Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rosey poses

It was my B-day a while ago and some charming gent brought me a dozen long-stemmed roses.

I plopped them in a gorgeous crystal vase I found at the dollar store for under $20 (the same vase I bought a former friend years ago and paid way more for!).

They were nice roses, so they lasted a good week - my thrifty tip for helping them along was to change their water every day and cut them down every day as well.

When they really started to go I cut the stems off completely and plonked them into a big rose bowl.

I've had rose bowls of various sizes since my green days growing up in the 1970s. That's how florists arranged roses then - or at least that's how roses given to me as gifts were always arranged back then.

So I hold a special place in my heart for roses in roses bowls even though it may seem a little old-fashioned.

The added bonus, natch, is that they'll last even longer this way. Funny, for some reason the red ones went before the white - maybe the whites are heartier?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thrift ring challenge answered

The answer to the thrift store ring challenge you read about here:

The big pink & sterling silver cocktail ring, snagged for two bucks at my local thrift shop!

The other was purchased new at the Bay for over $50.

I loved this pink one so much, but so did my pal Parm, and it did look so much better on her with her dark skin.

So now it's hers.

The wonderful thing about finding rings for so cheap is that I can give them away to good friends when they admire them ... and it's a tradition I like. It makes people happy; it makes me happy. Plus a ring is more symbolic and I'd like to think it serves as a concrete reminder of some of the friendships I have valued and value.

Friday, June 26, 2009

True blue thrifty patio

I'm still on my patio kick. Since I haven't had time to work on my current patio re-do project, here's a little look I put together four years ago in Ottawa - along the Rideau River - using thrift store and dollar store finds.

The tablecloth was $14 at a dollar store and I ended up giving it to the person who owned the house and let me do the photo shoot there.

The rest of the items you can see listed in the article I wrote for the Ottawa Citizen newspaper; simply click on the image to the left to make it larger.

Some of my fave things:
I turned this wrought iron telephone table - picked up for $5 at a garage sale! - into a serving nook.

I threw tiny carnations into old glass sugar containers.

I think these dollar store wine flutes look perfectly elegant on an old silver tray.

Speaking of old silver I love putting flowers in old silver water jugs - the look would just get better as the silver tarnished over time.

I cheated a bit by putting old pillowcases over the bright purple vinyl seatcovers on the wrought iron chairs bought at the Sally Ann - that's the grunge-queen way: fake it!

Here's the look from afar, overlooking the river. It was the end of May and not quite full-on green-ess.

Hopefully this will inspire you in your weekend entertaining!
Have a good one!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tea party patio a la cheap

My patio project (see post below) has gotten me thinking of past patio projects - which have been few given I've lived in apartments for my time in Toronto.

Three summers ago when I was just getting in to freelance writing and junking in a big way, I wrote a piece on having a tea party in your outside space - from there I created a romantic tea party look on my ugly fire escape so I could have a pretty photo accompanying the article.

I hung up dollar store sheers to cover the icky white brick, plopped my fave piece of Ralph Lauren floral fabric over a ratty fold-up table I had painted red (same table will be part of this year's patio project!), and threw together some pretty tea cups and a silver tea set I found at the thrift shops. The gold-tone shawl hanging on the silver chair is still a fave for draping over chairs and such - I found that at Value Village for $6.99 or so.

Some creative touches: an old watch as a napkin holder; spray painting the wrought iron chairs silver and recovering them with fabric from a dollar store tablecloth!

I even made the crustless sandwiches for my photo shoot, which I styled myself (and broke my sister's borrowed camera in the process - talk about spending money to make money!).

Here's the article I wrote about putting it all together along with some tea trivia; just double click on it to get a better view:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Patio project, part 1

I'm a closet Shabby Chic-er, I discovered after a $22 dig at Goodwill yesterday, on my way home from doing a shopping column.

If you're a regular visitor to this blog you'll know the look in my pad is slightly funky - not very country or feminine.

But when I saw these faded blue pillows, $2.99 each, I was inspired to do something with my icky looking balcony and give it a Shabby Chic redo!

Shabby Chic was popularized by Rachel Ashwell http://www.shabbychic.com/ who has built an empire on white slip-covered furniture and contemporary country-esque decor. It's characterized also by pale faded blues and pinks and greens.

I threw the pillows on the chair I bought at the Sally Ann for $10.

I had the tablecloth already - I got the faded pink look by accidentally washing it with a red towel (very grunge queen of me) - and I bought two chunky green wine glasses during my Goodwill dig for $1.99 each - I asked for a better price as I could likely find them at the dollar store for a buck, but no go.

I had a glass of wine to celebrate the beginning of my patio project. I still have more to show you from my $22 patio project redo shop at Goodwill and will be posting more as the look evolves ....

More to come!

P.S. One day later: I'm re-posting the story of how I got the chair you see here for Frugalchick - it was found almost a year ago for $10 during a Sally Ann auction that was truly fun - the Salvation Army has even posted the article on its website! Just click on the link below:

How grunge queen got her $10 rattan chair at the Sally Ann

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Which ring is thrift?

These are games I like playing when I shop.

It goes like this [in thrift store]: Cripes, I just paid $[insert price that's 6-10 x more than item; I'm just going throwing that figure out there and it could vary] for a [fill in the blank] just like that!

Or like this [in a regular store]: Hee hee, I just bought a [fill in the blank]just like that for 5 bucks at the Sally Ann.

Needless to say the feeling is always more euphoric when the latter has happened.

So can you tell which ring was thrifted and which was purchased regular price at the department store?

Both silver; both big cocktail rings; both light in hue.

I honestly don't know how you could.

So take a guess and post a comment and tell me what you think!

Worn rug finds happy home

Remember the 100 year-old Persian rug I bought for next to nothing? (click here to read about). It's currently rolled up under my brass bed as my CAT was destroying it. It'll stay there until he dies or I sell it (the rug, not the cat, silly), I guess.

This past Friday I was doing a shopping column in North Toronto and went into this shop I've been meaning to check out for some time, Around the Block.

It sells second-hand fine furniture on consignment. This hand-stitched rug didn't have a maker's mark, alas, but I loved it for two reasons: one, it was worn. I love the worn look - it means feet have walked over and people have lived around this carpet. An added bonus is that CAT could scratch til Doomsday if he wants; it'll only add to the overall look.

Two, it had the dark and light blues so rare in rugs of this kind.

Did it matter it was a long runner-type carpet? What do you think: I'm the grunge queen! It was only $95, a screaming deal.

I love the way it defines the space. That's my dining room, by the way.

It'll be my B-day gift from my Mom and Dad.

A bonus: this rug will complement the one I have stored away, so when I do take it out they'll be friends ....

Around the Block, 1903 Avenue Rd. 416-546-1760 unique@aroundtheblock.com

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dad's day & dollar store cards

I admit it: I bought my Dad's Father's Day card at the dollar store up the street. But I found a half decent one, thank the dollar store gods.

The people who write the lyrics for cards that end up in the dollar store are incapable of using adjectives other than "special" for Father's Day ditties, it seems.

Worse, they have these strange images on the front. Yes, a bird is nice. But why the insets with three close-ups of the bird, with "Trust," "Loving" and "Caring" under each?

Does daddie love birdies so much? If I were the bird, let alone the daughter, I'd be feeling somewhat disturbed.

How about this one?

Is the poor deer in the cross hairs, or is this some artsy representation of a deer?


Friday, June 19, 2009

Lupins and long-ago gardens

I love Lupins. They're one of my fave flowers, possibly because they always bloom around my B-day - and they're just so funky to boot.

I saw these at the flower market and they made me nostalgic for the flower garden of my youth.

My dad planted a beautiful flower garden when we were younger, and Lupins bloomed near the stream.

Here's a pic of my older sister by the Lupins, many years ago, in our beautiful garden.

The big evergreen tree in the background - we used to call in "The Giant."

My sis with my Dad ....

Why aren't I or my twin in the garden pics? We would have been really young.

And I guess by the time we were old enough to be in pics, the camera was gone. Maybe the garden was already on the decline by then ....

My sis again, this time with "The playhouse" my Dad built in the background.

I remember The playhouse as more dilapidated, so I never really saw it in its heydey.

Funny how you can feel nostalgic for things you didn't wholly experience. Still, I love and will always remmeber the garden of our youth .....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

By special request

Thanks to Cath, grunge queen reader, pal and colleague at The Town Crier group of newspapers www.mytowncrier.ca

who graciously took this photo of me at work today sporting my totally-tubular snake-like necklace with Tribal influence and crossed with a semi-Industrial look that I thrifted for $3 yesterday! (see post below).

Fashion and jewellery pieces always look better on, agreed.

Normally I wear necklaces long but today I decided to wind it twice around my throat - much as some lethal constrictor snake would - so it goes with my outfit.

I'm posing in front of my editor-in-chief's new painting in his newly painted office! Thanks Eric!

Jewellery junkie gets her fix

You know by now my penchant for retro bling.

On my way to do a shopping column yesterday I popped into my friendly neighborhood thrift shop - an absolute must if you want to bag the good stuff.


Just as I was about to leave one of the employees who's sold me many baubles for a couple bucks or less mentioned a whack of jewellery had jusy come in.


My spidy senses tingled.

Out came a plastic bag. I restrained, as she went through the bag.


I ended up walking away with a three-tier a vintage glass bead necklace for $3 (TIP: DON'T ARGUE, ESPECIALLY IF YOU THINK YOU SHOULD PAY MORE)!!

And this totally tubular necklace, a cross between a Tribal and Industrial worm, was also $3. Though it's contemporary I thought it was pretty funky.

I also bagged a huge sterling cocktail ring with a pink stone for $2.

Thrift shops can be havens for both contemporary, retro and vintage jewellery - you just have to know what you like!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Looks like Anthropologie but it's not

I admit it: grunge queen DOES buy new on occasion, especially when the look is hot and the deal is screaming.

My latest shopping obsession is The Embellished Room at 2025 Yonge St. in Toronto (416-489-7222, no website).

It sells new clothing, all from France, everything at $29.99 EACH.

Yup, this pretty boho dress with a touch of West Side Story thrown in at the bottom was only $29.99. $29.99! For a cotton dress lined with cotton!

It makes me want to put on my heels, do a twirl and a leg shake, and sing "I want to live in Am-er-ica...."!

The shop carries mostly tops and not a lot of bottoms and for a while was carrying only size Medium, but the day I bought this frock the owner told me they were experimenting with sizes Small through Large.

Some of the looks are very a twenty-something, but there's still heaps for a thirty and forty-something to go ga-ga over.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sparkly drawer pulls inspire

I've been obsessed with sparkly glass drawer pulls for a long time now - what better way to jazz up a beat up curbside find? - but haven't been willing to pay the $18 EACH I've been seeing them for in stores.

A troll in the Beaches the other day unearthed a new shop with a whole counter of pulls - for way less coin than I've ever seen them!

In Nesters (2207 Queen St. East, 416-698-2207) I found these blue acrylic pulls for less than $3 each! There are also glass and ceramic ones for good prices.

Needless to say I bought a wack to add a bit of bling to this dark dresser - you can see the difference here.

The old faux tortoise shell pulls are lovely, but don't really do much for this dresser, you'll agree.

I ended up buying two too many just for the heck of it - I have a lot of dressers - and just before beddie-bye last night discovered a cool alternative use for these drawer pulls.

Can you guess? Check out some of my older posts, where I switch up lampshades and lampshade hardware to create entirely new looks!

You guessed it: a lamp finial! Doesn't it look like a little jewel on the top of my lamp? I love the way it's all illuminated.

The purple shade helps - I tried the drawer pull on a lamp with an off-white shade and it doesn't look as special.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Heads from the Royal Ontario Museum?

I'd like you to meet Wilhelm Kong von Wurttemberg.

I found the German royal, and about 50 other plaster discs like him, at a garage sale in April.

The owner sold me the lot for $10 - pricey by grunge queen standards but I'd like to think I paid for the story, too.

A gent in his 60s or older, the man who sold them to me told me his father found these mainly chipped discs at the CPR railway yards where he worked in the 1960s - they were destined for the trash.

Apparently they're rejects from a Royal Ontario Museum exhibition here in Toronto in the 1960s. That makes a certain amount of sense as some of the discs are identified with tags, like Wilhelm is, and there's writing on the back of a lot of them indicating the years they lived or ruled (Wilhelm was apparently the Wilhelm the 1st and he lived 1781-1864).

What I loved even more was the fact that this gent and his siblings, so the story goes, grew up playing with these head pieces. Apparently they pretended they were money!

I haven't verified his story but I love it all the same. Nor have I really taken a good look at all the scenes and heads on this dics, but there are Greek philosophers, other emperors and Greek and Roman Gods.

And I have NO idea how to display these flat coin-like discs, which range in circumference from the size of a large apple (that's Wilhelm, and he's the largest), to the size of a penny.

Any ideas???

I think it would be cool to put in a call to the ROM and see if it have any history on the exhibition.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

String curtains

True, I did buy these new but I'm telling you I'll have them until they disintegrate.

Why? Because I love my string curtains purchased in a shop on the Danforth in Toronto four years ago.

First, they make wonderful curtains because they provide privacy yet let diffused light in.

But they also make cool room dividers.

I took off all the doors in my last apartment, which was long and narrow, and hung these curtains in the doorways.

I love the look ... wah I'm feeling nostalgic for my old space ....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Uncle Ugly

It's rather apt that the only piece of furniture my family has hung onto over the years was picked up years ago by my parents at a garage sale.

It's of no value, but somehow they've held onto it. Now I have it.

Uncle Ugly, as my folks called him, was a claw-footed table with glass on top that was out coffee table when we were younger. Here are my sisters playing around it (yes that's a turquoise Betty Crocker oven in the background).

Over the years Uncle Ugly degenerated to the point of having his glass broken and before that having coke slop onto the glass and seep underneath to form an icky-sticky layer that made neat patterns under the glass (my memory of that is so vivid I must have been the culprit!).

That's yours truly sulking over Uncle Ugly in her polyester pink pantsuit ....

By my teen years Uncle Ugly had graduated to life as a plant table in the upstairs hallway and eventually, to the cold storage room in my parents' new house, where I rescued him four years ago when I moved to Toronto.

Since then Uncle Ugly's come a long way. I spray painted him silver to give him a bit of glam, then fitted a thrifted mirror over the top where the glass used to go.

I change things up often when it comes to what I put on top of Uncle Ugly. My most recent living room manifesto resulted in some major book-piling on top. I like the look for now.

I've loved this table for four years now, though I took it for granted over the years growing up. I can remember making a Barbie house under it when I was wee, with my twin sis.

I love the shape, the curves, the bow embellishments you see on the side - and yes - even those claws.

I hope Mom and Dad never ever ask for him back!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Auction tonight!

Fellow Torontonians, if you're wondering what that contraption is on the floor under the painting in the pic shown here, and if the bargain hunter is looking for a fun experience, check out Mark Taaffe's new shop in the Junction, World Headquarters (2885 Dundas St. West, 416-333-8078).

Tonight the long-time auctioneer is having his first auction in his new space, starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday June 8.

Bring cash. You're guaranteed to find some really neat stuff.

Check out my recent article below....

Salvaging Good Style

Kelly Gadzala
Town Crier Bloor West

You should know by now my penchant for anything used, worn and slightly junky in the home d├ęcor department. The majority of my apartment furniture is a collection of forgotten curbside relics.

The Dundas West strip in the Junction is therefore happy land for me, a place strewn with salvage shops and even a few new furniture stores.

To read more click Here

And I will tell you what that contraption is: it's a manmade bee's nest used to contain wild bees. It even smells of honey inside! Just an example of some of the truly cool stuff you can find at Mark's shop.

Empty frames

Here are some effortless decor ideas, totally in keeping with la grunge queen philosophy of inspired yet easy-peasy decorating, gleaned from my garage sale booty last month ...where I picked up three wood frames for $2 total.

Actually the oval one is a frame for a table. It's been sitting on my floor propped up against the wall with the other frames until today, when I felt the urge (in the face of looking deadlines) to do a little refresh to my living space.

My first thought: hang it on the wall, as is.

And doesn't it look nifty? I think it really completes the corner in an interesting way.

My second attempt is still a work in progress.

I like the contrast of the heavy dark mirror frame and the shell of an empty frame below it.

And I really love the dried up roses on the silver platter that match the pillow so nicely. I put my black velvet scarf from the thrift shop on the chair of the seat to provide some contrast.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thrift outfit, low end

I rarely get pics of me in my thrifted outfit showing you how to put it all together, so when I was doing a shopping column yesterday with stylist Afiya Francisco www.thestylehouse.ca I asked her to snap a pic of me by the green bins - appropriate for the grunge queen, no?

The majority of my outfit here is thrifted from my friendly neighborhood thrift store, Stretch Thrift on Pape Ave. in Toronto.

The jeans, long and lean and flattering, were $5.99. Pointy Italian boots: $9.99.

The scarf and bag I already owned and had purchased new.

Now for the jacket and the top - I broke some of my thrift shopping rules here, you should know.

The white cotton ribbed jacket is H&M ($6.99 if memory serves) and the silk floral swing top, $3.99, is Joe Fresh.

Normally I don't buy what I consider to be trendy fast fashion pieces at thrift shops. I find them over-priced because they are mass market and people recognize the labels, so stores generally tend to price them at maybe half of their regular retail price - not worth it in my books.

But I broke my rule here as the price was right, plus the blazer looked of a good quality - I wear it tight and fitted and it's perfect for the really chilly weather we've been having.

Plus when you're just lollygagging about I don't think you need to wear high, high end thrift pieces. If pieces like these fit into your life and look fab on you, go for it.