Thursday, October 28, 2010

Antiquing Roadtrip

I grew up with a flea market/resale shop/garage sale addicted Grandmother. She always made second hand shopping fun by renaming stores like The Kidney Foundation (proceeds of sales benefited the organization) to "Kennedy Fashion" and taking me out for antipasto salad after our shopping excursions. Throughout the 80's I shopped with her, mostly for clothes and accessories and over the years found some beautiful pieces: dresses from the 50's, leather go-go boots from the 60's, 70's black suede pants, jackets from the 40's and beautiful leather bags. When I left Chicago in 1990 to attend Ohio University I discovered antique malls and small antique shops in the small towns of Ohio, each one was full of all sorts of treasures.

At 22 I moved back to Chicago and rented a little apartment but being a single mom had very little money to decorate. Searching garage sales, resale shops and antique stores for art work, dishes and furniture was a fun and economical way to decorate my home. Over the years I've become a little more choosy about what I buy and lean more towards antiques and estate sales over garage sales. Because I'm also a bit of a Gypsy and move every few years I don't clutter up my house with knick knacks, holiday decorations or cheap collectibles.

I had a few days off last week and my parents and I spent the weekend antiquing in Indiana and Michigan. I collect rare books, 18th and 19th century paintings and prints (portraits and hunting), silver plated goblets, jewelery, small lamps and glassware. To meet my criteria the piece needs to be either practical or beautiful.

Below are pictures of a few of my finds from last weekend. Not pictured a 19th century copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Volume 1 bought for $2!
I bought 4 of the small aperitif glasses, 4 tulip shaped water goblets and 2 wine goblets. I found them at the Coachman Antique Mall, 500 Lincolnway and Up Towne Shoppes, 623 State Street, both in LaPorte Indiana. Total paid was under $50 for 10 silver plated cups, not including the silver polish I need to shine them up. Why serve water or wine in a boring glass from Target!

2 antique hunting prints, framed. Total for both was $60. Bought at the charming and beautifully displayed Millie's Antiques, 13815 Red Arrow Highway, Harbert Michigan, a few miles north of downtown Union Pier. The detail is stunning and the hunting dogs in the prints remind me of my beagle Eloise.
I found 2 of these small lamps at The Antique Market, 3707 N.E. Frontage Road, Michigan City Indiana. Total price for 2 lamps was $22.00. They have the softest glow and fit perfectly under a kitchen counter or nestled into a bookshelf.

My favorite find of the year, this all gold cigar band style cameo ring found at an antique store in Charleston, South Carolina. It's my favorite piece of jewelry and the piece people comment on the most when I wear it.

So do you antique, resale shop or stop by every garage sale you see? If so, share your favorites! I'm looking forward to buying my next home, possibly a small vacation cottage in Southwest Michigan and am excited to start hunting for antique furniture and art.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday List-#5

I work the reference desk at a public library for a few hours each week and 1 weekend a month.
Over the years I've gotten some very interesting questions and requests but at such a small library, most of the reference questions are routine. So for this week's Monday List, here are the top 5 most asked questions when I'm at the reference desk.
  1. Can you help me make a copy?
  2. Where are the restrooms and/or Where is the program?
  3. I'd like to sign up for a program.
  4. I'd like to put a book on hold.
  5. Do you have the movie ______?
In the days of Wikipedia, Google, online databases and hot picks (readily available popular books and movies) how much reference is actually done in your library? Do librarians find themselves troubleshooting technology and answering directional questions more than anything else?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'm Going to Be 40

Or "Old" as my Kid likes to tell me. Tomorrow. 

It's been interesting to witness how my friends have celebrated their 40th birthdays over the years. Some have celebrated quietly with friends or family, others threw themselves extravagant parties, some were surprised with parties by their partner or spouse, and then there are those who wanted to be alone. However they've chosen to celebrate or hide from their day, we're all lucky to be here to see our 40th year.

I thought about writing about 40 lessons I've learned, or 40 things I want to accomplish in my life or 40 reminders that it's OK to start over at 40. But really I'm not up for self reflection right now.  My parent arrive tonight to spend a few days with me and I'm going to take it easy...visit my favorite restaurants, shop with my Mom, snuggle with my Kid, overeat, walk on the beach, drink French champagne and wonder what comes next.

So Cheers readers. I'm off for the next 4 days to celebrate life. All 40 years of it.

P.S. For a laugh, here is a picture taken of me celebrating at an early age.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday 5-List #4

Here are the 5 most beloved books from my childhood.
I read these books over and over and still have my original copies.

1. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.  The book that taught me how to create your own dreams.
2. Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry. Yes I still like to look for the Goldbug.

3.  Eloise at the Plaza by Kay Thompson. The beginning of my obsession with hotel lobbys and pets with strange names. Yup, this book is why my beagle is named Eloise.
4.  Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. "I cannot go to school today" said little Peggy Ann McKay. I still find inspiration from these whimsical poems.
5. Dear Dead Days by Charles Addams. WARNING:Not a book for little kids.  This book features odd Victorian era advertisements, strange pictures of children with dead things, scary animals and even some of his Addams Family cartoons. Each image was selected by Addams, the book was an inspirational scrapbook for the gothic cartoon genius. I enjoyed the macabre as a teen and this book is seriously dark humor.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rick Steves in your Backpack? What Travel Books do You Travel With?

Last month on my travels in France I noticed something interesting. Rick Steves' books were everywhere. I spotted him in the arms of tourists on the trains, on tables in cafes, sticking out of bags in the was like a game of Where's Steve?

Now Rick Steves is a favorite of mine and I regularly check his travel videos out from the library before a trip. However his books tend to be on the big and bulky side and unless I'm making photocopies of a chapter or certain pages, I've never brought one of his books along on a trip. Apparently I am in the minority. He seems to be a travel security blanket for many. That got me to thinking...if you travel with travel books, which ones are good enough to pack with you in this age of carry-on and weight restricted travel?

I prefer travel books with features such as pull out street or region maps, laminated front and back covers, transit maps (Metro, Tube), color photos and a small size.  Fodor's travel books tend to be a good choice. I usually choose the region or city books such as Paris over France as the books are smaller, lighter and more relevant to my trip. Fodor's also has excellent mobile apps for larger cities such as London and Paris. Lonely Planet books are a good blend of information, practical tips, off the beaten track locations and compact size but usually lack good pictures and maps. My favorite travel books are the Eyewitness Travel Guides by DK. I love the mix of color photos and maps with tips on museums, food, currency, shopping, language and more. They also offer great mobile apps for your phone or iTouch.

Next time you travel, check out what your fellow wanderers are reading on the plane or train. I'm sure you'll spot lots of Rick Steves but hopefully a few other guides as well. Have any favorite travel books to share, leave a comment below.  I'd also like to know if you use your E-reader to take your travel books along with you. Rick Steve's on your Kindle or Nook?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday 5-List #3

Monday, again.

Here is this week's list, my top 5 restaurants/dining experiences. Sure, sure next week I will do a 5 list relating to books. But I'm hungry and going for Cuban food in a bit, so this week it's my fav restaurants.

1. Christini's Ristorante Italiano-Orlando. One of the best meals I've ever had. Rivals anything I tasted in Italy.
2. The Gage-Chicago. Hands down my favorite place to eat in Chicago. The curried mussels are amazing. I'm turning 40 next week and this is where I chose to celebrate. Owner Billy is an Irishman so drinks are tops and the atmosphere is friendly and upscale.
3. Charlie Trotter's-Chicago. Enjoyed a private dinner in the kitchen. I've never eaten so much in my life. I think we had 12 courses with a different bottle of wine for each course. Ya some of the food was weird and had more legs than a spider, but I enjoyed every bite. Just eat...don't ask.
4. Aqua-Mardavall Spa, Majorca, Spain.The most amazing pasta dish I've ever eaten. First they rolled out an enormous wheel of fresh cheese, hollowed out in the middle. Then they dropped hot pasta into the center of the cheese wheel, stirred it around to coat the pasta...and then they added white truffels. To. Die. For.
5. Bitter End Yacht Club-Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. Fresh lobster caught in the surf outside the restaurant. Rum. Enough said.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Virtual Chicago

"It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago - she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time"
Mark Twain "Life On The Mississippi," 1883

Whether you are a new resident or a lifelong Chicagoan like myself, there is always something to discover here.

Here are a few of my favorite websites that report on, explore, challenge and inspire Chicagoans or anyone who loves this City:
  • Chicagoist -A great all around website for everything Chicago
  • ChicagoNow - Some of the best bloggers in the City
  • Chicago is the World -A mix of news and exploration
  • Chicago Public Library - Explore the collections, find exhibits, research and more
  • Daily Candy -This website has gotten better with time, a Chicago girl must
  • Everyblock - Live within the City? Then check out what's happening on your block
  • Family Farmed - Eat better, support local farmers and responsible restaurants
  • Metromix - For when you are looking for something to do
  • Roger Ebert - The movie critic and Chicagoan at his best
  • Windy Citizen - Pulls Chicago content to one place
Looking for more? Then check out Chicago Magazine's list of 171 Great Chicago Websites.