Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ah, the Sweet Smell of… Vinegar?

What? You don’t long for the pungent smell of vinegar… like the way you love to smell a freshly opened bag of coffee or a new bouquet of flowers? Yeah, me neither. But it is a wonderful, all purpose cleaner. I wonder if any other basic household ingredient is as versatile. And once the smell of white vinegar is gone, it’s gone, along with any other odors that may have been clinging on for dear life. Unfortunately, this week I realized that my cupboards lacked this basic ingredient of life. Of course you only realize these things when you REALLY need them.

Because my teenage (18) son believes he has sole custody of our sole vehicle, I rested the burden of picking up more vinegar upon his shoulders. An easy task for most, a wretched, vile, obscene request for James. My son, aka “man-child”, loathes the smell of vinegar. As a small child I actually worried that he would get sick on a few occasions because it turns his stomach so fiercely. As he’s gotten older I only worry that I’ll have to hear his ongoing rant about how much he hates it… which usually includes lines like, “How can you use that’s stuff?!?”, “That’s disgusting!!”, and “I’m gonna throw it out the window” So, I knew I was pushing my luck a little when asking him to purchase one of those large jugs of his favorite item. If the store he selected didn’t have a big, gallon jug of it his instructions were to buy at least two large bottles. Here’s what he came home with:
shaky picture of a mere 32oz bottle
So, why would a mother torture her son in this way? Like I told you, I needed it.

On Tuesday night I went to a great little auction hoping to score some vintage linens my local auction house had listed. Of course I wasn’t the only person there interested in the linens. I was too cautious in the beginning and lost a couple of items. However, by the end of the night I came home with most of the goodies I had hoped for plus a few gems I never expected to see. Getting caught up in the bidding action, especially when you have a determined competitor, can get both exciting and addictive… and cause you to occasionally go over your budget. Just saying.

Most of the linens fell into the tabletop variety: tablecloths, runners, placemats, napkins. Also mixed into a few of the lots were crocheted doilies, collars, and mixed lace pieces. Then there was the lot of random fabrics, some “new”, others cut off of whatever their original designation was.

The extra gems I ended up with were vintage strands of high quality rhinestones in some amazingly rare colors still on their large cardboard spools. This is where I went over my intended budget… but I wanted them so badly!

Even if I don’t use them all (and I honestly can’t see me using ALL of them), hello resale!

Items I’ve obtained from past auctions include:

A great source of information on treasure hunting, whether via thrift store, yard sale, or auction house is Ginger Moon Traders. GMT is a vintage reseller whose main presence is on EBay, but they also have items posted to Etsy and Amazon. Their blog, Ginger Moon Treasures, is chock filled with tips and tricks and know-how. THIS is an excellent blog entry for first time auction-goers. (Click on the word “THIS”.)

Now, bringing home stuff from an auction is not exactly a tidy operation. Think thrift store before it’s all sorted. DIRTY! And some of the smells… ugh. Throw into that the fact that I purchased fabric items and it’s a germaphobe’s worst nightmare. First order of business, de funk-ify-ing the lot. The best solution, a regular ol’ white vinegar and water bath. In this case it was literally a bath. I had so much stuff to de-stink and stains to soften that the tub was the biggest and most appropriate vessel to hold them in.

In went a half of the SINGLE bottle of vinegar brought home by the man-child, starting running the water, then added all of the linens. (Thank God they were so discolored. It distracts the eye from seeing the less-than-white tub.)

If you have a smaller batch of items to deal with, and a part of your home you don’t mind filling with the scent of vinegar, I’d suggest soaking your linens in a vinegar/water solution in a plastic basin/tub overnight. Just be careful when you open the door to that room the next day… or plug your nose with something… maybe wear goggles if you’re really sensitive… or torture your own man-child by having him deal with it!

After their bath all items were relocated to my washing machine (which is something else I could have, should have, used to bathe my beauties in, on a soak cycle.) I went through each item spot treating any ugly marks. Amazingly, spots that weren’t present earlier suddenly showed up. In some cases it could have been a reaction to the vinegar, but most of the uglies were revealed because the surrounding dirt and grime had been softened and rinsed away. Unfortunately, a few of the more delicate, crocheted edges on a few items did not survive the soaking process fully intact. Just getting the beauties wet was enough to unravel the last thread holding spots together. But do not fear - I still plan to re-purpose as much as possible, perhaps removing the damaged areas or including them in some purposefully tattered project.

The next step will be to use an enzyme detergent to finish cleaning the vintage messes. (I am so grateful for the hand wash cycle on my washing machine!) If spots remain, they’ll get another round of vinegar baths, spot treatments, then an enzyme detergent wash before I give up and hand them over to the world’s BEST spot remover, my Mom.

The hardest part of the whole auction experience for me is the re-purposing of my finds. I kinda feel like they’re my babies and don’t want to cut them up and use them, albeit for some beautiful end result. It’s still hard to let go. I have the same issue with some fabrics and trims I buy at regular stores too. They’re just too purrty to chop up! You’ll have to keep an eye on my Etsy store and FB page and harass me until I let go and create beauties that you’ll appreciate.

I’m hoping to head out to another auction at the end of the month. No idea what to expect, but that’s part of the fun.

Need help finding an auction in your area? Try That’s where I found The Estate Market Place and all of these goodies. If that site doesn’t work for your area, then simply Google “auction” along with your area.
Happy Hunting!! 
~ Carey

1 comment:

  1. I have not done the auction thing yet...I am afraid I will get caught up in the brought home some beautiful things!


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