Traditionally my mood takes a big jolt toward the better when it gets close to my birthday. The bluebonnets burst into bloom, the birds are singing before the sun comes up, the butterflies are busy and the temperature is just right. For many years I've tried to take a week of vacation during the week of my birthday to take advantage of my good mood. It used to allow me the opportunity to adjust to Daylight Savings Time, but now that they've moved that back into March I tend to hit a really draggy spell just before April that corresponds to the last push of allergy season.
But with the dawn of the first week of April and a week of vacation and God's in His heaven and all's right with the world, I begin to feel better and I start to throw caution to the wind and allow myself a few indulgences in celebration of my birthday. My policy generally is "If I want it and if the price is not too outrageous and the money is there to cover the check and it's still in the month of April, go for it".
This year I fudged the rule just a few days early and bought my first birthday present toward the end of March. I had spotted this modified grandmother clock display cabinet a month or so ago at the Antique Mall in Round Rock and had managed to talk myself out of it. (It wasn't April yet and I still had my winter somber going.)
When I discovered it was still there waiting for me, I decided we were meant for each other. I've been looking for a mantle clock case for some time with the idea of creating a miniature clock shop and had not been successful finding the right case for the right price. I decided why not expand my plan to include the clock maker's workshop and living quarters. Now the big problem is where this piece is going to live in the house. Still studying on that.
A nice bonus to my annual feel-good month is that the Spring Antiques Fair in the Round Top/Warrenton area generally occurs the week of my birthday. This year I've been fighting a siege of back trouble, so I wasn't particularly interested in walking myself into a backache, but I didn't want to skip it altogether, so I made myself a compromise. I would go to my 2 favorite sites and also hit the big antiques mall in Giddings on the way home.
So yesterday I rolled out of bed early, visited my chiropractor and hit the road for Warrenton and Cole's Antiques Barn, a nice big collection of dealers who can be counted on to tempt me with a wide variety of the kind of antiques I enjoy - from oak furniture to dollhouses to textiles to Texana history books.
Last year I was on the prowl for oak bookcases and a bedstead for the guest room and could find nothing of interest. I'm sure glad I had already found the oak bedstead for my room and the North Wind bookcase and the white iron bedstead for the guest room before I made the trip to Cole's this year, because this year everybody had oak bedsteads, iron bedsteads, matched twin bedsteads and oak barrister bookcases. I like the pieces I have collected better than anything I saw yesterday, but if I had still been looking, it would have been more temptation than I could have stood.
I did find some tiny houses to add to two collections I half-heartedly add to from time to time even though I do not presently have anyplace to display them. (In the background are Sheila's houses and in the foreground are pieces from the Liberty Falls collection.)
I succumbed to temptation at another booth that drew me in with a display of items from the fifties. I was in flashback mode to my childhood. One item particularly caught my eye and I'll share that in closing. The lady had a Bliss dollhouse that I would love to own, but Bliss dollhouses have reached the stage of being museum pieces and I can neither afford them or afford to subject them to the natural disaster of living with 3 cats. But, I did find a tiny little yarn bowl to add to my knitting store dollhouses and I found 3 additions to my small collection of darning eggs.
I am accustomed to running into wooden darning eggs of various shapes and sizes, but I had never before seen a glass darning egg. I knew there were ebony darners with sterling handles, but had never seen one for sale and the multi-colored one I just thought was neat. They have been added into the yarn display that serves as a side table in the living room
I was patting myself on the back for sticking to small items and was on my way out to the car when I cruised through a booth and spotted a box of tiny little plastic figures that I knew immediately I had once possessed, but I could not remember where they had come from. I decided to buy a few of them to use as dollhouse figurines and sought out the dealer to inquire about them. It turned out they were Cracker Jack prizes, which explains why I could remember having a variety of them when I was a kid. (Unfortunately I could not get a good photo of them.) I was just wrapping up my business when I glanced over and saw something that I knew was going home with me if I could afford it. The same dealer had a number of old clothes wringers, some attached to old wash tubs but several that were designed to be clamped onto the tub of your choice. I think the dealer knew he had a hot one and he immediately knocked $15 off the asking price. So I brought home my traditional antique oak purchase from Cole's.
It is a pretty little thing, with ornate metal findings that have adjustable settings and a long, curving handle. Not so easy to find a corner to tuck it into, but I knew I had to have it and it is now sitting on the corner of the fireplace, happy to settle into my collection of rustic antiques.
My second stop was the antiques show at La Bahia in Burton. It was there that I saw bedsteads that would have tempted me if I were still looking. I found lots to look at, but managed to only purchase a quick lunch there, which I ate while visiting with other antique hounds on the hunt.
I had gauged my stamina fairly well, because by the time I left La Bahia my back was protesting. So I pointed Big Red for home and made my last stop in Giddings at the Whistlestop Antiques mall. This has become a new favorite place for me and I like to hit it every 3-4 months. I was resisting temptation fairly well, but in one of the last booths I found another little treasure. This little iron chair is destined to get a new coat of white paint and a bit of re-upholstering before it takes its place in the guest bedroom with all the other white wrought iron pieces that have come home with me.
And now for that trip down memory lane. Back when I was a little girl in San Gabriel, one of the ladies in the church made a framed ribbon doll for me. It may have even been a birthday present, but I can't really remember. It has seen better days and at one point Mother told me I ought to just pitch it, but I resisted and hung onto it. When I started working on the guest room, I decided to try and replace the frame although I feared that it would crumble into pieces when I took it out of the old, rickety frame. It made the transition to a new frame and it now hangs in the guest room where I've been enjoying seeing it again on display.
The booth at Cole's where I found all the great nostalgia pieces had a framed ribbon doll hanging on the wall. I was so surprised to see it because I had never seen another example and really did not even know what to call what I had. She told me they were popular in the 30's and 40's when ladies could buy the paper dolls and then create their own custom craft work with the ribbon and laces of their choice. It turns out there is a whole community of ribbon doll collectors out there and I was surprised when I got home and did some EBAY searches. Sure enough there are a lot of examples for sale. The dealer told me that for mine to be dated to the 50's was not that common, but the later versions usually included silk flowers (mine does). I can't really remember who gave me this piece, but I suspect that it was an older lady who probably learned the craft at an earlier period of time. Where the earlier versions made use of stock paper dolls with faces and more defined hands and feet, I suspect my doll's extremities were hand drawn. I had no idea I had something collectible in this little piece and I'm glad I decided to hang onto it.
So begins the month of birthday indulgences. This year's birthday may turn into an expensive indulgence. I just concluded a meeting with a group of folks who are set to do some remodeling for me in the next month or so. The older I get, the bigger I indulge!