Furniture Love

Wonderful weekend here. I took Friday off work to celebrate husband’s birthday and we had an amazing time. We all headed up to Madison for a family day, and did some of husband’s favorite things – lunch at his favorite pub and a tour of some gaming stores up there. We also did the children’s museum with Little Man, and of course – stopped at a few antique malls.

There is nothing I love better than a good, affordable antique mall and the Madison Antique Mall is both of these things. I was happy to find a lovely oval Blue Willow vegetable bowl – for just $5 – to add to my collection. And I was happier still when husband called me over to look at this little gem –

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Isn’t it wonderful? It’s a gorgeous little bedside table that fits perfectly into the tiny space next to my side of the bed. The paint needs to be freshened up, but otherwise it’s in great condition. It’s hard to see in the photo, but on the back of the table is a vertical magazine pocket – so handy, and gives it a little extra bit of charm. But the best part about this table? It was only $30! We’ve been searching for bedside tables since we moved in and I realized that the bureau-style tables I wanted to make over wouldn’t fit in the bedroom at all. So excited to not be using moving boxes as a table anymore! Well, on my side at least… we still need to find a table for husband’s side. But we’re halfway there.

Our visit to Madison was a day trip, but we have a superb antiques mall in our town as well – Colonial Antique Mall. I absolutely adore this place. I always find something (usually multiple somethings) when I go in there, and the prices are completely reasonable. They have a consignment section in the basement that I call the “bargain basement” with the best prices of all.

You may remember that our dining room still has no dining furniture at all. We do not dine. We eat meals scrunched around the coffee table in the living room. Not fun, so getting the dining room usable is high on my list. But furniture, especially large pieces, is so expensive! I’ve felt discouraged for months, knowing there is no way ever that I will be dropping 2k on a china cabinet or hutch.

So on Saturday we decided to continue the winning streak with the bedside table and check out Colonial – just to see. We found lots of maybe pieces, but nothing we loved. And in our last five minutes in the store, in the back of the consignment room, I spotted a hutch and it was love at first sight. Just the look I wanted. And just exactly the right size (our dining room is small; we need petite. Most hutches are not petite). I ran (oh, yes I did) across the room. It was gorgeous up close! No major issues. I was afraid to look at the price. I glanced at the tag and it said “Ethan Allen”. No, an Ethan Allen piece could not be in the bargain basement! So I walked around to the back of it, and sure enough the maker’s mark was clear as day – Ethan Allen. I had to know the price. I was determined to have it and I had to know if it would bankrupt me. My heart all a flutter I finally checked the tag – $150!!! Just one zero, not two! I literally did an actual happy dance in front of the hutch for a few minutes, with Little Man laughing and husband imploring me to calm down. So what does this beautiful piece of furniture look like? Behold –

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Is it not the most gorgeous hutch you’ve ever seen? And only $150!? You’ll see one of the knobs is broken (I found it in a drawer when we got it home, so I’m hopeful of repair) and it has one little scratch on the top that is hardly noticeable at all. Otherwise, it’s in glorious condition. But the best part? I took the tag to the cash register and the kind lady ringing me out gave me another heart attack. She said to me – “Do you know this has been marked down?” Do I know this has been marked down!? Apparently the seller was insane. Or knew in their hearts I was out there, and had faith I would come at just the right moment and make a home it. Do you want to know how much I paid? It was on sale for just $114! So after tax, it cost me $122. Win! Win! Win! Could not believe my luck. Since hutches, even small ones, do not fit in Honda Civics, we did have to rent a truck, but fortunately Menards rents pick up trucks for $25 for an hour, which is all we needed. So all in including the truck rental, we paid $147 for this lovely piece of furniture.

Once I got it home, I started a little research on it. Additional marks on the piece read Baumritter and “Made in Vermont”. Apparently Baumritter was the first name of the company that started out as Ethan Allen. They used the name “Ethan Allen Baumritter” between 1936 – 1969, so I have an earlier EA piece. On the inside door I also found a poison control poster copywrited to 1959, so that further narrows the dates of it’s manufacture to between 1936-1959. It was clearly made in Vermont. It’s solid maple – there isn’t a piece of plywood or MDF on this thing. It’s a dream.

On Ebay, similar pieces are going from anywhere from $500 to over $1,000. So I got a good deal! The bottom cabinet will house my sewing supplies and fabrics. Since I don’t have a craft room, I needed a place to keep supplies that is easy to access and near a big work surface (the dining table, when ever we build it), but still enclosed so it doesn’t look cluttered and messy all the time. The hutch solves that problem! The larger drawer will hold table linens. The silverware drawer will hold serving pieces. And the top shelves will display some of my milk glass and Blue Willow.

The house is slowly but surely coming together. And I’m happy, as always, to buy second hand and get a great deal!

A Random Springtime

Welcome spring! Finally, the end of winter is in our sights. I’ve been busy doing a whole lot of ordinary things, most of them un-blog-worthy, but all of them necessary to daily living. Some items from the highlight reel –

– Finally found the perfect recipe for home made buns/soft sandwich bread from The Kitchen Whisperer. The secret to a soft sandwich bread is dairy (usually milk) but since husband and I are both lactose-intolerant, that wasn’t happening. This particular recipe calls for butter mixed in at the end (which I thought was weird, but hey – all I had to lose was a batch of flour, yeast, some salt and a bit of Earth Balance if it failed). Subbing Earth Balance for the butter was a no-brainer, and the bread turned out perfectly.

– I’m about two weeks late on seed starting, because I’ve been searching for over a month for a new grow light set up. I’m tired of leggy, lethargic seedlings! After checking every hardware store and garden center in the vicinity and coming up empty handed, I finally caved in and ordered one from Amazon. I chose the Enviro-Gro 22-foot 4-light fixture at $90. Yes, it was pricey – but I’m hoping it will last a long time and more than pay for itself in allowing me to start quality veg seedlings at home. And I’m excited to repurpose our Ikea Sniglar changing table into a seed starting station. We’ll start tomatoes, pepper and cabbages this weekend and kick the garden season into high gear.

– We haven’t been thrift store shopping in a good long while, but this weekend Little Man and I hit the jackpot – we found a new wooden train track section, a play construction helmet, a Play Doh extruder and a Richard Scarry book for him. And for me, I found a set of six Fire King milk glass dinner plates, a rectangular milk glass dish with a basket weave pattern (perfect for Easter egg display!), and two books – Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping Home by Cheryl Mendelson and a vintage (I think it’s from the 1960s, by the look of the dress patterns) Better Homes & Gardens Sewing Book.

– In preparation for the outdoor season, we’ve added some gear to our homestead – a new shovel in anticipation of breaking much ground for garden beds, a pruning saw for the fruit and nut trees that will arrive any time now, a fire pit, a children’s Adirondack chair so Little Man has his own place to enjoy the backyard, and some wire baskets that will be perfect for root vegetable storage in the root cellar setup I hope to arrange in the basement this summer.

So, that’s life for the moment at Apartment Farm – quiet, but nice.

Mississippi Milk Glass

Family vacation this year was a bit of a mixed bag. We were supposed to camp for a week at Mississippi Palisades State Park, but the weather was downright horrid – either dangerously hot and humid, or severe thunderstorms. So we ended up with plan B and stayed in a hotel for two nights, camped for just one and came home a day early. Fortunately we were able to salvage our trip with plenty of time in the hotel pool, as well as fun visits to the De Immigrant Windmill (where they grind their own flour – which tastes amazing), the Sawmill Museum, Heritage Canyon, and Wide River Winery (the Felony Red cabernet sauvignon is especially good and didn’t give us the tannin headaches we usually get with red wine).

And of course, we visited a few antique stores. The prices were downright cheap, and I was excited to find a few bargains in milk glass at Great River Road Antiques. I’ve long wanted a set of milk glass beer steins, so I was super excited to find four of them for just $2.50 each –

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I also found something I’ve never seen before in milk glass; four jars with lids. I confess for a split second I thought of spray painting the lids red, but then I came to my senses – the black and white graphic is just too punchy and fun to paint over –

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I was curious about what the jars once held, so I googled the name on the lid and discovered they’re marmalade jars from the UK –

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And shockingly – they’re going for $20.00 each on eBay! So I got $80.00 worth of jars for just $8.00. I knew they were a real find when I spotted them. The steins are starting for about $5.00 apiece on eBay, so those were a pretty good bargain as well. So all in, I got $100.00 worth of milk glass for just $20.00. And the best part – we’ll use them every day.

DIY Mini Bathroom Makeover

Storage can be a challenge in any bathroom, but ours is especially limiting. The only storage we have is a small under-sink cabinet. No linen closet to speak of. Trying to cram all of our towels, the hair dryer and clippers, first aid supplies, travel toiletries, extra toiletries and whatnot into that space is next to impossible. And adding in the baby supplies we’ve started to accumulate sent me into a mild organizational panic. That’s why I’ve been wanting to get an over-toilet etagere cabinet. The first aid items, extra cosmetics and most of the extra toiletries could be stored there, freeing up the bottom cabinet for the towels, appliances, a few larger spare toiletries and some baby things. My husband’s parents came to the rescue, in gifting us the cabinet I’ve had my eye on as an early anniversary present. Here’s a shot of it after it first got set up, with some basic things just thrown on the shelves –

Because it has glass doors, I didn’t want to just shove things in it. That wouldn’t be organized and it would look awful. I also didn’t want to go out and spend money on a bunch of baskets or containers to use on the shelves. From browsing online, I wasn’t really finding anything to my taste that would actually fit in the cabinet, and the prices were a little out of control ($25 for a small basket!?). So I started thinking about containers I own already. Most of our basket-type containers are in use already. But then I thought of the perfect solution – the larger than life collection of milk glass I own. I’ve got a small army of milk glass compotes, mixing bowls and planters, just sitting on the top shelves of my kitchen cabinet waiting for a use. Would any of those work? I pulled them down, washed them up and tried it out –

So far, so good. The arrangement is esthetically pleasing, they all fit into the cabinet, and they’re all of a functional enough size to hold supplies. But there’s definitely something lacking – the white milk glass in the white cabinet is too sterile, and the milk glass just gets lost in the cabinet. It needs contrast in there, to make the milk glass really pop – after all, I want my storage to look good. And as with any collection, I really want to be sure I’m featuring the milk glass in the space. So I thought up a simple solution to that problem as well –

How about that shot of robin’s egg blue in the background? The milk glass really stands out against it, and the color really brightens the entire cabinet. Most of our towels are this color, and we have a few watercolors of Paris up that feature a soft color palette, so the blue coordinates perfectly. And you want to know what that blue is made of? A piece of $2.50 poster board, affixed to the back wall of the cabinet with poster putty! I didn’t want to do anything permanent like painting the back in case we ever change our decor – I like the flexibility of just taking out the paper and putting in a different color. Or, if we get bored of the flat panel of color, we can switch it out with something with a little more interest. At the art store, I briefly considered getting a map of Paris or a bird/postmark print on a blue background but I went with the simple solid blue because I didn’t want the cabinet to look too busy with my milk glass in it.

The above picture is with everything put away in the containers. The tray on the bottom holds the jewelry I wear the most often for now, but I want to work on a better solution for that as well – it’s so easy for things to become tangled and mismatched on a tray. Everything fits pretty well. The cabinet under the sink is now nicely arranged with a plastic tote that holds our appliances, travel toiletries and a few larger toiletries that won’t fit in the etagere, a wicker basket of baby items and neat stacks of towels. And a little side plus of using my milk glass is I now have an entire shelf in my kitchen free for storing something else. And just for fun, one more snapshot of my bathroom –

It’s not anything new to the bathroom since I’ve had it set up like this since we moved in, just a little vignette that I like and thought I’d share. Notice the milk glass? I really do it have it everywhere in my house. I use these small glasses to hold tealight candles.

I’m really pleased how the etagere turned out. Not only do we have a lot more storage, but it looks really good, if I do say so myself. If you’ve got a similar situation in your bathroom, why not try sprucing things up with a simple shot of color? Who knew posterboard would be just the trick?