Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Great Swan Meet-n-Greet

Dear viewers, I have been driving by this pasture for a month or so now and I keep seeing this mass of white birds milling about on the green. At first I thought they were geese. Hmmm, I thought, that is a whole lotta white geese in one place. What's the deal? Finally I remembered to bring my camera with me (a new year's resolution I have been working on) and when I zoomed in on them I saw this:

Well holy moly, those aren't geese---they look like swans! After a consultation with the internet and a bird book I am inclined to think they are trumpeter or even tundra swans. I'm no ornithologist, so I'm just speculating. The ones you can see above with the darker heads, those are apparently juveniles. And, swans are in the goose family.

These guys have been gamboling about in this one pasture for several weeks now. When I mentioned it to a friend, his take on the situation is that its a big swan mating meet- n -greet. My bird book suggests these types of swans make their nests in March, so that would fit.

How delightful! And a definite sign of spring :)

SWAN UPDATE: a naturalist just told me that these are, indeed, tundra swans. Fabulous!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Thrift Store Therapy: A Very Deer Day!

Last week my mother-in-law took me to lunch and while we were out and about we came across a temporary thrift store set up in a storefront. This store was a money raiser for an organization building homes for people in the Dominican Republic. Since a friend of mine, who is a nurse,  is currently in the Dominican Republic with a volunteer medical team, I felt the need to stop in the store and see what they had. I was immediately struck by this wooden chair with a wonderful stencil of a deer and willow tree. As you can see,  the paint job is very worn. This sort of thing does not generally bother me---I appreciate a lived-in look. I am puzzled a bit by the chair though---it has these markings on the bottom:

My mother-in-law thought maybe the marks mean the item was in an auction. Although I am a seasoned thrifter, I have never once been to an auction. Do any of you know what these marks mean?

Regardless, I paid the 10 bucks they were asking for it and made for the door---that is, until I saw these beauties languishing in a pile of hardware in the corner:

Oh my stars, a pair of genuine deer antler candle holders! And a bargain at 7.00 for the pair. These can cost big bucks in an antique or home decor store. Big "bucks", ha ha, I made a joke and I didn't realize it!

Anyways, I figured I was "deer" enough at that point and left while I was still under the 20.00 mark, so a good day indeed.

Linking up with The Weekly Thrift over at YoungHeart---show us what you found!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Thrift Story: Replacing the Kitchen Faucet

The day started out like any other. I went to the kitchen faucet to get water for the coffee. Only on this day, the faucet handle broke off in my hand. And the water spewed out. And kept spewing.

Once we got the leaking under control we decided to try the local building salvage supply on the off-chance that they might have a suitable faucet. We went there not knowing what to expect--- and came home with a winner. A great Price-Pfister kitchen faucet that probably easily cost 100.00 or more new---for the wonderous price of 12.00!

My dear husband endured my initial freak-out and then three separate trips to the hardware store (for gaskets and hoses) with good humor and had the faucet installed by the end of the day. The trip to the salvage supply center was quite an eye-opener. Mounds of faucets, sinks, doors, windows, lumber, and hardware, all culled from deconstructions and remodels and all diverted from the landfill. All perfectly usable.

Behind the new faucet you can see a wonderful blue griffin tile. This is a find I picked up when I went to England. I found it in a charity shop in Bath for about 2 US dollars. It originally came from the Victoria and Albert Museum, a place I never made it to, but its a lovely piece:

I hauled that thing around England and then France and somehow got it back intact :)

Anyways, dear viewers, if you are home owners I encourage you to think second hand not just for collectibles and clothing but also for home-related items like sinks, faucets and lumber. A big chunk of stuff that goes into our landfills is from the construction/remodel business. And a good portion of it is potentially re-useable. Even if you are not doing the installation yourself, you can still obtain the materials for the job from a salvage center and save yourself a good chunk of cash.  My motto is "Try Second-Hand First!

 If you look under "building salvage' and "used building materials" in your area you can probably find a salvage center in your area. You can also see if there is a Habitat for Humanity ReStore resale outlet near you:

I'm linking up with The Weekly Thrift over at YoungHeart---visit and see all the fantastic finds!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Thrift Store Therapy: Vintage Textile Printing Block

A major find, dear viewers!  This rustic-looking item turned out to be an old,  possibly 19th century, textile printing block from India for printing designs onto bolts of fabric. I found it at a St Vincent dePaul thrift store. I actually looked at it, went and shopped around the whole rest of the store, and then finally went back and got it off the shelf. Lucky it was still there!

You can see that it has some very intricate carving:

It was 7.99, which was why I had hesitated to pick it up. Turns out it was a very good deal as this is a fairly large block at 8"x 8",  and comparable ones I have since seen on the internet can be quite expensive!

My friend paid the same amount, at a different store,  for the little block you see with it in the photograph.

A very good thrift therapy session indeed!

I am linking up with YoungHeart for the Weekly Thrift :)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Our Lady of the Antlers  Tea With The Squirrels 2013

Dear viewers, today is Groundhog Day. This day also marks the Christian festival of Candlemas, which the FreeDictionary defines as:
1. A Christian feast commemorating the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple.

It is also apparently when the candles used in the church (especially the Catholic church) are blessed for the coming year. 

Of course, as many of you know, the festivals of the major religions are often based on festivals with a pagan origin. Candlemas is no different. For example, this date was (is) celebrated in Gaelic tradition as the point midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox---Imbolc. The goddess Brighid is the focus here, with a later Christianization into Saint Brigid. It is often celebrated as a fire festival.

No matter how you slice or dice the religions, mainstream or otherwise, the basic root of all of these traditions lies in the cycle of the seasons. When humans were more directly dependent on the land which produced the harvest, livestock and wild game that kept them alive, festivals like these helped to mark the changing of the seasons and the different things that would have to be done for survival in each period.

I made this Imbolc/Candlemas display out of some shed antlers I found on my forest ramblings, some hand-dipped candles and a fabulous vintage Mary candleholder I found at a Goodwill some years ago.

As you might be able to tell, there is some writing on the candles. I embellished these candles with French script and I will make a little tutorial on how to do that soon.

However you mark this day, as Candlemas, Imbolc, Groundhog Day or as a simple Saturday in February, have a fine day and know that Spring is halfway here :)