Tuesday, May 31, 2011

You Might Be A Vintage House Restoration Junkie If...

Right after I woke up this morning, I did my usual check of Craigslist. Those of you who are restoring vintage homes may be familiar with the practice. My favorite section is the "free" section because lots of times, people throw out things that are very useful to those of us who love retaining and restoring old stuff - because a lot of the time, people who post these items think they're just old junk that they don't want to have to haul off to the landfill. Lucky us!

So, I noticed this morning that someone had just posted that they had a free pink toilet in great condition on their lawn free for pickup. What some might see as a threat to a neighbor's sanity reads like a golden opportunity to us. One quick holler to the Mister and he was on that very lawn within minutes and the toilet was ours. Now there may be some folks who might be saying, "Oh, Eartha! Gross! A used toilet!" but when you're in the old house restoration game, this is all par for the course. When you're restoring a vintage home, being told that there is a free vintage bathroom fixture is even more music to your ears than the ice cream truck.

(that said, I always scrub them within an inch of their life and with toilets, definitely get a new toilet seat)

This led me to think about the things that we have done since we bought this little 1956 ranch house - some of these things might ring some bells for you too if you're in our shoes and are a Vintage House Restoration Junkie.

Back to toilets. Yes, we really must! Today's find:

(Angels Singing) Free! Yes! Free!

Which is now sitting in front of this just waiting for ole Eartha to clean it:

Wouldn't you like to be our neighbors?

(more on excessive use of paint samples in a minute)

A junkie might also bring something like this home:

Without the flag and flowers...what do you take us for? Tacky?
We flushed out the pine bark nuggets and it was as good as showroom new!

And it's without shame that I admit that we restoration junkies sometimes hoard
new toilet seats in our garages:

Ahh...Venetian Pink! Just sounds like you're taking a glamorous vacation, no? Well good!
Because if you're like some of us junkies, you won't be taking a real vacation anytime soon!

Helpful Note: If you're looking for pink, try Amazon first. Blue? Try Lowe's. Don't pay a ton if you don't have to. If you're inclined to stock up (like some of us..not naming any names), you can buy several for what you'd pay for one at those fancy vintage reproduction toilet seat retailers. If you have to go that route to match your color, then by all means do. There are some great resources out there with every color under the sun - and they are also more pricey. First, try other routes. Right after we installed ours, a horrible contractor cracked it. See...it never hurts to plan ahead. If we'd paid a hundred bucks for that toilet seat, I'd still be chasing that guy down the street.

And after a long search to find the perfect color of toilet seat to match original fixtures, one of these junkies might take photos of it's installation like other people might a momentous occasion such as that of a baby's birth:

It's a girl!

I'll spare you the rest of the toilet seat installation photo shoot but let me just say that it was very
posh and included champagne toasts!

You might also be a vintage house restoration junkie if this photo makes your heart go

Glory day in the morning, y'all! Look at the grass green one!

How's the blood pressure? Can you take another?

Ooh! Ahh! Dibs on the sunshine yellow one!

Note: One of these junkies might also call dibs on things that we have absolutely no use for. Like a sunshine yellow toilet.

And one final toilet note:

Yep, it's an actual note. This is the sort of thing that you might find in a vintage house restoration junkie's house. Kind of makes you understand why we hoard extra toilets,
doesn't it?

Let's move on to paint colors. Vintage House Restoration Junkies are obsessed
with paint colors. Absolutely obsessed! You might hear us exclaiming,"But is it period?
in an exasperated tone when looking at color charts.

And we won't quit until we get the exact right shade of aqua:

Me: It's not aqua enough!
Mister: Does it need to be more blue...or more green?
Me: I don't know...just more aqua!
Mister: (blink. blink)

In that same vein, where some homeowners might see chipped or peeling paint as a major hassle, junkies see it as a wonderful archeological expedition!

Oh mama!

Thank you, Heavenly Father for what we have just received!

For it's these tiny glimpses into forgotten layers of paint that tell us what colors a house has been through the decades. They invite us to color-match them and use them once again. Sometimes, they even let us know that we're on the right track with our color choices. For instance, we recently picked a color for our front door and upon preparing the door for paint, discovered underneath the layers that the door had once been that exact same color!

Modern day color: Sherwin Williams' Holiday Turquoise

See that wall there? Peeling wallpaper is also like a great archeological dig. In this case, flocked flowered wallpaper that was glued straight to drywall and then painted over with layers and layers of paint. Can I get an "Amen"? (and the phone number of a good drywall repair person?)

In finding these clues, it's in the same spirit that we leave notes for future owners of our homes to find, in the hopes that they too will want clues from the past. We leave time capsules in attic joists and between wall studs. Messages behind medicine cabinets and wallpaper:

For instance, when replacing a broken mirror, we found this tatter of old wallpaper. We left it there but not before researching it so that we could tell any future owners what year it was from. Notice that we also noted what the mirror cost us as we're convinced that people in the future will think that things now are cheap just like we do when we look back at vintage prices.

What about you, buckaroos? Are you junkies too? Maybe you're not and think that we're crazy as you watch us snatch things from your curb or prattle on about the perfect shade of yellow in the paint store? Tell me all!

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Java Jive

I was recently given my late Grandmother's coffee pot.

Now, I don't drink or even make coffee but I really love having my grandmother's pot.
Especially after seeing what a big deal it was for women to be able to make coffee back
in the day. Here. See what I mean:

Like the way that Harvey brought up the girls at the office? He's pretty much letting
her know that he can replace her with any number of girls from the steno pool.

Um, did anyone notice how he shook his finger in her face?
I was hoping that Papa Eddie was one of her Dad's mafia friends.

Belittling is the anniversary gift that never has to be returned!

Harold better be careful with that refusing to talk stuff. It only
makes it easier for Jean to picture him with duct tape over his mouth.

If she knows what's good for her, she'll take those puppies
and file some paperwork.

"You make me feel very unwifely!"

Yay! Margie gets to keep her job as wife!

And my favorite:

What's Janie doing out late like that, roving the streets?
Shouldn't she be at home? In her place?

Wow, Folgers was a girl's best friend, huh? I'm both intrigued and annoyed by Folgers' ad campaign. There were so many of these ads that I couldn't even use them all. And it wasn't
just Folgers. Anyone remember that classic ad where the wife says "Jim never has a second
cup of coffee at home!"
? That wasn't even Folgers. That was Yuban coffee, who also had an
ad campaign with several commercials just like these. One can imagine that with these ads running constantly for decades, women might have been practically brainwashed into believing
that they were something less of a woman if they couldn't make good coffee!

It's these kinds of things that allow me to temper my love for the vintage lifestyle with a little bit of reality. Sometimes, when people learn that I love vintage things and ideas so much, they say things like, "But things were so backwards then!" or "I wouldn't want to be a woman back in those days!" I think though that it's about knowing which parts to be nostalgic about and which parts to learn from, you know?

And I think that this whole coffee thing is a lesson in looking with a well-trained eye at what modern advertisers work so hard to make us think that we have to do or be like. I think that it's just as okay to giggle at the standards that they're trying to push on us now as it is to giggle in retrospect at what they were trying to convince us of then.

Until next time (ring around the collar is NOT a sin),
x's and o's,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Betty Dean's Lament

My Mom gave me a stack of cookbooks and I was pleased to find this cheerful one amongst them:

It's from Anderson, South Carolina (1955) and it's nothing short of joy with it's pretty pink motif and cheerful bird perched upon the lacy trim surrounding the title. And who can resist the smiling girl with her pigtails tied with little bows?

Inside the book, there are lots of illustrations of the girl preparing food. For the most part, the book has meat recipes since one of the main sponsors is the National Livestock and Meat Board. Here she is even singing about it. Boy, she's happy!

The back of the book shows some tips by the legendary Dr. Norman Vincent Peale on "How To Break The Worry Habit":

All in all, a positive cookbook experience. Until you see this handwritten note:

It reads: Betty Dean I am not going to have a party. Isn't that the saddest thing ever? Poor Betty! One wonders if she wanted to have a party and couldn't or if she'd had such horrible experiences that she had decided to never have one again. I want to somehow find her and ask her. What made her write that single plaintive sentence on the cookbook cover?

For some reason, my senses tell me that she wanted to have a party but couldn't so I've decided that I'm going to have a party for Ms. Betty Dean and I'm going to make recipes from this cookbook! (but not the Deviled Kidneys in Rice) Stay tuned......

Until next time (start ironing your party dress, Betty Dean...wherever you are!),
x's and o's,

Monday, May 16, 2011

Freedom Riders

On PBS tonight, the show American Experience is showing an amazing documentary called Freedom Riders. I've seen several clips and have read a lot about it and I'd say that it's a do-not-miss. The courage and determination of the Freedom Riders is nothing less than amazing and so admirable.

I'll openly admit that as a Southerner in the U.S., this is a part of the past that I shudder to see footage of. I wasn't there but am still embarrassed and saddened that my home state and region took part in the segregation and violence. I think it's important that we all see this film not only so that we won't forget how far we've come but how far we've still got to go. It's quite uplifting to see the lengths that the Freedom Riders went to stand up for equality. They were subjected to horrible violence and sentenced to jail terms but more and more of them just kept making their way down South until their goal was met. Many of them still work for equality today.

The documentary shows a wealth of incredible footage as well as interviews with many of the people who took part. Truly an amazing story. Watch it if you can:

Freedom Riders

Happy Birthday Liberace!

Oh, Liberace.... I wish that he were still here with us. I got my love of him early on. My grandmother used to love him and when he'd come on the TV, she'd just clap her hands and smile at him. I mean, who could resist doing so? He was a showman like no other and okay, my Grandmother and I both found him quite handsome! I don't think that there has been nor ever will be another like him. He would have been 92 years old today.

Here he is doing some razzle dazzle with Sammy Davis Jr.

And to add a little (or a heck of a lot) of opulence to your day:


Until next time (it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that bling)
x's and o's,

Saturday, May 14, 2011

You've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?

Perusing Craigslist today as I often do, my interest was piqued by a free vintage steelcase desk. Upon further inspection, I realized that it just might not be worth my while:

The ad reads: "There is a pile of leftovers from my carport sale that are free to a good home- One large steel desk with chair, one nice white curtain rod (6', maybe?), a pair of counter brackets with countertop, and a few nick-nacks/bric-a-brac on top of the desk. Take what you need or all of it, but stay OUT of my patio, or I WILL shoot you. What I'm giving away is located at the end of the carport, under the mailbox, alongside the blacktop driveway. If it's gone when you get there, that means you were too late. Do not knock, do not call out, and do not go snooping. It's not worth it for you."

Then they give their address and "Thanks, and good luck " as if before you leave to pick up the stuff, you'd better lay your best dress clothes out on the bed for your relatives to take to the funeral home. Wow, this person sounds INTENSE. I love that "Do not call out " part as if the mere sound of another human's voice is going to send them into a hellish rage. That must have been one great yard sale.

Until next time,
x's and o's,

Friday, May 13, 2011

House Tour!

The fabulous Frecklewonder asked me to give a little tour of the Kitschderosa. Come on by and say hey! I even dusted!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fun With Food Staples!

Since I was a kid in the seventies, I've been fascinated with crafts made out of things like beans and macaroni. Oh yes, it was a very seventies thing to do! I can remember watching my brother come out of art class with a huge American Eagle made out of macaroni. The macaroni was painted gold and mounted to a large board. It was freakin' amazing! I also remember how jealous I felt. I know, it sounds crazy but hello, this was the time when the Bicentennial was all the rage - and who can beat things made out of macaroni? Two great things that go great together.

So, you can imagine my joy (or maybe you can't..but humor me) when I was perusing Etsy (as one does) and I came across a great shop called DollFood that has tons of cool stuff - including an amazing vintage burlap banner depicting all sorts of nature, animals and household items made out of pasta, beans and spices. Burlap craft was another staple of the seventies. Once again, two great things that go great together! (Are you still humoring me?) I'm pretty sure that I squealed with glee. And then click. click. click. bought it! When it arrived, I was so amazed at how detailed it was and how many clever uses of different food staples were used. Three feet of crafty awesomeness complete with a little bell so that I can tell if someone is trying to steal it.

Here are some highlights. :

You know that bean cat had me at "hello" and look at the tiny little bug and fish! 
Don't worry. Bean cat won't eat them. He's got oranges made out macaroni.

Look at those owls! And that worm! He looks like a snake to me but hey, alphabet pasta 
doesn't lie. Speaking of which, I absolutely love the use of alphabet pasta.

The top of the banner suggests conversation - about this groovy banner, no doubt!
                                             I mean, bean flowers, people...bean flowers!

That little bug is moving in for a caffeine fix! Or he could be just trying
to get a closer look at that coffee pot made out of spaghetti. "Look at that perfectly crafted handle" he says to himself. Yes, even bugs appreciate fine art.

Look at the turtle! And that butterfly! Eeee! See how alphabet pasta was used to make the
turtle's feet? And how bow tie pasta was cleverly used to make the butterfly? 
That's the kind of stuff that thrills me.

These flowers are made of cloves and sunflower seeds.

A wee wagon carrying more pasta shells as supplies for the craft making masses! 
Those people can't get enough pasta! Heave! Ho!

That bee is darling down to every last detail - and that caterpillar made out of rotini...
I'd have to say that little guy is definitely my favorite. Look at his little eyes! 
He's knows that he's going to be a bow tie pasta butterfly one day!

Pretty wild, huh? One has to wonder if the person who made this already had all of the supplies on hand or did they just completely clean out the pasta and bean aisle at the supermarket with visions of the masterpiece to come? Or maybe they were in a craft class where a whole table of folks sat around and made these. That's it! Quick! Someone get me a time machine...I'm going back and I'm carrying mass amounts of macaroni!

Speaking of fun with food, I've been wanting to share the work of one of my good friends for a while now. I met Miss Retro Modern on Flickr years ago and have always been impressed with her very own style of crafting. I'm talking peanuts with googly eyes, people. In beautiful scenes and in sweet little movies. Here is a great movie that she made that makes me both giggle and cheer. Keep your eyes peeled for the pasta guest stars! :

And here is her latest creation. She did this a day before the royal wedding in prediction of what the bride and groom might look like:

I think that she came pretty close. Just look at the happiness in their eyes!

Do yourself a favor and check out Miss Retro Modern's peanut people set and photostream on Flickr for more amazing photos and videos.

It's going to be hard to see these foodstuffs as mere staples in the pantry ever again, isn't it?

Until next time (go on! play with your food!)
x's and o's,