European Finds…

It is pure torture waiting for my container from Europe to arrive (3 more weeks!) so I thought I would share some more pictures in anticipation of it’s arrival! Below is the cottage I stayed at in Normandy with the most amazing family! Sharon of My French Country Home is the sweetest host, and she took me to some really amazing places to pick! I am counting the days until I am able to return to France to spend more time with her and her wonderful family.

Below is her barn where a lot of my finds were stored until they were loaded on a container. Isn’t it simply fantastic?

And this is her beautiful home…

This was my cottage for a night…..everything about it is absolutely perfect. I felt right at home, as it is filled with everything I adore. I can’t wait to take Joel and the kids back to stay in the cottage and explore more of the countryside!

I mean look at this place!!! Isn’t it amazing!!!

I was trying to take as many pictures as possible as we drove because everywhere you look is just pure beauty. The history, the homes, the rolling green fields….all of it…breathtaking!

This was one of the first places Sharon took me. I instantly fell in love with Christelle’s beautiful pieces…

Then on to my fabulous finds from my new friend, Jacky! I could have spent an entire day pickin’ from his warehouse! As it was, he stayed an hour and a half past closing time for me. I found so many amazing pieces! Check out Sharon’s blog for more pics.

From Normandy I headed to Hungary….and spent 4 solid days shopping from dusk ’til dawn!

This was the view from one of the places I stayed in the beautiful city of Budapest. Another place I hope to return to (with Joel and the kids) to do more exploring!The container is on the water, and expected to arrive on May 24th (not that I’m counting!) So until then, I will just have to go through these pictures to remind me of all the treasures it contains!

~jeni

My Heaven on Earth…

Last week I was off the grid for about 5 days breathing in the beauty of my favorite place on earth; Lake Tahoe. It is what we do every summer on the final days before life gets back to the hustle and bustle of school, homework, soccer practices….and of course, work, work, work. The first time I went to Tahoe I fell in love & immediately felt, at home. Weird, especially because we “tent it” for 5 days, but it is the one place that I have found the ability to completely relax and embrace the beauty that surrounds me.  

So we hopped in the car at 5am (well, that was our goal, it actually was more like 8am ;)) & hit the road.  We set up her nice comfy bed for Lucy on top of all our bins, so that she was up at the same level as the kids! Yes, she’s spoiled!

We made it! Our campsite at DL Bliss — Nothing fancy, but absolutely beautiful! Lucy was a bit on edge for the first day or so with all the squirrels and birds and fun stuff to chase, but she made herself right at home. Especially at night when she snuggled up with all 4 of us in the tent ;) Hike #1- Eagle Falls– it’s only about a two mile hike, pretty steep at points, but amazing waterfalls along the way. And the most amazing lake at the top! Lucy jumped right in…And where Joel goes, Lucy follows….they both swam across the whole lake! So precious!We rode our bikes pretty much everywhere. Our campsite was a little less than a mile away from the beach, quick bike ride down :)

Caysen learned a lot this trip about how to make a bonfire, set up the tent & lock up every last thing in the bear locker! He never said he was worried about the bears, but after waking up one morning and seeing that the bears had gotten into the trashcans up at the bathrooms a mere 50 feet away from our site, he was very dilligent about making sure everything with any kind of a smell was locked up every night :) Later that same day we actually saw the bear….It was so Awesome!!! Bailey was a great help washing dishes at the “spicket” after every meal- Bedhead and all :) This year was the first year we rented a boat. We were all so excited to explore more of the Lake, & WOW! SO glad we did! Oh, and the kids loved taking turns driving the boat…These are the rocks that Joel used to jump off of as a little boy, so you can imagine how excited he was to take the kids here. They have jumped off them for the last few years, but from the beach side it is a bit of a swim to get out to them. We were able to drive right up to them in the boat, which allowed me to take some shots—horrible ones, I know, but at least I got ’em! Here’s Bailey getting fancy…Caysen with a quick plunge….And Joel, my biggest kid off the biggest rock….

My little guy…

Bailey loved the innertube…I was house shopping (I mean dreaming) a good portion of the time on the water!This is the one I chose…to dream about for the rest of my life ;) There were so many more beautiful things to share, but Joel was on vacation too so he didn’t lug his camera around with us everywhere ;)

The drive home we decided to take the scenic route (395) and Joel got some great shots along the way…

And I got to stop at some great Antique shops :)Me in action, looking my finest after 5 days of tent camping…Don’t judge! Made off with a killer Dr.’s bag (because you can never have enough of those!) Yes, there were parts of our 12 hour drive home that it was pouring rain! Which made for some beautiful skies that Joel could just not resist!And for those who didn’t see my Tweet after buying this stack of books at a thrift store…These 8 amazing books cost me $5! One of which dates back to 1881, and the cashier asked me if a quarter sounded fair? Um, yes I think so!!!   I have been collecting books for years & have hundreds of them & still I just love seeing handwritten notes inside. Especially like the one below…the title is On Being A Real Person…and it is filled with the most precious handwritten thoughts and perspectives. My favorite (yes I read them all) “you’re taking yourself too seriously, kid yourself!” I love it!!! 

So that is it for our Lake Tahoe vacation, thanks for making it through the whole post.

I will leave you with my favorite picture (taken with my iphone), which sums it all up.

My family. I am one lucky girl & so in love with these people I get to share my life with. So blessed.

Back to reality…

~jeni

Diary of a Picker: Familiar Faces at the Flea

Over the weekend Tim & I left New Hampshire and began our meandering trip home to the west coast. On our way, we passed a box truck (much like Found’s little beauty) from Olde Good Things, an antique dealer with showrooms strewn about the country. It made me smile and I urged Tim to slow down as we passed it at 70 mph so I could take a blurry picture (in the dark, mind you).

Somehow seeing that truck on the road gave me confidence that we were going in the right direction–headed to someplace great. I mean, if Olde Good Things is going to be there, it must be worth it! I actually didn’t know where they were headed (and whether they were picking or selling) but we were definitely stopping in the nation’s capital. What American road trip would be complete without it?

The next morning when I woke up, I stumbled upon The Capital Hill Flea Market. I don’t want to give you the wrong impression here. Picking takes great determination and a keen eye but I actually thought the market was on Sunday. I was delighted, however, to find it open for two days and was sort of proud that I’ve developed a kind of magnetism to antiques even when I’m not looking for them (a skill I greatly admire in Jeni).

Throughout my trek across America, I’ve been pleased to see such a variety of antiques and vintage treasures. Everywhere I’ve been has had a bit of regional flair tossed in among the always-present collectible staples of Coca Cola memorabilia and rusty horseshoes. I saw more primitive antiques in New England than anywhere else, more architectural salvage in the MidWest, and more industrial pieces in NY. Fascinating!

Overall, though, I felt like the strongest message I heard from America’s antiques was: “there’s nothing new under the sun.” I’ve seen croquet mallets in California, Kansas, and Maine. There were drop-leaf tables in Missouri, Virginia, and Tennessee. I could have purchased a wood-burning stove in Vermont, Ohio, or on Craigslist just about anywhere. While I’m intigued by what I found most frequently in each particular region, I was also relieved that no single section of the country had a corner on the world’s supply of any one treasure. Vintage pieces are accessible, you just have to know where to look.

On Saturday, once I was inside the flea market, I couldn’t help but laugh when the first booth I found was that of Olde Good Things. Despite their high-end collection (Jeni would kill me if she ever heard of me paying their prices for reclaimed ceiling tins), I knew I was in the right place. Seeing the same company in LA, NY, and DC just warmed my heart. I suppose I feel like if I find them everywhere I go, I know I’m in the right place.

My darkened-frantically-taken-on-a-freeway photo of The Olde Good Things truck

Diary of a Picker: Turmoil in Brooklyn

Over the weekend, Tim & I went to the Big Apple to visit our dear and gracious friends Lindsy & Cuong. The last time we were with them in New York was for their inspired autumn wedding two years ago. While we got to experience some of their favorite things over that weekend at their intimate celebration, it was a joy to see their regular lives now which are filled with meaningful & important work, rich community life, and wonderfully delicious food. After catching up on all the juice, reminiscing about college days, and stuffing our faces at some of their beloved Brooklyn eateries, I was ready to get down to more serious business: the Flea.

The Brooklyn Flea is held (on Sundays during this time of year, at least) in a gorgeous old bank building (think amazing historic event venue, people). I was a little awestruck just soaking in the gilded mosaic ceilings. We got there early enough that vendors were still pulling pieces out of their trucks to set-up. That pre-crowd set-up time is special. You get the pick of the merchandise. It definitely takes a trained eye to spot the real gems when they aren’t even unpacked yet. I think Jeni would have been proud of my enthusiasm in that moment.

As we sifted through the market though, I had a gnawing thought at the back of my head. Two thoughts actually.

We drove a truck all the way across the country. We’re up to about 4,400 miles. Not only that but we drove that truck in New York, the trafficky, unpredictable, mayhem-filled, pothole-ridden city that it is. They don’t favor cars there, in fact, I’m convinced most New Yorkers believe that they are invincible and shouldn’t be bothered to stop just because a few vehicles are zooming towards them. Driving in the city takes serious concentration and I’m pretty sure I deserve a medal for the parallel parking job I did in that bad boy. My first thought was that I cannot, CANNOT, return from our trip in an empty truck. It almost seems wasteful or like a disservice to mankind.

Simultaneously, however, I had my second thought. The almost overwhelming desire to fill the back of that truck with antique sleds, school desks, salvaged ceiling tiles, door jambs, vintage sweaters, primitive toolboxes, old-school postcards, shelves, and pickles (not vintage ones) was palpable. It would be irresponsible not to and yet Jeni’s last words to me on Friday evening were ringing in my ears: “Don’t pay New York prices…”

Diary of a Picker: Heart-Racing Finds in New England

Yesterday my heart started racing. I felt myself get more and more giddy as Tim & I wandered the aisles of a roadside stop we made in Vermont. I think I was on the edge of hyperventilating and I’m pretty sure I squealed. As we walked the rows and rows of primitive antiques, architectural pieces, and odd-ball collectibles, I found myself half-prancing on tip toe.

I couldn’t contain my excitement. I don’t quite know what came over me but I felt a tremendous amount of joy as I encountered rare treasures that can only be found in New England. Well, maybe they can be found other places but I somehow felt close to the source. I felt more than a little connected to the Yankee woman who baked the desserts that cooled in this pie safe. I visualized the man who carried the rugged green toolbox that sat on the floor. I imagined the butcher block in the kitchen of a colonial home nearby.

But mostly I felt excited.

While I am on the hunt for the rare and wonderful additions to the Found collection, I also have some personal interest in my picking adventures. As I stared at the myriad of options yesterday, I couldn’t decide if I need a cabinet in my living room, a hutch in my kitchen, a wood burning stove (who doesn’t?), or 10-foot tall French doors for a rainy day.

As I was shuffled out at closing time, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face even though I left empty-handed. Perhaps it was because my mind was racing with possibility. It could be because I could imagine how cool a touch of New England would be in every room of my house.

Maybe it was because I knew I’d be back and next time I will leave with my hands full.

p.s. So you can contextualize my overly-excited I’m-in-love-with-New-England-especially-in-autumn picking frenzy, here is the view from the house where we’re staying in New Hampshire.

Diary of a Picker: Mid-America & Lobster Traps

My husband Tim & I are on a road trip across America. We’ve already been in seven states in three days and will enter number eight within a couple hours. The trip is part vacation (Tim has a few weeks off of his crazy med school schedule), part adventure (we’re headed to places we’ve never been with people we’ve never met), and part work. I’m keeping up on email and orders but I’m also striving to hone a valuable skill for my professional life: picking.

Picking is my new favorite thing to do. Digging through old piles of wood, sorting out good treasures from unwanted junk, and finding a diamond in the rough… these things make my heart glad. While Jeni’s got a trained eye, years of experience, and risk-taking DNA when it comes to finding incredible vintage pieces, I often find myself surprisingly timid in the process of making the purchase.

So, I’m practicing.

There’s ample opportunity out here on the open road to garner my skills. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a mean negotiator, a bargain hunter, and willing to get my hands dirty when necessary. The big hang up for me is knowing when to pull the trigger.

Yesterday, I made my first purchase. I sorted through several antique stores along the road. Calls to Jeni, pictures via text, and some eBay searches for price comparison resulted in one good deal.

I’ll leave you with these pictures of a wooden box, a soda crate, and a lobster trap so you can imagine which I chose.