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Chinoiserie Chic • Mid Century Modern • Palm Beach Regency Vintage Sales & Rentals

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Filtering by Tag: "Housing Works Thrift Shop"

It's "Snot" You, It's Me

LeAnn Stephenson



The Hubbs and I celebrated our 17th year of marriage back on the 15th with a date night, which involved a swanky dinner for 2 and a movie. There is a back story, however, which is required for the following accounting of the evening. I've had a summer cold for the last few weeks. My nose is all stopped up and my eyes are all water-y. What makes me even more appealing is the fact that I sound like Gilda Radner when she portrayed her Lisa Lubner character on SNL. This, however, didn't stop me from trying to entice the Hubbs with a little make-out sesh before the movie started. So, I shot him one of my signature sideways looks accompanied by a raise of one eyebrow and a little coy smile - which is code for, "I'm ready for a smooch-fest." And, as luck would have it, it worked. As he made his move to give the kiss of the century (insert the swell of violins here) . . . I coughed . . . right in his face. The Ricola lozenge that I had been sucking on shot out of my mouth, ricocheted off his forehead, and landed in the hair of the lady seated in front of me. I immediately looked at the Hubbs, who was turning a lovely shade of purple and shaking uncontrollably in a fit of silent giggles. The mechanics of the throat are lost on me, apparently - "breathe air, swallow spit," I tell myself constantly. At that point, I figured my only option was to liberate the lozenge without her knowing it, because the only other person besides me and the Hubbs who was aware of this event was the guy 3 seats down who shot me a toothy grin while raising two thumbs-up gestures to his chest and nodded in a "what-a-loser-you-are" fashion. So, I stood up, bumped her seat pretending to leave to go to the bathroom, and thwacked the lozenge out of her hair. I apologized to her for the bump and continued on to the bathroom. When I returned, the Hubbs turned to me and began to say, "Hey, happy anni . . . .", he stopped short of finishing his sentence and had kind of a confused-disgusted expression on his face - I couldn't help but notice that his gaze was fixed on my nose. I didn't understand the look until I saw IT. I didn't have his view point, but I could see it - something slick, shiny and spherical, which was growing ever-larger as I breathed. It was an enormous bubble, of the mucus persuasion, looming from my left nostril, and it was the size of one of those clear hamster exercise balls.

Later that week, on our actual anniversary, the Hubbs presented me with a present . . . It was a gift certificate . . . for a flu shot . . . .

Aaahh, good times . . . good times . . . .

This post was triggered by a couple of fabulous gifts that were given to me by a darlin' creature named Stan. When I emailed him that I had received my gift, I mis-typed and wrote ". . . you are the darkin'-est creature." Stan Williams is the author of The Find, and my new all around best-est bud. He is not only fabulously gifted and talented, but is one of the most generous people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. When Stan was here in July for a book signing, he presented me with an absolutely gorgeous version of one of his Hooch Bags. A vintage black purse was full of goodies like vintage nylons, a vintage French paperback book, and a French dictionary to help me make my way through the pages, since I don't speak French. Also included was a vintage Air France hand-held fan, along with a vintage French postcard inscribed with a dear note from him on the back, all of which are some of my most prized possessions. And, as if that weren't enough, I got an email last week telling me that something he ran across spoke my name and he was sending it to me - if you are keeping count, I'm 2 presents behind! He sent me the brightest, happiest vintage printed napkins from one of his favorite stores in NYC called Angel Thrift Shop. I requested that he stop being so wonderful already, and let me catch up!



Thank you so very much for all my lovely, thoughtful presents, Stan! I mean they're not a certificate for "a live virus" or anything, but they are truly appreciated and loved. You are "The Darkin'-est!"

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Make Sure Not to Catch on Fire

LeAnn Stephenson


Have you ever thought about something too hard and gotten dizzy? This is the question I posed to my children yesterday as we were shoveling out their closets and drawers, preparing for our "GI-NORMOUS CLEAN ALL THE CRUD OUT OF YOUR CLOSETS, SO WE CAN BUY MORE CRUD TO FILL THEM GARAGE SALE." They turned to shoot each other a "Did she take her meds this morning?" look, quickly pivoted toward the door and left the room, returning moments later, my daughter carrying a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper and my son with a cold washcloth in hand, telling me to put my head between my legs and take deep breaths. I think there are often times when my family thinks that I might accidentally (on purpose) set myself on fire if not watched carefully. I suppose I don't blame them, because at that particular moment I was wearing a pair of the Hubbs old brown wingtip shoes, a lacy pink vintage slip over my running shorts, and T-shirt that I'd accessorized with a couple of those large black Hefty garbage bags tied at my waist and a pair of glittery sunglasses that would have made Elton John wince in disapproval. My question was treated as rhetorical and never answered.

But, here's the deal, I am a little light headed from the realization that I am not alone. I mean I knew I wasn't alone, but this week I sat mesmerized in front of my computer monitor looking at the blogs of fellow thrifters. I thought I knew the scope of "dumpster divers" that existed in the world . . . well, I had no idea! One of the things that has always perplexed me is the re-purposing ideas that flow out of these women and men - the cogs of my brain just don't function that cleverly. My finds just get stacked in piles until I'm able to restore them to their former beauty and sell them on the website, at flea markets, or at antique shows. I feel bad about my piles. Truly I do. If you saw my piles, you might feel bad about them too, but you'd probably be too polite to mention them. My daughter has begun referring to me as "Big Edie" (you know from the Grey Garden's story) and I snap back with, "Well. . . I guess that makes you 'little Edie then, huh?!'"

Just ask Stan Williams, he's seen my piles! And Stan is a perfect place to start, since he is the "Prince of The Find!" Here, he posted an idea he came upon using a bunch of hot water bottles. The Italian jean maker Energie, just sliced an opening in the side of the bottles, poured in a little water and grouped it together with all your others on a wall as hanging vases for assorted wildflowers for an awesome window display! Stan also has a marvelous interview with Amy of WhisperWood Cottage and Junkologie here.



Here's a nifty idea from Junkin Escapades I came across the other day. Old liquor bottles were paired with old brass house numbers to make some really cool looking vases. For more ideas check out Junkin Escapades blog where she writes about her quest for anything crusty, rusty, dusty, dirty, dingy and chippy!



Christine Terrell of Austin, Texas makes all of her pieces from upcycled decorative tins. The circles are punched, formed and then the edges are finished smooth. The basins are then drilled and strung on rigid german silver head pins and attached to sterling silver French hooks. My favorite is her retro rocket pins. See more of her beautiful creations at her Etsy store here and read her blog posts here.

Photos courtesy The Elegant Thrifter, Junkin Escapades, and Adaptive Reuser

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"Stan-palooza" the sequel

LeAnn Stephenson

I subscribe to the thought that when it comes to fun, it's always better when you're not the only one having it! So, with that, I give you more "Stan-palooza" pics.


Some of my dearest friends and customers Lauren and Lady came to meet Stan, get a signed copy of The Find and offer their steadfast support of me and my doings. You guys are the best!


Stan and another talented woman and dear friend, Kate, of Kiss My Attitude.


Stan joins the Bryan-Valdez family for a little "photo-op."


My son, Noah, and his honey, Laura, hamming it up for his sister, Olivia, our talented photographer for the evening.


Stan greets his adoring fans.


The line forms for Stan to sign his book.


Me and another favorite girly, Lyndsey.

Stan-palooza

LeAnn Stephenson


Stan with our give away winner Claire.

"Stan-palooza" was a rousing success! Books were signed. Friends were made. Stories were told. Goodies were eaten (nobody gagged, had to be hospitalized from food poisoning or retched - so I'm off the hook!) Temperatures rose to 102. Sticky hugs were given. And most importantly, fun was had by all.

Stan was as delightful as I expected him to be - more so, even! Jean was and is the best-est for offering up her magnificent store, Uptown Modern, as our location! Thank you Stan for coming to Austin and being your amazing self! Thanks, also, to those of you who attended the event last night - you rock! So, no more rambling, and on with the "paparazzi" moments of the evening. I'll probably have to post photos all week long, so, stay tuned!


Stan with Lyndsey, Olivia, Noah and Laura


Stan is "holding court" here and highlighting sections of his book for guests.


Jean, Cody and Katherine


The Hubbs, Scott and Stan


Stan and my dear friend, Andrea, trading notes about the publishing world.


Stan and his dear friend, Debi


Stan signing a book for an adoring fan - that would be me!

All photos courtesy Olivia Stephenson

And the Winner is . . . .

LeAnn Stephenson

I've heard it said that luck "happens" when opportunity knocks and you answer. Well, today's lucky winner of Stan Williams' newly released book, The Find, apparently answered the door! Congratulations Claire, you've won an autographed copy of Stan's book! Thanks to all of you who participated in our give away. I'm firmly convinced that I have the dearest, most supportive readers in the blogosphere. You are all winners in my eyes!

I used my thrifted mason jars as vases for my happy, brightly hued Gerber Daisies and big, honkin', purple Freesia - I seriously think they have pituitary issues - but they are beautiful, all the same!
So, today's the big day! Stan is bleary-eyed in Houston and on his way to Austin as I write this. And, I'm kind of beside myself with excitement and anticipation for tonight's event. My aunt, NanNan, came to help me prepare for our soiree yesterday. We baked in the morning, went to the florist and arranged the goody table centerpieces in the afternoon, and gathered all the serving pieces and prepped the fruit last night. Frankly, I've never been this on top of things for anything in my entire life! My NanNan has that effect on me - she brings out my "inner Martha Stewart," I guess!

I've been cooking - and we know how traumatic that can be for me - smoke alarms, fire trucks, mild streams of profanity, etc!

So, I'll be off to do some more prepping and squirming with excitement and I'll return with tons of photos of Stan, Jean, and our little soiree to share with you tomorrow.

My darlin' girl baby did the drawing for me. She was excited to get the chance to be my "Vanna."
Again, congratulations to Claire over at Two C's in a Pod. And thanks, everyone, for participating!

Girl Friday: What Died and Why Did They Bury It Here

LeAnn Stephenson


When you walk into my house you are met with a mysterious but distinct smell, something along the lines of dust bunnies mixed with feet, burnt toast and a mixture of Oxy Clean and Era laundry detergent. It's a little something I like to call "what-died-and-why-did-they-bury-it-here?" Stacks of primed, vintage furniture, vintage linens, mail, and dishes litter my domicile's landscape. A neat freak, I am not! My theories on housework follow Erma Bombeck's - if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares, why should I? The only household chore that I perform without protest, is ironing - it's my therapy. I sit and think and process my problems and find solutions - I'm hooked up wrong . . . I know! And, I've professed that I'm not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on. If you've been a reader for a while, you are well aware of my lack of cooking skills - burnt oven mitt with a side of "my-gag-reflex-is-not-what-it-used-to-be" being my specialty. I've never seen the point of making the beds and doing the dishes - six months later you have to do it all over again, anyway. Okay, so enough of my daily chore mantras, I think you get the picture, gross as it may be.

Well, all that has to change, mostly due to the fact that I have a special guest coming to see me next week. Stan Williams, author of The Find, is coming to Austin for a book signing reception at Uptown Modern this coming Tuesday. And, if I read my "hostess-with-the-most-est" handbook correctly, even though Stan probably won't make it out to my house on his short visit here, I should have the house all tidy and ready for guests, just in case! You know, like having clean underwear on just in case you get run over by a car or something that might require you to be taken to the hospital. Cuz "dirty drawer inspection" is what comes right after proof of insurance, I'm almost certain. It's not so much that I don't get the concept of housework, it's just that I don't see how it pertains to me. So I'm off to joust with the giant dust bunnies under my sofa, excavate through the piles of this that and the other, and then sit down to a big plate of "crazy" for lunch! But, I'll leave you with some wisdom on the subject of chores from some very wise souls. Have a great weekend!

• Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance? - Phyllis Diller

• Nature abhors a vacuum. And so do I. - Anne Gibbons

• Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. - Phyllis Diller

• Housework, if it is done right, can kill you. - John Skow

• You don't get anything clean without getting something else dirty. - Cecil Baxter

My First Give Away

LeAnn Stephenson



I have this thing in my head that I read once - something about how all of us would like a reputation for generosity and we'd all like to buy it cheap. That pretty much sums up today's post and me, for that matter. Another thought by novelist Charles Dudley Warner has me pegged as well, when he said, "I am convinced that the majority of people would be generous from selfish motives, if they had the opportunity."

So, with that "you-can't-get-somethin'-for-nothin'" attitude firmly in place, I'd like to offer my first ever GIVEAWAY! For your chance to win a signed copy of Stan's book, The Find, simply perform these two tasks:

(1) Leave a comment on this post, and
(2) click the "follow" button at the top right of my blog

One of my lucky blog followers will be selected to win the autographed book. If you already follow my blog, then you're in the running and if you're not yet a follower, join the ranks and show me some love - cuz I'm needy like that!

Once again, I'll be selecting a reader and sending them a signed copy of Stan's book, The Find. The winner will be randomly selected on July 13th and the winner's name will be posted on the blog the day of the event, Tuesday, July 14th. Thanks for reading my blog and good luck!

The Project

LeAnn Stephenson


I shot bolt up right in bed this morning and spouted my favorite expletive. My husband jumped and offered his sympathy for my newly acquired, extra-crispy, sunburned body parts. He mistakenly took my profanity as an indication that my "4th-of-July-can't-get-no-sunscreen" sunburn was paining me, when in reality, the matter was more like "anticipation-excitement-holy-crap-Stan's-visit-is-only-a-week-away" sort of realization punctuated with a mild stream of four-letter words.

If you've been reading my posts lately, you're aware that my friend, Stan Williams, and author of The Find, is coming to Austin to see friends and attend a book signing at my other friend, Jean Heath's store, Uptown Modern on July 14th beginning at 7 p.m. Since this whole deal was my idea, I get to host this affair, and I'm so appreciative to Stan and Jean for playing along.

So, as the "hostess-with-the-most-est", I began to prepare. At first I thought that I would just cook lots of great dessert-y type things and serve on paper plates, along with wine and punch in plastic cups. Stan, it seems to me, is not a man of pretense, but then I realized that this would be the perfect occasion to demonstrate the idea of a party produced with thrifted, vintage, mix-matched pieces. Taking a cue from the book and stylist Joe Maer, I decided to run with cobalt blue glassware and linen cocktail napkins, giving a sort of French ruff-hewn feel to this shindig.

I began by taking an accounting of the glassware, pottery, silver plate and linens I already had. From there, I became giddy with anticipation with the notion that I would need to supplement my existing collection with a few trips to my favorite thrift stores - and for a degenerate thrift-aholic like me, this was a dream come true - not just a shopping opportunity but a divinely sanctioned mandate. I could actually indulge my addiction without the bitter aftertaste of shame and guilt, which to be honest, I can't really even muster up much anymore.

My thought was that I would need containers for some lovely flowers that would accent the goody tables. I would also need some more glasses and flatware plus a few other serving pieces. Well, BINGO!, as they say, I hit the jackpot. I happened upon 15 cobalt, blue jelly jar type glasses, 2 huge turquoise mason jars (sans the lids,) 20 or so silver plated forks, a heavy apothecary jar and a great English Ironstone transfer ware platter, along with a great black and turquoise tole tray - all vintage, all thrifted and all for the grand total of twelve dollars and twenty cents!

I made my way home, the whole time my mind reeling with ideas on what and how to set up the tables with the goodies and drink. Thinking also that the only thing that could make this day any better was to return home with my haul and be greeted by the delivery of Stan's books and the event poster that his publicist, Courtney, had sent me. And again, this wonderful day kept getting better, because there on my stoop between the Geraniums and the Hydrangea was one slender, poster-shaped box leaning against two other "had-to-be-Stan's-books" boxes. It was like Christmas, only hotter and the fellow I was expecting weighed a lot less and his affinity for elves was not as pronounced!

So, I think in closing, I will warn you that the week's posts will probably be more like, "hey look what I found", instead of hey check out Stan's book The Find. Posts will be me thinking out loud, more like one woman's self-imposed quest to create a fun, beautiful, budget conscious event for her new found friend and kindred spirit, Stan.

7 days. Lots of vintage stuff. One woman with a nasty shopaholic issue. Vintage boutique owner by day, irreverent blogger by night. Too cheap for catering, too vain to use paper plates, and too excited for anything else!

Can I do it?

The "Holy-Crap-Stan's-Party-Is-Only-A-Week-Away" Project. Coming soon to a computer near you.

Girl Friday: The Perfect Day

LeAnn Stephenson


Have you ever had one of those perfect days? You know, the day that your skinny jeans are actually a little loose, or you only set off the smoke alarm once while you were cooking supper, or maybe you were able to easily liberate a new CD from it's hermetically sealed plastic wrapping without losing your religion. Well, that's the kind of day I'm having, because in addition to the aforementioned milestones, my friend, Stan Williams, is coming to see me. Well, me and a lot of other people interested in getting a signed copy of his newly released book, The Find. My other dear friend, Jean Heath, has very graciously offered up her great Mid Century Modern furniture store, Uptown Modern, as party central! So, in homage to Stan's Francophile nature, I get to be the "hostess-with-the-mostess" and throw a shindig on July 14th - Bastille Day, as fate would have it. We will have tasty treats and drinks, lots of books to sign, and more fun than you can shake a French revolutionary stick at.

If you're not familiar with Stan and his work, I posted a great interview with him last month, which you can find here, and an introductory post here. When I received the "it's a done deal" e-mail from Stan saying that he would able to fit an Austin stop onto his agenda and the offer from Jean to be our location, it was one of the most exciting days of my life - not withstanding the big ticket items like the birth of my children or my wedding day! Thanks so much Stan, I can't wait till you get here - and Jean, thanks to you as well for your hospitality! I can't wait for you all to meet him! I'll keep you posted about the exact time and such as it gets closer. If you would like a reminder, however make sure and either enter your email into my Feedburner or follow me with Google Friend Connect - both are located at the right side of the blog.

Girl Friday: Thrifting Guru Stan Williams

LeAnn Stephenson


Thrift-ing is, without a doubt, my “Crack”! Junking, antique-ing, thrift-ing, garage sale-ing, flea-ing - whatever your label, it, to me, is therapy minus the psycho-pharmocologist. Sometimes I’m looking for a specific something and other times, I’m just doing it to “get my dig on!" Sometimes it finds me and sometimes, I find it - “IT” being the treasure or “The Find.”

Which leads me to today’s post on The Find, authored by Stan Williams, a fellow blogger, thrifter, lifestyle writer and editor. It will be available May 3rd. He has teamed with the design experts at New York City's most popular thrift store, Housing Works, to show, not just "what" to look for in vintage decorating, but also how to recognize a treasure. It's elegantly photographed and filled with practical sidebars from some of today’s most clever style makers, including Simon Doonan, John Derian, and Real Simple’s Kristin van Ogtrop – all of whom are pronounced diehard devotees of New York City’s Housing Works. They not only show what to look for, but also how to look at an object to identify a great piece. You know, the trick of seeing beyond nicks and wobbles, color and intended use. One example, for instance, is encasing a vintage leather trunk in Lucite, and PRESTO!, you have a stunning coffee table. Further suggestions are taking pages from old books and wallpapering a foyer, or fashioning a cushion for a garden chair from a baseball diamond’s home plate.

The Find includes chapters on furniture, accessories, small spaces, and entertaining while offering unexpected ways that secondhand or vintage items can make statements throughout a home. This book is a combo handbook and inspiration for vintage decorating and reinforces the thought that secondhand does not have to mean second rate. It is documented proof that there’s always something special to be found.

You can find this book here and Williams’ blog The Elegant Thrifter is a must read. The Housing Works Thrift Shops occupy seven upscale locations in New York City, selling high-end vintage treasures to bargain hunters and fashionistas alike - Sarah Jessica Parker is a huge fan and contributes to their cause by donating goods. More information like auctions and other events, online shopping and ways to donate can be found here. The shops not only provide more than $12 million in funding per year, but also ensure a supply of clothing and essentials for our clients. It's times like these when I wish that I had unlimited funds to buy passage to "The Big Apple!"

My recommendation: Put your "Junk Gypsie" boots on and hit the estate sales, garage sales, thrift stores and flea markets this weekend to get a little shopping therapy, and skip the doctor-approved happy pills.


Book cover photo by by Jim Franco, and is courtesy of Amazon.com


Photo of trunk courtesy Turquoise LA - this piece designed by Jordan Cappella, features a vintage Goyard inspired trunk under a lucite base.