Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vintage Window Shopping

Friend Kristy and I met for lunch Monday and a quick look into Main Street antique and second-hand stores. Monday is a good day for lunch, because it's less crowded in the restaurants, but not-so-ideal for vintage shopping because about half the stores are closed on Monday. Drat. Still, I found some good stuff at the local furniture consignment shop. None of it came home with me, but you know--it's the thrill of the hunt!

A nice full-sized Broyhill bed, $75.  I don't know what style this is. It's not Brasilia:

A clean-lined dresser with unusual, fun hardware:

About 8 pieces of crewel work design. I took pictures of only two of them, but there was a variety, much of it Pennsylvania Dutch inspired. Some collector is going to score big!

Two avocado kitchen chairs. I was tempted, since my kitchen will be an avocado green 1960s-1970s color scheme. But these were covered in a rather high maintenance, satiny fabric that would be a disaster after a few months with young children in the house. I gave them a pass so they could be adopted by the right home!

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Summer Green Scarf

Are they leaves? Or limes? Maybe lime leaves?
I've never considered myself much of a scarf person. I think it's because I was a teen in the 80's. Scarves in loud pastels and lurex threads hit the back of the dark closet of shame along with too much eyeliner (on both women AND men), lace fingerless gloves, leg warmers, and other fashion disasters of that era. 

Until now. I've recently had passed down to me a few scarves from the 50s and 60s, and I'm finding I love them for scooping up hair on bad hair days or adding a bit of color to my face when I've hit the brown or black too hard with my major wardrobe pieces (one of my most common fashion faux pas in the winter). 

This one pictured above arrived in the mail last week from Etsy seller Vintage View. I love all the different summery greens in the leafy, citrusy graphic pattern.

Another great thing? The seller popped a freebie in the mailer, an old costume brooch with a broken clasp. I don't know what I'm doing with it yet, but it might be great to re-purpose for the pocket of a home made purse or a similar project. Such a neato surprise, I think, but I'm rather raccoon-like in my tendencies--I like shiny stuff.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer Sunday: Cherry Cake

What do you do when you've got a bag of Bing cherries that are a bit past the perfect stage of fresh to eat as they are? You make cake. You make cake in a pie plate, to be exact.

This recipe is good, quick, and easy. You can really put on the dog with a scoop of cherry ice cream, though I like whipped cream on my fruit cakes. This is good with blackberries too, or any fruit that gives up a lot of juice when it bakes.

Let me correct myself. The CAKE is good, quick, and easy. If you're going with cherries for this baby, you need to either go with a bag of frozen ones, or pit your own. I hope you have a cherry pitter, or a system, because I had neither.

I used to have a little plastic one cherry-one pit sort of gadget, and it did the job, though it was hardly sufficient to knocking out a few cases of fresh cherries for jam or pie filling. It must have been one of those untold dozens of little insignificant items I lost in the divorce. Insignificant, that is, until I needed to pit myself some cherries.

Pitting cherries. It only looks like murder.

Looking on line, I found little hints like using a bent paper clip or using a pastry tip to get the pits out, but they were all equally messy and none of them as good as simply bisecting the cherry with my good paring knife and flicking the pit out with the blade tip. The rest of it was easy as, well, cake. It's Warm Almond-Cherry Cake, and you can find the recipe on Martha Stewart's website here. Add it to your list of go-to recipes for summer and for company. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Floored By a Washer

I could have had this washer at a flea market for $65. And it still worked. 

Appliances are sentient beings with evil intent. Just when you've got some big idea about how you're going to spend your money purtyin' up the house one way, they blow a gasket in another. No, really. Have you been talking to your significant other out loud about how much you'd love to go shopping for a new couch? Your refrigerator heard you, and I'm telling you, it's up to no good.

I've got a no-brand name apartment-size washer that came with the house, and while it's not really big enough for a family of five and kind of a water hog for its size, it worked, and we went with it.

Last couple of weeks, the bleach dispenser has dispensed bleach to more than one load with disastrous results, and also leaked out the bottom ruining a pile of towels that were on the floor awaiting the next load. The fabric softener dispenser is also leaking out the bottom of the washer too, and other rinky-dink things are beginning to go wrong with it, like little dead spots in the cycle dial.

Earlier this month I'd spent a great deal of time pestering my family, friends, and readers with little brown floor samples. I mean, what kind of person am I who asks the people I care about to discern between 20 different shades of tan? Yeah. Me. I should be whacked smartly about the head with a vinyl tile square.

New kitchen flooring is being put on hold for the time being. Because of the washer. It's still chugging along, but I feel that it's giving me signs of a more spectacular future collapse; what with its age and indifferent quality, I am not about to invest any money in repairing it.

Budgets being what they are (or in this case, being what they aren't), priorities had to be realigned with my bleach-hiccuping washer in mind (and I shake my fist in its general direction). The new kitchen floor will have to wait.

The kitchen, however, will not. We'll just have to move on to one of the lower cost, do-able items on the list, like paint. We will get the kitchen shaped up taking a slightly different path.

                          Source: flickr.com via Laura on Pinterest

On the downside, this wasn't in the plans. On the upside, with my local utility due to stiffly increase water rates over the next few years, it's probably a good time for me to invest in a water-saving front loader.

I'll be picking up the paintbrush instead over the next weeks. Onward!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lamp Link: Lamp History and Fan Mail

Table lamp from Aladdin Lamp Co., from Etsy Seller Klassyglassandmore.
It's one of the few times readers will see me feature a yellow lamp, since yellow isn't always my favorite color. But ain't she pretty? Couldn't you just see this in your grandma's bedroom? Exactly. This one's part of a pair of Aladdin alacite glass lamps for sale on Etsy by seller Klassyglassandmore. 

I picked out this lamp in particular as this week's feature link because I got some fan mail. Okay, not really. It probably doesn't count as "fan mail," because it was from my Dad. Hi, Dad! (waves). But he reads my blog, cheers me on, and in one instance helped out as the history buff he is by correcting an overlooked fact error (which just proved to me that I should not be writing blog posts at 3 a.m.)

Dad sent me the clipping of a story that ran recently in the Springfield, Missouri News-Leader about a lady who collects vintage lamps made by the Aladdin Lamp Company. A LOT of lamps. The reporter doesn't mention in the article exactly how many (telling details, writers!), but even making a rough count of what I could see in the published photos, there were dozens and dozens. 

I don't have it that bad for lamps--yet. I have this requirement that I have some need for lighting before I allow my affection for old lamps to run amok. This obviously lovely woman was selling her collection at the National Association of Aladdin Lamp Collector's 23rd Annual International Antique Lamp Show and Sale, which is going to be hosted in Springfield August 3 and 4. The article is also a very nice overview about the history of this particular lamp company. In the larger picture we often have so little history about older small domestic manufactured goods like lamps, and so few were labeled, it's good to know we have a this knowledge base from all the devoted Aladdin collectors. The link to the article in the News-Leader is here if you're interested in learning more. Anybody reading close enough to Springfield to hop in for a peek? 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tiki Table

I came home with one thing from my shopping trip in Georgia earlier this month. While at Kudzu in Decatur, I found lots of Mid-century goodies.

This was a refreshing change from the Midwestern state where I live. It's largely agricultural and so is its history. This means that for the most part, people lived in small towns and rural locations, and tended to be traditional in tastes rather than trendy or modern. It shows in the antiques and vintage stuff you find around my region. You're not gonna find a lot of mod, atomic stuff here. Not that that's a bad thing. Just the way it is.

But I enjoyed getting to an entirely different part of the country, an entirely different set of tastes, and a definitely more urban selection of vintage eye-candy. This tiki-style coffee table not only caught my eye; it came home with me.

I dance-partnered it up with a couple of my front patio chairs for the sake of photos, but it's intended to end up on my now off-limits (due to extreme ugliness with a vengeance) back screen porch. Back behind the new coffee table you can see a little metal side table I found in the trash many, many years ago.

Here's another view:

What caught my fancy? The funky shape of the top, and the very unusual legs. I've never really seen anything quite like it. The curved placement of all the leg pieces at each end make it look a little wonky at some angles, but it is actually symmetrical. Inspecting underneath, it looks like it was once blonde wood, styled to look like bamboo. Someone somewhere along the line stained it a dark reddish, muddy looking stain (sob!) and then later someone painted it the current green color. It doesn't seem to have any manufacturing markings. It doesn't appear bad at all in the photos, but in person the paint color has sort of this aggressive glow that might cause retina damage in the wrong lighting. It will probably stay green, but might need a shade slightly healthier to the eyes.

The price tag was $34. What do you think, friends? 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lamp Love: Earthy Ceramics

I found this big green and gold behemoth at Kudzu in Decatur, Georgia. I'm imagining this fella weighs  50 pounds; he's made out of thick ceramic, green glazed with gold highlights. I think he was over 2 feet long total--he'd be great for the foyer of a 1960s or 1970s split- or multi-level home, as long as he was secured well so as not to squash the kiddos or the dog. I even think this lamp would look good in the right kind of modern home, if it was concentrating on high-end natural textures. I liked the hand-made clay look to it (though I am pretty sure it was commercially manufactured), the earthy colors and the sheer size of this lamp. Sometimes when I find something this wonderful while vintage shopping, it makes me want to buy it just to make sure that it finds just the right venue, just the right home for it's wonderful-ness, even if it that venue isn't with me. It's a good thing I don't have the kind of bank account where I can indulge this kind of madness!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Kitchen: More Flooring Options

It would appear that what I'm really trying to do with this post is find out how many more times my blog readers will tolerate being asked to look at little brown squares of flooring samples before quietly going away out of boredom or irritation.


How many more times can you look at little brown squares, m'dear? Four times?

There's four today. Then I promise to go away until I come up with something more entertaining. And colorful. Though I make no apologies for brown. It's a lovely color.

As I mentioned in a post last week, I'm on the hunt for some product after I realized that all I have left to do in the kitchen is paint, flooring, and curtains.

In another, even earlier post, I thanked my mom for literally weeks of cleaning, stripping, staining, and varnishing these cabinets, which I was able to date in another post to no later than 1972, when they were discontinued. Note the swell cabinet label, on the sink apron:

We also installed new countertops of Sand Crystall, by Formica

note: this has much less pinkish/reddish tones than are showing on a computer monitor
We didn't try to imitate a past era with the counter edges. I had to move quickly to get the house habitable, and there was no time for what my family might have termed "showin' off." I did try to pick a pattern that at least loosely imitated those speckled laminates from the 60s and 70s. 

Now more recently in this post, I got down to perusing some floor ideas, initially disheartened finding my first, favorite choice had been discontinued. 

Now on further searching, I've come up with these possibilities: 
1. Vivendi Collection, Blockprint in Ginseng
Natural Creations Mystix, Casablanca Cardamom3. Rejuvenations Ambigu4. Rejuvenations Stone Run
1. Vivendi Collection, Blockprint in Ginseng, from Mannington's commercial line
2. Natural Creations Mystix, Casablanca Cardamom, from Armstrong's commercial line.
3. Rejuvenations Ambigu, from Armstrong's commercial line.
4. Rejuvenations Stone Run, from Armstrong's commercial line.

The source links to these images are in the collage caption. 

My comments:
I like #3 the least of the four. I think because the pattern seems too similar in intensity to the countertop.
#4 has some similarities to the discontinued pattern I love, but it isn't a truly "arabesque" shape Mediterranean style. It reminds me of Girl Scout trefoils! Putting aside the troop associations, it's probably more french provincial style. 
I'm probably most attracted to #2. It's an 18-inch tile, which is whopping huge, but the floor space in my kitchen is quite expansive, so it would probably be okay. 

I think that my choice of flooring has to be either a solid or a something that "reads" like a solid, like #1, or something with a large, prominent pattern, like #2. It seems like these two extremes are the only two things that provide enough contrast to the medium range busy-ness or "peppery" look of the countertop. I realize too, that I'm going to have to drag home samples to see what really "works" with the countertop colors and the wood tones. It's that test that really counts, because computer monitor colors are terribly deceiving. 

If readers are wondering why a woman who loves color seems to be spreading brown up and down (slight apologies to Dr. Seuss), it's coming. It's going to go on the walls in the form of bright avocado green, and some very colorful and large-patterned curtains made of vintage fabric--gold, avocado, russet, orange, curry, blue, and lime green. Oh, and the tchotchkes. I'm all about the tchotchkes. 

There. No more little brown squares. I promise. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Air-cooled Housekeeping

At some point in the last week I got tired of exploring the endless varieties of pasta salad and cole slaw. Tired of gaging how many more times I could serve chef salad to the crew without open rebellion (mine and theirs. I hate washing lettuce). Tired of nothing but popsicles and rice krispie treats, our go-to no cook desserts.

Sunday morning I cranked the air-conditioner down five degrees, tied on an apron (in fact, the one I wrote about here), and got my Becky Home-ecky on. By afternoon, I had a peach-almond pound cake, and a pan of brownies for lunch boxes out of the oven. I also whipped a batch of beer-wheat pizza dough, and baked us up some homemade pizzas for Sunday supper.

While I was at it, I picked up clutter, dusted, vacuumed, ran the dishwasher, the washer, and--don't tell the power company-- the dryer, which I have been trying to avoid running except at night. To hell with it. I'm feeding my family and cleaning this house in the comfort of the second greatest invention of the 20th century (the first one was antibiotics). We'll return to more sensible appliance use and conserve the air conditioning when we go back to work and activities today.

The cake plate with aluminum lid and the flour sack dishtowel are from my personal collection. And you can head on over to Taste of Home's website for their peach pound cake recipe.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Retro-spotting in Georgia

My sister and I have six boys between us, my four and her two. After taking them to aquariums and swimming pools and science centers during our vacation, we managed to sneak away for most of a day. A day which included retro wonderfulness and margaritas as big as your head.

Since I was more in the mood to move with agility (well, up until the margarita point, but that was AFTER shopping) in stores without lugging around my Canon, and because I wanted to enjoy the day as a lady who lunches with her sister instead of a blogger thinking "Content! Content! Content!" everywhere I went, I just snapped photos with my cell phone. Most of these are from Kudzu, in Decatur, Georgia.

While it's far from content with an exclamation point when it comes to the blog, it's enough for a peek at our day.

1. "Mohawk," a B-move poster from 1956. "An exciting saga torn from the flaming pages of history!!!" What a hoot.

2. Mid-century ashtrays so cool they make me want to smoke cigarettes....CANDY cigarettes.

3. Swanky little green desk.

4. Gin Rickey? Cosmopolitan? Long Island Iced Tea? Glasses and caddy for drinks on the patio!

5. Too to the much. Matching vases, two kinds of marble, a brass lady making tender gestures at nothing (perhaps she also had a margarita as big as her head), a clock and well, isn't that quite enough?

6. Wood painted ponies from I don't know where for I don't know what. But pretty. Very pretty.

7. My inner snerky-humor twelve-year old couldn't help but giggle at the "Gaytime" Motorola radio. My how vocabularies have changed.

8. A drop front bar with amber glass panels below, a mirrored inside, and little brackets for drink-making supplies. A great place to store those glasses from up above yonder in this post (see #4).

I made ONE purchase during my day out and about, which I'll share with you in its own little blog post (along with a bigger, feature-y photo) next week. You may consider yourself officially teased with a teaser!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Quick and Easy Wall Art

I found this super simple display idea at Kudzu, the antique and home decor store in Decatur, Georgia. While the vendor kept it simple with the brown office-issue clipboards to complement the colors in the seashell botanical prints, you could go all sorts of directions with this. Vintage clipboards or new ones covered in vintage wallpaper scraps to tie in with the theme of the art, or the colors of the room. Spray-painted in bright colors to complement that ever-rotating display of kid's art. You could display vintage fabric swatches, advertising, old greeting cards, even doll clothes or pieces of lace with this concept. If you're the type of person who likes to change things up a lot, this might be the way to go!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Flooring Options for the Kitchen

It's obvious to me, reading back over some of my pre-vacation posts, that I'm struggling a bit with "what should I do next?" The house is only demanding 800 beejillion things be done to it, and I don't have 800 beejillion dollars or hours to dedicate to instant gratification, mine or anyone else's.

I think it amounts to home improvement stage fright. And the longer I stand here yawping, the worse it will get.

So. While I was away from this adorable yet demanding little historic cutie, I asked myself, "what room is closest to done?" I made mental to-do lists of all the rooms.

The answer was the kitchen. It needs flooring, paint, and curtains. While none of these are necessarily small items, at least there were only THREE of them.

My Mom, bless her heart, had already refinished the 1970s-era birch cabinets and their original colonial style hardware:

I've already replaced countertops, sink, faucet, and appliances (not with vintage ones, but we needed to get the kitchen functional right away).

It makes sense to me that I paint first, then have flooring installed, and then make curtains. I've already been shopping once, briefly, for flooring, only to find my pick, a Moroccan-style sheet vinyl flooring made by Tarkett, discontinued. It's a shame because it would have paid homage to the 70s cabinets, but with updated colors (the original stuff was a pretty intense orangey red. Tarkett's version came in a medium brown.).

So I've looked around online for things that might fit the vibe of the late Mid-century era. I've found some lovely vintage looking tiles like some Moroccan style from Walker-Zanger and this Moroccan Block Random Mosaic in brown from Daltile:

                                                       Source: products.daltile.com via Laura on Pinterest

Nevertheless, I don't want them on my kitchen floor. They're hard and pretty unforgiving of falling little kids, arthritic joints, and dropped dishes. I also don't want the expense or maintenance. Stripping and sealing grout annually? Not very likely.

I've found a few variable-size tile patterns in a vinyl sheet in colors that coordinate with my countertops and I hope at least whisper, a little, of the era.

I like this one, Kingsport Taupe from Tarkett:

                                                        Source: tarkettna.com via Laura on Pinterest

And I also found this one, Lumina from Armstrong:

                                                                           Source: armstrong.com via Laura on Pinterest

I wish this one came in a a color besides brick red, though it might be a tad too busy anyway. It's Livonia from Armstrong:

                                                                           Source: armstrong.com via Laura on Pinterest

I'm also drawn to this, Kyoto Brown from Armstrong, that mimics a sheet linoleum or cork flooring, and would bring an opposite look, the calm of a solid rather than the rhythm of pattern:

                                                                              Source: armstrong.com via Laura on Pinterest

My next step is to go back to the flooring gallery and take a look at actual samples. If a flooring guy can spend an afternoon at my house, then I can take care of the rest. Another room done!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lamp Love Link: Daisies

I've never seen a fiberglass shade with daisies on a vintage lamp. Doesn't this look sassy and green?

My sister and I found this cutie while out poking around shops in Georgia, and it's my lamp love link of the week. If it looks a little precarious, it's because the top of the shade came right up to the very bottom of the mirror frame hanging above it, and it's made the picture a bit odd. This lamp was found in the Green Bean Exchange, a little shop of antiques and home decor items in Cumming, Georgia.

Readers, it did NOT come home with me. I'm on a lamp buying moratorium, remember? This vacation I was sorely tested. SO many lovely mid-century lighting options!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Southern Hospitality

We arrived back "On the Doorstep," our doorstep, with five sweaty tired people, a few bags of dirty laundry, and a lot of good memories of our time in Georgia.

We talk a lot on this blog about vintage stuff, and I'm happy to report that one thing that has NOT become vintage, a thing of the past, is southern hospitality.

My sister Dyan and I spent a day running around Decatur, Georgia, and found out about Sawicki's, an organic butcher and baker. If they are a candlestick maker, I'm sure they'd be awesome at that too, because look at this beef sandwich:

Hot mustard. Spicy pickles. Happy tummy. 
Gigantic, delicious, made with fresh house made stuff in unique combinations. We might have missed the place because at first glance, it looked like a straight up butcher counter; we didn't know they were a deli and bakery. We knew about Sawicki's, whose web site is here, because of the good Southern manners of another business down the street, the New Orleans Snoball Cafe. I'd like to give a shout-out, or I guess it should be a "hey, y'all" to Jared at the Cafe, because even though we were looking for lunch and he doesn't serve lunch items, he gave us the tip for Sawicki's.

With that kind of friendliness, it seemed like we just HAD to round back to the New Orleans Snoball Cafe for dessert. They serve traditional New Orleans-style ices and other creative variations on that yummy treat. Dyan and I shared a blackberry lemon ice, which was perfect for the HOT day. (Did I mention it was something like 106 degrees the day we drove through Nashville, Tenn., on our way to Georgia? Yes m'dear, that's a reason to drag out the all caps). I appreciated Jared's friendliness to strangers in his city, his helping out another local business, and then his excellent service and food at his own. That's a class act. New Orleans Snoball Cafe's web site is here.

On another day, my sister and I took the kids to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. We arrived late morning, and found that both the 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. shows to the dolphins were full, leaving only the 3:30 p.m. show. Despite the Georgia Aquarium being big AND awesome, we somehow doubted we'd be able to kill a solid four hours there just to see the dolphin show. It was a disappointment, since one of my little boys had really wanted to see them.

We were waiting to be let into the frog exhibit, which is awesome by the way:

Tropical frogs so real they don't look, um, real. Really. 
A Georgia Aquarium employee managing the admission line chatted us up, and he asked if we'd seen the dolphin show yet. We shook our heads, explaining our dilemma. He told us we could still see them if we took the escalators up to an observation deck, no tickets necessary! Visit saved, and no disappointed little boy! I have no idea the man's name, though I've somewhat formulated in my mind Mr. Frog Hero, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. 

The Georgia Aquarium, while a great place, is also a "total zoo" in the other sense, and the food was expensive and the lines long. Poor planning on our parts, I know. We should have packed our own food, but in the busy-ness of vacation, it just didn't happen. We were headed to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum nearby, and we decided we'd cross our fingers and hope for a vending machine or nearby restaurant. 

It turned out the Carter Museum does have a cafe for visitors, but it is only open until 2 p.m. We walked in at exactly 1:55 p.m., with five boys starved out of their minds. Yikes. But a sweet elderly woman in the kitchen said, "You don't worry about it hon, we'll put some more hot dogs in for y'all. C'mon in." I could have kissed her on the cheek on the spot.

The Carter Museum is a great mini-education about our country's 39th president, not only about his political career, but also about his humanitarian work afterwards, which earned him the Nobel Prize in 2002. We not only enjoyed our time there, but earned new respect for a man whose presidency has not always been viewed in the most positive terms. Go if you find yourself in Atlanta.

My nephew, Dillon, and my son, Noah, checking out the interactive exhibit about President Carter's naval service as a submariner. 
Last but certainly not least in the "Southern Hospitality Tour 2012" is my dear sister Dyan and brother-in-law Rusty, who hosted us for a week in their home, doling out barbecue ribs and cold drinks (some with pineapple vodka in them), bandaids for boo-boos, sunscreen, tour guidance, a washer and dryer, and a place to rest our heads for the night. Thank you. We love you like biscuits and gravy, y'all.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Going Fourth

Hope all my friends and readers had a glorious Fourth!

We celebrated with my sister at the Fourth of July parade in Cumming, Georgia, which features tons (literally) of antique steam engine tractors.

I'm not a blind patriot and I know our country contains troubles and contradictions. But I like to take a moment to consider the times in our history we've had to defend our Constitution and our principles. Here's a handsome gentleman and veteran from American Legion Post #307 in Cumming as he waits for the parade to start.

And here's my twelve-year-old nephew Dillon. We've managed to keep the boys so busy that they're pooped.

Add ribs, fireworks, summer heat, swimming pools, and cool drinks. We've had a great Fourth!