As far back as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed collecting older things.
In my teens it was books and Art Deco jewelry.
In my twenties it was beaded cardigans and little handbags from the 40’s.
My thirties was the decade of vintage French housewares. I was introduced to Ebay and this opened up a world of European and specialty shopping opportunity outside of personal travel. In came vintage blue enamelware, French liquor bottles, old cafe au lait bowls and other little treasures.
Here is my partial collection.
When I got pregnant, more vintage buying opportunities beckoned. English jackets in soft linens for toddler Oliver. Floral dresses for Charlotte. Nursery items and planters from the 50’s to make their room cheery.
Now that I too am vintage — 50 years and with my own imperfections from a life well-lived — I live in happy co-existence with my older things. Chipped enamel, worn paint, faded papers; it’s all good as we have so much in common now.
And when you collect as much as I do, you learn one very important skill: repurposing.
Repurposing is often the difference between buying something interesting and then relegating it to a far corner of your house or using it and enjoying it on a regular basis.
People seem surprised I regularly play with and use my vintage as much as I do. Old tins for picnics. Planters for barrettes. Vintage holiday decorations throughout the year. Battered crates for storage. Old bottles for all my oils and vinegars. Advertising buckets for new dotted straws. The list goes on and on.
Consequently, I get asked all the time where I bought this or that. The answer is usually: garage/estate sale, Goodwill or Ebay. I’m always on the lookout for interesting things, not just for me, but for friends and family — and when I find something particularly interesting, I love to give it as a gift to someone who will probably appreciate it.
Using vintage means not only are you enjoying something probably one of a kind (each slight imperfection makes it unique), you are also bringing something into your home that is a powerful antidote to the pristine, factory-fresh fetishism that surrounds us. Technology and electronics have so wormed their way into every facet of our lives that personally I find it grounding to also surround myself with items with history and character.
As I try to tell my kids all the time, newer doesn’t necessarily mean better (and often it means ultimately just more disposable).
So, here is just one of the many things I have bought over the years and use regularly in a repurposed kind of way.
VINTAGE BOTTLE CARRIER
Okay, regular readers, this is of no surprise — I use one of these crates weekly (I own four). Mostly I use it as a treat carrier on the go for my Meals on Wheels route; soup and salads are in heavy rotation for my seniors and there is nothing new on the market that I’ve found that matches it for practicality and strength.
I can store 12 treats (like hot soup or a batch of milkshakes) at one time and feel confident that they’re not going anywhere they shouldn’t be — even when placed on the front seat of my car. The carrier is heavy enough it’s not going to roll around, and the side slots make it a cinch for carrying.
My bottle carrier also makes a fantastic accompaniment to a cooler bag for a picnic. As you can see, it keeps smoothies, chips and baguettes free from spillage/breakage, and once you spread out the blanket, you can flip it over and use it as a mini-table. Trust me — it works great in the sand or on a nice, sunny patch of grass when you don’t want to spill your picnic Pinot and you’d rather not place your sandwich at ant-level.
(I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left one slot free for mini-wallet and Iphone, eliminating the need for yet another bag to keep track of).
This carrier also works wonders as a snack assortment holder for groups of kids; I fill it with Solo cups, each one holding random snacks and fruit and then let the kids take it outside and go to town.
If you were so lucky to find one of these of your own, it would similarly be great thrown in the back of the car and filled with the little things you always wish you had in your car but usually forget to pack: back up bottles of water, spare dog leash, granola bars, band-aids, mini-shopping bags, coupons, small gift cards or receipts. And maybe a spare phone charger and an umbrella for the rare time you get caught in a downpour and curse your lack of planning.
Imagine the rock star you’ll be as you pull out your Nerf, granola bars and extra water next time you stop by that new park you’ve been wanting to visit.
And how tickled you will be to find the quarters for parking just waiting for you in that clever vintage Scotch tape tin.