Victorian Christmas Place Setting

Hello, friends!

Just ten days until Christmas! I’m done shopping, decorating, and baking. But I’m not ready for Christmas to end, so I am savoring these last few weeks of lights, ribbon and bows, evergreen branches, and Christmas music.

Today is Tabletop Tuesday, and I am sharing a place setting we used this past weekend while hosting some guests for brunch. If these plates look familiar to you, that’s because I recently found them on Thrifty Thursday. Thrifty Thursday is something fun I do over on Instagram. Usually I show things I find while thrift shopping, and my followers let me know if they’d purchase it or not, or sometimes they guess the price. (Join us, HERE!)

I picked these plates up at a local thrift store for $1.21 a piece. They are made in England by Johnson Brothers, and the pattern is called “Victorian Christmas.” This pattern was produced in the 1990s, and I used them with a 90s style Christmas tablecloth that I picked up years ago from an estate sale. If you haven’t noticed from the fashion trends, many 90s style decor and clothing items are making a comeback.

This set is circa early 1990s, and it was made in England. This pattern is still produced, however currently in China.

Keeping with the thrifted theme, these crystal Longchamp D’Arques glasses were second hand as well. Even my gold colored flatware set was an estate sale find.

Sometimes people ask me if we really eat off the pretty plates or use the crystal glasses. The cloth napkins surprise some people, too. We really do use them. I’m sure you’ve probably seen this quote by William Morris, “Do not have anything in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” I want to have things in our home that are both beautiful and useful. We don’t have a museum. I would love to pass things on to my kids and grandkids, but I also believe that we should enjoy things and feel special when we use them.

I guess the moral of the story is that you don’t have to pay a lot for nice things, and when you have them – use them. 🙂

I’ve taken all of the hard work out of trying to recreate this look! I’ve link everything you need, including some vintage Victorian Christmas plates (made in England). To find everything you need, head on over to my LIKEtoKNOW.it page HERE, or screenshot the image below and use it in the LIKEtoKNOW.it app.

Merry Christmas!

Abby

Santa Mug and Jadeite Love

Every year at Christmastime I love displaying my Santa mug collection with my jadeite collection. And I get very, very excited talking about my jadeite Santa cookie jar. The first one I ever bought was in 2013. I sold that Santa cookie jar and went on to sell SIXTEEN more of them in my Etsy shop when I had it. (Plus a handful more that I sold to family members and in my antique booth.)

The very first one I found! Excuse the poor photo quality this was on a 2013 cell phone. 🙂

And don’t ya know, Santa cookie jar has a brother. Also Santa, and he’s a cookie plate. HA! And I sold 12 of them in my shop.

Want to know more about them? They are technically vintage, but they aren’t super old. They were made to replica a 1970s blow mold cookie jar. These jadeite Santas were sold by Cracker Barrel, from what I can tell in the late 90s/2000.

I paid $10 for that very first Santa cookie jar I bought, and today they sell upwards of $350 on eBay. (I asked $120 for the cookie jar and $80 for the plate when I sold them on Etsy.)

Current going prices, as of December 2020.

But the moral of the story is that jadeite and vintage Santa mugs are a match made in HEAVEN. My collection is mostly of old, vintage ones. But I am not opposed to adding new ones. I have new mugs from Pottery Barn and Hobby Lobby mixed in. If it’s your collection…do what you want, right?!

I don’t know how many Santa mugs is too many. I just know that I don’t have too many yet.

Merry Christmas! Enjoy more of my old photos below. (Excuse the photo quality, because they date back over a decade. Phone pictures quality has improved a lot over the years!)

Papier Mache Vintage Christmas Angels

Good morning, friends! Today I want to share with you my vintage papier mache Christmas angel collection. I shared this type of angel years and years ago on my blog, but my collection has grown a little bit, so I’m sharing it again.

I’ve never seen or heard of anyone else who collects these. They are, of course, made of papier mache. Mine are all either marked “Made in Japan” or “Made in Korea”. (Many types of collectable Christmas decorations came from this area of the world.)

I own angels in gold dresses and some in ivory colored dresses. However, these come in many colors. I just happen to like the gold and ivory.

These aren’t particularly valuable. I think you can find a set of three for around $30-$40. But they have a great sentimental value to me. Growing up my mother had a set of 3 that were always set atop our family piano at Christmas time. Over the years all but one broke. None of the ones in my collection are from my mother’s set…they are all ones that I found on my own.

These are displayed in our foyer. They were kept up higher when our kids were small, but now that everyone is grown they are set on a table for all to see and enjoy. I hope your Christmas season is off to a wonderful start. You don’t need any vintage or fancy decorations to make it special – paper chains and coffee filter snowflakes will do just fine!

Love, Abby

Jadeite, the Real Deal

Today I stopped into a local antique store. It’s not a store that I normally go into, but it was close by to another stop that I made, so I thought I’d take a look. Back when I used to sell antiques, I inquired in this particular store (it’s a chain) about renting a space. I decided against this one because they ask their dealers to have 40% new or handmade merchandise in their booths. When I go antiquing, I only want to look for antiques, not things that I could find at Hobby Lobby or JoAnn’s, so this wasn’t a good fit for me to sell my antiques in. (We’ve talked about this over on my Instagram before. And it was split 50/50 for those who wanted only antique merchandise and those of you who wanted new stuff, too.)

Since I only had a few minutes, I went through the store very quickly looking for jadeite to add to my collection. There were 3 dealers that had “jadeite” items, but none of them were authentic, vintage jadeite. It was a little frustrating for me as someone seriously looking because none of the tags were marked “reproduction”, and they were all priced very high, as though they were truly vintage pieces. I guess that’s a conflict that someone can run into shopping at an antique store that asks their dealers to also carry new merchandise.

photo via @jesselauzon on Instagram

If you think jadeite is pretty, and you’re interested in collecting it, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Jadeite was originally manufactured by 3 main companies: McKee, Jeannette, and Anchor Hocking/Fire King. Jadeite has a distinct, opaque green glass color, which can vary slightly depending on the manufacturer and decade.

photo via @thevettelfarm on Instagram

Jadeite items were often promotional pieces found in bags of flour or laundry detergent in the 1930s and 40s. Jadeite was not only pretty, but it was also utilitarian. Before World War II, jadeite actually contained uranium, so older pieces glow under black light. The earliest jadeite was made in the Victoria era.

Martha Stewart popularized jadeite while using it on her TV shows and in her magazine. Anchor Hocking released a line of jadeite during this popularity called Fire King 2000. Items marked with this backstamp are newer, and they are not the mid-century vintage pieces that are so collectible. (They will be “vintage” in a few years. Can you believe 2000 was almost 20 years ago?!)

photo via @belleantiquarian on Instagram

Recently, the color jadeite has been used by Target in the Magnolia “Modern Farmhouse” collection. Walmart also has jadeite colored items in their Pioneer Woman collection. Even Cracker Barrel, World Market, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond sell jadeite colored items. Last week I saw a jadeite looking butter dish at TJ Maxx. There is nothing wrong with adding newer jadeite pieces to your collection if you are just collecting the color. I have new cake stands and salt and pepper shakers. But you don’t want to be in a store under the impression that you’re buying an old piece, when it’s actually new.

Since this color of glass is so easy to reproduce, I recommend doing a little internet research to learn the hallmarks of the companies that produced jadeite. Learn the products that they produced. Not all vintage pieces have a hallmark on them. If you are just beginning, try to stick to pieces you know to be real. After a while, you’ll be able to tell immediately if something is authentic, vintage jadeite or if it’s new.

photo via @vintagepickerchick on Instagram

I recommend reading a few articles on jadeite. HERE is a great one. I also recommend following a few accounts on Instagram of people who collect jadeite. You will start to recognize authentic pieces “out in the wild”, and you will be able to confidently purchase them.

Instagram accounts to follow if you’re interested in jadeite:

  • @thevettelfarm
  • @jadeitejunkie
  • @jadeitegal
  • @jadeiteaholic_ttc
  • @vintagepickerchick
  • @jesselauzon
photo via @belleantiquarian on Instagram

I’m always looking for jadeite, delphite, azureite, and turquoise Fire King. Be sure to let me know if you find some good pieces! Good luck!

Guy’s Bedroom Decor

Jackson is off to his freshman year of college, and I finally had an opportunity to take pictures of his room. Unlike Samantha’s room, there wasn’t a recent makeover in his space. I feel like I keep repeating, “When we had new flooring put in…” But having new flooring put into our entire house was really like moving out, and then moving back in again. It forced us to purge, organize, and rearrange everything we own. So, “after we had new flooring put in” we painted Jackson’s room.

Before his room was Benjamin Moore Shaker Beige with one red stripe and one navy stripe running horizontally throughout the room. As I mentioned when I posted about Samantha’s room makeover, we are planning to move in the next few years, so we went ahead and painted Jackson’s room the same color, Benjamin Moore Dove Wing. It’s a great color that I love, love, love.

Benjamin Moore Dove Wing

Speaking of moving, it has been on our hearts for so long. Ken and I were both born and raised in Gwinnett County, which is a suburb east of Atlanta. I use the word “suburb” loosely, because our area is technically categorized as urban. When Ken and I grew up here it was rural/suburban. The major highways were 2-4 lanes in each direction, and now they are 8-10 in some places. It makes us sad and long for the setting that we grew up in, so we hope an opportunity will present itself for us to live in a more rural town soon.

Almost everything in Jackson’s room is from an estate sale, a garage sale, a thrift store, or an auction. If you follow me on Instagram (@belleantiquarian), you saw that I recently picked up this vintage typewriter for $13.50. Normally, I’d take it out of the case, but I really like the green and gold colors in this room.

I mentioned on a previous post that our family likes to collect vinyl records. We found an end table at an estate sale that has a lamp attached and an area below that is perfect for holding records. It was meant for magazines, but it works perfectly for us.

The vintage Hudson Bay point wool point blanket in this picture is one of my favorite finds. Don’t worry, it was professionally cleaned. 😉

I’d rather buy cool, vintage stuff for my kids’ rooms than junk. Even if something doesn’t work, it can still be art.

The black and white buffalo check duvet, shams, and green pillow covers all came from Ballard Designs. The gold pillow came from TJ Maxx. The lamp on the left was a Target find.

We miss Jackson while he’s at college. It feels weird not having him sleeping in his room. But he will be home visiting before we know it.

How to Find Good Stuff When You Thrift Shop

It’s National Thrift Shop Day! Sometimes I feel like everyday is National Thrift Shop Day, but whatever. LOL I started shopping at thrift stores when I was in high school. At that time I was mainly looking for vintage clothes. Now, I rarely look for clothing. Instead I am searching for vintage and antique home decor, dishes, and vinyl records.

No matter what you’re looking for when you shop in thrift stores, sometimes it feels like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack. It can be overwhelming and frustrating, which is never fun. And thrift shopping is supposed to be FUN.

I’ve put together a few tips for finding good stuff when you thrift shop. But keep in mind, even with these tips, thrift shopping is a lot like treasure hunting. Sometimes you hit the jackpot, and sometimes you strike out.

Tip #1 Know What You’re Looking For

If you already have in mind what you’re looking for, you’re more likely to find it. For example, if I am looking for jadeite, then I am constantly scanning everywhere my eyes land for that telltale green color. If you go in with a focus, it’s a lot easier to find something than if you don’t.

Tip #2 Take a Thrifting Buddy

I like to take my husband or kids with me when we shop at thrift stores. By now, they know what I like to buy. If they spot something I’m interested in, they’ll either pick it up or tell me about it. If I don’t think that they know what I’m looking for that day, I’ll tell them specifically. For example, “I’m looking for milk glass today. Milk glass looks like _____.” Or maybe I’ll say, “I’m looking for an old radio today, but only one that has a ____.” The more eyes that you have looking for something, the more likely you are to find it. (Just be careful about taking someone who is looking for the same thing as you.)

Tip #3 Consider if Damage Matters

Sometimes you might be looking for something that you’re willing to put some work into. Decide ahead of time what kind of damage you can work with, or if you are looking for something damage-free. Can you fix the dresser drawer? If it’s not what you’re looking for, move on quickly. Don’t waste your time.

Tip #4 Try Again

If you’ve heard that a certain thrift store has good stuff, but you aren’t seeing it, try again on another day. Try a different day of the week or a different time of day. Maybe someone else regularly checks that thrift store on Thursdays during their lunch break. If you switch it up you may find something.

Tip #5 Stains and Smells

Don’t always be intimidated by a stain. There is a lot of advice on the internet about getting rid of hard to treat stains. I have worked wonders on vintage tablecloths with a paste made out of baking soda, dawn dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide. There are a thousand things to try. If the price is low enough, it might be worth trying to get a stain out.

Smells, on the other hand…Did you know there is a “thrift store smell”? Yes, there is. And that smell will certainly come out of whatever you’re buying. But smells like urine, pets, body odor, and cigarettes are very difficult to get rid of. Those are a hard “no” for me.

Tip #6 Can You Change it to Make it Work?

Spray paint and glue are very cheap. If you find something similar to what you need, but it’s the wrong color, consider if a can of spray paint will make it work for you. Is something cracked or broken in two? Glue + Spray Paint are your best friends.

Tip #7 Don’t Get Sidetracked

Know your aesthetic. Imagine you see a stunning Blue Willow plate, but you don’t collect Blue Willow. You know you came in looking for a macrame plant hanger, so while you appreciate the Blue Willow plate, it’s not your style. Stick to your style.

Tip #8 Shop After Holidays

A lot of people like to shop after Christmas, because everyone is donating for the tax write offs. But many people purge after any holiday or in the spring. (“spring cleaning”) I think good stuff can be found after any holiday. People get started by gathering unwanted, old decorations to donate, and they’ll start adding to their donate pile since they’re making a trip there anyway.

Tip #9 There is more to thrift shopping than a Goodwill

Don’t stick with one kind of thrift store. There are some very well-known thrift store chains, but there are just as many small independently run thrift stores. Some chains may ask their employees to hold certain items back to sell in online auctions or private sales. Others may put everything out to earn money for charity. Try different kinds of thrift stores.

Tip #10 The Rich Thrift Stores

Some people like to shop in thrift stores in affluent parts of town because they feel like there will be higher quality items to choose from. I personally feel like that depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for clothing, that theory may work out for you.

Do you have any other tips? Was this type of post helpful for you? Please share in the comments!

Vintage Book Titles for Boys

I did a lot of reading as a kid. I remember telling the elementary school librarian that I had already read all of the books in the library. I’m positive that I had not really done so, but I read A LOT.

Certain titles that I read over and over again became sentimental to me, so as I started getting more active in the vintage and antique world, I began to look for vintage and antique copies of my favorite books. I’ve shared pictures of some of my favorites over on Instagram and Facebook, but I thought I might share a list of some of the titles that I specifically look for. I separated those titles into a boys’ list and a girls’ list, but boys and girls would enjoy books from either list. In fact, two of my very favorites that I re-read many times are on the boys’ list: My Side of the Mountain and James and the Giant Peach.

If you’re like me and you’d like to have a vintage copy of one of these books on your bookshelf, you might be amazed how easily you can find them once you start looking for a specific title.

If you’re looking for a vintage copy of a favorite book, try garage or estate sales, thrift or antique stores, or online auctions.

Here are a few of the classic titles that I think are great for boys.

  • White Fang by Jack London
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • My Side of the Mountain (a triology) by Jean Craighead George
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Robinson Crusoe by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
  • The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Slinger
  • The Giver (a quartet) by Lois Lowry
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Vern
  • The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
  • The Legend of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  • The 3 Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  • The Black Stallion by Alec Ramsay
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
  • Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
  • Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

And just for good measure here are two more that I think are must-reads for boys and are sure to become classics:

  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio
  • The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Do you have any that you would include on this list? Connecting to characters in books can be different for everyone. As an adult we think back on those characters with sentimental feelings. I hope you will look for one of these books and reconnect with a favorite character from your childhood. And better yet, I hope you will give one of these books away to a child so that they can connect with them, too. Happy Reading!

Where to Find Vinyl Records

Buying and listening to vinyl records has become a hobby for our family. My dad has always been a big music lover. We listened to all sorts of records growing up. I also enjoy listening to music with my own kids. We recently got a new record player for our family room, as well as a smaller one for our teenagers. We’ve had a vintage console style record player before, but the problem is that needles and other parts eventually need to get replaced. Parts can be hard to find and expensive compared to those for newer models. For what we wanted to use ours for, it made more sense to buy a new model.

The record player we ended up going with is the Boytone 8-in-1. We are pleased with the sound quality of the speakers, and you are also able to connect other speakers if you choose. We mostly use it for the record player and the radio, but you are also able to play cassette tapes, MP3, CDs, USB, and SD cards. We have connected to it using our phone bluetooths, and had no problems with that.

Browsing through records. It’s frustrating when they’re not categorized.

The kids use a record player that we picked up at TJ Maxx/Homegoods around the holidays. Theirs is a portable style that looks like a small briefcase. They like it because they can put it in a closet or under their bed when it’s not being used.

Pretty much the only reason Jackson goes into an antique store willingly for is records.

When we are looking for records our criteria is do we like the music and is the record playable/not scratched?

We picked up 8 records for $44. Most were $4.50 each.

Over the years we’ve picked up vinyl records in all sorts of places. They are really easy to find if you know where to look. Here is a list of our favorite places to find vinyl records:

Goodwill

There’s no telling what kinds of records you will find at Goodwill. They are not organized into any category, or not at any of the Goodwills we shop at, anyway. But they are usually some of the cheapest vinyl records for sale. We like looking here because you can usually look at them really well to inspect for scratches. At the Goodwills we shop at, vinyl records are found near the books and sometimes near the checkouts. When you shop for records at Goodwill you are looking for a needle in a cheap, unorganized haystack.

Estate Sales

Some of our favorite Christmas records came from estate sales. Estate sales can be risky, though, because you aren’t always able to open them and look at them for scratches. We’ve come across them taped up – take it or leave it types of situations. There’s usually a sense of urgency at estate sales, too. People are all trying to buy the same “good” things.

Antique Stores

Initially you might think this is the most expensive place to buy records, and sometimes it is. But there is one antique store near us that has around 100 vendors. More vendors means more competition for sales, which means lower prices. For us, the best selection and the lowest prices comes from a local antique store.

Vinyl Record Expo/Fair

A town near us has an annual vinyl sale. Multiple vendors/dealers come and sell their records. Although we did end up buying several albums, this was one of the more expensive places to buy them. I also noticed that the vendors all brought genres which they though would be most popular at the sale. We happened to be looking for classic county (Cash, Carter, Cline, Parton), and they did not have those artists with them. It was also a little uncomfortable when we were looking at the records for scratches. A lot of them were double wrapped in plastic sleeves, almost like they didn’t want to you to inspect them.

Record Shops

Oh, I love a good record shop. Everything is beautifully organized and easy to find. The employees are usually very helpful in finding what you’re looking for or answering questions. Record shops are not the cheapest place to buy vinyl records, but they are the best place to go if you are looking for something specific.

Etsy or Ebay

If you know of a specific title you’re looking for, chances are you can find it on Etsy or Ebay. Make sure you read the description carefully. I am a little more comfortable buying records on Ebay than Etsy because Ebay has specific ratings for the condition of the records. If you are buying a used record online, ask the seller if they have personally listened to it play at regular speed all the way through. Some of them will speed it up and listen to it, just to make sure it doesn’t noticeably skip or jump. But that doesn’t catch all of the skips or jumps. When buying a record online you want to make sure it is in excellent condition. Also, consider that most of these sellers will charge a shipping fee on top of the price of the record.

Target

Obviously if you’re shopping at Target for records they are new records. Some of the titles are “vintage”, but they are never played, new records. You can buy them online or in-store at Target. There are always titles we like there. There are even new release albums. Since they’re new, you are paying new album prices, which is more than a CD.

Urban Outfitters

There is not a huge selection to choose from, but Urban Outfitters does sell some vinyl records. We bought some on sale, otherwise we would’ve probably passed on them.

Our Vintage Piano

Our Craigslist piano find. I love its cabriole legs with brass wheels on the front.

When we put new flooring into our whole house a few months ago, we had to move everything. I took the opportunity to rearrange a few of the larger, heavy pieces of furniture. Our piano had originally been in the long hallway that led from our front door to the back of the house. Pianos are supposed to be put against an interior wall so that fluctuations in temperature don’t knock them out of tune. In an open floor plan, it is not easy to find an interior wall that isn’t already being used.

Along the back wall of the house I had an enormous hutch. I found it on Craigslist for a steal. It is big, solid wood, and has a ton of storage. But it took up a lot of space. So when we were putting the house back together after the floors were done, I decided that I don’t need it, and it wasn’t coming back into the house.

My maiden name is Lytton, so these antique books written by Lord Lytton of Great Britain are some of my favorites to display. The other book is a book of poems by Sidney Lanier, a signer of the constitution from Georgia.

In the hutch’s place, I decided to put the piano. It’s now in a space where it’s more visible and more likely to get used. (Out of sight, out of mind.) It is up against an exterior wall, so we may have to get it tuned more often. But it just didn’t make sense to put it back where it was in a hallway.

I was thrilled to find the exact lamp I was looking for in a local antique store.

I’m kind of proud of this space that I created with the piano. The piano was a Craigslist deal – anyone who needs a piano should check there first. Pianos are difficult to move and get rid of, so you can often find pianos for cheap or free. The artwork over the piano was a $30 thrift store find. It is signed by the artist. The books are vintage thrift store finds, too. The lamp was an antique store find that I was ecstatic about. I knew exactly what lamp I wanted, and I squealed when I found it. The horse bookends are a recent find from the Pottery Barn clearance at my local store. They were originally marked $79, and I got the pair for $39.

I love my new Peplomia plant. The bright green, waxy leaves are a refreshing touch.

Of course, our camera-loving labradoodle, Anniebelle (Annie), wanted her picture taken as well.

Have you bought a piano off of Craigslist before? Do you have your piano against an interior wall, or did you decide, like me, that it was more important to have it in another space?

Favorite Books for Vintage Lovers

Favorite Books for Vintage Lovers

Do you have a favorite book from your childhood?

I read a lot as a child. A random, odd fact about me is that our family did not own a TV from the time I was about 7 until I was 13. My parents decided that they didn’t want a TV in the house. While I think that this can be a great thing if done correctly, I do regret that my siblings and I missed out on a lot of Pop Culture. One benefit, however, is that I read. A lot. 
Through my antique finding and selling adventures I discovered that there were some titles I remembered fondly, and I made a point to look for them. A few of my favorites:

Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, The Secret Garden, Heidi, Little Women, and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. 
If you have some favorites from your childhood that you would look for, what would they be? Some titles are especially valuable. Some titles are especially hard to find. For example, The unabridged Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm was really hard for me to find. Of course, condition and published year can make a big difference, too. For me, I didn’t so much mind the condition of the pages as I did the cover.
Online auctions are a great resource if you are looking for a specific book!
Happy Book Hunting!