new one - mainly because I do most of the work! That is the key - the chinois doesn't have to be fancy-schmancy, as long as you know how to use it (just patient stirring the pestle).  I use it to smash all my homegrown tomatoes and I get more juice this way without the seeds. I always put my chinois in a large flat pan, such as short stock pot (usually the one I am going to use for the soup). Mainly, I use a large pan, because I tend to be messy, and I like room to work. These are used to make things super smooth such as soups, broths, puddings, or sauces. My tomato-basil soup is very creamy and very rich.

My little stand with its little legs have great patina (or some may call it scratched up!), but the mesh part is still in tact and the wooden pestle fits perfectly inside the mesh. In case you are wondering, I can all my garden tomatoes, so the tomatoes I am smashing already have the skins off of them. You don't have to remove the skins, just cut the tomatoes in chunks, and stir the pestle round and round till you get juice. The left over pulp is perfect for the compost pile!

And finally, another little vintage favorite is my vintage aluminum water thermos. I found this at an antique mall, and knew it would be perfect for those hot days while working in the garden. 

I just fill it with ice and carry it around the garden with me. It insulates wonderfully, and I like feeling the cold metal. I replaced the top with a clean milk glass lined canning lid. No metal taste with the glass, and yet, very sturdy. I tend to knock it over, or kick it out of the way as I weed the garden. I also like the fact that I am "recycling" meaning, instead of going out and getting something brand new, I just use what has been around for some time now. As long as an old item is safe to use, does its job, and is practical, I am all over it.

I hope you enjoyed this little mini tour of my found (and usable!) objects. For those who haven't gone to NOVICA site to view all the artisans around the world, I invite you to see what fellow artists are creating and selling. By the way, here are some links that NOVICA tells me they are highlighting at the moment and I thought you might like as well:

Again, thank you for stopping by to visit, but more importantly, for supporting fellow artisans. I feel very grateful to be considered as a colleague in the creative world. 

from my house to your house,


Jun 16, 2014

My Favorite Things Part 2 - And free gifts for everyone!

Updated 26 June
please note that I just discovered many comments that never made it to my email! Please see comments section for my response, and I apologize to all who took time to comment, but never made it to me. Cyber "connections" can be so frustrating! 


Welcome to part two of My Favorite Things posts. You might be wondering why cows are my favorite things...well, I will explain the cows in a moment.

In my last post, I reveal a way for one lucky winner to win a $75 gift certificate from NOVICA - to read about it all, click here:

To learn about how you, and any reader that reads this, can receive a little something from me as a thank you, just scroll down to the end of the post, if you don't have time for a visit. But as always, I hope you can stay and visit with me.

My first post in this series, I showed a few vintage items that I use routinely. And one of those items I featured (above) was an old mason jar that I use to hold my dried herbs. Well, I thought you might enjoy seeing my favorite way I dry my home-grown herbs...

Above is my vintage haberdashery factory cart that came from a closed-up hat factory, here in the Midwest. Below is a vintage image of similar type of cart that was used to move hats into the factory. Image source: click here. (If the owner of this image would like it removed, or have a better credit source, please let me know - thank you!)

I love the industrial feel of the slanted wheels, and the warmth of the wood. I love my little cart, and when I saw it, I knew exactly what I would use it for.

The racks are just perfect to space out my herbs and I am so happy that I am already cutting and drying my fresh harvest. Soon, the entire cart will be filled. Fresh herbs, even dried, makes every dish come alive. Can't get enough of basil!

Above is cinnamon basil, and below is purple basil - both have such a wonderful, wonderful scent as well as flavor. I use this type of basil in my tomato basil soup recipe as well as my quiche.

I am happy to be able to harvest a little lavender, as most of my lavender plants didn't make it through our very hard winter. But, I am getting budding stems, and they smell wonderful. 

Another basil, below, that is perfect for sauces (especially anything Italian). It is super strong when fresh, but when dried, it is perfect for dishes that need only a taste of this herb.

And one last thing I love about my little cart...when not drying herbs, it is perfect to hang my ribbon, lace, and scraps of material  when working on a project. I just roll it wherever I am working.

So what is the deal with the cows? Well, what goes best with herbs and vegetables? Meat! Being from Texas, a good steak is the best meal. I know, seems kinda mean, when looking at such cute cows...

But cows aren't really on my list of My Favorite Things...

But good leather is! Now before you feel sorry for these pretty cows...take a gander at your leather boots, leather chair, leather jacket, or your leather purse. Which leads me to a NEW favorite thing that I just received.

My new leather purse that I ordered from NOVICA!

The gift certificate they offered me (and to on of my lucky readers), I chose to order a leather messenger bag - and I want to share my review of the product, the service and shipping. But before I get to the bag, of course, I have to show the packaging and marketing...which we all know is almost as important as the item itself.  

It came wrapped up securely with a touch brown package, and inside, I pulled out a lovely wrapped package (above) and underneath that lovely paper, I find a wonderful muslin, drawstring bag, and find my purchase wrapped neatly with tissue paper and a little logo sticker.

I finally tear off the tissue (but had carefully taken off the wrapping paper) and below is my lovely purchase - fresh from the cow  hide, to the artisan's skillful hand and now to me. It is MOOeautiful! haha! It is advertised that is it made for men, and yes, my barber husband snatched it up, once he read that. But, no man comes between a woman and her new leather purse. It really is unisex, but it is MINE. Barber husband can go get his own "bag" as he won't touch my "purse." haha.

I really love the buckle clasps that may be adjusted for those days when I am carrying a lot and need more room. Easy opening and closing with the closure behind the strap. And on the back of the purse is the perfect pocket for my cell phone, or car keys, or sunglasses. It isn't a huge pocket, but all the better for me, as it will help me stay organized by not allowing me to cram everything I own into one darn pocket. There is also an additional zipper pocket inside as well. If you happen to have fallen in love with this bag, here is a direct link to learn the specs from the NOVICA site: Click HERE.  Please note that I am not receiving any commission, credits, or funds for providing this link. I am doing this just to help you out, should you be interested in learning more about the bag. 

Of course, I love the little letter pressed card and must show it.

And I didn't notice until later, a beautiful postcard was enclosed with a very nice NOVICA statement that explains how easy it is to return my purchase should I not be satisfied - which is NOT an issue with this purchase!  

I love the postcard, which is the cherry on top of a wonderful buying experience. (Plus, I love that I am supporting an artist.)

This has ended, as well as free gifts. However, please feel free to leave a comment.
Thank you! (June 26, 2014)

Here is how YOU may enter to win the $75 gift certificate from NOVICA. I want to be clear that NOVICA emailed me, and asked if they could give me a gift certificate to be used to purchase from their site and then share what I purchased with my readers. I wouldn't be doing this second post had I not been very pleased.

Just leave a comment and your name will be entered (along with those names from my prior post). NOVICA supports artisans around the world with fair trade. They are associated with National Geographic, an organization with reputation like non other. 

If you would like to receive a FREE little gift from me personally (something I made, or maybe a little something I am ready to part with), all you need to do is link this article to your social media of choice and leave a comment letting me know the link. Be sure to leave your mailing address so I may mail out your little thank you gift for supporting artisans worldwide. You may email me on the address at the sidebar if you want to keep your address private. Feel free to share this - new readers will receive a gift, if they link as well. 

I will be doing a final post on My Favorite Things and giving readers a chance to sign up, if they missed this post and the prior.  But THIS post is the post in which linking readers will receive a thank you gift from me. I would love to hear if you visited the NOVICA site, and if any particular item caught your eye.

For now, love what you own and own only what you love. 

from my house to your house,


Jun 9, 2014

My Favorite Things - and Gift Certificate!

Updated 26 June
please note that I just discovered many comments that never made it to my email! Please see comments section for my response, and I apologize to all who took time to comment, but never made it to me. Cyber "connections" can be so frustrating! 

My Favorite Things...


I hope the summer is off to a good start with you. My summer is off with usual summer activities such as gardening, taking rides out to the country, and catching up on projects. While busy about doing my projects, be it just cleaning out my closet, cooking, sewing, or gathering fresh produce from the garden, I have these somewhat "crazy lady" conversations in my head (okay, I confess, sometimes, I do catch myself talking out loud - sometimes) how I wish you friends were here with me to enjoy the day. But for now, cyber visits will have to do - which brings me to today's visit with you.

A friend dropped by recently, who hasn't been to my house in some time. We were visiting as I was making a simple dinner of homemade tomato basil soup (my own tomatoes and basil). As she sat with me in our tiny kitchen and watched me cook as we chatted, she pointed out how she was so amazed at the "old-timey" tools I was using and had around in my kitchen. Honestly, I had never given it much thought, as I use my vintage items routinely, never really considered it "old-timey" as my friend found it.

Just as I was about to claim that "most" people use these old things, I stopped and realized that actually, these old things are mainly sought out for their beauty, history, and the simple joy  of having them in our homes. I would enjoy hearing about any old thing that you actually use for its purpose and not just as decoration. I would love to hear from you. For now, I will share what I actually use routinely, in a little mini series that I am calling "My Favorite Things." If you don't have the time for a visit just now, but want to get to the gift certificate give-away, just scroll down towards the end to find out how to enter a $75 certificate from a very cool website... but I hope you have time for a visit.

There are lots of good reasons to use vintage items, other than they are just simply beautiful. I always liked the idea of using vintage items mainly because I personally get joy out of using something that has the test of time (if it still works when I discover it, then most likely it was built to last, unlike so many brand new items). I also like that I am saving a little bit of the earth by not buying new, and of course, the history of the item and any possible story that goes with it gives it a lot of character that just can't be found off the shelf of a big box store. 

Above is my beloved silver sugar shaker that I found years ago and it takes permanent residence upon my countertop. The patina on this little tarnish silver beauty is a personal joy of mine. Patina equals perfect for me! It doesn't just hold sugar, no, I have both sugar and cinnamon in it for my cinnamon toast mornings - any day starts out well with a good piece of cinnamon toast and Danish butter!

And what a better way to spread that great Danish butter, than with my vintage butter knives. I have tons of them - I just love them, use them, and use them for all sorts of things. Spreads, dips, sour cream, jelly, peanut butter, curds, sour cream, condiments,...you name it. 

These little butter knives in the creamer are a permanent fixture atop my vintage breadbox - used, literally, every single day. I just realized I didn't take a picture of my bread box - never even thought about till now. I have had the bread box so many years, and use it every day, I don't even think about it.

To be honest, I can't even remember when I got this cute and really practical German salt and pepper shaker. I must have been in Germany, or on one of my jaunts at a European flea-market and I am sure I thought it was just the coolest thing (and still think that). This "TischerFreund" (Table Friend) is so neat - just push down the side of the top that holds the spice you want, and the little flap folds up to release and shake out your choice.

Such a simple design, with a divided shaker. Simple and sweet...and of course, I smile every time I pick it up and visit with my "friend."

While we can find lots of uses for glass jars, nothing is better than finding an use for an old canning jar with zinc and milk glass lid. 

I grow my own herbs and dry them. I use tons of basil all year long, especially for my homemade tomato and basil cream soup. I actually had two jars and now down to half a jar. Happily, I just cut fresh basil this evening and they are hanging to dry for use this winter. 

I love the diamond pattern on this old glass. Gives it so much character. And the milk glass lid feels nice when I open it up and hold it in my hand as I pluck a few leaves out for dinner. Sometimes, I think the feelings we get with some objects are just as nice (or nicer) than the purpose of the object itself. 

While vintage knives are great to use for their intended purpose, there are other uses as well.

I have a thing for old hotel silver, butter knives and so on. But, after a while, I realize that unless I really use them, then I can't afford the shelf/drawer space for them...

...so, I realized the other day, while gardening, that my little wooden markers were breaking...and how my old knives would make great garden markers! A little nail polish remover easily wipes off the words. After I took this photo, it started to rain pretty hard, so I still need to get an image of these in my garden. But for now, you can see how fun they can be, as well as useful.

You know, I think that is the goal in daily living - to have fun with simplicity. Simple doesn't always mean easy...just look at the Amish. The Amish live a "simple" life, but no one would argue that it is sometimes hard. Simple living to me simply means living in the  present moment, enjoying the task at hand - no matter how hard (or easy) that task may be. There is an art to that type of living, I think. 

And speaking of the art of living...here is a preview of what is to come!


I found a new website that I am still reading and shopping about. Like many of you, I believe in supporting small businesses, and especially artisans. I am more than happy to pay extra for something handmade by an artisan. I have to tell you this quick story. Several years ago, while in San Francisco, I was at an outdoor artisan market (sort of like a flea-market). I was amazed at the crafts and I stood there, watching this beautiful, little Asian woman knit baby clothes. Her items were just perfect, and she tells me she has been knitting for over 30 years (I swear she didn't look a day older than 30). I then witness a very sad thing: a well-dressed woman, stopped by and picked up a beautiful sweater that was only $35 (which I was amazed at inexpensive the item was). 

Well, I am sure you can guess what happened next. This "lady" proceeds to tell the artisan that this "sweater was too much...can't you do better on the price?" I was so shocked - and saddened. The artisan handled it nicely, but the customer insisted on a lower price and would not pay the asking price. I couldn't help but butt in and said, "You aren't going to find a sweater of this quality for such a great price. I am sure you realize your purchase helps support the arts." She stared at me and mumbled she would be back later. I left feeling sad and frustrated for the artisan, as I owned my store back then and knew how hard it was to find great products at prices that customers would pay - because as I was told on more than one occasion, "I can find this cheaper at Target." Which of course they can't...they can find reproductions, but NOT the real items I had in my store. I never felt awkward pointing out to those customers that then perhaps they should be shopping at Target. 

But I digress...back to the website. Here is gift certificate info:

This artisan website that I am impressed with is called NOVICA.

I  will be upfront and disclose that I was contacted by this company to review their site and was given a certificate so I could order an item for my review, while offering a $75 gift certificate to one of my readers for them to enjoy a purchase of their own from NOVICA.

All I am asking of you is to look their site and see what they are all about. I was immediately impressed because this is a fair trade site, filled with artisans that are trying to make a living doing what they love to do and have a talent for. This is something I truly believe in. While I love the old and the vintage, my heart is always for the artisans.

NOVICA is more than just a website for artisans. They work to support them and give us an opportunity to LEND small amounts of funds (only $10 and up) to an artisan of your choice, which they pay back without interest. Once the lender is repaid, the lender has the option of turning the repayment into a store credit with an extra 15% bonus.  

Here is a 1 minute video about Eka, who supports her family through her wood making. 

To learn more about lending, just click here.

And finally, a 1 min video about NOVICA Certified.


If you would like to be entered into the drawing for the $75 gift certificate, please leave a comment and please make sure I have a way to contact you. I do not use Google plus, so please leave your email if you wish. Or send me your email via the link listed on the image of the typewriter on the right sidebar. 

NEXT POST: I will continue with my series of my favorite things and also share with you what I purchased from NOVICA. I will also give away my own handmade craft item to all who links my post to their social media. More details on my next post.

Thank you for visiting and for visiting NOVICA. I am still learning myself all that they are about, but so far, what I have read, I am very impressed with. I hope you are too.

(Oh, if you made it down this far, I thought I would share with you that all these images were NOT taken in my home! I thought it would be funny if some readers never went down this far and left my blog thinking, Man! Elizabeth really needs to clean her windows! LOL!!)

From my house to your house,

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