Thursday, January 24, 2013

Finding Your Vintage Style

Whether it be Furniture, home decor or clothing often older is better! Not to mention oftentimes you may even get a bigger bang for your buck in the long run when you purchase vintage goods from local sellers as opposed to new items you find at any big box store.  I know through experience finding your taste in vintage style takes time, effort and at times a little trial and error before you master the perfect comfortable feel that you longed for.I found that my biggest problem was trying to figuring out where to start and how to get the ball rolling. Hopefully sharing my experiences will give you a little push in the right direction and before you know it you will be out measuring items and snapping pictures of potential vintage additions to your home.

Great! You have decided that it is time to make some vintage additions to your home or office but now find yourself with the posing question of where to start. You may be among many people that have never purchased vintage items and have relied on the big box stores for all their home decor needs. Don't be embarrassed by this, the major retailers have you right where they want you. Shoving knock off vintage items down your throat and into your living rooms. The thing about this that saddens me is that these major retailers do not giving a second thought that they are driving down the value of true vintage with their knock offs and copies. These retailers have over-saturated the market and peoples homes to the point that unique pieces with flair and style have become mainstream and common. This sounds bleak and horrible to the vintage enthusiast but at the same time they have created a great opportunity for us to go out and find outstanding vintage items that will stand the test of time.

Back to a starting point....  so there is this thing out there called Pinterest that you may of heard of. If you read my last posting you will know that change and I do not really go hand in hand. My " To Do List" friend tried to introduce me to this Pinterest phenomenon which of course I fought purely because I did not think it was something i could make time for. Fast forward a few months to a warm and rainy Sunday morning where 2 pots of coffee and 4 hours of pinning I was hooked not to mention a little jittery! She had described it so accurately in saying it is like having the ability to build your own magazine of everything you like, want to read and most importantly try. Not to mention it gives you a wealth of knowledge, some useless but it is still knowledge and there is that saying that "Knowledge is Power".  I have been able to answer a multitude of questions for people and when questioned how did I know that I credit Pinterest by saying... Oh, I read it on Pinterest.

Maybe at this point you are asking what does this have to do with revamping my style and putting a little more pizazz in day to day existence. Pinterest can be that jumping off point to help you choose your likes, dislikes and give you a reference of items that you would like to have in your own home.  This can all be accomplished from the convenience of your home computer or if you have a smart phone by using the mobile application and virtually any place you find yourself sitting in wait you can be discovering new style. If this is a new concept for you I found a wonderful tutorial at The Daily Digi called "Pinterest 101: A Tutorial" that will walk you through just about every aspect of Pinterest and get you on your way to building your dream style.

During the next week get your account set up and start looking at all the possibilities that are out there. Start your own board and pin those items that caught your eye and keep in mind that this is the point that more is better. Eventually we will sort through your choices and pick out those items that are your true love and before you know it your home will be a showplace of your own personal style and character that guests will marvel over and you will feel comfortable in. One thing to keep in mind while you start this process is that this is not about the taste of others but what you find comforting and exciting.

Next week: Vintage Styles and Eras ... what's your favorite?

Last week I promised that I would share an incredible dinner with you so here it is. I said earlier .... sometimes older is better and that is the case with Beef Stew recipe. We have all heard about the evils of bad nutrition but sometimes we have a craving for something that is satisfying and filling versus green and leafy. This may not be the best for us but we eat it anyway and then either feel guilt over our full satisfied bellies or go to the gym for an extra half hour the following day to ease our minds. Whatever the case may be enjoy this fantastic stew in moderation and you will get that comfort food satisfaction that you may be craving at this frigid time of the year.

The Best Browned Beef Stew ..... EVER! 
4-6 servings

1 -1 1/2 lb cubed beef stew meat
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use Olive Oil)
1 onion, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
1/4 cup finely chopped celery, with a few minced leaves
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 pinch thyme

1 pinch rosemar
3 1/2 cups beef broth
2 medium potatoes, diced (I use Baby Reds in big chunks)
2 carrots, diced (same thing.. big chunks)
2 onions, diced 

2 cups petite frozen peas


1 Put flour, salt and pepper in a large ziploc bag.

2 Heat oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven.

3 Place meat in bag with the flour and shake until well coated.

4 Shake off half of the meat pieces and add them to the oil and stir until slightly browned,. Remove from the pot and place on a plate. Repeat with the remaining meat. Once slightly brown add the first batch of meat back to the pot.

5 Add remaining flour from the  bag and the finely chopped onion and stir until well browned.

6 Add finely chopped carrot and next 5 ingredients.
7 Cover and cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours (stirring every 15 minutes).
8 Add diced potatoes, carrots, and onions, cook for another 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
9 Add 2 cups petite peas 15 minutes prior to serving.
When I prepare this recipe I buy a few large crusty rolls, scoop them out into bread bowls and pair it with a winter green salad.



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dead Of Winter To Do List

Days are short, the light dim and we huddle in our homes like refugees trying our best to avoid the frigid bite on the back of our necks and cheeks. It's winter, a time of year when a simple trip to the store turns into a creative dance of wrapping and bundling in preparation for that sharp arctic blast you know is waiting to greet you.

When the season changes people change along with it, those who embrace the cold and those who avoid it at all costs.When I was younger I admit I was of the embracing breed looking forward to the drop in temperature and became ecstatic with the prospect of snow. Many mornings I was fooled out of my warm bed by a cunning mother who would tell me a little white lie of snow fall. I would dash to the living room window to see the splendor that had transformed our neighborhood only to find a slight dusting of white powder. Winter was filled with the prospect of snow days, hockey on the pond and incredible group effort snow forts that turned into mini villages. To this day I enjoy the snow and how it changes my surroundings but unfortunately it is accompanied by cold which I have less and less tolerance for the as the years pass by.

As the our world falls into a cold slumber, winter provides us a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. These plans usually result in building a mammoth "To Do" list that not even the most organized person could accomplish.  For me, organization is important for everyday life, I admit that I am a list maker. I have a list for everyday of the week sometimes even lists for the list and although I do not always adhere to the tasks I use it as reference when suddenly the day seems to be going nowhere. This way of living was presented to me by a dear friend when I went from being a  part time Vintage Seller to full timer. I had become panicked over the smallest of things feeling like I had an iron in every fire and they were all getting burnt up. She shared with me the that a list could keep me on task and at the end of the day I would have a sense of accomplishment which I found all to be true although at the time I could not see.

In my typical stubborn fashion I fought composing a TO DO list using excuses such as it would take too much time to compose and I can handle this one I get accustomed to being self employed. Of course both these thoughts were the furthest thing from reality as I found myself in a daily tailspin of jumping from one thing to another and accomplishing nothing. I finally bought into the "List" idea and gave myself the goal of one week. I would use this list I had been presented with and keep track of my accomplishments. Still hesitant the following morning I made my list for the day and felt the rush of being overwhelmed wash over me. Could I really accomplish that much in a single day or would I feel like a failure if my list was not accomplished.

Let me tell you at the end of that first day I felt like Moses had come and led me to the promise land. Not every item had been crossed off but the majority of tasks had been accomplished and I had even added a couple of extra things during the day. The few things that remained transferred to the following days list and I was off and running. My life had changed and as I got into the swing of it I found I had more time for the things that I wanted to do but did not fit into my business plan before. Suddenly not only was my professional life heading down the right track but my house was clean, the dust your could scroll your name in was not everywhere and most importantly I felt a huge sense of accomplishment! Oddly this new sense of accomplishment gave me a boost in self esteem as well making me realize that this vintage venture I had taken on could work and with the right mix of time, motivation and know how being self employed was truly possible.

I admit it... I fight change! Always have and probably in some sense probably always will. As I get older though I can see that my way is not always the right way and others input is sometimes the most valuable means to a solution. Without my friend and her helpful idea more than likely I would still be spinning around accomplishing little, that is if I had not given up and gone back to work for someone else.

Funny how sometimes the things we fight and avoid can turn out to be the catalyst to send us on a new adventure in life and provide us with a fulfillment that we did not know existed. I started writing this post to share a little about my childhood, a couple of fantastic vintage items I found this past week and a killer Beef Stew recipe I ran across and instead I shared my secret to a more organized and happy life ..... Maybe I should have made a list! Since winter will still be around in a week get your stew meat, carrots onions and potatoes ready and I will share an incredible meal with you!

If you are in the Chicagoland area this weekend and need a break from cabin fever and a vintage fix you may want to check out Vintage Garages event!

January 19-20, 2013
11am to 6pm
$5.00 admission
1134 West Granville
Chicago, IL 60640



Please leave your comments and request to what you would like to see or learn about.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Years Resolutions


Here we are in the new year, it is hard to believe but 2012 has come and gone in what seems like a flash yet leaving us with memories for the rest of our lives. I say welcome 2013 and let the fun begin!

The last two weeks of the year are a buzz of activity as we try to attend holiday parties, create the perfect holiday celebration and accomplish all of this while the dreaded New Years Resolution looms in the back of our minds. As we meet with our friends and family the over achiever always seems hunts you down to ask you the dreaded question.... "What's Your New Years Resolution" full well knowing he/she is the only person that has thought it through, picked their outstanding stellar resolution and is now ready to share it with anyone that will lend an ear.

I am proud to say I am normally a procrastinator and leave things like New Years Resolutions usually until 11:59pm on December 31st at which time I choose something that I normally would never do to give up. Through the years my split second resolutions have included things such as dressing like a clown, making TV dinners a staple in my diet and spending more time at the mall. As you can see these are all things that are easy to achieve and makes for a successful resolution while providing a false sense of accomplishment.

This year is different in the sense that I have a real New Years Resolution.... starting a Blog and sticking with it! Over the past year I have been fortunate in meeting many interesting and unique individuals and so many have asked if I have a website or a blog about my Vintage Etsy shop (Circa810), treasure hunts as I like to call them and what seems to be hot and trendy. Eyes pointed to the ground almost as though I was ashamed I would answer no, but that is on my list of things to do. I made a conscious decision that I would start at the beginning of the new year and tackle it head on ... so here we are Welcome 2013, let the fun begin!

So to get the ball rolling or maybe I should say to get this Blog rolling here is a little about me and what I am all about

First off my name is Thom and I operate a shop on along with doing a variety of vintage shows through out the upper midwest. I like to call them shows even though I am sure others would refer to them as flea markets. As though this is not enough to keep me busy I partner with a lovely lady and together we run an estate sale business in our area.

Why is my Etsy shop and Blog called Circa 810? Ironically my last name is Aten pronounced like the numbers Eight Ten, sort of quirky but I use it to the best of my ability. Every year I remind my friends that August 10th (8/10) is my holiday and it should be a day spent not worrying about the small things but instead enjoying life and those around them. This is how I try to live my life; appreciating the things others pass by and feeling fortunate for having the experiences that I have had. Of course there is 8:10am and 8:10pm those are just special minutes of everyday.

Some of my most vivid memories as a child are being allowed to explore the back of my Great Aunt Ema’s curio cabinet. There were little old trinkets from Germany all covered in dust and residue from years of heavy smoking relatives. Then there was my mother’s china cabinet and the mysterious doors at the bottom that were only opened to remove the unseen treasures for their yearly spring cleaning or holiday use. Many years have passed since those days but the memories still come back whenever I am out shopping for vintage items to stock my shop. My Aunt Ema with the cigarette hanging out of her mouth telling me in a thick German accent only touch what is on the bottom shelf and my mother saying someday I am going to clean this and throw it all away. Thank God the depression generation saved things instead of tossing them out in the trash. Now these treasures are being unearthed by people like myself and others in the Etsy community bringing back memories and the great styles of years gone by.

Another fond memory I have from my childhood and most likely a contributing factor to my addiction of hunting through any thrift store I come across is time spent with my father. Although he was an Electrician by trade I can remember time spent rummaging through Salvation Army and Saint Vincent Depaul looking for parts to something he drug home to fix. Honestly there was nothing he could not repair once he put his mind to it. While he searched for his parts I prayed that no one would see me there... thrift stores in those days were not "en vogue" and being seen going in or coming out of one could ruin a young school boys reputation. Even though I would keep one eye open for anyone I may know I still would nose around at everything that caught my eye and usually would go home with a little trinket that I had no use at all but loved very much.

If you visit my Etsy shop you will see my taste and collections to this day are eclectic. I scour the upper Midwest searching for distinctive items to fill my home and to share with others. I honestly can say I do not have a favorite period of vintage, I like it all! Everything from the sleek lines of Art Deco, the simplicity of Mid Century Modern and who doesn’t love the bright colors and craziness of the 1960’s and 70’s. You’ll find an assorted mix of it all in my shop, everything from the useful to the quirky things that were in the back of your Grandparents closets.

Just to clue you in I am not a professional writer by any means but I am going to do my best to share with you my thoughts and experiences and hopefully give you motivation to seek out the things that make you happy and content. Although I love vintage I am also pretty experienced in furniture restoration, gardening, cooking, travel and a good dose of sarcasm from time to time. My mother would have called me a "Jack of all trades and a master of none" .... I miss her sarcasm sometimes but I know where mine came from.

So here the journey begins into a new venture of sharing not only a part of myself but the things that make me happy and hopefully make others happy as well. I will do my best not only to tell a little about myself in each post but also share with you other great places to visit both online and off. Hopefully you can find new experiences to try.

Until the next post just remember ..... There's Always Room For Vintage!



Please leave your comments and request to what you would like to see or learn about.