Announcing..."As Luck Would Have It" -- the Website!

FINALLY! The "As Luck Would Have It" Website has launched! Now, in addition to the offerings at Home Store Manassas, my carefully edited collection of vintage treasures are available thru Be sure to check it out daily, as there are many more pieces of inventory to be posted. And tell ALL your friends, family, co-workers, strangers you meet in bars....Trust me, they'll thank you for it! At least I will...!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chair-ished Friends

On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, I was knee-deep in the middle of my traditional wait-til-the-last-minute-to-wrap-EVERYTHING routine. Of course, I was wired from caffeine overdose, HGTV was on in the background, and the kitties were in hiding so that they might avoid being hit by flying wrapping paper remnants. FA. LA. LA.

BFFs Sharona and Richard had phoned to ask if they could stop by. “Sure, if you don’t mind a frenzy of holiday madness!” At least they couldn’t say they hadn’t been warned. I would not be responsible for any collateral damage.

Soon there was a rapping at the door. In my holiday finest (completely disheveled in baggy sweats), I threw open the door to the sight of not Sharona and Richard, but a Martha Washington-style chair that I had last seen at Class and Trash weeks prior! While I was still dumbfounded by this unexpected vision, Sharona and Richard jumped out with hails of “Surprise!” and “Merry Christmas!”. Turns out, Richard remembered that I had become enamored with the MW chair when he and I had traveled to C&T for the Big Haul . When I had forgotten to claim the lovely piece in the midst of my standard bout of Vintage Vertigo, Richard had arranged with C&T owners Lisa and Kenny to hold the chair til he could travel back to Richmond to claim it as a holiday present for me. (Both he and Sharona insist they had decided to buy me this most thoughtful gift before we had all agreed not to exchange presents….I’ve chosen to believe them on this point, since I’m thrilled to have the chair!)

The chair is truly quite lovely. Of traditional lines, it is sturdy and in fine shape structurally. Although the fabric is a bit worn, the wood is unscarred. Nevermind about the upholstery, however; already the chair is planned to be restyled in some otherworldly combination of fabrics that will most assuredly send it into the couture décor stratosphere!

The chair currently resides in my boudoir, in the space formerly occupied by the pre-restyled 1970s-vintage moderne chair. Kitty Daisy has already claimed it as her own. However, being a stylish girl, when the time comes for the restyling I’m sure she’ll sacrifice her latest perch in the name of FABULOCITY!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thanks for the (Christmas) Memories

In all honesty, the Christmas holiday season is not my fave time of year.  I don’t like crowds, traffic sends me over the edge, and I despise cold weather.  (As you can imagine, the blizzard the Washington DC metro area received this weekend did nothing to help my holiday anxiety.) As a child, I tended to be sick every Christmas day.  My former career was in retail management and buying.  All combined, I do not do very well this time of year.  And don’t get me started about Christmas carols…. 

Anyone who has read just one posting of this Blog knows that I love decorating and shopping.  But not during the holidays.  Just say “NO NO NO” to the “HO HO HO”.  That’s not to say that I don’t have a section of the attic devoted to Christmas décor, just that everything tends to stay boxed up, year after year. 

One of the few exceptions to this is the small collection of ornaments handed down to me by my maternal grandmother, Mary.  I lived with my grandparents as a child, and one of the few family traditions was the yearly display of Christmas ornaments my grandmother had acquired when my mother and aunt were children.   Each Christmas, my grandmother would assemble the silver aluminum pom-pom tree and decorate it with a set of glass balls of a single color, alternating between beautiful shiny blue and bright pink.  Then there was the rotating color wheel, slowly projecting blue/yellow/red/green light on the metallic tree.  Pure holiday FABULOCITY

We would also have an evergreen tree, real or feaux, decorated with an assortment of ‘five-and-dime’ ornaments.  Among these were the spherical cage-like hollow balls containing ‘angel hair’ -- my absolute favorite!  I truly believed that they contained the fine white hair of actual angels, and I always looked forward to unearthing these from the cardboard boxes in which all the ornaments were stored.

But the most treasured of treasures was the nativity set.  Also purchased at the local five-and-dime for mere pennies, each piece was crafted of chalk and painted in vibrant colors.  There was, of course, the baby Jesus, along with four livestock animals: cow, donkey, sheep, and camel.  Even as a child, I found it fitting that only the animals were in attendance at our manger scene.

Purchased in the 1940s, only a handful of these treasures have successfully weathered the ensuing decades.  Somehow many of the ornaments of my childhood were broken or lost.  I consider myself fortunate to have several of the delicate solid blue glass balls, along with a red one with “Season’s Greetings” painted in white, and a blue globe with white stars.  And, even two of the angel hair-filled pieces are among my collection.  Except now, as I behold these globes many years after my grandmother’s passing, I recall the fine silver hair of my own guardian angel Mary.

The nativity set also survived, except the donkey is MIA and the cow lost an ear at some point.  A few years ago, during one of my DC Big Flea excursions with BFF Diana, I came across a vendor who was offering a mishmash of similar nativity pieces.  I learned that these chalkware items were very popular in the first half of the twentieth century, and were made by Italian and German immigrants.  Apparently, some of the later pieces were also made in Japan.  Carefully sifting through this vendor’s offerings, I selected several pieces that I thought would fit well into my treasured nativity:  an angel to watch over the baby Jesus; three wisemen to accompany the camel; and a Mary and Joseph pair.  These pieces of unknown history have now melded seamlessly into the nativity of my childhood, and the entire set is among the few holiday decorations I faithfully display each and every year.

So enamored was I of my grandmother’s set, this collection of the most modest of nativities, that I recall once telling her that it was the only thing I wished for her to bequeath to me.  I am blessed that I have these precious items to commemorate the childhood spent with my loving and caring grandparents.  However, as treasured as these ornaments are to me, I am most grateful for all the memories they invoke, for that past is my forever Christmas present.  And each year, at the close of the holiday season, I carefully wrap each jewel so that it might survive to be displayed another season. 

A few Christmases ago, I labeled the boxes containing this treasure with the names of my godsons.  Inside the boxes were notes addressed to the boys, explaining the heritage of these items, and instructing them to remember me and my family as the boys might someday display the ornaments as part of their own families’ holiday traditions.  Let this be my forever Christmas present to them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

China Syndrome

What’s a furniture addict to do when the all available storage runneth over?  In my case, I redirect my acquisition urges toward items that are considerably easier to warehouse:  tableware, knick-knacks, pictures, and all sorts of tschotskes.   The possibilities are endless in this category of vintage décor!

In my previous post , I let my Dear Readers in on the secret of the glorious thrift store Yesterday’s Rose.  On the Monday following my first visit there, which had resulted in the discovery of several lovely (and bulky) pieces of vintage furniture (now occupying valuable real estate in The Warehouse), I returned to transport the silk-covered Baker loveseat.  As previously mentioned, that day also happened to be “1/2 Off Everything Day”!  What a coincidence!

Considering that the loveseat required almost every square centimeter of space in the Passat’s cargo area, there were limits to what I could acquire on my second visit.  Fortunately, the Rose had a rather extensive offering of dishes and glassware.  Having perused the stacks of breakables the previous Saturday with BFF Diana the Lady D, there were a few items that I was hoping to locate once again among the piles.  However, there was one treasure first and foremost in my mind for this excursion:  a set of eleven china plates by Royal Albert.

Weeks prior to my foray into the treasure-filled cavern that is Yesterday’s Rose, Lady D emailed me to express her glee over finding a beautiful china plate during one of her Rose trips.  She dubbed the item “The Faux Oyster Plate” because its bold yet delicate pattern reminded her of plates designed for such a function.  Although there had been a complete set of twelve of these exquisite dishes, Diana had chosen to purchase only one (convinced that she has an innate propensity to break things, she was fearful of being responsible for a whole dozen of china plates!).  Nonetheless, on her many follow-on trips to the Rose, she faithfully stopped by the case in which they were displayed to ensure no one else had acquired the remaining eleven.

What made these plates especially intriguing was the hint of their history indicated by a handwritten note attached to Lady D’s single dish.  Carefully written in a delicate script on a piece of tape placed on the plate’s surface was the statement, “Debbie, from Cowell & Hubbard…Very Expensive”.  Diana, the consummate Internet researcher, pulled this thread and discovered that Cowell and Hubbard was a jewelry store located in Cleveland, Ohio.  According to The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History ,

Cowell and Hubbard Co . is Cleveland's oldest jewelry store. The firm started in 1861 when Geo. Cowell and his son, Herbert, took control of the silversmith shop of Royal Cowles, which had opened in 1849 under the Weddell House at Superior Ave. and Bank (W. 6th) St. H. Cowell & Co. sold clocks, watches, silverware, lamps, fine jewelry, and notions.

Obviously, the previous owner of these delightful and delicate dishes desired that “Debbie” be fully aware that these plates had an extraordinary pedigree.  (Luckily, “Debbie” apparently couldn’t have cared less, and the Royal Albert plates ended up in a thrift store!)

The Lady D then set out to determine the plates’ vintage.  Sleuthing through the vast information store of the Internet, she came upon the definitive source for all things Royal Albert:  Here, she determined that the plates’ backstamp indicated that they were manufactured 1927-1935 (apparently a particularly prolific period for the Royal Albert Company!).

When Diana and I visited Yesterday’s Rose on that fateful Saturday in November, the remaining eleven Royal Albert plates still resided in their place of honor in the glass case near the shop’s entrance.  However, recognizing that a mere two days later the dishes would be included in the “1/2 Off Everything” event, I decided to tempt fate and wait until I returned to transport the Baker loveseat before purchasing them.  (You see, as desirous as I was to possess these fine plates, the fruit would be that much sweeter if I could get them at an even more remarkable low price!  Vintage shopping is multi-faceted endeavor.)

As I approached the Rose on “1/2 Off Monday” to retrieve the loveseat, I was guided tthough the cold rain by my determination to embrace the Royal Albert plates before they were claimed by some other less-deserving shopper.  But, because my trip to the Fairfax shop had been delayed by a long-standing doctor appointment (which I’d been sorely tempted to cancel), would the dishes still be available?  Walking (well, running, really) into the Rose I breathlessly approached the glass case….Yes Yes YES! the plates – ALL ELEVEN OF THEM – were still there!  Oh Fates, blessed Fates!  I immediately engaged the gentleman behind the counter and, after confirming that the dishes were included in the day’s sale event, I proceeded to carefully examine each one for damage.  I was delighted that all were in pristine condition, and instructed the clerk to consider them sold.

After ensuring my treasure was appropriately set aside for me, I proceeded to rummage through the piles of dishes precariously stacked on the open shelves on the shop’s selling floor.  And I was rewarded for my diligence:  added to my Royal Albert purchase were a 1953 calendar and zodiac plate by Homer Laughlin ; a 1950s-vintage plate with a stylized floral pattern in light blue and gold; and a set of three dinner plate with a large Mod daisy design in the center of each.  Each of these finds could serve as stunning wall hangings, especially the daisy plates when presented as a trio.

There was one near-disastrous moment:  having completed my transaction (with the Goth-Girl clerk manning the register), I attempted to place the box full of newfound bounty into the shopping cart for transport to the awaiting Passat.  !  My hand slipped, and the carton slammed into the bottom of the cart.  I was convinced that I had cracked at least a few of the treasured Royal Albert china plates.  However, upon my inspection back home, it was revealed that all items had survived my moment of clutziness.  I had miraculously evaded Lady D’s curse! 

Now, Diana and I are in negotiations regarding how The Eleven are to be divided; she insists that she should hand over her single plate in order to keep the set intact (and to escape their impending doom that being in her possession ensures).  I, however, contend that the vintage wealth should be distributed, and a set of eight would suffice for me.  Indeed, disposition of the dozen is a task best suited for King Soloman.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fave Source Alert: Yesterday’s Rose

Yet again, BFF Diana struck gold! The Lady D informed me of a most delightful trove for vintage treasures in Fairfax, Virginia: Yesterday’s Rose (doesn’t the name itself conjure lovely images of times gone by?) is a wondrously cavernous thrift shop located in a nondescript strip mall in NoVA. Diana, who has lived in the general vicinity for the better part of 30 years, had often passed by the shop’s location, but had only recently ventured in. And what a fortuitous visit it turned out to be!

A few weeks ago, the Lady D texted me pics of several glorious chairs; upon my immediate and exuberant response, she informed me that they had been discovered at the Rose. Even through the haziness of the low resolution photo, I could tell these were items that warranted closer inspection. However, I was unable to join Diana in a visit to the Rose til last Saturday – which just happened to be “1/2 off Furniture Day”!!!!

We arrived uncharacteristically early (for me, anyway), before the shop opened its doors. As we sat in the Passat (which had been de-cluttered for the occasion, in anticipation of filling it with newfound bounty) reading a décor magazine (naturally!), I happened to glance up and exclaimed to Diana, “Oh my God, people are lining up to get in!”. Hastily we bolted out of the cargo van (um, I mean ‘Passat’) and rushed to beat another wave of approaching vintage décor scavengers.

When the doors opened minutes later, it was as if we were shoppers at a Walmart Midnight Madness sale! Everyone pushed through the double doors, rushing to claim the pieces they’d apparently scoped out the day before. As we fought through the throng, Diana remembered to shout to me the rule of the day: “Tear off the tickets of any piece of furniture you want!”, which allows you to claim the item without having to drag it to the register. Following Diana’s lead, I started snatching tickets with wild abandon – until the suitably gruff elderly man working the floor informed us that we were to tear off only the lower portion of the tag, not the entire tag. Oops. We ended up losing precious moments trying to retrace our steps to reattach tickets. (We felt like such amateurs!)

Although some ground was lost, the Lady D’s early recon had mapped out the last known location of the targeted spoils: an amazing rattan and cane chair of generous proportions; a side table with birds-eye veneered top; and a delightfully comfortable rattan glider chair. Having claimed these items immediately as part of our potential haul, we were free to wander about and pick through the other assorted goods. I was truly fortunate to be standing near a lady when she decided not to purchase a most lovely find, and thus able to claim it as my own: a Baker loveseat with down cushions, covered in a plaid silk. Although the tattered arms indicated the piece had been favored by a feline companion of the previous owner, the rest of the upholstery as well as the overall structure were perfectly intact. MINE!

While the air of Yesterday’s Rose was so infused as to induce multiple bouts of Vintage Vertigo, there was one note of sadness….In a wide-open space between the linens (NOT on sale that day, BTW) and the children’s clothing, sat a faded lady: a Duncan-Phyfe sofa. Tattered and torn, springs exposed, yet majestic and commanding, the spectacular piece was patiently awaiting rescue. As I appropriately fawned over her, I was forced to consider the sheer size of the piece – was there any way in Hades that she would fit into the Passat? Armed with the ever-present tape measure, I proceeded to take detailed measurements from all angles. After several trips to-and-from the Passat, I once again had to acknowledge defeat – the Passat’s cargo space was woefully inadequate. Memories of the French Settee melodrama resurfaced.

After several hours in Yesterday’s Rose (and having claimed several other miscellany), Diana and I proceeded to load a portion of the day’s bounty into the Passat (sadly, sans Duncan-Phyfe). And while I had successfully claimed the lovely Baker loveseat, I was forced to leave it behind til it could be retrieved a few days later (many measurements indicated that this piece could indeed be accommodated by le Passat). However, this slight inconvenience did not cause consternation….After all, the following Monday was the last day of the month, which at Yesterday’s Rose means the entire store is HALF-OFF!!! Stay tuned for details of that excursion!