Glass Lightshade Planter

The City of Delta in British Columbia was the first community in North America to provide residents with curbside recycling. The province continues to be fairly progressive and a couple of years ago offered a red box companion to its blue box collection program for recycling glass. (see collection excerpt below).

Glass had to be separated out for safety, environmental and economic reasons. It breaks – some types easier than others. That makes it a danger in a multi-material collection box. It makes separation of multi-materials (much of which is done by hand) dangerous and prevents separation and recycling of the materials contaminated by broken glass, making them difficult to recycle.

It takes time to educate people about what can and cannot be included in a curbside program. Although the table below shows that light fixtures cannot be included in the red box, I have found a few in my neighbours’ redboxes walking down the street on collection day.


When I found this lovely art deco style lightshade my initial plan was to make a tiered stand, inspired by the fabulous tiered stands made by Angie over at Knick of Time…

Lightshadeplanter2  But then I found a couple of these smaller fixtures that also have a deco flavor.

I was fooling around with them – you know, how we do when we’re starting the creative process. They clicked together as if that was the intention of their design.


I put some screening over hole at the bottom of the shade to retain the soil. Then I filled it with colourful annuals and my favorite soil (I use the same soil in the garden as I do in potting house plants.

And voila!


Glass Containers
(Depot or Collected Separately at Curbside – check with your collector)

MMBC Materials List

Material Description Do not include
Non-deposit glass bottles and jars
  • Clear or coloured
  • Consult with your recycling collector for instructions.
  • Empty and rinse bottles and jars. Labels OK.
  • Include lids with container recycling
  • Drinking glasses or dishes, cookware, whole or broken window glass or mirrors
  • Ceramic mugs or other ceramic products
  • Light bulbs or light fixtures
  • Beverage containers (return to depot for refund)


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Chair Planter with Bling

Planterchair1.jpg  Here’s a tip off the top from the auctioneer’s kid: when you go to an auction (or antique store) park near their garbage.

It’s astonishing in this junk-friendly era with distribution mechanisms like curbsides and “Craigslist free” listing, but people still throw away stuff that is…well, “killing me with potential” as we used to say around the Crib board.

In this case the source was my antique auctioneer uncle. He bought a batch lot (a “Lot” at an auction is an item being sold. That item can, as in this instance, be a group of items. Usually they are items of low value grouped together in the hope of creating enough value to make it worth the auction house’s overhead costs of selling it.)


My uncle wanted one item in a batch lot being sold at a competitor auction and he did NOT want this seatless, scratched up chair frame and told his employee to haul it out to the garbage.

It never got there.

The frame was nearly 100 years old and perfectly solid. Someone had sanded one side – clearly intending to refinish the frame and probably upholster a new seat cushion (if that is your desire for a chair frame you come across, there are tons of cushion forms floating around for free or you can get one cut from scrap wood for a song!)

I had other plans. So on the way home I stopped by the recycling centre. I don’t know about where you live, but in British Columbia you can take your leftover paint to the provincially funded recycling depot in every community. They will either dispose of it in the most environmentally-safe manner possible or, if it is still usable, will put it in a bin where another member of the community can take it for free and use it up (THE most environmentally responsible disposal method). I picked up almost a full litre of off-white paint (colour selection is limited to what gets dropped off…of course).

But I was fortunate and found a good supply of cream colour latex – which I made into homemade chalk paint with the addition of some Plaster of Paris (about 30% which I mix in a separate container so I can play with the combination until I get it right.

I took advantage of the lovely summer weather to paint outdoors. Two coats.


I then distressed it by scraping with the blunt edge of a butter knife the parts that would be worn naturally (edges of the legs, back and seat, most elevated areas of carved section) and then lightly sanded with a sanding block.

It was pretty, but I wanted something a bit more so I looked through my vintage costume jewellery and found a brooch I thought perfect for the job.

I love pearls – and am quite fond of rhinestones.


I attached it with E6000- a good, strong glue.


I wiped the chair down and gave it a coat of clear outdoor Minwax.

The only planter I had that fit the chair was brown, so I gave it a quick spray with quick-drying Rustoleum matt white spray paint. Filled it and set it next to the front door.

The pink flowers brought out a pink tone in the pearls.




I’ve used it as porch décor, but it would make a nice piece of decoration for a backyard wedding, as well.


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Beached Porch

What do you do with a driftwood plank? Make a nautical sign, of course!

And of course that naturally leads to redecorating the porch. Of course!


As those of you of shared creative temperament will understand, sometimes inspiration hits at 2:00 a.m. when craft and stationery stores aren’t open.

I had some stencil letters from a community project but the spacing of the individual cards didn’t fit the wood, so I used chalk to trace the letters onto some scrap (black) paper in the recycle bin, cut the letters out and spaced them on the wood and then traced the letters once again.


Then I used a paintbrush and homemade chalk paint to fill in the letters. To make those stand out against the pale blue  background paint and old dripped white oil paint, I used a Sharpie to trace the outline of each letter.


Then I sanded the letters to give them a distressed look similar to the wood.


Then I gave it a couple of coats of fast drying polyurethane.

It looked fine, but really was in want of some kind of embellishment. Which had to be free – or darn close to it.

The real fun came in when I spied a dog chew toy I had purchased from a bargain bin ($1.50 CDN – so about $1.00 US). All of a sudden I realized that it was a perfect nautical knot.


I used all kinds of white paint remains that I had on hand (from craft paint to spray paint) to alter the texture and colour a bit. Then glued it to the sign using both my hot glue gun and E6000 (more weather proof).

Then I bashed it about a little to make it look aged similar to the wood.

Beach sign 3

Then I pulled together some nautical-type items and got to playing.

Beach 6.jpg

beach sign 5

Beach sign 4

Confession: that fabulous LLBean beach bag doesn’t belong to me. A friend was walking by with it just as I was about to lift my camera.  It just works, doesn’t it!



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Flower Tins

Confession: when I go with my uncle to take consignments for the auction I have to leave my wallet at home.  I have an addiction. I’m a junk junky. o

Sometimes, even without my wallet I frequently come home to my bursting apartment (I’m not quite being scouted for the tv show “Hoarders” but it gets close sometimes).  Occasionally I use the Wimpy (the Popeye cartoon character) approach “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”.  If it’s a really special item – and I’ll share a hilarious story in an upcoming post – my darling uncle buys it for me.

In this case, our friend John, who buys and sells out of a commercial storage locker, as well as an antique mall booth and a portion of a new antique store, gave me a handful of leftover tins. I wouldn’t have bought them all – there are some American tins and I only collect Canadian and Irish-theme tins.

This blog is as much about landfill reduction as demonstrating value (historic or commercial) in items that some people would throw away, so John’s gift was a challenge.

This random collection of antique and vintage tins contains a couple of Canadian tins that will join my collection and the rest I’m going to use for gift-giving.

Mid-summer gardens are flower-filled and blogland is full of posts of unconventional items to use as vases.  Second nature to this junkaholic.

with flowers 2

A “welcome to the neighbourhood” gift for a new neighbor who has a potted garden, a few thank yous for dinners and drinks and garden plants, and in no time I’ve checked off a number of names on that perpetual gift list I keep in my head.

I’ll be honest. A couple I’m going to de-plant and send off to friends and contacts who might enjoy additions to their own collections.  Thoughtfulness, ingenuity or collect-it-forward sooo  outrank a price tag when it comes to gift-giving.




Smoking Hot Collectibles

James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, the Marlborough Man – even the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Each one of the hottest icons of the 1950s and an icon for cigarette smoking.

Small wonder that smoking prevalence in the 1950s approached 60% of  US  adult males (Center for Disease Control) and nearly 80% of the UK adult population.

Sixty years of public health education and anti-smoking laws governing restaurants and workplaces have seen smoking population rates plummet from to less than 20% by 2010 (CDC).

We may have given up the bad breath, stinky clothes and chronic coughs, but a robust trade in smoking memorabilia  in the antique industry indicates that we have not surrendered our fond memories of the time when cigarettes were not just socially acceptable, they were downright cool and sexy.

In my Graniteware Garden post I repurposed a combination ashtray/fireplace tool smoke stand as a birdfeeder stand.

Recently a prominent local antique dealer bought this mint 1950s smoke stand we consigned to my uncle’s auction.

It is in truly mint condition and offers  covered ashtrays, cup or glass holder,  pipe holder (the orange and green marble part), as well as the clock. The ornate metalwork perfectly chromed offset by the warm marble sections. The only thing missing is the lighter which would have sat in the indented base of the handle.

Whatever your opinion on tobacco smoking, you gotta admire the elegant, sophisticated design of this piece.

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Canuck Junk

Getting ready for July 1st.  Polishing up my Canuck Pride.

Canada Day 2016 2

This is the antique window my uncle rescued for me from his friend and client, Herda.Graniteware Garden

I needed a Canada Day (July 1st for my American pals) porch greeting – and quick. So I just printed off the words, taped the pages in place on the back side of the window and then used black and red Sharpies to trace the lettering onto the window.

The Maple Leaf I drew by hand (obviously – lol).


This antique doll comes from the East Coast of Canada. The clothing (including the sou’wester hat) is traditional fisherman attire. The red hair – well, our maritimes are heavily populated with the descendants of Irish immigrants.



Butter Churn Planter

The delicate, translucent trumpet-shaped flowers of the perennial morning glory (aka bindweed or creeping jenny) are deceptive. This non-native plant is considered an extremely hardy scourge here in the Fraser Valley, where aggressive root systems can crisscross a farm field in the blink of an eye and reach depths of 15-20 feet.

A former neighbor used to turn over his lawn, pour gasoline on the roots and try to kill the roots by burning them. (In areas with cold winters they aren’t a problem – the deep cold kills them off).

Knowing this, I still love having them in the garden. Love seeing the flowers close at dusk and burst open with first sun.

So I do the same thing with these that I do with other aggressive self-propagating plants like Feverfew, Mint and Lemon Balm. I grow them in containers and try to cut back before they seed.

When my uncle bought this reproduction butter churn, its depth had promise as a home for a deep-rooted plant. So I planted it up for him and it now provides a cheerful greeting at the entrance to his antique warehouse.












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River’s Edge Vintage Garden

Surrey BoysIn my last post I wrote about the group of kids who grew up together in North Surrey in the aftermath of WWII.

The flush of prosperity that the rest of North America experienced in the late 1940s passed over North Surrey for some reason. Until the kids were old enough to drive they  entertained themselves fishing, swimming, learning box and to smoke cigarettes and getting into mischief along the banks of the Fraser River.

The bond they formed was quite something. Any one of them would risk his own life for another. And so it was in the summer of 1947 when a group of them were playing on the bank of the Fraser River my mother did what all of the kids were strictly forbidden to do. She went out onto a log boom and – as she had been warned countless times – slipped between two logs.

She couldn’t swim and had never learned to hold her breath under water. I would not be here today  had my “Uncle” Joe not ignored his own safety and raced across the logs to where my mother fell through. The only sign of her was a clump of wet hair stuck to the side of a log and Uncle Joe grabbed it and pulled my mom to safety. Even though she couldn’t swim my mother might have been able to pull herself to the edge of the log boom and get her head above water. But the lump of wet hair that was used to save her life held her in place beneath the water and she would surely have drowned had it not been for Uncle Joe’s heroics.

Because of the community’s economic struggles many of the kids went to work exceptionally young. Uncle Joe was just 14 years old when he borrowed money from his parents and bought his first commercial fishing boat and licence. He also helped out with the boat launch yard his family owned on the bank of the Fraser River.

About 20 years ago Uncle Joe tore down an old shack on the boat launch yard and built himself a beautiful bungalow with huge windows along the sides of the house  overlooking the Fraser River. I have spent many evenings there watching the harbor seals crest and the eagles and shore birds hunt.

Last weekend I was down at Uncle Joe’s place and was charmed by the lovely garden he has created and filled with vintage charm.

The antique mangle isn’t just decorative. It is still put to use wringing out towels and blankets that come off the boats wet.

antique mangle








  Another antique still in use is the large antique winch is used to wind up the garden hose.







A small but working antique lighthouse perched in the rock garden.


An antique wood duck decoy floats around the rock pond.









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Priceless One-of-a-Kind Tin

Momma at Passmore GroceryMy mother was about 10 years old when this photo was taken in front of my grandparents’ grocery store (around 1948/49) in North Surrey, British Columbia.

As the picture suggests, North Surrey was a humble but wholesome blue collar neighbourhood. It was full of hard-working families like mine and most of the kids who grew up together then remain friends and now, most in their late 70’s early 80’s, still get together every 3 months for lunch or to see an Elvis Presley impersonator concert.

Except my mom. She died  when I was 10, the same age she was in this photo.

Having retired (supposedly), and watching his pennies, last year my uncle (my mother’s brother, who raised my siblings and I following my mother’s death), gave me a Christmas present that didn’t cost him a dime. But, as the credit card commercial says, to me it is precious.

Passmore Grocery Tea Tin

Around the time the photo of my mother was taken, the Murchison Tea Company of Victoria, British Columbia made personalized tea tins for each of their merchants for Christmas.  There was only one tin made for each merchant, and this was my grandparents.

As I suspect is true of most families, a lot of cool “stuff” from my family did not survive the passage of time.  My antique auctioneer uncle salivates over the long gone storefront signs in the photo of my mom. I am thrilled this tin has survived three generations and being moved back and forth across Canada.

Watching the horrifying news coverage of the Fort McMurray fires I looked at my spoiled, lazy cat sprawled across the back of the sofa with his paws dangling down and told him that if our home catches fire he’ll have to fend for himself. I’ll be running for this tin.

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More than Sew Sew

Antique sewing machine doorstop

A local sewing shop has a brilliant repurpose – an antique sewing machine as a doorstop.  Although it’s old, it’s probably not working and even if it is, functionally isn’t as convenient as today’s fancy, light model machines. So if not for this business’ creativity, it would likely end up in the landfill.

Those things weigh a ton – it’s a genius repurpose!

Laura's Fashion Fabrics antique doorstop

I’ve walked by it for years and love that this little shop has this clever repurpose right out front where everyone in the community can see it.

And propping the door open all day (spring through fall in our mild climate) is a big, friendly White Rock-style “come on in”.

If you’ve ever in White Rock, BC give a thumbs up to the girls at Laura’s Fashion Fabrics on Johnston Road  (