What a fantastic weekend in the country! Jaithan and I, together with our friends Austin and Casey Fremont, arrived late last night after visiting our friend Ricky Pannell at his parents’ country house in Maryland. Ricky, by the way, owns the legendary beauty parlor Snip N Sip down in the Village. He’s a super talented hair stylist and an awesome host! His parents’ house was quite charming too, full of great antiques, with stunning views of the Chesapeake Bay. On our way down, while stopping for gas off Route 213, we came across a strip mall with one of my favorite places to find unexpected treasures: The Dollar Store. Now in New York City at least, just because there’s a sign out front that says Dollar Store doesn’t mean everything’s a dollar! So with a little time to spare, this store I just had to check out.

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Wow…three of my favorite things, all in one place: Tabletop, Accessories…and Candy!

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Check out these cool white plates with a black rim—simple and chic.

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Pair them with a cotton placemat like this, a glass of red wine, and it’s the perfect setting, French Bistro style!

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I love using antique dish towels as napkins. They’re simple, pretty and usually just the right size. These white flour sack towels from the Dollar Store would make perfect napkins for so many table settings. My friend Austin scooped up eight of them!

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These glass covered candied dishes I adored as well. I just love the idea of finding something for 99 cents that you can wash and reuse for any number of things. For an inexpensive, stylish hostess gift, fill it with chocolates, then tie a bow with beautiful silk cord. Soaps in a powder room would be pretty too. Or do what I’d do and use it for individual soups. The shape is almost like an acorn, perfect for serving butternut squash soup at a fall dinner party.

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How perfect are these simple white plates? And for 99 cents, the price even beats IKEA!

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Mix them with a versatile glass like this, simple flatware and a pretty striped dish towel for a napkin, and it’s the perfect setting for any casual meal. Brunch is one of my favorites, and these glasses would be so great for mimosas and bloody marys, don’t you think? They’re the perfect shape to compliment any collection of stemware, antique or otherwise. Who knew the dollar store had so many simple, stylish options for setting tables?

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And unlike the stores here in New York, this one definitely lived up to its name!  It’s like I always say (and how I live!)—it doesn’t have to be expensive to be beautiful.

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I must have been channeling some pretty good karma on budget entertaining because right across the street was one of my favorite places to shop—the Goodwill! Just like the flea market, you never know what you’ll find!

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Now I’ve been to quite a few Goodwill stores, and this one was definitely among the cleanest and most organized. I like to head straight for the tabletop aisles because that’s what I love most. Plus, it always amazes me how beautiful (and valuable) the stuff can be that people give away! Take this old ironstone pudding mold I found from Germany.

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I think the sunflower shape is so pretty, don’t you? This I’d use either for a flower arrangement or for serving a simple seasonal side dish like velvety Mashed Sweet Potatoes.   

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These individual serving dishes were great too. My friend Austin picked these up right under my eyes! Now I can’t wait to go to her place for one of our favorite winter (spring, summer and fall) comfort foods—warm, delicious individual mac and cheese! How good does that sound?

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I love how much pride this Goodwill takes in helping the community…not to mention that everything’s arranged by color!

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Speaking of, I love a calming color palette and for that, you just can’t beat milk glass! These vases had such a pretty shape, don’t you think? Come Christmas, they’re going to be perfect on the fireplace mantle filled with green and white variegated holly and (my favorite!) red carnations. Talk about beautiful and inexpensive. I’d tie a pretty bow on each, then mix in votive candles for a warm, ambient glow. 

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Here’s another great find for holiday entertaining—a big, beautiful footed silverplate bowl. Polish it up and it would be perfect for serving a Thanksgiving crowd pleaser like Chestnut Stuffing. This recipe’s a personal favorite from Sarah Moulton. I worked on her show years ago when I was at Food Network! 

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Of all my Goodwill finds, this was by far the best. It’s a set of eight early American pressed glass goblets and cordials. And get this—they were 79 cents a glass! I was so excited to find them, I nearly caused a scene! How great are these going to look at a table setting, paired with some of my antique bone handle knives from the flea market here in town?

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I was on my way up to the counter when I found even more great stuff. Check out this crystal decanter! Back in the day, a lot of them were made without stoppers, but I still think they’re totally useful—and pretty! If you ask me, decanting makes anything feel more special. Of course, I love it for wine on a bar like my fluted column table, but I think it’s equally great for mixers like cranberry or orange juice too. It just feels so rich to use a crystal decanter for something so ordinary as orange juice!

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And for my last find, check out these pressed glass leaf dishes from the 40s. How great are these when you’re entertaining, especially around this time of year? For a fall cocktail party, I used porcelain leaf dishes to serve crispy coconut shrimp with a curry dipping sauce. These I’d chill and use for crudité. That way, the vegetables stay nice and cold.

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So excited for all my finds…

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And I always wrap everything up carefully so they make it home safely.

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A boxful of treasures from the most unlikely of places, don’t you think? Now if only they’d had costumes in my size!

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And as soon as we got to Ricky’s gorgeous place on the water (look for a post this evening!), I couldn’t wait to unpack my finds. Check out those pretty silver handle salad utensils I scored as well. And I love the little vintage saw on the right. Once that’s all cleaned up, how perfect is that going to be for serving a delicious hard cheese? Very industrial chic.

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So as much as I love the flea market for buying antiques, I’m a firm believer that beautiful, inexpensive things are everywhere around us, whether
at the Dollar Store on the corner, your local Goodwill, or even your own attic! All it takes is a little creativity and imagination.

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