Friday, November 30, 2012

Little Dog Vintage is Open Again!

After three months of moving from the city to the country and renovating a new work space, my vintage shop is open for business once again! It will take a month or two to photograph and list all of my stock, but it felt great to take the vacation notice down and list those first few items. I've set a goal for myself to list 75-100 items over the next few months.

As some of you know, in August I left Boston and my job at Google to pursue my vintage shop full time and live a more sustainable life in Vermont. For me, the shop reopening represents a huge step towards realizing that dream.

Stop by to check out the shop or share the link with your vintage loving friends if you are so inclined :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Our Thanksgiving

Last Thursday we survived a rite of passage -- hosting our first Thanksgiving! My parents flew out from California, and Josh's family drove up from Boston, making a total of five Thanksgiving guests.

I really wanted the day to be comfortable and fun for everyone, so I set to work on the details in early November, making giant grocery lists, and tracking down a turkey roasting pan, thermometer, baster, ice bucket, linen napkins, and table runner. I thrifted large serving platters, app trays, and a gravy boat. My vintage wood candle sticks came out of storage and sprigs of evergreen and winter berries from the yard were arranged in old ceramic vases. I rubbed a coat of Danish Oil on our shaker dining room chair set to freshen them up, then spackled and painted the dings in our kitchen wall.

We bought and wrapped small gifts for each person attending, including a birthday gift for Josh's sister, whose birthday was on Thanksgiving! Natural wood napkin rings were made from hardwood branches cut from a tree behind the house, and a small sapling was cut and inserted into a salvaged wood base to make a rustic centerpiece for the food table. Small glass globes holding votive candles were hung on the branches for soft lighting in the evening.

In the end, everything went just as planned and we had the best day, and I would not mind if this were the start of a yearly tradition :)

I hope all of you had an equally wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of family, friends, turkey, and pumpkin pie!

Photos: Gerry Puhara

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Little Dog Vintage Sneak Peek

Now that Thanksgiving is over (we hosted this year, so it's been a scramble for the past week) and my photo setup is complete, I'm finally able to start photographing the 100+ vintage items I've been hoarding for the reopening of my vintage shop.  It's been a bit of trial and error to find the best spot for natural lighting, but today I had a breakthrough and am starting to like the photos. The above photos were taken in the barn today, and I am sharing them as a sneak peek of things to come!

[clockwise, from top left: canvas and metal camp stool, resin glove molds, plaster horse bust, sputnik lamp, Japanese box with fold-out mirror, mid century double shade lamp]

Monday, November 26, 2012

First Dusting

We returned home from Boston last night to find our hillside covered with the first dusting of snow to stick this season. I took the dogs for a walk around the hill this morning and snapped a few shots.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Little Dog's New Photo Setup

One of the most important aspects of running an online shop is photography. The simple truth is that shops with beautiful product photographs sell more and receive more features.

For months I've been planning to make a neutral background wall with weathered wood table base to use for my shop photos, and this week we finally finished the display.

The new product photo setup includes:
1) A large wall on a rolling base for the background
2) An old weathered barn door attached to rolling wood beam table legs for the base
3) A large sheet of drywall leaned up against the left side of the display to reflect light coming from the window on the right back into the setup.

The large wall background will allow me to photograph larger items easily (maps, rugs, etc.) and the rolling base means I can move the setup around the workshop to capture the best natural light. The long wood table will be pushed against the wall to provide the base surface for the photographs, and the wheels allow it to move with the wall around the room. Here's how we built the wall and table (please excuse my fuzzy iPhone snapshots):

The Background Wall

First, we built the frame for the wall with 2x4s.

Then we screwed two pieces of drywall to the frame and cut off the edges that ran over the side of the frame.

Once both pieces of drywall were attached, we set to work making the rolling base using heavy pieces of salvaged wood from the burn pile at the dump. We added 6 wheels to the bottom to allow the base and wall to roll around the room.

Next, we attached the framed wall to the base.

And finally I mudded the drywall seam and screw holes, then painted the whole thing a neutral color.

The Table

I searched high and low until I found a weathered old barn door with just the right amount of wear, then removed the hinges, door handle, and latch hardware.

We cut a 4" x 4" wood beam from Home Depot into 4 sections for the legs, and attached them to the barn door with brackets and corner braces

Wheels were added to the bottom of the legs, then I gave the legs a coat of neutral paint.

And there you have it!

Now that the display has been built, I'll be rephotographing my existing shop stock with the new setup in addition to taking first time photos of the new items I've acquired over the past 4 months. In total, I have about 120 items to photograph so it will take me a while to get through them all. I will probably reopen the shop with about 20-30 items and continue photographing and listing over time. Once Thanksgiving is over (we're hosting both Josh & my family this year), I'm heading straight to the barn to work on photos!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Workshop Stove Up and Running!

Last week we finally got our hands on all of the necessary parts to install a flue for our stove, and by the end of the week it was up and running. My fingers no longer freeze while I am working on projects in the barn (yippee!) and the smell of burning birch logs is quite cozy.

In addition to installing the flue, we also used 000 steel wool to shine and clean the metal hardware on the stove and gave the body a coat of black stove paint. The whole setup looks pretty sharp if I do say so myself.

The cabinets and walls inside the barn have also been painted, and the photo display setup is almost done. More photos to come soon!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Just Call me the Reluctant Driver

When I moved to Boston in 2001, I came without a car and remained blissfully carless for the following 11 years. I was not only content, but actually happy to walk and take public transportation 99% of the time. I loved walking through the park to get across town and riding the train over the bridge to Cambridge. Train rides became my time to think, read, and listen to music. The skyline view over the Longfellow Bridge made me smile and feel thankful to live in such a beautiful city every time I passed it.

While working for Google, not only was my train pass paid for, but I was also able to drive Zipcars for free by participating in the company's Zipcar incentive program. On rare occasions when a car was required (usually for thrifting outings) I could hop in one of the dozens of cars parked within a few minute walk of my condo and cruise around for half an hour or a full day for free.

All of this meant that my yearly spend for transportation came to a whopping $0. Living car free, while not for everyone and not for every city, is completely liberating as far as I am concerned. No car payment, no insurance payment, no gas bill, no parking bill, no car repair costs, and no road rage. But the most important benefit to me was being one less person pumping pollution into the air. Getting off my butt and walking to get where I needed to go felt right and it felt good.

Well, all of that is about to change. Living car free in downtown Boston is easy, but not feasible in rural Vermont. There is no public transportation, we are not within a reasonable walking distance from town, and if I am going to get this vintage business a fair shot, I'll need to drive long distances to hit up flea markets and estate sales. Before moving I privately brainstormed ideas for transportation modes not involving a car, but seeing as though "horse and buggy" was the only option I could come up with, I resigned myself to the fact that I would need to give in and buy a car eventually.

That day came yesterday when we drove off the dealership lot with a shiny sage green 2009 Subaru Forester. While I am still not loving the fact that I have to drive to get everywhere, I must admit that it will make life more convenient. Next week it will come in handy when we pick up my parents in Boston and drive the 2.5 hours back to VT with them in tow. That trip is not very pleasant crammed in the back seat of Josh's Toyota Tacoma access cab.

For now I will appreciate this new "luxury" but remain a reluctant driver, looking forward to the day we have a clean, low-impact way to get from one place to another.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Vermont Salvage Exchange

My hunt for awesome thrifting spots in the area unearthed a gem of a salvage yard about 40 minutes away in White River Junction. The Vermont Salvage Exchange covers three floors of a HUGE warehouse, and the industrial space reminds me of a Hollywood set, staged perfectly for the big shoot out showdown at the end of an action or horror flick.

The dark, dusty warehouse is packed to the gills with all manner of architectural salvage supplies, including old windows, age weathered doors, antique claw foot bath tubs, ornate moldings, giant wall cabinets, industrial lighting, the contents of an old bowling alley, retro school desks, wooden stadium seats, limestone sinks, and a thousand other things.

In the basement, hundreds (maybe even thousands) of windows are stacked on the half dirt half creaky wood plank floor. A sign on the wall informs customers that windows are priced "by the pane." 6 pane windows are $20, 8 pane are $25, and so on.

The main floor is chock full of large pieces like wall paneling, columns, hand hewn beams, display shelving units large enough to cover an entire wall, an enormous green factory turbine, stairway banisters, and a huge pergola in the middle of it all.

While the salvage yard is full of amazing eye candy and is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, unfortunately the prices (with the exception of the basement windows) are somewhat inflated. I would have loved to take home a few of the pieces we saw, but there were no bargains to be had. Still, the Vermont Salvage Exchange is definitely worth a visit if you appreciate old architecture, antique furniture, and general oddities.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Stove Piping and a Plow

This week's snow flurry, though light in our area, motivated us to take care of a few projects that must be finished before winter really sets in. We still need a flue hookup for the wood burning stove in the workshop and a snow plow for the truck.

The Stove
As previously mentioned, we will be using a wood burning stove to heat the workshop this winter. It's getting cold enough that spending an extended amount of time in the workshop without heat is not feasible, so hooking up the stove is a priority. We bought a stove a few months back at a flea market, but the real challenge will be installing flue piping through the wall and up the back of the barn to ensure the smoke safely exits the building. Code requires the piping to extend a few feet above the roof of the barn, and because our barn is just over 20 feet tall Josh will be spending a decent amount of time on a very tall ladder.  As a safety measure, he's been slipping on his rock climbing harness and attaching it to the roof rafters while he works just in case the ladder slips. The whole thing makes me nervous, so I'll be glad when the installation is done and he is safe!

The Plow
Our house sits at the top of a hillside, and in addition to living on a class 3 road, we have a long, steep, gravel driveway. We are responsible to plowing a small portion of the class 3 road as well as our driveway, so needless to say a snow plow will be crucial. Snow plows are not only pricey, but require a bit of research before a purchase can be made. What kind of plow can your truck handle? How much snow will you be plowing? What kind of a mounting kit do you need? How will the plow be installed? We decided to go with a Fisher Homesteader plow and will hopefully have it installed by next week. Let's just hope we don't get a big storm before then!


Lamp Roundup

Now that we are *so* close to having the workshop ready, I've been cruising the web for work lighting options. I don't actually need a new lamp, but it's fun to window shop. Never hurts to look, right? Here are a few of my favorites:

Clockwise from top left: Alberta Table Lamp in Turquoise & Cherry from Caravan Pacific Lighting, Dokter + Misses Table Lamp from West Elm, Modern Table Lamp by Ample Furniture, Grasshoppa Floor Lamp from Horne, Titan 1 Pendant & Diffuser from Horne, Atomic Yellow Table Lamp from CB2, Black Powder Coated Swivel Lamp with Brass Shade from Onefortythree.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Permaculture Prep

Last Friday Josh mowed the hillside in front of the house in preparation for permaculture projects/experiments we have planned for next spring. For those unfamiliar with the term (as I was a few months ago), Google defines permaculture as the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

My understanding is that permaculture techniques allow people to work with nature instead of against it to grow food, build homes and communities, and care for animals. Simple examples include incorporating bug repellant plants in a garden to keep pests away instead of using pesticides or building a home with large south facing windows for passive solar heating.

Our plan is to set up a half indoor, half outdoor chicken coop using the horse stalls in the barn and start out with a few laying hens for eggs. We'll grow kale and swiss chard on the hillside across from the stalls for chicken feed along with nitrogen fixing cover crops to enrich the soil. We'll allow the chickens to graze the hillside, and their waste, combined with the cover crop nutrients, will eventually create fertile land for growing other types of food in the future.

Below are some pictures of the "permaculture site" being cleared along with a few of the pups, who had a good time playing in the grass while we worked.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ocean Edge

We spent last Thursday through Sunday at Ocean Edge on the Cape for Josh's sister's wedding. Ocean Edge is a fairy tale type of place, with two large pink roofed Victorian mansions perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean. The weather cooperated beautifully and all the wedding events wrapped up before Hurricane Sandy started to roll in. My favorite part was meeting and spending time with some of the out of state family members I had been hearing about for so long. Here are a few pictures from the weekend via Instagram.

↓ Ocean Edge Resort
↓ Chandelier in the lobby

↓ The beach at Ocean Edge
↓ The wedding took place under a giant Linden tree
↓ The happy couple :)

Congratulations Mat & Jenna!!