Box of Beauty

comments: 21

Pinkbox1Yesterday, after posting about all the mail, I left for the shop and when I got there the girls had about six boxes all stacked up waiting for me. More mail! Well, mail and orders received for the shop. It was the most exciting thing to happen all day, especially since Typepad was down and I couldn't check up on everyone the way I wanted to. It took me all morning to get through the boxes -- if only all mornings were filled with such work! -- and at the bottom this, the pink box of beauty.

At first I didn't know who it was from because it was shipped from a UPS store and it had the UPS store's return addy. (I must say, though, they used the most adorably diminutive pink peanuts to fill the box and packed it very, very well.) But then I remembered that Lisa O., who lives in NYC, was going to Tinsel Trading to do a little freelance shopping just for me. Yes, I am a bumpkin, a hayseed who has never been to New York! Fear of Flying is such an inconvenient phobia when it comes to getting the cool millinery flowers you want, I tell you! But not if you have a Lisa O. who offers to fill up a box of beauty for you! Thank you, Princess Lisa O!

Pinkbox2 Oh joy, it was bursting with petals. And ladylike little pouches stitched by Lisa to hold all the tiny stars, tinsel trees, paper flowers, extremely tiny buttons, vintage wallpaper pieces, pad of crown-printed paper, and little bundles of fabric from Purl Patchwork. (Lovely job on those photos, Leisl!) The box was like opening a little tiny treasure chest. Every little thing was wrapped and tucked and waiting to be discovered. It made me think of doing something similar for my nephew Perry, who turns four in a few days. (I had grand plans for making him four stuffies, but time is quickly running out, as usual.) But it would be fun to have a little box filled with four of a bunch of different things -- four pieces of candy, four balls, four coloring books, four cars, four little animals, etc., all wrapped individually. I'm not sure what four-year-old boys like. I think they like little stuff that they can carry around, don't they?

TinseltradingbookIf you haven't heard of Tinsel Trading, this place is incredible. They've been featured in lots of magazines, and whenever you see cool notions and trims and flowers that you've never seen before, and you think, "Good grief! Where did they get that?" and you turn to the back of the mag to check, chances are the stuff came from Tinsel Trading. The story of the store (and its sister stores), written by the granddaughter of the man who started the company in 1933, is so incredibly charming I can hardly stand it. My favorite line from it is "As the years went by, my grandfather found out that not everyone was interested in metal trims." What?!?! Who are they? Anyway, the man was obsessed with trims, and he bought boxes and boxes and boxes -- like an unbelievable number of boxes -- all stored in the basement of the shop, some for over seventy years. After he died, Marcia began trying to organize the incredible amount of inventory he left behind, and she also purchased the contents of a barn filled with millinery flowers from the '40s. A whole barn. Anyway, it's too much to tell here -- it's like a fairy tale, somehow. And they have a book coming out this month, which will be featured on Martha on Friday. I lifted this picture from the book from their web site -- I hope they don't mind. But aren't these slippies pretty? I would never wear them, I would just set them out like this, and look for that pumice stone. . . . Where is that thing. My feet would need to stay at least three yards away from these beauties.

Also, thanks to your comments I think we've got the concept for our new band, Organza Apron, pretty much complete. So far, in addition to the ukulele and pennywhistle, we will have a kazoo, cow bell (ha!), tambourine, jawharp, mouth organ, galvanized wash basin with yarn as strings and broomhandle for neck, maracas, spoons, largerphone, and of course the triangle. We will be wearing aprons, of course, and cotton lawn and Leisl J. will be dressed in Amy Butler fabrics, red lipstick, and liquid eye liner. We will make people pay us in peonies but we'll give them change in French lavender. If they must throw things at us we'd prefer rose petals. We'll sell tea towels instead of t-shirts, and of course Lisa will be our lead singer. She is a rock star.

Oh -- almost forgot -- if you sent me the Christopher Moore book and the Ann-Marie MacDonald book, can you let me know who you are? They've both come from different places, I think, but I couldn't find cards in them and I wasn't sure who they were from. But thank you!


WOW! Such beautiful things. How could I not have heard of this store?! My best friend is leaving for NY tonight and I should have told her to buy me.. everything! :)

i am already writing a love song about the barn full of vintage millenery flowers.

Lucky you, what lovely things!!!!!!

The mostest incredible package EVER! Quite simply, I believe, that this is what every girl dreams of. I have not seen anything more beautiful in my whole life!

Seccondly I do not know which would be more fun, to be in the band, to be a groupie, to be an audience member or to be the "Princess of the fan club" (president doesn't sound like any fun ... princess just makes more sense for this band)!

Everything is just beautiful. I must say I am so glad to have come across your blog... I learn new things every day...
Your box is just fabulous!

Oh my!Tinsel Trading would be worth boarding a plane for!I love Mr B!!Great link thanks.

Thanks for the info on tinsel trading - what a place! I love your idea for your nephew - what kid doesn't love a whole box of packing peanuts to root through? (I would recommend, though, that you do something nice for mom - having tried to pick up packing peanuts strewn throughout the house is not so much fun). Anyway, you're right that 4 year olds like stuff they can carry around. My four year old is majorly fond of matchbox cars, bouncy balls, marker pens (not crayons!) and card games - he carries a pack of mini-cards in his backpack at all times. Never know when you'll need to play "go fish", right?


Your band sounds so completely charming. I want to read a book about a band like that.

And I can not thank you for showing us the Tinsel Trading Company because now all I want to do is go there! I would kill for some of that metal thread and fabric.

Who do you have to kill to get mail like that? If I say "beautiful" one more time, my mouth is going to seize up on me.

oh, I DO try not to comment so often, but I just can't resist responding to Meg...who is right above me, I think. The thought of having my mouth seize up has me chuckling! I was sure something like that would happen to me about the word "cute". Now I, too, say beautiful (and lovely) so often when I'm reading this precious blog that I'm in danger of the same calamity on a daily basis! And, Alicia, I love knowing you have such wonderful treasures to enjoy....especially since you're such a treasure to so many of us.

I've lived in New York for ten years and somehow
missed Tinsel Trading. When I did finally get there
about six weeks ago I was completely unprepared
for the experience. After the initial wonder induced brain freeze wore off I got a lots of amazing stuff. I think it was the greatest retail experience of my life.
It's worth the trip.
Love your blog.

Great post!
I love reading your blog. It is just so luxueious and pretty. I am envious of your job!

Ok, my mail consisted of a gas bill, a credit card statement and a letter assuring me that I had just won $10,000...I think I am doing something wrong...

I remember reading about Tinsel Trading in 'Victoria' magazine which sadly is no longer published!
Oh how I long to visit NYC again! You have to grab your man and go Alicia!! Im sure u will have a ball!!
I found this cool blog - a guy taking pics of strangers in the street cause he likes their NYC style

Tinsel Trading Company is like a candy store for adults. I am afraid to fly also but what a reward that shoppping spree was :) *Sigh*

Tinsel Trading. What a fabulous shop! I'm off to book a flight to NY right now!

I can't keep up with your posts, but I see you've been feeling sick, I do hope you feel better now. I want to read every tiny detail of this weeks posts by you but I have such sore eyes from teh shock of all the sunshine that I can't read much writing, but I'm enjoying your pictures!

Too funny, i am watching that Martha episode as i write this and wanted to see where it was. I got sidetracked on the computer, came to see your blog, and you also mention Tinsel Trading! Weird!

Love Tinsel Trading! I haven't been there for a couple of years but my husband just got a job in NYC so I'm looking forward to visiting again. I'll just commute in with him - he can go to work and I'll go shopping :)

Thank you to Alicia for posting my shop - Tinsel Trading! & to all future customers. I look forward to meeting every one of you.

I think your dream band has become a reality: have you seen the Au Revoir Simone videos? Specifically, "Fallen Snow"? How quickly can you grow your hair long & learn to play keyboard?

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at