Summer vacation begins with trip to antique fair

We kicked off our first weekend of summer vacation with a trip to the local antique fair that takes place once a year. I took my mom, the kids and hubby with me this year. Our little group gets bigger every year thanks to great sandwiches, live entertainment, train exhibits and an art show, in addition to the great antiques. 

It was a great start to summer because my list of things to do this summer is suddenly overwhelmingly long. Most of the tasks involve keeping the kiddos busy and happy while they're enjoying a few weeks off from homework, but squeezing in a few hours of creative time for me is equally important to maintaining balance. Going to the antique fair was a great way to squeeze in a little bit of everything for everyone, hopefully setting the stage for what I hope will be a terrific summer.

I didn't buy much because I'm still trying hard to cut down on the clutter in our home, but I enjoy antique fairs because I love seeing old objects and seeing new ways to use or enjoy them. The chair above caught my eye because I admire the way the owner mixed two very different fabrics, in style, texture and print, to give it a new look. I've yet to re-upholster a big piece of furniture but I'm certain the chair will inspire a future project of mine. 

We were fortunate to enjoy weather that was perfect for browsing comfortably as long as we wished, which meant noticing things that I might've passed over had I been in a hurry. Living about an hour from the coast means I often come across seashells while shopping, which I usually ignore but I sure was coveting the little tray below because someone had painstakingly classified each seashell in English and Latin. Nearby was a table full of old tools, which invariably remind me of my dad and how much he loved working with his hands. Honestly, I prefer old tools and other vintage items to something bought brand new because I enjoy imagining the objects' previous lives. How were they used? Who used them?  

My curiosity definitely gets the better of me, but there's another reason I often prefer to buy older items. As I'm sure you've noticed, most stores that sell home goods (including Target and Ross)  carry replicas of antique and vintage decorative accessories, like locker baskets. I confess I sometimes consider buying a new item with a fake vintage patina, but I find that the newer products are usually not as well made. For now, at least, I'm sticking to the real thing. 


The perfect getaway home in Paris

Bonjour mes amis,

I'm thinking it's about time for a little getaway to Paris. For a completely Parisian experience, how about staying in a wonderful apartment home?

Oh yes, I can certainly see myself lounging on that couch after a long day of wandering the streets of Paris aimlessly. I will tell you what's perfect about this home, which, as luck would have it, is available for weekly rental. It is obviously beautifully designed, with a great mix of vintage flea market finds and modern designs.

This 1,050-square-foot home carries the artistic touches of the husband and wife team known as Casamidy, who I wrote about here two years ago. The design duo draws inspiration from their travels around the world. Since that first post on Casamidy, I've been following them on Facebook, enjoying their online photo album. It's a virtual visual feast for those of us who love travel, well-designed interiors and beautifully crafted home furnishings and accessories. Renting this apartment in Paris would allow you the opportunity to enjoy some of Casamidy's designs.

Oh, check out that great terrace. Can't you just see yourself enjoying a glass of wine while taking in the beautiful view? And if all that wasn't enough, the apartment is centrally located, with museums and shops within walking distance. The rates are actually not bad, considering how well-appointed the apartment is and its location.

I know I probably sound like a rental agent, but I couldn't help but dream a little when notice of the rental came across my Facebook news stream today. I thought I would share with you so that you, too, could enjoy some virtual dreaming.

À bientôt!


Enjoying the quiet joys of Easter

'Twas Easter-Sunday. The full-blossomed trees
Filled all the air with fragrance and with joy.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Dear friends,

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you've enjoyed your Sunday. Our family celebrated Easter rather simply this year, with just a small basket of treats for the kiddos and a joyous afternoon mass. For me, Easter means a time of reflection while enjoying some basic pleasures. The feel of the sun on my face. My children's sweet embrace. My husband's warm smile. And then, renewed strength and conviction to start a new week with all its challenges and joys.



Found: A $5 midcentury kid's chair

As you might have guessed, those lovely bentwood chairs were not meant to be mine. Not to worry because I sure didn't spend much time mulling my missed opportunity. I've long learned that the gods of Thrift Shop Finds can be quite capricious, rewarding me often enough to keep me going back but not so much that I expect to leave with goodies each time I visit a thrift store. What would be the fun in that, right?

Anyway, I've mentioned before that I am trying to be more focused while shopping in an attempt to cut down on clutter in my home. I've had mixed progress on that front due to my book/magazine addiction, but my list of home projects awaiting my attention has gone down considerably since I am bringing home less stuff. Here is my latest finished project:

Something about those curves has long made the vintage Casalino kid's chair appealing, but I never thought I'd be lucky enough to find one for an affordable price even after I stumbled upon a garage sale with a mid-century focus (photo below). Nope, no kid's chair to be seen, but it never hurts to ask.

OK, I didn't really ask for a Casalino kid's chair. I simply asked the seller whether he had anything else he was selling, so we then walked over to the open garage so I could see his other wares.

The chair was nearly hidden from view by other furniture but I asked him to pull it out. It was in such sorry shape that I almost didn't even ask the price. Look at what someone had sprayed in black paint on the back:

My frown quickly turned to a smile when I heard that the seller wanted only five dollars, such a low price that any doubts about my ability to renew the chair quickly dissipated.

I'm certainly not an an expert on refinishing furniture but I love the process of transforming a piece. I thought long and hard on how to give this chair a new look, even considered decoupaging it with a mod-print fabric for a unique look. In the end, I simply sanded it to remove paint drips, painted it with primer, then painted it in a color that I thought would go well in several rooms of my house so I could move it around as I wished.

I still think the decoupaging project I had in mind would've worked but I think glossy yellow was the way to go because it shows off the curves perfectly without any distractions.

To be honest, I don't know whether my chair is a vintage Casalino since the Netherlands furniture company Casala began producing new Casalino Jr. chairs in 2007 using original moulds. My chair was so beat-up that it very well could have been produced in the 70s, but it really doesn't matter to me.

Interestingly, I discovered that Casalino was the only furniture line ever designed by Alexander Begge. Upon describing his creations, the German designer said: "I had this image of a wisp of fog, and elaborated on that. It brought so much joy, I was in a glow."


Dangerously infatuated with bentwood chairs

Someone please stop me. I am in danger of doing something involving bentwood chairs that may be hazardous.

I'm sure some of you have been in a similar predicament. There you are shopping for something you need when you suddenly come face to face with something you don't need at all. But you want it. So bad.

To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what I was looking for at the thrift store yesterday but I can tell you I stopped, stared and even sat on one of the five bentwood bistro chairs I saw there. Each had a price tag of $10. I didn't check for a pedigree because they looked fairly new but I did consider that $50 wasn't a bad price to pay for the five Thonet-style chairs to replace my current dining room chairs, which I've loathed almost the entire time I've had them. They are dark wood, super-heavy and have lots and lots of grooves where the dust likes to settle.

A light, modern chair would be a terrific substitute, thank you very much. We bought our dining set shortly after moving into our current house seven years ago and were under pressure to furnish our dining area quickly so we could have a party. A bad move, but I haven't felt an urgent need to correct it because we eat mostly in our kitchen dining nook.

I thought maybe writing a post on bentwood Thonet chairs would be a cathartic way of saying good-bye to them. Instead, I am plotting what color(s) I'm going to paint them when I bring them home now that I've seen so many cool possibilities.

Somehow, I managed to walk away from the chairs and the store without buying anything but haven't been able to get those chairs out of my mind. I am thinking I may return tomorrow to see whether they are still there. I am thinking I will let the gods of fate decide whether I should buy them or not. I am thinking I should listen to the tiny voice of reason that says hubby may not be pleased.

I can imagine what hubby would say. "Another painting project? Don't we have enough stuff in the garage?" I am really quite fortunate because hubby gives me carte blanche to decorate however I want and to buy whatever I want so this scenario has never happened but the tiny voice of reason inside my head asks these questions nonetheless.
So what do you say, are five bentwood Thonet knock-offs in good condition for $50 worth the potential trouble and an overly full garage? Or should I finish my current projects and wait for another good and perhaps even better chair bargain to come my way in the future?


A bright, modern kid's room

Not much was on the agenda for us this weekend so I caught up on some housework (not fun but satisfying) and some blog reading (fun and satisfying). I looked at so many beautiful images, but the room below really captured my attention. I thought I would share it with you as we start a new week of decorating and crafting adventures.

Surprisingly, what I love most about this room that I found via hello lovely inc. are the white walls, which create a perfect canvas for any color combination. In this case, great big pops of red and green make the room come alive. The colors are not ones I would usually put together, but I ended up doing so recently to satisfy my son's request for more green in his room. I promise to share soon!

That pegboard wall certainly had me agape. Sheer genius and pure style. I wish there was a way to incorporate such a wall into my family room to contain all the kid clutter.

The rest of the home, located in Stockholm, is equally breathtaking. Go take a look at it at here at Sotheby International Realty. You won't regret starting your week by looking at such bright and inspiring rooms.

Thrifty find: Not just another vintage typewriter

The clicking sounds of a typewriter are punctuating my days lately. Yes, I am the proud owner of the lovely typewriter you see in the photo below. At a mere six dollars at a local thrift store, the aqua-colored beauty was just too tempting for me to pass up.

To my credit, I did not wrench it free from the little girl playing with it when I first walked into the store. I waited patiently nearby, browsing the book section, and forced myself to count to five before walking over to the typewriter after she abandoned it. As I examined it, I reminded myself that I already had two other vintage typewriters at home, one a steel blue and the other a creamy white. I really should have put it back on the shelf when I realized the typewriter is far from perfect, with some minor cosmetic flaws marring some key areas.

Instead, I took it home.

Once home, I made a terrific discovery. The typewriter has a Spanish keyboard. Imagine my great delight at realizing that I can now use my typewriter to write in my native language with the ever-important ñ and all the á, é, ü, ¿ and ¡ characters that I would need to write a note in Spanish.

Oh, happy days! Further adding to my joy, my daughter has now made the typewriter her newest toy, reminding me of my days as a six-year-old playing secretary as I tapped away furiously at my pretend typewriter. My daughter uses the typewriter to play store and pretends to write letters on it, which is great practice since she will be starting kindergarten in a few months and a firm knowledge of all the letters will be important.

You will think I'm a dinosaur but I learned how to type on a typewriter and even took a final exam in one of my journalism classes in college on a typewriter.

I did some research and found out the typewriter is an Omega 30 Spanish typewriter, which seems to be relatively rare since I found only one listing for it on Ebay for a whopping $300 and none on Etsy. One of the cosmetic flaws I mentioned earlier is that the manufacturer tags are missing, which probably means I can't sell mine for $300.

It is just as well because this baby is staying home with us for a while.

As you can see, it does need a new ribbon. In case you can't read the note I typed above, it reads: "I love typewriters. A mis niños también les encanta. (My kids love them, too.)"

Now if I could just find a typewriter with a French keyboard.


My daughter's new creative corner

Even during my absence, I have continued to take photos and mentally compose posts, some of which I'm planning to share with you. Today, I would like to show you a new space my four-year-old daughter and I carved out in her room for her to write, draw and dream.

It is here where I can often find her, drawing away. The other day, she and her six-year-old brother took turns sitting at her little desk as they collaborated on a small book they created about a little boy who goes to school. She drew the illustrations and he wrote the story to go with it.

I can honestly say that this lovely corner was my daughter's idea. A few weeks ago, I was all set to rearrange furniture in her room. When I last wrote, I told you that I would be redoing my kids' rooms to reflect the fact that they are older and their interests are changing. Essentially, we are moving away from the toddler stage and into the early school years. Of course, I consulted my kids regarding paint colors, artwork, etc. but thought I knew enough about their tastes and habits to do the major planning on my own. Wrong!

On the morning of the big day of moving furniture around, I handed my daughter the book "Children's Rooms Stockholm" (Jeu de Paume). I was hoping she would find something to inspire a new arrangement in her room and keep her busy as I began taking all the furniture out of her room. Instead, she came running up to me saying, "I like this!" she said, pointing to a picture of a girl's small desk. "Can I have this?"

Hmmm, how to explain that I hadn't planned on buying any new furniture? I was momentarily stumped, wondering if The Big Reorganization of My Daughter's Room had hit a snag. Thankfully, I found a simple solution. Some of you may remember reading here about the small Ikea table/desk that I painted and decoupaged after finding it for five dollars at a thrift store. I originally placed the table in my office as a space for my four-year-old daughter to use when we were both in there, which frankly turned out to be sporadic. Thanks to my daughter's inspired suggestion, this little table has now found a new home in a corner of her room.

After seeing my daughter's new space, my son decided it was time for him to get a new desk. Stay tuned ...


Back after a long hiatus

Dear friends,

A lot of time has certainly passed since we last met. I've been doing a little of this and a little of that, which adds up to a bunch of little things and a whole lot of time. Mostly, I've been trying to enjoy my kids before school swallows them up and taking steps to return to my first love: journalism.

Not a week has gone by that I've meant to post here again, but I've had so many things competing for my time that the blog got so dusty I didn't quite know how to come back. The truth is that I've considered shutting down Mama Without Borders due to lack of time to update it but I somehow have gained a few new followers and my daily readership continues to increase. More importantly, spending time on my blog and many of yours truly has enriched my life in so many ways that I'm reluctant to let it all go just yet.

Thank you to all my loyal readers and blog friends for continuing to peek in from time to time and for keeping me on your blog rolls. I am thankful, as always, for your attentions. I am back today and whenever I can wing it.



(Over)indulging in my favorite things

Unbelievably, the weeks have sped by and I must confess that I've been overindulging in pretty much all my favorite things. Crafting, reading books and magazines, decorating, shopping the thrifts, spending time outdoors. Not much time on the computer as some of you might have noticed. I always forget how much more time I need to devote to the kiddos in the summertime. But I do plan to get busy with my camera this week since I have a few things I'd like to show you.

Meanwhile, do meander over to the latest issue of the online Australian magazine papier mache. Their latest edition is devoted to all things deco. It contains many pretty images and much to be inspired by in interviews with creative artists and others. The home shown in the photo above belongs to Barbara Hvidt, a Danish mom and co-founder of a beautiful children's label (Soft Gallery). I love the relaxed and stylish look that her living room exudes.

I hope you're indulging in more than a few of your favorite things as well.