Category Archives: Deals & Finds

An Iron-Clad Deal


I feel like a failure.  I went three whole years without knowing about the closest trade day/flea market to us.  Forget treks to Round Top or Canton, McKinney, TX is just 20 miles away from us (okay, kidding- you know I’ll still be frequenting those places despite the distance).

McKinney Trade Days occur on the weekends before the third Monday of the month.  It’s no where near the scale of Round Top or even Canton, but it has a nice selection considering it’s a short drive away from us.  I’m sure some would consider 400 vendors more than a “nice selection” but hey, my benchmark was set by the infamous Round Top.

We saw quite the array of goodies.

Iron items galore such as this Cinderella-carriage looking chandelier and patio decor.

It wouldn’t be America without school branding on every item imaginable, including bird houses.

Rooster yard art, anyone?  It’s just what your backyard needs.

One of the coolest things we saw was a variety of art made of license plates, like this map of the United States with each state depicted by an old license plate from that particular state.  I can’t imagine how long it would take to collect all these and create a map!

My eyes were of course drawn to this cute little nightstand for $45.  I didn’t find a mate for him so I sadly left him behind.  Maybe next time, little buddy.

And who could forget this gem?  Welcome to Texas, y’all.

In the end, I managed to convince Chris to let us walk away with an iron cross and outdoor iron lantern.

We finally added a little Texas to our cross wall (notice the star and horseshoe in the middle).  Not too shabby for $4.

Our cross wall is quickly growing!

The lantern was our big purchase.  I can’t wait to put a mosquito candle and light it one night!  I’m still not sure how I convinced Chris into this one… especially because the line, “think of how much money I saved you by getting this one for $37 instead of the $100-something one from Pottery Barn,” didn’t work.  But, seriously, what a deal!


I really don’t understand these “trader day” things. Somehow Julie has managed to trick me into going to three different ones, but I have yet to drag her to a swap meet. Oh, what adventures await!

Anyway, this time I lured a friend into going with me, promising to pay for parking and a beer. But there was no beer. NO BEER! I don’t know what these “trader” people think, but this is Texas… we’ll have a beer.

Regardless, we managed to give our wives the slip and found a handful of guy-friendly booths- Army surplus, license plate novelties, guitars- but still found ourselves buying corn dogs out of boredom. Of course, it wasn’t long before the girls found us and announced their purchases.

Julie apparently has a thing for iron, because everything she wanted was made of it. She somehow managed to talk me into buying what is effectively the world’s most overbuilt candleholder. She sold me on it with a grandiose vision of enjoying mosquito-free nights of sipping lemonade on our patio, but it wasn’t until I was apologizing to my friend for rust-staining his car’s interior that I remembered Julie doesn’t really go outside. Doh!

I’m not saying I won’t ever go to another one of these glorified swap meets, but I’ll be toting a cooler to the next one.



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Round Top Part 3: The Guide


I thought I would provide a helpful guide to all those Round Top newbies out there. Note, these are just my opinions and suggestions. Feel free to explore on your own and make your own discoveries. Report back though! I’d love to hear from my fellow Round Top junkies.

Where to Stay:

Option 1- book your hotel/motel/house/B&B as far out as possible, even consider doing it a year before. As soon as the Round Top weekend is announced, rooms go fast. And I mean fast. Two months out, my mom and I decided we were going and the closest hotel we could find was a sketchy no-name motel 45 minutes away and that was the closest by a long shot. I did find out that Rachel Ashwell (founder of shabby chic, duh) just opened a bed and breakfast in Round Top with rooms starting at $200 a night. Might as well live it up. Her place is called The Prairie- check it out here.

Option 2- find a friend with a house in the area, like we did! It was great! No packed hotels, no noise, just the relaxing feeling of the country (and a few scorpions, although by the amount my mom and I killed off that weekend their numbers should be dwindling). It’s definitely the way to go… but, obviously, a rare find.

Where to Shop: Everything is along 237, beginning in the town of Round Top and heading north until 290. Here’s a breakdown of a few of the more popular places.

Marburger Farms: This place features, by far, the most booths (more than 350!). They have ten huge tents and 12 historic buildings on property for you to peruse through. This place is many people’s favorite, and only, stop. It is on the more expensive side but if you’re looking for clean, organized booths with less clutter and more of a retail feel, this is the place for you. There are some really unique finds here but they come with the retail price.

Big Red Barn and Continental Tent: This is the original Round Top experience, started in 1968. This is the second largest space in Round Top and features a lot of true antiques, both early American and European styles. Being true historical antiques, the prices are on the high end. The barn has close quarters but is set-up well with distinct aisles making for a pleasant shopping experience. Oh, did I forget to mention the A/C? Remember, it is Texas which means September will still be warm.

La Bahia: This is the first spot for many when venturing into Round Top as it’s the first place that pops up when going south on 237. It’s more clutter and less retail, which means more great deals and negotiating galore! This is where I found my metal numbers and my mom found her big O. It’s on the smaller side so you can get through it pretty fast.

Blue Hills: This is another smaller place that features items from all ends of the spectrum: from the less expensive oddball items to the more expensive antique furniture pieces.

Of course, we stopped at a handful of unnamed, unmarked places on the side of the road. That’s where you can find the best stuff sometimes!


For $20, you get to park in the grass and rummage through old junk. What a deal!

Skipped ahead?  Back it up… and check out Part 1: a guide to the trends of Round Top Fall 2011 here and/or Part 2: a look into all the great stuff I found here!


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Round Top Part 2: The Loot


Chris thinks my Round Top trip was very successful. I, however, am a little on the fence. I got some really awesome things but I thought I’d come away with more meaning I didn’t spend as much as I thought meaning Chris is one happy husband.
So let me show you the goods already!
Deep into day one, I hadn’t yet made a purchase. I had seen a few things but wanted to be conservative and not spend it all in the first place. I was anxious to start filling up my car when my mom stumbled upon this wooden hanging basket. I was still pondering what I would do with it (use it outside to hang pots from or maybe use it inside to store firewood by the fireplace) when my mom showed me the price tag. $10!! I snatched that puppy up faster than you could say “killer deal” and headed to the register. But, wait, it gets better. Upon trying to negotiate a package deal with another item, the booth owner stopped me and said those three magic words, “it’s half off.” “Um, excuse me? You mean it’s $10, half off of $20?” I replied. “No, it’s half off of $10. It’s $5,” she informed me. Four seconds and five dollars later, I was the proud owner of a wooden basket hanging thing-a-ma-bob and proud of it. We’ll see where it ends up in the house. Have an idea for a cool use for this? I’d love to hear it!

I found these numbers at the first place we stopped by and passed them up since I couldn’t figure out where to put them and everyone knows my house doesn’t need another set of characters on display (I currently have 5 letters distributed throughout the house for decoration). On day two, it hit me. These would be the perfect thing for the collage I was building in our bedroom of a sunburst mirror and framed engagement picture. The rusty silver patina would be the perfect finish to tie in the bronze and iron tones we currently have in the room. So my mom and I headed back to grab two numbers: a 2 and a 4. While I’d love to tell you that 24 means something significant, and I could stretch it to make it make sense, the real reason is because these numbers would hang from nails as is, no drilled holes needed. Chris was so proud of my pragmatic decision on this one! Oh, and they only set me back $5 each.

Another reason for the pragmatic number decision was to help balance out how impulsive of a buy this chandelier was. I saw it hanging in a booth and knew it was the solution to our entry way light problem (more on that later, but let me put it this way for now: we’re on our third entry way light and we’re still not satisfied so we’re currently looking for candidate number four). It’s structure would match our dining room chandelier, which can also be seen from the entry way, meaning we need to tie the two lights together. The light also had a ton of character and was the perfect rusty finish giving it an informal, fun feel. Sounds perfect, right? Wrong. The light wasn’t set up for electrical. Good thing I have a crafty husband! The price tag of $28, which I talked down to $20, further convinced me that I should just buy it and figure out the logistics later. If Chris can’t hook it up, we can always put candles in it and use it outside in our future deck/pergola plans. But, let’s keep our fingers crossed that Chris can figure this out because this guy is a beaut!!


And look at this table! Swoon worthy. I was a fan of this table the minute I laid eyes on it, desperately thinking of a room it could call home. I delayed purchasing because of the fact that this 8 ft monster wouldn’t fit in my little sedan. Sad day. But it worked out because the mission style table wouldn’t have fit in with our current living room styling. It was for the better… or that’s what I keep telling myself to help get over the loss.

After cleaning the dust from our shoes, packing up, and grabbing a last lunch in the town of Brenham, my mom and I walked by this cute antique store with a variety of mismatched chairs on the sidewalk. I saw this one chair, paint peeling, cushion missing, all alone and knew it had my name written all over it. It was listed for $29 but I managed to scoop it up for $25. It will be the perfect addition to our mismatched chair set at the kitchen table. I’m trying to decide what color I want to paint it and what fabric to use for the cushion. I’m also researching how to create a seat cushion from scratch so stay tuned for the fun that ensues with that…


All in all, it was a pretty successful trip. I picked up some great items and only spent $60! My mom found some nice pieces too, including a hand carved small side table from the late 1800s and a giant “O” to hang from a tree on their country property. You know how much I love letters so I’m a big fan. Until next year, Round Top.

If you haven’t seen my breakdown of this year’s Round Top trends, read about them here!


What is all this stuff?

But wait, there’s more!  Check out our post about the trends of the Fall 2011 Round Top show here and/or find our complete survivor’s guide to staying and shopping in Round Top here.


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The Magic of Round Top: Part One


Now that my feet have rested up and my wallet has cooled off a little, I figured I’d sit down and rehash a trip with my mom to Round Top.  For those of you that haven’t heard of Round Top, let me put it this way.  Round Top is…

– The biggest little town in Texas

– The home of the largest antiques show in Texas and one of the largest in the nation

– The latest shopping victim conquest of my mom and I

Don’t let the population of 77 fool you.  This festival has its pulse on the new trends of interior design even though it’s smack-dab in the middle of no where.  So what was hot this year?  Well, take a look.

  • Roman numeral glass jars.  My favorite ones were from Spain and had the city of import printed on the neck of the bottle.  Of course I favored the Barcelona one.  I’m not sure what the meaning behind the roman numerals is but it’s definitely a cool look.  Some jars were even paired with a wicker basket, but it covered up the roman numerals so I liked them by themselves more.  One booth used them as a dining room table-scape.  I thought it was a great idea and has inspired me to recreate this on our dining room table.  Stay tuned for that project.

  • Hands, hands and more hands!  And the award to the creepiest Round Top commonality goes tooooo… the raised hands!  Seriously, I saw these everywhere.  Skinny fingers, fat fingers, short wrists, long wrists.  Yes, there was some major Dr. Seuss-ness going on with these.  Not surprising, but I refrained from purchasing one of these little guys even with their “pick me” attitudes.
  • Junk Design. For all my fellow Picker Sisters fans, you know what I’m talking about.  For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s the latest trend in furniture: turning junk into functional home furnishings.  I saw quite the array of junk turned design, from chain link lamps to rooster yard art made from lawn tools to pendant lights made from attic vents to benches made from blinds.



  • Subway Inspired.  I saw one booth where the artist turned subway stops into everything from art to chair upholstery to pillows.  A really cool idea especially for the more modern spaces.
  • Unique Lights.  Designers are turning anything and everything into usable lights.  I saw pendants made of stars, clear/industrial sconces, and wire form pendants.


  • And now for the weirdest things I stumbled upon in Round Top: a hot air balloon basket (but no balloon in site), a plain looking blue mannequin, and the saddest/weirdest site of all- the place furniture goes to die.  I just wanted to rescue all the forlorn looking pieces but, sadly, it wasn’t possible.  Maybe next year.
Now, I bet you’re wondering about all the loot I scored.  Patience, young grasshopper.  I’ll divulge all next time!His.

I went to Round Top last year and let me tell you, this year was infinitely better. Why, you ask? Because while Julie and her mom were partaking in a ritualistic pilgrimage to a town that otherwise wouldn’t exist for what is effectively second-hand dumpster-diving, I stayed home and went mountain biking.

While Julie was meandering through “repurposed” (see: lipstick on a pig) junk to find the latest lamp made of… whatever, I was carving through the woods at unflagging speeds, narrowly dodging large trees and small animals. As she picked through piles of what was once (and should still be) discarded lawn equipment, I was hopping over exposed tree roots and sailing through downhill sections with ease. You see, Julie’s main hobby has always been shopping, mine has always been doing really dangerous things on bicycles (sorry, Mom).

My point here is that all in all, this trip was a phenomenal success; Julie spent very little money on whatever it was that she bought, and I didn’t have to go. I suffered through Round Top last year and almost died at Canton this year (I literally almost died in a medical way… not to be confused with the “Oh my God that flower pot was so cute I almost died!” context you typically hear about in Canton), so I’ve earned my Patient Husband Merit Badge and can now move on. I wish I could explain to you just how much I hate these things, but the English language doesn’t have words to properly express it.

So if you see me at an antiques show in the future, call the coroner… because someone has dragged my dead body there.

Want more Round Top?  You’re in luck!  Check out our post on all the loot we scored here and/or check out our guide to surviving and scoring big in Round Top here.


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Canton Oh Canton!


Sunburnt, exhausted, deliriously happy.  That pretty much sums up my post-Canton feelings.  Chris and I traveled to the bustling town of Canton, TX (a whopping population of 5,000) this weekend to check out First Monday Trade Days.  I’ve been wanting to head down there for over a year but always seemed to have something scheduled for the one weekend the event occurs every month.  Finally, Texas spring ends, the 100-degree weather starts, and one of our weekends finally clears up.  I decided not to mention to Chris that a majority of the event was non-air conditioned and outside… oops.

The heat kept the crowds away, which was nice, but, boy, was it hot.  I’ve been told by everyone and their mothers (especially their mothers) what great deals and unique items you can find at First Monday.  I wasn’t let down.  Not only was it fantastic people watching, but I stumbled upon the greatest finds.  The long drive and sweltering heat was so worth it (no matter what Chris says).  I am now, however, at the mercy of Chris’ continuous banter of “you owe me’s.”


This was the most miserable experience of my life.

If you’ve ever been to a swap meet, you know what Canton is like. The difference is that instead of old car parts, people are hocking “antiques”… or at least stuff that’s manufactured to look antique. I suppose I should clarify by saying that there are two distinct areas in Canton: 1) the true antique booths, which is where you’ll find these fabled “good deals” if you have a few hours on your hands and can muscle your way past the white trash and 2) the retailers, which is more like a disposable shopping mall filled with overpriced junk (complete with groups of weirdos that wore matching t-shirts to commemorate the event). And guess where Julie wanted to shop.

There’s not actually enough bandwidth on the internet for me to explain exactly how much I hated this sojourn, so I’ll simply say that despite the less-than-ideal weather conditions (Julie claims she “didn’t realize” it would be so hot, nevermind she’s spent the last 23 Junes in Texas), I consider this trip to have been a success for two reasons. First, we actually did get some decent junk, including an old milk pail from a gentleman claiming to have eaten dog (see above swap meet reference) and second, I finally got Julie to shut up about going.

P.S. If I hear the phrase “shabby-chic” one more time, I going to punch someone.

Check out some of our loot!  More pics to come as soon as we figure out where to put everything!


I love this flower pot made from an old aluminum bucket.  This would be an easy, inexpensive DIY project.  The vendor selling these simply spray painted the lettering onto the bucket and added chains to turn the bucket into a hanging flower pot.  As I type this, I can’t help but laugh remembering the vendor recount the tale of eating German Shepherd at a fine dining establishment in China.  In case you’ve ever wondered what dog tastes like… apparently it tastes like alligator but not as tough.  Noted.

I found this rickety, old, wooden stool and immediately fell in love.  It wasn’t until we got home and placed the stool in the entry of our bedroom did we notice just how rickety… and crooked… this old stool was.  It doesn’t get shabbier than this but, hey, it still works as filler for a space I wasn’t sure what to do with.

If you don’t already know my affinity for letters, you soon will.  They’re scattered all over our house.  Chris jokes that if strangers came into our house not knowing our names, they soon would after taking a look around.  I even managed to pilfer one from Chris’ parents’ house (thanks Mrs. Weber!).  As I walked into this one adorable shop called The Gypsy Pearl, I knew I had met my Canton soulmate… a set of black block letters.  It look awhile to locate a J, C, and W but once I did, I knew it was fate.  They look great on our new stool!

I stumbled upon this mirror in a stack in the corner of someone’s booth.  Although I have an insane number of mirrors sitting in rooms waiting for a home, I knew I had to add this one to my collection- I mean, it’s white, distressed, and sheer perfection.  It could work in a variety of rooms.  Now, I’m just stuck with the dilemma of which room will be the lucky home for this treasure.  It may live a nomadic life for the next few weeks until I figure it out.


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