Downtown Abbey returns to Assistance League of Irvine!

Alas, blog readers, the demise of “Downton Abbey” has left us with a gaping hole in our hearts, not to mention the gaping hole in our Sunday night TV schedule. You need something to remind you of Downton and the Crawleys. Something you can hold and touch while you reminisce about the past six seasons. Something – from the thrift shop!

Nothing was more symbolic of Downton than afternoon tea, and right now we have an absolutely wonderful collection of china teacups. One or two of these teacups and a pot of Twinings, and you’ll be transported to Yorkshire (at far less cost than air fare).

Our jewelry department features many, many vintage-inspired pieces that will make you feel like you’re back in the Roaring 20’s, watching Edith and Mary sparring at a dinner party.

Speaking of dinner parties, we have several sets of china place-card holders that would have been right at home in Downton Abbey. (Very handy for matchmaking or keeping frenemies at different ends of the table. If the romantic entanglements of your friends are anything like those at Downton, you need these things.)

We don’t have any pigs, but we DO have a pitcher and matching salt-and-pepper shakers in the shape of cows. They’re not Mr. Mason’s pigs, but they take a lot less work!

And since we all need something to do with that hour on Sunday night – try one of our books or DVDs.

Your writer personally believes that in about five years Julian Fellowes will relent and write a sequel, but in the meantime, we can all keep calm and carry on – with the help of our thrift shop mementos.

Get your China in Irvine

Do you have the kitchen blahs? Do you leave your dirty dishes sitting on the counter for days because, well, you’re tired of looking at those counters? Find yourself gazing wistfully at pictures of exotic appliances on Pinterest? Dream about a kitchen remodel?

 

Perhaps because we spend so much time in them, kitchens are the most popular remodeling project. But they’re not cheap! The 2014 U.S. Cost v. Value Report shows the average cost of a high-end kitchen remodel is now $62,183! In some parts of the country, you could buy a whole HOUSE for that!

For those of us who are tired of our kitchens but don’t have $62,000 lying around, we have a solution. Don’t change your kitchen – just change your dishes! Serving meals on a brand-new (to you) set of china is an affordable way to cope with the kitchen blahs. And right now at the ALI thrift shop, we have an AMAZING selection of china, with many complete or nearly-complete sets. The prices are too varied to list here, but DEFINITELY less than $62,000. Come in and see for yourself! “Grand Buffet” by Charter Club: 12 white plates edged in gold (these would be a great buy for your holiday entertaining).

English Ironstone dishes from Alfred Meekin, white plates with blue rims and matching blue cups and bowls: These would be great summer luncheon dishes – 11 lunch plates, 11 dessert plates, 11 cereal bowls, 10 smaller fruit bowls, 12 cups, 13 saucers.

AND if you like to mix and match your china, we have a number of 3-plate sets (dinner plate, salad, dessert) from Villeroy & Boch, Dansk, Wedgwood, and Royal Albert.

REMEMBER, EVERYTHING AT THE THRIFT SHOP IS ONE-OF-A-KIND. IF SOMETHING ON THIS LIST INTERESTS YOU, VISIT THE SHOP QUICKLY OR IT MAY BE GONE!

"Poppy Trail" by Mattox:  Antique-looking blue flowered dishes, partial set.
“Poppy Trail” by Mattox: Antique-looking blue flowered dishes, partial set.
"Wheaten," by Noritaki (vintage 1950s pattern):  An almost full service for 12!
“Wheaten,” by Noritaki (vintage 1950s pattern): An almost full service for 12!
"Sabrina" by Sango:  Blue and light green pattern on white, and almost a full service for 8.
“Sabrina” by Sango: Blue and light green pattern on white, and almost a full service for 8.
"Victorian Flowers," by Sarma Studios of Japan:  8 place settings PLUS an 8-piece canister set, soup bowls and soup tureens, coffee and tea pots, casserole dish, and more.
“Victorian Flowers,” by Sarma Studios of Japan: 8 place settings PLUS an 8-piece canister set, soup bowls and soup tureens, coffee and tea pots, casserole dish, and more.
White dishes from Crate & Barrel:  8 dinner plates, 8 salad plates, 6 bowls, 5 mugs.
White dishes from Crate & Barrel: 8 dinner plates, 8 salad plates, 6 bowls, 5 mugs.

Add high-end sparkle to your holiday table for pennies

Remember the china department at Bullock’s? The crystal displays at Robinson’s? The sterling silver serving trays at Bullocks Wilshire?

I spent hours in these department stores when I was growing up, looking at china and crystal patterns, especially the holiday dishes.  My ambition was to have a set of china for each holiday  – Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving!

Most of the year, I’m content with my casual microwave-safe dishes.  But when the holiday season comes, I want something more – the tradition, the elegance, the sparkle of fine china, crystal, and silver.  And where can we find these things, now that we no longer have Bullock’s and Robinson’s?

The Assistance League of Irvine thrift shop! We always have a selection of crystal and glassware, silver, and china.  Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking for something to fill in with what you already have, we have lovely pieces that would be perfect for your holiday table.  Especially if you need serving dishes, platters, vases, or candlesticks, the thrift shop is the place to look.

We, regretfully, don’t have a tea room like Bullock’s Wilshire did, but you’ll probably save enough shopping with us to go out to dinner somewhere else.

Lorren-Home-Trends-RCR-Laurus-Crystal-Vase-11*Check out tips on how to clean your crystal:

  • It’s important to always use just-warm water, not hot. And never rinse with cold water. Extreme temperatures can cause cracks or breakage.
  • Instead of using the vinegar and water rinse solution above, you can also try a splash or two of ammonia in warm water. This also helps fight cloudiness and spotting on your glassware.
  • Only wash crystal and delicate glass that is first at room temperature and don’t fill with liquid or beverages until the pieces have returned to room temperature after cleaning.
  • Allowing to air dry encourages calcium, mineral deposits and hard water buildup that can eventually cause the glass to become cloudy. Always dry with a soft, clean cloth.