Saturday, June 26, 2010

Little Luxuries

I was reading Inc. magazine the other day and came across some of the best ideas for a business now.  One was for a cupcake shop.  The premise being that in a down economy we may put the big purchases on hold, but we're quite happy to treat ourselves to a fancy cupcake.  The absolute other side to this are all the discussions being held about "The latte factor", that those little purchases add up and are what is putting us in debt.  You've heard the story, give up your $4 morning chocolaty coffee drink and in 40 years you'll have $810,764 or something like that.               I've lived for many years like Scrooge, seeing myself in Silas Marner--forgoing the latte, the cupcake, and a good many other things.  Undoubtedly it did build my savings account, and I was good at it, but anything taken to an extreme like a diet can lead to anorexia.  How to know when to stop.  Living that way can lead to a feeling of scarcity, that if I don't save this dollar another one may never come my way.  Better that I learn to make a few extra dollars here and there and have my little luxuries.   It's hard to believe that the pretty roses in the first picture are actually soaps.  I came across them in the etsy shop Satin & Birch  They're raspberry roses with a splash of lemon.  I saw them and lusted after them for days.  I just ordered and I'm awaiting their arrival. I will update when I get them in.  (They arrived and are sitting on a rectangular Japanese plate and sweetly scenting my bathroom, really lovel soap.) You get a set of 4 and I'm keeping 2 and giving 2 to a friend.  One of those little luxuries.
The remarkably frilly tutu is from the etsy shop of Tiaras Tutus
It's a little indulgence for my granddaughter.  It's still being made and I can't wait to see it.  I have no idea what possible use it's going to have.  Maybe a photography session, maybe Halloween, maybe just for dress up.  A play-pretty with no other purpose than being pretty.                                                     Life is just so much more delicious with little treats.  We need clothing to wear, but don't need tutus.  We need food to eat, but no one needs a cupcake.  We need soap to wash with but it's not necessary that it's shaped into roses and scented.  But, rather than worrying that today's little splurge will lead me into poverty in later years I should view it a challenge and an ambition.  How to make the extra money to give myself this feeling of being unabashedly wealthy.  Taken this way my treats aren't "guilty pleasures", they're spurring me to ambition and action.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ginger Beer, Cream Pots and Estonian Beer Bottles

How marvelous would it be to reach into your refrigerator for cream for your coffee and pull out this bottle? Or the 3 in the next photo?  These are cream pots from England and Scotland from 1890-1900.  The owner is a friend,  Peter Anthony van de Griend of Belgium.  He is a mechanical engineer and worked for Elopak, the maker of the first paper carton and what we all see milk packaged in today. He traveled all over Europe working with their milk packaging machines.  The interest in packaging and labeling led to collecting vintage packaging and containers.  And of course traveling all over Europe for work certainly helped to grow his collection.

I find it fascinating what people collect and why.  How one innocent item picked up leads to another and another.  In the pictures that follow you'll see the collection that grew and grew.  It seems now we just contain things in the cheapest possible way and then throw out the container.  But once bottles were so beautiful they outlived their purpose and  became little works of art on their own.   When Peter retired he continued to travel and collect.  He sought out rare vintage scrap pictures for Mamelok press who reproduced them.  He is shown here with the director of Mamelok Press.  He is on the right. He bought a house in the countryside in Estonia and began a new interest in items of the Soviet era, being so close to the border.   But most of all he collected bottles.    The earthenware can in the next photo is the oldest piece in his collection from the 17th century.  It was made to hold wine and named the Jacoba can from the ruler of the time, Jacoba van Beieren.  Following is a rare pair of Latvian liqueur containers in the shape of a pipe and pistol.  The bottles on the high shelf are all Estonian hexagon shaped beer bottles.  The next display are all ginger beer jugs and bottles.  And finally displayed above the kitchen cabinets, a long line of beautiful cream pots.  Imagine all the homes these cream pots graced over 100 years ago, and they're still gracing a home.  And what more fitting a home than someone who spent their life engineering packaged milk?!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Wendy Mullen

Imagine a life where a business trip involves going to France and Germany and perusing chocolate shops and antique stores!  It really is true that if you follow your dreams you never know where they may lead.   I can't even tell you how many times I've been on the website . I've admired the molds for sale, looked at every link to artists who use the molds for chalkware, paper mache-- even chocolate!  But I never knew the person behind the site.  Wendy Kolar-Mullen is the author of 3 books, two on chocolate molds and one on candy containers.  She is a collector and businesswoman, wife and mother to 5 children.   I wanted to know when she came across her first mold and somehow turned it into such a unique and intriguing business.  In her words-"I first started collecting 22 years ago. I was decorating cakes and in a cake supply store in San Jose--looked up on the top shelf and saw my first chocolate molds!

Immediately-I loved them..asked the owner--he said if you ever see one buy it--they are very hard to find especially here on the West Coast!

This was before ebay of course

So, I scoured flea markets, antique stores--called every store in the phone book. At that time few people knew what they were--they could only identify the heavy duty cast iron cake molds--very frustrating!

After a year of searching, I was at my local antiques barn in the country and there I saw a hinged group of 4 bunnies on the wall--$45 about lost my mind!! Still have the mold and love it!

I started finding more and then with ebay -made a friend and - we bought a large collection from Belgium--I had so many unique molds I started photographing them and decided to write my first book. Then of course I had more info and more photos and did the second book--the third book was on Antique Candy Containers-- inspired by beautiful plaster type molds used to make the containers--

I had the good fortune to meet the Great Great Granddaughter of mold maker Anton Reiche and learned so much about the mold making process and history from her--she showed me around Dresden, Germany where the Anton Reiche factory once operated --it was very special. I also collect the chocolate mold catalogues and have done much research and identfication of the molds that way.

Chocolate Molds are magic...they are versatile--I am still as thrilled by molds today as I was 22 years ago! My favorite are German Bunnies and Santa's--

I have used my molds for chalkware, papier mache, soap, candles and of course chocolate--most of the time however, they are on display!!"
  I've included pictures of two of her favorite molds, a gentleman rabbit and a very unique Santa holding a child.  The last photo is of her latest book on antique candy containers. It's full of beautiful pictures that are just inspiring to me.  I'd like to drop everything I'm doing and learn how to make these.  But it's more than just pretty pictures, there's also a history of the largest manufacturers and the artisans who decorated them.  There are even photos of a house made of the discarded molds used in place of bricks.

Her two books on chocolate molds are absolutely indispensable not just to the collector of molds, but to those who make paper mache or chalkware Santas and Easter rabbits.  Which mold is rare, how much is this worth, what does the number imprinted on the side mean?  All these are answered in her books, The Complete Guide to Chocolate Molds and Collector's Guide to Chocolate Molds.  
   And I'll be returning again and again to her site looking for that special Santa or bunny and perhaps your interest is piqued enough that you will be there too.

Pink Saturday Glitter Winner

I want to thank everyone that stopped by and left a quote for me.  I love to see what get's other people motivated.  The winner in the random drawing is Leann.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pink Inspiration

   Today I'm trading a little something pink for some inspiration.  I have six 2 ounce packets of German glass glitter and micro beads (all pink of course!) to give away.  In the comment section leave your favorite quote that inspires you.  The one that actually gets your butt off the couch and gets you moving.  The one that works.  I will put all your names in a bag and have a disinterested third-party (my husband) randomly pick one.  The little glitter prize will go to the winner.   I will announce the winner in this very post on Sunday morning.                                                        One of my favorite quotes is by Stephen Pressfield and contained within The War of Art.  Absolutely one of my favorite books, read and read again.  The sort of book you follow someone around with reading aloud just in case they need a little inspiration too.                                 "Creating soap opera in our lives is a symptom of resistance. Why put in years of work designing a new software interface when you can get just as much attention by bringing home a boyfriend with a prison record."                                               You all know someone like this.  And it works, drama gets attention and it's really not all that difficult.  Studying, creating, writing, getting up each and every day and doing what you need to do is difficult.  When you're starting a business or
learning a craft, or just trying something that's outside of your comfort, it would certainly be easier to stop and distract yourself and everyone around you with a little drama.  And you will get attention, but you'll never get anything done.
Let me know what motivates you.  What gets you off the sofa and on to writing your book, sewing your quilt, making pottery, creating your dream.
Photos are of Rosa rugosa "Sandy" and Lonicera halliana.  I especially love the rose.  The deer who devour everything else they can in my yard do not touch it, insects don't eat it, and it grows fast and smells wonderful.  In fall there are enormous rose hips.