A Noritake antique bowl atop a California platter is an elegant serving presentation
for crudites and dip.
Baron Morimura’s Noritake Porcelain, Made in Japan
Photo by M-J de Mesterton
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By M-J de Mesterton, May 20th, 2009
Attending yard sales and flea markets is an adventure of discovery. Sometimes, the acquisition of one five-dollar object can inspire a decorating revolution in your home.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the variety of things at a sale in someone’s yard or house. Flea markets can be a challenge to the senses, though perhaps well organized. If one is subject to the constraints of time and space, it is important to employ focus and vision, as well as some knowledge about quality.
Focus on what you need to furnish or enhance your living quarters, and keep space limitations in mind when tempted to buy an interesting item for possible future use.
One reason yard and garage sales exist is that people have changed their decorating schemes and lack space for the overflow. The term, “trash to treasure” doesn’t always apply; often people are just tired of perfectly good things, or have no place to store them. If you stay within your parameters, only considering things that will fit your purpose or plan–whether it involves clothing, tools, or furniture–a garage sale of your own won’t be necessary.
Vision is a handy mental tool when shopping at flea markets and yard sales. Without an imagination, one may miss an opportunity. A lone pillow sham can be beautiful enough to serve as the centerpiece of a redecorated bedroom. A brass stand could make your bathroom floor space more useful. An old rug may cause you to revise the color-scheme in your dining area. When looking at furniture, consider how it might be useful for storage or seating, and realize that it can be painted to suit your existing interior design plan.
The quality of old things is often superior to that of new ones. For example, there are plenty of new kitchen gadgets, but they are usually made of plastic and destined for quick obsolescence. By contrast, many kitchen implements made in the 1950s are still around. An old spatula made in the U.S.A. of high quality steel could have several owners in one lifetime, because its integrity is unmatched by anything new. Oven-proof mixing bowls are rarely made in the U.S.A. these days; sturdy, American-made bowls from the 1970s and earlier are enjoying usefulness in their old age.
Well-made clothing and textiles are always in style. It is only necessary that a fine article of clothing flatters your figure, or that a vintage bedspread is congruous with your décor. Old fashions resurface as new clothes in magazines, but their construction may not be as good as that of the older versions. Check woolens, silks and linens for moth-holes. Make sure that you bring a tape-measure and use the actual dimensions of a garment for fitting purposes; clothing makers are continually changing the size numbers, and sizing is different in various countries. Home textiles such as tea-towels, bolts of fabric and remnants are useful for redecorating or sewing projects. A new skirt can be made with high quality material from another era. Tablecloth and napkin sets from the past add charm to modern dining rooms.
Focus, vision, and the ability to recognize good quality will help you shop for used home furnishings and enrich your wardrobe. Yard sales and flea markets have the potential to improve your life in elegant style.
By M-J de Mesterton; Copyright May 20th, 2009
in English: Les Puces, St. Ouen, Paris
Stamps are beautiful works of art in miniature. They depict people, places and historical events. There are stamps to interest everyone. Recently, author and humorist Maggie Van Ostrand appealed to the United States Postal Service for a commemorative stamp of the famous champion racehorse, Seabiscuit. A 55-cent envelope bearing a painting of Seabiscuit by artist John Mattos was released in May, 2009. Maggie tells me that they are already sold-out. The effort continues, and I predict that the jolly equine will grace a first class stamp soon. One can join the effort by filling out and mailing a form found on Maggie’s page. I’m rooting for Seabiscuit’s ultimate photo-finish, his own stamp.
See Elegant Survival News for a pictorial press-release from the U.S.P.S. on the 2009 and “Forever” stamps. We bought some Forever stamps. They will always be good for first-class mail, no matter how exorbitant the rates become. That makes the Forever stamp a good investment–if the U.S. Postal Service stays in operation, that is!
Kenmore Stamp Company has plenty of technical advice and special offers.
American Philatelic Society has good information and tools, available if one joins.
Licchavi Caityas of Nepal:
by our friend, Ian Alsop