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Filtering by Tag: "The Elegant Thrifter"

Contain Yourself: Debbie Glassberg

LeAnn Stephenson



Everyone has their porn. Mine is home design. I also dabble in DIY, which I'm pretty sure is a kinky subculture - the S and M of home decor, if you will. I'm not entirely sure how this happened or when, but this much I AM sure of, shelter magazines, home improvement shows on TV, and big-box stores constantly enabled me. I futz around my house with the tenacity of an obsessive compulsive - think Monk or Rain Man only with ovaries and a paint brush. Don't misunderstand, a neat freak I am not - far from it. As a matter of fact, there are times when my house can be so cluttered that one might need a sherpa to find his way safely from the bedroom to the kitchen. I'm sorry to say that my housekeeping skills don't serve so much as a good example as they are a horrible warning. I've never claimed that cleaning and organizing are my thing. I flunked "tidy" but I'm top of my class in "topcoat," "tack hammer" and "painter's tape."

So, with that in mind, today I would like to begin a new series of weekly (unless I get lazy) posts called "Contain Yourself," where I will share photos and links to what other home design junkies choose as containers for their families, their stuff, and their lives.



Today's home is from Debbie Glassberg, an industrial and toy designer from "Our Man Stan's" hometown of Kansas City, who recently took on something a little larger, seeing homes where others saw only metal boxes.

You know those metal shipping containers that you see on rail cars? Yeah, the ones with the graffiti and the rust. Well, Glassberg has designed a home, made from those metal containers and placed it in the aging Kansas City neighborhood of Brookside.

The home is made from five shipping containers. It’s a little over 2,000 square feet. Her container home is green with geothermal heat, soy foam insulation, bamboo flooring, and LED lighting. Debbie’s father, who owns a factory in China, was able to negotiate with individual Chinese manufacturers for all aspects of the interior of the home cutting thousands of dollars from the cost.

In the middle of the house is a galley kitchen. She didn’t have a lot of space because she was using just the container space. So on one side she made a more of a shallow counter and filled it with energy efficient appliances. There is also a window in the kitchen to serve your guests outside.

The master bedroom is constructed of two nine and a half foot containers that are joined together. She made a his and hers closet that is designed very simply with two boxes and rails making for really sufficient hanging space. Then she created one nice drawered piece of furniture to hold all her other things. Additionally, on the second floor adjacent to the deck is a rooftop edible garden.

Cargo containers are now gaining the attention of many architects, engineers, and designers as a useful architectural material. Glassberg joined with many other container lovers and had the Home Contained built. Aside from the cargo containers, the Home Contained has other earth-friendly features, which include green roof, geothermal heating, insulated walls and solar panels. With these features, occupants will be able to save on their energy usage and money as this will surely keep their electricity bill lower than it should be if they chose to use first hand materials, opt not to have solar panels, and the like.












Photos and video courtesy Home Contained, igreenspot, and YouTube

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Treasure Hunting at Antiques Week in Texas

LeAnn Stephenson


Our Golden Retriever, AJ, does this little prancy-dancy thing when we go out to play with or feed him.  He wags his tail with such enthusiasm that I think sometimes he might take flight.  He's just so overwhelmed by his anticipation and excitement that often he jumps off of the deck and takes a couple of "turbo-rear-end-in-low-gear" laps around the backyard.  Well, I gotta tell ya, this is the way I feel about Antiques Week in Texas.  And, apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way.  Our man Stan Williams, author of The Find, has put Texas Antique Week at the top of his own personal list of favorite antiquing spots and Shelterpop has included it in its Top 5 Flea Markets in the Country.  Stan described it this way: "If you want big, expensive items, they're there. If you want junk, it's there. It really has everything."

So, if you find joy in treasure hunting in overstuffed flea markets and are planning on attending Antiques Week this fall, I would love it if you would come by and see me at my spaces at Vickie Davis' wonderful venue at The Texas Rose Antique Show, located across from Marburger Farms, 2075 South State Highway 237. You can find directions here. The show begins Saturday, September 25th, and runs through Saturday, October 2, 2010.

Hope to see you there and happy hunting!

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Thingy Thursday: Stan Williams

LeAnn Stephenson


In May of 2009 I posted a blog about a new book I had heard about called The Find.  A few days later, I received an email from the author, Stan Williams, thanking me for the write up, sharing further that he had a dear friend that lived here in Austin and he would love to see her and make an opportunity to travel from NYC to meet me.  Well, the rest, as they say, is history.  Stan is fond of giving me the compliment of saying that we are "kindred spirits" - I'm more of the belief that he is a long lost, amputated limb that I wasn't aware I was missing.  This darlin' creature and dear friend, also known as The Elegant Thrifter , the blogger/writer of Busy Day Skilett and the maker of the marvelous Hooch Bags, holds a very special place in my heart.

I knew very little of ephemera before meeting Stan.  My educated guess as to the meaning of the word fell between one of two definitions. My initial thought was that maybe it was some sort of urban slang for the little dip just above a woman's collar bone.  But, then I also thought it sounded possibly like what hookers charge extra for.  Turns out neither was correct. After some research I found that ephemera can be described as items designed to be useful or important for only a short time, for example pamphlets, postcards, tickets, etc.  This research triggered a kind of greedy madness in me.  And, I use the word greedy because to any observer it would seem like I already have more than enough collections.  So, to take on another would be like fantasizing about being in love with Robert Downey, Jr. while you're making out with Hugh Jackman, it just seems unbecoming and a little ungrateful.  Frankly, the fact that I even considered adding ephemera to the long list of things a collect (clearly a hoarding-obsessive-compulsive tendency) suggests that I am technically beyond help.  But, with Stan as my mentor, I have learned the value of collecting only what you truly love and not being greedy.  Leaving some for the next treasure-hunter is full of karmic benefits and is only one of the many marvelous traits that I love and admire about this man.

So, without further delay, in today's Thingy Thursday, I would like to introduce you to Stan and his collections and celebrate his undying passion for nostalgia, thrifting, and all things vintage.  Below are his answers to a few nosey questions I posed:



What was your first collection?

Dolly Parton memorabilia. I probably started when I was 12. I do not display this collection, but I do haul it out on occasion to have a "Dolly" moment



How did this collections come about?

I saw Dolly Parton perform in 1977 at the American Royal rodeo promoting her "Here Your Come Again" album. I had seen her on TV and listened to her music, but this was when I officially became hooked. I still have the program. Funny enough, my mom was an original member of the Porter Wagoner fan club and has many of the original materials.



What's the history or story of your collection - is it reminiscent of items or times from your childhood - did you inherit a collection from your grandmother, aunt, mother, etc.?  What's the draw - do emotions, design or function or something else make these items appealing?

Did I answer above?



How much Dolly ephemera do you have?

Hundreds...I have every album she recorded on RCA (and with Porter Wagoner), as well as her albums with Monument. I am only missing a couple of early, early pieces.



Do you use, display or store them?

No. Like I said, I'll pull a piece out here and there. A couple of years ago I through a party that I called Dolly-Rama, celebrating the launch of Dolly's Backwoods Barbie album, and made it all things Dolly.  I do, however, have a signed print of  the cast of "9 to 5" that Veli found at a junk shop in Waxaw, NC and gave me as a Christmas gift, but that's about it.



What is the most you've paid for a piece of Dolly ephemera?

I really don't remember. Probably $100.


What is the least you've paid for a piece of Dolly ephemera?

10 cents...for old publicity photos from the '70s
What is your favorite piece of Dolly ephemera?

The "9 to 5" Print




What other collections are you building?

None. If I find something I like, I pick it up. I don't buy a lot. I do like items with a sense of humor, filled with color and charm.

Would you sell or pass on your collections?

Yes, I would pass on my collections, provided anyone wanted them.  I probably should have mentioned that I do, on occasion, pick up a vintage handbag to make a Hooch Bag with. I make hostess gifts out of vintage bags, fill them with funny money, a vintage surprise, a pack of candy cigarettes and a nip of booze..sort of a naughty but nice little gift that is popular for Mother's Day, wedding parties, special birthdays, or any time gals get together to have fun!  I also like to pick up old pieces of china that I use to give people to take home goodies after a party, or use to give baked goods as gifts, and just let the recipient keep the plate.

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"Sex and the City" Brunch

LeAnn Stephenson



I'm back and feeling like a lighter version of me only with a higher dosage of happy pills. I give credit not to my psycho-pharmacologist, but to my recent trip to New York. The alarmingly hectic, albeit wonderful, year of 2009 left me feeling a little spaz-tastic and weary, but my new year has begun with a renewed sense of excitement and lots of plans for the coming months.

In the next several posts I will be sharing photos and experiences from our trip as well as presenting plans I have for The Vintage Laundry, the blog, and other endeavors. But first, I'd like to share this:


2009 brought many opportunities, one of the most valuable being the chance to not only meet Stan Williams, but be given the gift of his friendship. The second day of 2010 was spent with Stan and Veli at their home in the NoHo neighborhood in Manhattan. Stan whipped up a very "Sex and the City" brunch - armed with relentless joie de vivre, his favorite vintage printed tablecloth, his 1970s mushroom tray from J.C. Penney, cheese, crackers, scones, muffins, coconut macaroons, and lots of tasty Prosecco champagne. Truly a master thesis on "effortless hospitality" - A "vintage glam" time was had by all!! Stan, you are one of the most clever, wickedly talented, dearest creatures on this planet - I'm so grateful that you are in my life and I hope 2010 has even more marvelous things headed your way!!



Photos courtesy Olivia Stephenson.
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Antiques Week: I'm Off and I'm Leaving, too!

LeAnn Stephenson



So, I'm off! And I'm not referring to mental state, although that phrase has been used to describe my demeanor on many occasions. In this case, however, I'm using it literally, I'm off to Round Top for the next 7 to 8 days to sell some vintage goodies.

If you are planning on attending Antiques Week this Fall, I would love it if you would come by and see me at my spaces at Vickie Davis' wonderful venue at "The Texas Rose Antique Show," located across from Marburger Farms, 2075 South State Highway 237. You can find directions here. The show begins Saturday, September 26th, and runs through Saturday, October 3, 2009. Stan Williams, author of The Find, will be in my space at the Texas Rose Antique Show signing copies of his book and swapping stories about favorite finds on Saturday, September 26th, and then again on Tuesday, September 29th. We will have all kinds of goodies to drink and eat on both days and lots of books for Stan to sign! Stan will also be signing copies of his book at the Blog Party at Theresa from Garden Antiques' space at Zapp Hall on Sunday beginning at 6 pm.

I can't wait for Stan to see the fields and fields and dealer after dealer, offering vintage treasures! Don't forget that we will have all kinds of goodies to drink and eat on both days.

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A Pressing Conversation

LeAnn Stephenson



My darlin' friend Stan Williams, author of The Find, and I had a little Q & A session awhile ago. Today he has featured that interview over at his blog The Elegant Thrifter.

I'm so flattered by the feature on his blog! The other great news is that, as of yesterday, it's official, Stan is coming with me to Antiques Week at the end of September. Stan will be in my spaces at Vickie Davis' wonderful venue at "The Texas Rose Antique Show," located across from Marburger Farms, 2075 South State Highway 237. Your can find directions here. The show begins Saturday, September 26th and runs through Saturday, October 3, 2009. Stan will be in my space at the Texas Rose Antique Show signing copies of his book, The Find, and swapping stories about favorite finds on Saturday, September 26th and then again on Tuesday, September 29th.

To be honest, I feel a little bit like a drug dealer introducing Stan to this event. As I have said before, this event is just an "antiques freak's" Mecca. There are fields and fields and dealer after dealer, offering vintage treasures and it's my own little slice of Prozac!

Okay, so, this is how it goes every 6 months at my house. To thin my personal and professional collection of vintage textiles and other vintage goodies, I participate in "Antiques Week" in the Round Top/Warrenton area as a dealer/merchant - wink, wink, nudge, nudge. This is the equivalent to taking a compulsive gambler to Vegas or similar to 'make your own pipe night' at the crack house.

If you are planning on attending this Fall, please come by and meet Stan and get an autographed copy of his fabulous book. We will have all kinds of goodies to drink and eat on both days.

Perhaps you could even provide a little diversion, so that Stan and I can steal away for some shopping, because my family has already warned Stan and me that they may have to stage some sort of intervention to get us away from there!

Images courtesy Olivia Stephenson

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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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Our Man Stan

LeAnn Stephenson


Our man Stan, author of The Find, has been busy recently and I feel the need to share. Over the past weeks, Stan has been taping a piece that Open House ran about The Find this past Sunday morning, which can be found here. He's on his way to a television show of his very own, I'm certain of it! He features, among others, a Chelsea apartment that has been decorated by Mark Ciolli of Carl & Co. Stan proves again and again that, although we may be in a recession, that doesn't mean we can't redesign our homes. And ever generous, he shares his tips on how to scout flea markets, thrift shops, and garage sales for show-stopping furniture, beautiful lighting and wall decor.

















All images courtesy of Open House NYC, LX.TV and NBC Local Media.

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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.

At home with . . . Stan Williams

LeAnn Stephenson

In the Summer of 1971 my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. After giving it some thought, for something like an entire day, and pondering the options I figured were available to me: teaching little kids, raising little kids, dancing on Lawrence Welk, becoming a "lady of the evening" (which I was told had something to do with kissing boys, and was quickly removed from my list), or becoming a nurse. I didn't really, deep down in my heart, want to be any of those things. My Mom suggested that I think about what I really enjoyed doing most, and how I wanted people to see me when I was grown. So, finally, I realized what I wanted to be, a garbage collector . . . or a French maid. (I thought the uniform was groovy!) You see, I was tragically in love with our trash collector guy, Jim, at the time. I would sit out on the curb in front of our house when it was "trash-pick-up-day" and wait for hours to get my, "Hey, what's up kid?" and a glimpse of his Pearl Drops-polished smile. It wasn't just the filthy overalls or aromatic scent that accompanied Jim that won me over. He used to give me gifts from his earlier pick ups, stuff like discarded porcelain figurines, old cigar boxes, and one time he even presented me with a beautiful cut glass lamp. The remaining summer months of 1971 were spent rummaging through every yard sale and church bizarre I could convince my Mom to take me to. Which really wasn't that hard of a sell, because at least the prospect of these sales kept me out of the neighbors trash.

I tell that story to tell you this one. . . . newly-found friend and author of The Find, Stan Williams, had similar beginnings. Only his experiences were shared by his Mom and Aunt Diana and were located in the town of Independence, Missouri and the suburbs of Kansas City. The search for treasures in dark, musty garages, the "crack-of-dawn" trips the the flea market, the exploration and excavation of thrift stores throughout the years, have all been a story in the making - actually a book in the making - The Find, to be precise. The back and forth e-mailing that Stan and I have been doing in preparation for this interview, has been such a wonderful experience for me. I am grateful and flattered that he has taken time out of his busy schedule to share his story with us.


A photo of Stan from his book atop a desk I bought for $10 in 1984. His dad later refinished it for him. He says it now lives with his sister in Independence, Mo. and jokes that the photo is also almost a year and a half old and shows him before he grew a pornstar 'stache!


This Christmas tree is one of Stan's most precious finds. He found it at the flea market at the Santa Monica Airport with one of his best friends. He loves it so much that he keeps it up all year long, and it even has working lights.


The wrought iron chair was given to Stan by Deb Kelt, who is married to Charles Hancock of Austin. She literally found it on the street. He loves it because it always reminds him of Deb. Stan's Mom took a scrap of velvet and fashioned a new seat cover. Underneath the chair are rolls of paper used to make cigarettes from a shut-down paper factory in Rijeka, Croatia.

So, our trip begins and off we go to the Big Apple to drop in on The Elegant Thrifter, aka Stan Williams. NYC is a city filled with a myriad of cultural icons, fashion experts, financial tycoons, creative artists and visionaries. Stan is one of those people, an outspoken advocate for New York City's Housing Works and supporter to their efforts of raising $10 million a year for homeless and low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. The Find is full of wonderful stories, spot-on advice, elegantly photographed by Jim Franco and Bob Greenspan and is 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. I simply can't gush enough about this book, it's truly amazing and I highly recommend it. But, beware, after looking through it, you'll be itching to get to the nearest thrift store in search of your own treasures.


In a photo from The Find, prop stylist Joe Maer, uses a blue and white theme for a romantic affair.

If I had not become an writer and editor, I would
have been a . . .


If I were not a writer/editor, I would have been a French teacher. I am very much a francophile and learned -- oddly at a very early age in the Independence, Mo., public school system -- the appreciation for anything and everything French. No influence from my family. In fact, I was the first to ever get a passport! I always dreamed of far away places, and France presented me an exoticism so far away from what I knew. I love the country, and, to me, the language is the most beautiful in the world.


When I was a child I wanted to be . . .

When I was a child, I wanted to be a writer. I was always fascinated by words and asking people nosey questions. So I guess that fit my interest.

A photo from The Find in which events designer Michelle Rago uses gigantic peonies to set the theme for a romantic wedding setting.

I'm listening to . . .

I'm listening to Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Arnold Turboust (one of my favorite French artists from the 80s who is now a FaceBook pal.) and 1980s French Pop.



I’m reading . . .


I'm reading so much right now. I am obsessed with The New Yorker magazine and have been for years. Right now, I'm taking a whimsical break to read the David Sedaris When You are Engulfed in Flames. I spent a month plowing through all the works by Robert Maxwell, and try to read a French best seller at least once a month. AND The Four Agreements is always on my desk for a quick boost.


A photos from the book showing the home office of David Jimenez showcasing a Knoll Barcelona chair at a chrome-and-glass Parsons table.

My artistic hereos or muses are . . .

Dolly Parton is my artistic hero. She is who she is, and she created herself. I am always inspired by her.


A photo of Stan's Dolly Rama party where he and his mother made a "Tablecloth of Many Colors." They used vintage and thrift pieces to set an "Urban Granny" table.

I would describe my style as . . .

My home style is urban grandma chic. I like clean contemporary lines, but also homey touches.



My favorite color is . . .


My favorite color is aubergine...it's rich, regal and warm.


If money were no object . . .

If money were no object, I would move to Paris, loaf and LIVE!



I’m creatively moved by . . .


I am creatively moved by people who just decide to do something, and go for it. It's inspiring to me, and life is too short to waste doing something that isn't fulfilling, or spending all your time planning and never getting around to it.


Another photo from the book of a chair that Alex Bandon, multimedia editor for This Old House, reworked for her neighbor with a some primer and bright red paint.

I received my education and training from . . .

I have a journalism degree from the University of Missouri -- Columbia and studied for one year at University of Bordeaux, France.


A photo from the book in which Heather Chadduck of Cottage Living sets a table with black-and-white plates, residential numbers and French accounting ledger placemats, displaying her fascination for anything numbered.

A perfect day would include . . .

A perfect day for me would start out with a fabulous Pilate's class, followed by a garage sale trek through Santa Monica. Next, a 40-minute power nap before heading off to the airport to board flight on Air France to Paris -- first class of course!


My favorite place in my home is . . .

My favorite place in my home is my dining room floor where I always tend to work on projects -- in the middle of everything!


One of the seven Housing Works thrift stores in New York.

I collect . . .

I collect too much. I love vintage handbags, cocktail ephemera and vintage cookbooks.


My favorite collection is . . .


My favorite collection is my Dolly Parton memorabilia that I've collected for more than 30 years -- albums, photos, programs, ephemera, T-shirts, and the list goes on.

I chose this profession because . . .


I think I chose this profession because I'm somewhat shy, and also nosey. I like getting to know people and telling their stories. It was hard for me to be a hard-nosed fashion reporter because, I genuinely liked everybody, so sometimes I wasn't tough enough. I really enjoy the kind of writing I'm doing now -- writing about things that speak to me personally.


A photo from the book of a collaboration piece crafted by designer John Bartlett and framer John Etsy.

My biggest influences are . . .

My biggest influences are varied. I dedicated my book to my mom and dad. They are hardworking people who taught me respect for everybody. My mom used to always have craft projects around the house, from making Christmas ornaments to pouring candles. And my dad is THE ultimate handy man. He can work wonders on old furniture. And he demonstrated to me that hard work always pays off.My high school journalism teacher Ron Clemons taught me how to be a good writer. He was also one of the first to recognize my skills. Even though I had great professors at the university, he taught me the most that I retained. My favorite saying of his ...and I think this is good for a journalist to remember..."Nobody cares about your opinion. Stick to the facts." I approach every project as a journalist would and try to keep everything as real and authentic as possible. And then there was my high school French teacher who instilled in me the love of France, and the French language. I am influenced by Dolly Parton's story of making herself out of nothing into a huge star. She is kind, talented and smart -- and she's hokey. I'm a sucker for home-spun hokiness, but I also appreciate loftier ideas. From a design perspective, I'm always entranced by Wendy Goodman's Tony Duquette book and haven't been able to stop looking at it for the past year. It has inspired my making paper mache volcano vases for a friend's wedding tabletop. I'm also inspired by John Derian. He's another person who took a creative hobby and turned it into a thriving business. He is a lovely person, and it shows in his work.


I’m spiritually moved by . . .


I am spiritually moved by the power of prayer.

My advice to someone just starting out in this field would be . . .

My advice to anyone starting out in this career is to only do what you love. Always set your goals high, and don't worry about what other people think of you. That's hard for a creative person, though, because we are pleasers and want to be liked. I read in Seth Godin's book Small is the New Big that creative people aren't afraid of failure, but they are afraid of being criticized. I think that rings true.



I’m emotionally moved by . . .

I'm emotionally moved every time I take a plane and land in my home town of Kansas City, Mo., or in Charles de Gaulle in Paris. Both feel like I'm coming home, and I always feel energized. I'm also moved by old bluegrass gospel music, the sea, a heart-felt compliment and objects crafted by hand -- whether it's an old fashioned pineapple upside down cake, a decoupaged plate or a crocheted art piece. I guess I'm moved by things where I feel at home...or when someone touches me with an authentic gesture, either in words or actions.

Stan was interviewed by Amanda Tice from Chic.tv at his books launch party at Ports 1961 at the Meat Packing District, New York City. You view the interview here.