Friday, December 23, 2011

Bird Dogs, Birds and Mom's incredible Christmas Tree!

I know ... it sounds like another scrambled Friday note - but hold on, in just a second it will all make sense.

Bird Dogs ---  Mine  --- (he is really more of a furniture dog, but his breed is a bird dog - so we’ll go with that).  He turned four on Winter Solstice!   Happy Birthday Duncan, my friend!
Birds -- My grandmother passed over in September.  One of Grandma's passions (aside from second hand stores), was birds.  It is kind of weird, but lately, birds have been appearing in my family’s life in every way shape and form.  Bird cages, a whole city worth of bird houses, and two little cut out birds recently appeared mysteriously in my shop.   Dad’s six chickens started laying beautiful green eggs (five of them so far), and Mom’s bird theme Christmas tree is more lovely than ever this year.
The tree is kind of a collaborative effort.
Dad, being an ex- Forest Ranger has the job of  securing the proper United States Forest Service permits and licenses, then journeying forth into the woods to choose the perfect tree configuration - one for real and remnants for back up.  Not too many limbs,  not too few.  Not too young, not too old, about 1.75” in circumference and roughly 5.2 feet tall.  Needles must be securely attached, a little bit soft, but held together on a strong steadfast branch.  While Mom always orders - “Just pick up a Charlie Brown tree” .. we all know better.  Tree selection is a science and lucky for Mom, she has a credentialed, permitted scientist on the job!
Once in her possession ... the magic begins.  An odd collection of ribbons, bells, lavender, wheat, grass and cat tails, puppets, bird cages, eggs, balls, lights and of course ... millions of birds ...  all sit on the floor next to the tree ready to find their place.  To the inexperienced onlooker,  it might appear that mom is preparing to build a bird refuge.  Hours ... Hours ... Hours ... of ribbon flying, lights blinking, bird, egg and grass ornaments perching here and there .... and finally ... the masterpiece is unveiled.
I am proud to present .... Mom’s magnificent “bird tree” ... inspired this year by grandma, (I think),  Merry Christmas little birdies!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bits and Pieces and Random Updates

Okay, okay, okay ....   NOW!

NOW we can start to make our lists and begin to start thinking about the holidays ...

Duncan and I decided that this years “biggest shopping day of the year” drawing give away is going to be a lamp!  Surprise!!!   We’ve been working to customize this one, but it still needs a little something.  We keep applying coats and coats of red paint, and eventually it will look just great!

Our “40% off small stuff to make room for fall stuff” sale continues - but it can’t go on forever.  Fall is almost over - so technically, it is our Fall vendibles that should be wrapping up to make room for holiday fashion.  Regardless, hurry in and look over our sale room.  At very least, you are bound to find a special stocking stuffer, a great white elephant gift or that little pick me up for yourself.

We are shaking, moving and pushing stuff around in preparation for a new “pretty big” shipment of really cool stuff due in sometime this month.  We’re not sure when, but we are ready!!

And finally, this year we acquired three artificial Christmas trees in our consignment line so we're busy trying to figure out how to decorate three trees using nothing but items from our 40% off room!   Wow!

Happy Friday Everyone!

P.S.   You may not have noticed, but for the past several months, our model Duncan has been out of commission.   This summer, he sat on a bee during one of his shoots, filed a big workmans’ comp claim and sat it out for a few months ... but now he’s back!  FINALLY!   Great to have you back Duncan!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Grandma Esther

Last weekend was the debut of the Prairie Sisters Vintage Party and everyone who went reported that it was a smashing good time.   I’m guessing that it was the memories of the simplicity of our past and of all our charming Grandmas that helped inspire such a sweet event.  
Also, last weekend my Grandma Esther passed over at the age of 95.  
As is our family tradition, tomorrow we will plant a tree and we will memorialize Grandma Esther.  
I will remember her for her strength and her drive and her resourcefulness.  For being stylish with fashionable hats beyond her time.   For being smart and determined and for leading the way as a business woman when she was handed the responsibility of a day care in the mid 40’s.  
I will remember the spritz - spritz - spritz of her perfume bottle and suddenly, the whole room was engulfed with the smell of a powdery rose garden as she sat at her vanity applying the finishing touches in her morning ritual.   Her light blue hair was perfect (well kind of), and now we were off to the garage sales, thrift stores and the Five and Dime. A typical Saturday morning in Lincoln, Nebraska with Grandma.
I will remember her fondness for ice cream, her care taking of birds and her indulgence in afternoon beauty baths.  A fresh day dress, the evening paper on the porch swing and always time for neighbors.  For decorating her oak tree with seasonal plastic ornaments back when plastic was novel. And oh yes, the candy dish was always full.   For keeping a tidy house and raising respectful children.  For drinking grandpa’s home-made beer and letting him use her washing machine to make it.   For  agreeing with me that passing second grade math and learning my multiplication tables was the hardest thing I would ever have to do and for inspiring me to use those second grade math skills to start my own consignment furniture shop.    
As my mother wrote in her anthology of Apple Street Stories regarding Grandma’s day care when a stranger entrusted her with his child for a month .... 
"On a humid April day the bearish looking stranger came back. 
Mother pushed the door open wide this time.
"Come in."
A crowd of mild mustached youngsters stared as hands gestured.  The stranger nodded his head; Mother shook hers.  No money exchanged pockets.  Trust and benevolence prevailed between my mother and a total stranger in his new world.
Charity began at home, we learned, and we watched it spread way way past our Apple Street boundaries."

This was my Grandmas super special "Tweety" phone .... now, I keep it in my shop ... just in case!

Friday, July 29, 2011


Happy Friday!

I’m still here!  ... But like everyone else, I’ve been busy running around just trying to keep up with summer.   One of my super summer fun things to do is garage sale-ing, and while I was out I had an idea for another super summer fun thing I love to do ... contest participation!
I’m going to combine my two fun summer things and starting on Tuesday  August 2nd,  I'm running a first annual “GARAGE SALE FIND OF THE YEAR” contest.
So how do you enter and join in all this fun?  ... It's easy.  Just follow these four steps!
 1.  E-mail me a photo of your BEST garage sale find from THIS year.
2.  “Like” me on my Facebook page -
3.  Every day next week (Tuesday through Saturday) - or  whenever the photo’s start rolling in ... I will post your photos on Facebook and it is up to the fans to like or comment on the posted entry. 
4.  On Tuesday, August 9th we'll tally all the likes and announce the winner.
The winner will receive a FABULOUS prize.  We haven’t really decided what that prize will be yet but Duncan is coming up with really good ideas every day.
Here it is in all it's glory -- a sneak peek at my entry for the "GARAGE SALE FIND OF THE YEAR"  contest.   And before anyone asks ... no ... this is not the fabulous prize.  My mom already took it!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mid Centure Birthday

This week it happens ... like it or not, here it comes ... can’t stop it now, it’s here, it’s a done deal and it’s coming at me like a run-away train.
What?  What?  What?
Well ... I’ll tell you once and then we’ll let it go.
This week --- I turn “Mid-Century” ...  like a lot of my furniture.
There.  Confession made.  Nothing more needs to be said.
Except ... just one thing. 
To help me swallow my mid century pill, I found a new friend.  This Heywood - Wakefield Mid- Century Modern Rotating Coffee Table jumped in my car while I was in Helena so I took her home.   At first glance she appears a little rough around the edges.  Scratches here and there resulting from a party or two, a crayon mark on her bottom from when she babysat some naughty kids, her rotator has been over-worked and is a bit slow and her finish is dull.
She reminds me of someone ...  
For a split second, I considered giving her a facelift and selling her in my shop, but once I got her home, I decided that I liked her just the way she is.  Her classic lines are still beautiful and somehow, at this age her flaws suggest character rather than something that needs to be hidden and fixed. 
So .. lets tip a glass to mid-century and scratches and flaws and less than perfect hips and me and my new coffee table .... just the way we are!
Journey forward Jennifer Pinto and Heywood Wakefield Mid-Century Modern Rotating Coffee Table.  The next 50 years awaits you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


June is just around the corner and I don’t know why,  but June makes me think of gifts.  So many birthdays, Fathers Day, Flag Day and Weddings on the docket ... it seems like a good time to put some thought into gift giving.
Unlike Christmas, special occasions like birthdays give us an opportunity that the hustle and bustle of the winter holiday does not.  It allows us the luxury of time to individually consider the recipient and ponder their perfect gift.  Sometimes a special card or bottle of wine is a superb choice, but then there are times when the gift must come from the heart. 
A friend of mine forwarded me an article full of tips from Phoebe Cates  (you may remember her from the old 80’s TV program, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”).  Apparently, after she retired from Tinseltown, she opened a little gift shop in New York City and has become well known for her ability to select that just right terrific gift for all kinds of people.
Here are some of the highlights from the article along with my own interpretation and side notes!
Phoebe:  “Gifts should be given out of a genuine desire to bring happiness and benefit the recipient ... - Don't push your own agenda - but focus on their habits and what is important in their life”.
My Interpretation:  What do you think of when you think of your person.  What do they like, what do they do and what would add a little sparkle to their day.
Phoebe:  “Be  Practical.  Many people think gifts need to be luxurious and extravagant.  Cates said practical gifts did just as well sometimes.”
My Interpretation: Don’t think you ALWAYS have to give the PERFECT gift.  That’s a lot of pressure.  If you are just stumped about what to give, consider something that is simply useful.  When I’m in that situation, I like to give lamps! They brighten up my persons day every single time!
Phoebe: “Unique gifts can be found if people think creatively about where they shop ...  “You’d be surprised how inspired you’ll be when you go into a different store than the one you normally go to for gifts.” 
 My Interpretation:  Sometimes a shiny new expensive gift isn’t the answer.  An “experienced” gift, whether it be from your own collection or a one of a kind little something that you found in the shop around the corner, (in other words ... a shop called Echo Home Furnishings) can be fresh and fun and meaningful.  
Here is a little gift for you, my friend Laura ... Happy Birthday!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


For those of you who have recently buzzed through my shop ... you may have noticed the messy “workshop” I’ve carved out for myself.  Right now, it kind of resembles  cluttered and congested bric-a-brac gone wild.  But, in my mind, this space is a new division of Echo called The Paint and Lamp Making Center.
That’s right!  When Spring finally made it’s way to our corner of the planet, it worked like a decongestant in my brain and out rushed a plethora of new ideas.   This time ... my creative juices told me to paint ... so paint it is!  Some items that come through the “back door” may be subject to a little sanding, a little more scrutiny regarding their color and perhaps, a fresh coat of paint and/or a new lampshade.  (Let this be a warning -- wear good colors and a nice lampshade when you visit Echo!)
Don’t worry --- I still specialize in selling fine quality second hand home embellishments as I always have.  It’s just that now, some pieces may be morphed into an even brighter version of their former selves!  So ... swing by Echo, and if you should happen to find a little something that could use a custom paint job, my custom paint and lamp shade division is ready, willing, able, up and running and at your service!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Gift Ideas at Ec

“Look look Duncan, ... someone’s coming!”
“Is that a Royal Coach I see, circling the North Reserve Business Center searching for Echo Home Furnishings?”  Duncan assumes his usual “someone’s coming position” ... curiously peeking out from the corner of my sales desk.
But of course,  Kate and William sent their people with their official Royal Wedding Gift Registry list.  I know, I know ... it seems odd to me too, that of all places they would choose my little shop for their Montana Wedding headquarters - but I guess that even Royalty is growing to appreciate the trendy, eclectic decorating style that second hand furniture offers. 
Here are a sampling of items they chose.
This chicken cutting board came all the way from their Dad, Prince Charles’s gift shop over in Highgrove.  I don’t know if it is for sentimental reasons or if they ran out of them in their own shop - but they want it back.

The glass cookie jar wedding cake.   Well ... I’ve offered and offered to all you brides out there, but now it’s on Kate’s wish list, need I say more? ... Except, I think our English Springer model is looking for an invite!

Every well appointed palace needs a little bit of rustic, so they chose one of our barbed wire “Heartware” hearts to place near the moat of their new digs.  

Of course I've decided to give them one of my handmade lamp shades, so the lighting department is already taken care of, but there’s still a little bit of time (April 29th is the big day) and plenty of gifts left on their list.  So, swing by and let Duncan and I give you a hand.  Also, this week only, I am offering free gift wrap and shipping (by ship) for the Royal occasion.
The only remaining question .... Who in the world plans their wedding on a Friday ???  Hummmmm.
Happy Royal Wedding Week!

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Latest New Hobby

Lamps, Lamps, Lamps!
I think I may have mentioned my weakness for lamps in past Friday notes.  I’ve never met a lamp I didn’t like, and there is not a homeless lamp in the county that isn’t welcome in my shop.
Our grey skies have made me crave a little fun, a little fancy, a lot of color, and a tad bit of whimsey, so I’ve taken my affection for lamps to a whole new level and added lamp SHADES to my repertoire!  I am learning to re-cover lamp shades and it seems that dotting a few of these little critters throughout my shop has brightened up the corners!  I have a new hobby and I love it!
All I needed was an investor in my lamp department, a hot line to a journeyman electrician, unlimited access to dads wood shop (screws, bolts, drills, etc for the finials), unlimited access to moms quilt room (for obvious reasons), a good Dr. (for when I have glue accidents) and off I went, into the world of manufacturing new lamp shades to dress up my old lamps.  
It seems to me that lamps are making great strides in the interior design industry.  In many circles they are the definition of functional art!   An uncommon lamp cheerfully announces the flavor of a room and it does so with a relatively small price tag and level of commitment.  Unlike the stars in the furniture world, a lamp can be changed in and out to match the times, the season and your decor.  
When I have an old (yet stylish) base, a tired shade and bunches of fresh colorful fabric, I can’t help but want to measure, cut, glue, trim, and finally, pull together an eye catching conversation piece.  In my own little way, I feel like I’m a contributer in the world of home decorating.  My lamps are vintage, they are green and most of all, they’re unique and interesting!
If you want to join this fashionable journey into the twinkling world of refurbished lamps, well, you know where to find me!

Pieces and parts - waiting to become something special!
Pieces and parts that became something special!

Friday, March 25, 2011


It's Friday!!

As you might recall, in my last Friday Note we explored some clever, alternative cleaning options.  I promised that this week, we would recruit my overachieving cousin Megan for some tips on how she does her deep speedy spring cleaning!  I contacted her and apparently,  this is all she’s got.  Thank you Megan.  Really, not very helpful in the cleaning department - but it does give me some inspiration for my topic this week ....  Transition.

Transition, and our changing world, and globes and vintage globes and how to date old globes.
Once again, I turn to my trendy Dad for advice. Dad has always been a fan of geography, maps, globes, topography and most recently, his I pads Google Maps function.  I, on the other hand am not very good at directions so I’ve never really been interested in maps.  If I get lost, I stop and ask someone for directions, it’s that simple.   However ...  recently I’ve noticed a variety of globes showing up in decorating magazines and furniture catalogs so now, of course,  I’m interested in maps and globes and directions.
I’ve found out that some of these old globes are making their way into “collectors item” status and can or soon will sport some handsome price tags.  With that in mind, I wanted to know some simple quick tips that I could remember for on the spot old globe dating.  
Here is what Dad suggested:
If there is an East and West Germany, your globe is 1949 to 1989 
If there is only one Korea instead of a North and South Korea - your globe is pre 1953
If you look off the tip of India and there is a little country named Ceylon, your globe is pre-70’s  because in 1972 Ceylon became Sri Lanka
If you suspect a really old globe --- take a look at Iran.  If it says Persia - your globe is really old --- pre 1935 and should probably be wrapped in tissue and driven to the antique road show for appraisal. 
As far as assigning a dollar value to these little gems, I am still relying on e-bay for my information, but if anyone out there has another idea, I’m all ears.  Meanwhile,  I think I’ll just enjoy collecting a few here and there, because they are fun, they’re smart, they are interesting ... and they are featured in the designer magazines!!

Here are my two 1949ish (I'm guessing) desk globes - if you're looking for an antique GPS, drop by Echo before you get your passport!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Are you feeling a bit crusty around the edges?  You know ... the way a long winter tends to leave you feeling ... Duncan and I feel that way too.
But ... as luck would have it, into my shop walked Mr. Ray Moe, a fellow  entrepreneur from out here in the North Reserve end of town and owner of “Rods-N- Dogs" car wash. 
As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for Duncan and I to grab our bubble bath and towels, hop into our dirty bug and tear down to 4620 Expressway to check out his operation.   With a simple swipe of our credit card and the low price of $9.00, Duncan AND the bug enjoyed heated floors, a generous assortment of cleaning agents and a variety of blow dry options. 



Ray Moe demonstrates his super duper polish cleaner


Indeed ... it felt just great to scrub off all the winter scum.

We told Dad about our field trip and he decided it would be a good opportunity to get jump start on yard clean up, so he loaded his truck with lawn furniture and last years flower pots and joined us for the fun.  When we invited Mom on our excursion, her exact quote was “I don’t have a dog in this circus”, and she headed down the Bitterroot to her quilting consortium.

Everything worked great until Dad tried to use Rays super duper polish on the furniture.  But .. the good news is .. that’s now Ray Moe’s problem - not ours!  Thanks Ray for the fun day at the car / dog wash.   And thanks Dad for the great time saving spring cleaning tip.  Next week, we will explore how my overachieving cousin Megan does her deep speedy spring cleaning!

Happy Friday ..... Go wash your car!!   Visit  for valuable coupons and directions. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Valentines Weekend!

“ ... but, remember I said, when I get old I want to learn to HAND quilt,” quarreled my mom.
Her long time friend, neighbor and connoisseur of fine crafts urged on ....
"But we are old, and  I found someone who teaches the old Appalachian way of hand quilting,   it is a woman to woman art learned only by passing it down through word of mouth and you're going to love it!"
After a little more convincing, off they went down the Bitterroot to the land of the Stevensville Promise Stitchers ... and that is how it started.  That is how my family lost mom to her quilting addiction.
Through her newfound love, she found a common interest of women who LOVE color, textiles, creativity, and I think, most of all, the long lost art of making time, once a week to gather.  
These are the ladies who still celebrate birthdays with cake and tea, They get together to cackle and cluck, share patterns and patches, talk about their week, their kids, their diets, late breaking news and to celebrate each others pretty quilts.
What quilts?  Outside of their secret circle, these gems are rarely seen.  They aren’t flaunted at shows, photographed for magazines, or sold in stores. They get used for ... quilts!  They stay as secret, as sweet and as un-assuming as their gentle creators.  Until now!   I acquired (don't ask) one of their treasures to share with you just in time for Valentines Day.  I want to introduce this little promise stitch pillow.  It is stitched with ladder patches, a heart applique and finger patches.  

Here it is  --- ever so sweet and one of a kind!  (the colors really are much more vivid than my camera can capture.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January Projects!

Here we are, mid January and this morning I finally had my epiphany regarding what we do in January.
This is the month for organizing and planning ahead!   Not a real favorite for the procrastinators among us - but none the less, planning, organizing and spiffy-ing up for the upcoming year is really what January is all about.
My calendar is all up to date with birthdays properly noted, my closets are cleaned out with all the outfits I’ve “outgrown” being distributed to their proper charities - which leaves me free to move on to the more advanced stages of organizing and planning - painting things and rearranging the furniture.
In regards to painting things ... I’ve asked my assistant, Duncan, to demonstrate for us how the simple act of changing the color of a piece of furniture can change it’s whole personality.
Here is an end table in green.
Here is the same end table in black.  It's kind of astonishing what a difference it makes, isn't it?  Much richer I think.

If painting isn't your thing, try switching up the furniture a bit.  I don't know why, but I always look forward to re-arrange the furniture day.  I guess it's probably because as a kid we would go through this drill about every other month and it was always fun to watch the family bump into stuff and stub our toes as we learned to re-negotiate our route through the living room.  Regardless, re-arranging is a great way to change things up  and give you a new perspective on life - or at least on your living room.
Finally, if none of these fun January activities appeal to you - I have one more suggestion.  Commit to having a green year and start with a smart, roomy new shopping tote from Echo!   Duncan just loves his and has decided to use it for all the stuff he used to haul around in plastic garbage bags.  Well --- almost all the stuff ..  he still takes his plastic garbage bags with us on our walks because the Echo bags are far too nice for that. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

January Inspiration!

Every January, I want to start off the new year fresh and perfect.  For some reason - this year, my need for fresh and perfect has me paralyzed.   I’ve been wandering around my shop trying to take down the Christmas decorations and find something interesting to put together for this long gray month.  A fresh, perfect, inspirational January decorating theme is what I crave.  
I pop a couple of crunchy dried out pine needles in my mouth, pretending they taste like Rosemary and convincing myself they are a yummy addition to my fresh new January diet plan .... but still ... nothing.
Sure enough - I’m starting off my new year .... un-inspired.
I stare at my computer and consult with Facebook, trying to decide if it’s just me, or if  everyone is experiencing the same creative standstill and just like that - up pops my overachieving cousin Megan.  Megan is the one who had Halloween completed in July, Christmas packages were wrapped in September and she is currently working on Easter.  “Snap out of it”, she proclaims.  Just start!!
For anyone else out there who might be looking for some direction, here are some easy - do it yourself ideas from Megan (an accomplished re-purposer) that might help you jump start your creative juices for a fresh, decorative and  purposeful 2011!
An old milk can, Her daughter Sophie's red scarf, last year's snow flake lights and sticks from their tree make up this January centerpiece.  BTW - Megan tells me that the bench belongs to our Grandmother Esther- who turns 95 TODAY!  Here's to Grandma -  an original thrifter before thrifting was cool!

Megan's new "crafty room" .  She started this (transform a corner of the basement) project yesterday, so she'll keep us posted as she moves along. 

Ever wonder how to marry a kind of ordinary clock and an old picture frame ... here you go.

And finally ... an old window re-purposes into a message center for her four kids.

Thanks Megan ... I think I'll go paint something red now!   And here's my contribution - for anyone wondering how to re-purpose all those dried up pine needles from your tree ... try them in soup!
Happy 2011!!