Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hey there big fella...

We have been gathering some fab vintage finds for the guys at Carmen and Ginger and are ready to post them all this weekend.

As Mae West pointed out, a good man is hard to find, but, she may not have been aware of how hard it is to find good men's STUFF!  Because of this, we hoard, and stash, and count and finally reveal our goodies all at once.

Whether it is 1950's bling, 1940's dapper or 60's and 70's hipster, we've got something for everyone.  So keep watching us at Carmen and Ginger, as all the men's goodies will be listed by this Sunday...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Bonnie Cloche

There's something to be said for attractive headwear that also allows you to not make eye contact with anyone around you.  I truly wish I'd had this hat when I lived in New York City!  (Used to use a Walkman to not have to engage with everyone who talked to me.  Now, Walkmen are obsolete as is my appeal to men-on-the-street as I was 19 then and  - ahem - slightly older  now...)

This masterpiece is my custom cloche from Bonnie at Bonnie's Knitting.  I picked out the fabric, and, the buckle, she made the hat exactly to my head size and - viola!

My hat says "Made especially for you.." but, I have heard that she will actually perform this amazing feat of artistic creation for just about anyone.  Just visit her shop and you are all set!  Bonnie is also one of the nicest people on Etsy. She is patient, answers my questions about her stuff, and, also answers my questions about antique hats that have NOTHING to do with her shop.  (She is a costume historian so I take advantage of that to help educate me in describing C&G items.)

I had some fun creating this series of crazed-traveler photos for a post at Style Symmetry celebrating the lovely Eyeliah's birthday.  Truth is, I actually don't do such a layered look myself and the look below is more reflective of how I like to wear my hat.  A little more understated and channeling one of my idols, Dorothy Parker.

I also like the vintage style as a nod to my Grandmother Pauline.

If you like the look, take a trip over to Bonnie's shop.  She's got hats ready-to-go and all sorts of vintage inspired shapes to choose from!  And yes, she knits too!

Every time I look I think, hmnnn, maybe I should have picked THAT fabric. (but I love my hat!)

She even recently found a vintage hat block in an uber-universally-wearable size and has started felting from it.  It is hard to describe how much I covet this beauty.  For now, however, I will just gaze at it and enjoy my own Bonnie Cloche.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Taking Things for Granted

While staying at my parents' home this past weekend, I realized I'd forgotten my toothbrush at home.  Knowing their tendency to pack away extra supplies of such things,  it did not take me long to find a couple of boxes of extra brushes in the bathroom drawer.

While I laughed at the fact that the rainbow packaging suggested the brushes had been saved since at least 1982, I was unprepared for the lack of sophisticated design of the brush!  In fact, I was somewhat scared of it!  The relatively massive head and short, straight handle made it very difficult to control.  Also, the fact that my dad used to always buy "Firm" brushes (as opposed to the soft-brushes-only advocated by today's dentists) made this feel like I was using a bottle brush on my teeth!

I grew up in the 1970's so, watched and experienced much of the toothbrush revolution that occurred during the 1980's.  Brushes became longer, more angled, with smaller heads and more specialized bristle forms.  These transitions came along slowly but steadily, so I had lost all appreciation for my modern toothbrush until I was forced to use this substitute over the weekend!  This got me thinking about changes in the decades before, and, it looks like they did not change much.  This Ipana ad from the late 1940's above shows a brush similar in design to the 1982 Tek-of-torture from my weekend, as does the basic (yet lovely!) Pro-phy-lac-tic Brand Brush from my own stash of construction objects below.  I found the ad on a mechanical site where they referred to it as "using sexual innuendo in advertising."  I've got news for you, a condom IS a prophylactic but so is a toothbrush, brother...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Working in the Scullery

Our house is over 100 years old, and, we fondly refer to the odd space between the kitchen and dining room as "the scullery."  Since the space is open at both ends it is not quite a pantry, and, since there is a giant, 7 foot long slate sink that takes up the majority of the space, "scullery" it is!

While this may sounds like a "throwaway" term it certainly is not.  The "kitchen" proper houses the refrigerator and stove, but, also includes five doorways and two windows and is not the most practical of spaces for working (that remodel is next on our list!).  The scullery, although narrow, houses the only cabinets in the kitchen, the only sink, the dishwasher and the only counter space!  Makes this little area quite important to us, and, foremost on our kitchen renovation list.  The photos above show it just before the most recent remodel.  We had already demolished part of the lower cabinets to install a dish-drawer dishwasher (an initial investment; traditional styles simply would not open in the narrow space!). The slate counters were also salvaged materials installed in place of laminated plastic that was there when we moved in.  The tall closet to the far end was part of this remodel; completely demolished and replaced with a trash drawer, counter extension, bookshelves and a new storage cabinet above.

Of course, once we committed to this project, we realized that every drawer had to come out, every door had to come off and every single plate, dish and cup had to be relocated.  It was a week of take-out for certain!  I tried, at one point, to make a simple meal and it was a BIG mistake!  Renovating the kitchen is a special type of challenge.

To maintain the integrity and history of the home, we wanted to use both similar and salvaged materials when remodeling.  This pair of oak and glass cabinet doors originally opened as-shown; from the center of one cabinet.  We decided to use these salvaged doors as the single cabinet doors on our "new" cabinets to keep an authentic "period" look to the kitchen.

The cabinets were designed to fit in the space to either side of the sink, and, to accommodate the vintage doors shown above.  To begin, the side panels were cut and channels added towards the back of each.  When the cabinets were assembled, beadboard panels were slid into the back channels and secured with glue to create beadboard back panels for each cabinet.

Rails were cut and placed along the back of each cabinet.  These were secured with both glue and screws and attached to both the back and side panels of the cabinets.  Channels were pre-cut to allow easy addition of the remaining shelves once the cabinet "boxes" were hung onto the walls. The side rails were intentionally extended beyond the top and bottom of the cabinet to create a surface onto which the frame can be attached later.

Cabinet screws were pre-drilled into the back of the cabinet walls so that they could easily be screwed into the existing rails to secure the cabinets with one-hand before continuing to secure at several other areas.  The rails were attached at studs to the walls and corresponded to the rails at the back of the cabinets.  Once the cabinets were "hung" onto the wall rails, they were attached both into the rails, and, all the way into the wall studs as well as several other locations.

As previously-described.  Once the cabinets were hung, glue was added to the slots on each side and the shelves were tapped straight into the cabinets.  Once dried and secure, front frames were built to accommodate the vintage cabinet doors.  The entire scullery was painted, then, the painted doors were hung into place.  The existing beadboard cabinet doors were all given new hinges and now hang straight, and, all close properly (old house luxury).

I thought I had more "in-progress" photos but I am either mistaken or they are misplaced.  Here is the final product with cabinets completed (vintage hardware courtesy of eBay).  New light fixture  - with great vintage look - was purchased from Schoolhouse Electric.  All paint (previously discussed) was from Lowe's and worked just great.  The new curtains are made from vintage linen toweling fabric (lucky local find, though, at the time of this post, similar fabric is available here on Etsy.). 

Our cookbooks have been in the back hall, and, our trash in a giant ugly trash bin in the middle of the floor for the past three years, so, adding beadboard-lined shelves and a hideaway trash cabinet all attractive and within easy reach is heaven.

A close-up of one cabinet.  Sorry the shots are all at an angle.  The entire room is about 5' wide and the walking space is about 2 1/2' wide so there is not a lot of room for great pics!  Take our word for it though.  We are so, so happy with the renovation.  Keep watching, as the crazy kitchen is next!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Trip to the Library

Browsing through one of my favorite local vintage haunts yesterday I came across this book.  Although a little beat up, I had to buy it, as I had a whole set of these Brothers Grimm/Golden Storybooks from the 1960's when I was growing up.  I had remembered the holographs on the black covers, of course, but had not completely recalled the groovy multicolor typeface and and funky Japanese diorama style illustrations!

Finding this book reminded me that I have a stash of my childhood books squirreled away.  I dug them out, selected the most memorable, and will share them with you here.

If you did not have a copy of Pat the Bunny growing up, go on out and find yourself one!  Not only can you look at yourself in the mirror, play peek-a-boo, try on Mother's ring, and of course pat the bunny, you can also literally smell the flowers; what other children's book has odorama?

My parents always included a healthy dose of Beatrix Potter when reading to me as a youngster, but, The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies was a real nail-biter!  Whenever Mr. McGregor put those sleeping baby bunnies into that sack...oh my!

I recall being read to, and, having access to this book  - A Baby Is Born - from a very young age.  I believe my parents made a decision early on to be very open about such things with me - perhaps when my baby brother was coming? - and I am grateful for that.  Perhaps my Mom will comment about her logic.  I do recall once a fifth grade friend shared her "special movie" literature with me when I was still a fourth-grader and a friend of her's rushed over to whisk the papers away hissing "You can't show her that!"  I smugly explained that I knew it all already so did not need to see the papers anyway.  Of course, I was allowed to watch the "special movie" the next year, which immediately undid all my parents' efforts by somehow convincing me that you could only get pregnant when you had your period.  Just what you want your children to think, right?

The book stuck around, and, thankfully told it pretty straight.  Look, it even showed women (and men!) in  anatomically correct illustrations.  Sadly, I'll bet there are some adult women out there who could not fill in the blanks above.

Are You My Mother is one of my all time favorite books!  I must have made my parents read that to me hundreds of times.  I think I liked the spirit of the little bird, especially when he had his hands/wings on his hips and was talking right to the Snort!

 Nothing gives a child more joy than listening to their parents try to read aloud from Dr. Seuss, and no Dr. Seuss book is more of a tongue twisting nightmare than Fox in Socks.   Try it, really.  The page above reads:

Sue Sews Rose
On Slow Joe Crow's Clothes
Fox Sews Hose
On Slow Joe Crow's Nose

Hose goes
Rose Grows
Nose Hose Goes Some
Crow's Rose Grows Some

(tee hee hee)

My signed copy of Cliff Roberts The Hole clearly came to me second-hand (I guess Erik, Karen and Vicki had outgrown it) and unfortunately, second-hand is the only way you will find it today.  It was a charming book.  Interactive, much like Pat the Bunny, with clever illustrations and a smile-shaped hole running though the entire book.  What's not to love about this one?

(Oh, are you doing something here? Allow me to sit in your way...)

Certainly every child's library should have a copy of Make Way for Ducklings and luckily, my childhood library was no exception.  The classic story and charming illustrations were extra special for me as I grew up right outside the city of Boston and had parents who not only made a point of bringing me there, but, taking me for a ride on the Swan Boats.  Magical.

When I think of Richard Scary's Best Word Book Ever I think of it as HUGE!  It was, when I first had it, around age four.  I would open it flat on the floor and literally sit atop the opened pages, searching for words I knew and learning new words each day.   The book is wonderfully illustrated and I love how it illustrated and labeled the mundane right along with everything else.  Of course it is as important for kids to recognize and name a wall socket and toothbrush as it is to identify a Fire Engine.  Richard Scary understood that and made it work in the most charming and effective way.  By using animals, he also immediately made the books accessible to all races and ethnicities as none were specifically illustrated so, likewise, none were excluded.

As I again browsed through the wonderful pages of labeled illustrations, I wondered how much influence this book may have had on my interest in art and birds later in life?  But then again, he also shows a kitchen, and I have never shown much of an interest in there...

I was a youngster in the early 1970's so this original Shufflebook was extremely artsy and cutting edge back then!  I recall spreading the cards across the entire living room floor to make the longest story possible.  I'm sure my mother appreciated the hours I would be occupied creating the book, but, dreaded the inevitable "Mum, hey MOM!"  that would come when I needed her to carefully read everything I'd created.

As my reading skills progressed, I discovered Ruth Chew.  There was a Scholastic Book Program when I was in Elementary School.  As I recall, you could order the books in advance, (parents would pay, of course!) and it would be a discounted rate.  The box of everyone's books would be shipped to the school, so a few times each year there was this delightful day when the teacher would hand out the newly arrived books!  My parents let me use this system to buy the latest Ruth Chew books, so, I was always waiting anxiously for the next box to arrive.  (Although we also visited the library frequently, they were not readily available to me there.) Her mixture of fantasy with adolescent reality was a fun and less complex predecessor to the Harry Potter books of today.

This is not my original Betty Miles book but a copy I picked up somewhere in my travels to keep for memory's sake.  My childhood book was The Real Me, in red paperback.  I can picture it clearly in my mind but I think it may be lost at this point.  Reading this book truly made me feel more adult.  She was sassy, and, had real problems, and, a real job, and conviction.  When the book was written, she was a radical because she was a girl with a paper route.  The book talked about this new thing called "women's lib" and was probably considered heresy by some of my friend's parents at the time.

Judy Blume, I bow to thee.  I honestly think my childhood would have been very different had I not been able to read Judy Blume.  I have a brother but no sisters, so, Judy Blume's characters were there to tell me what I was feeling was normal, even if those feelings were things I could not talk about with anyone else.  Religion, acne, breasts, menstruation, mean girls, boys, and sex were all topics that were covered regularly and with an honestly that made it OK to be going through puberty.  None of her books were read by me as many times as Are You There God, It's Me Margaret.  The book above is my own and I love how dog-eared it is.  How I longed for the mystery of "Three Minutes in the Closet" in my own life, and, Chapter 14 was THE most read chapter in the book, hands down.

The notorious Chapter 14

Of course Judy Blume's books stayed with me as I got older.  Deenie and Forever talked about more adult topics as I became closer to being an adult.  I must, however, give Paula Danziger her props.  Her characters were also very real, and, very sassy and funny!  Actually, more of a continuation of the Betty Miles book characters as they approached adulthood.  The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, The Pistachio Prescription and of course, as a kid who spent her summers at camp There's a Bat in Bunk Five were all my favorites as I entered my teenage years. 

I have provided Amazon links to most of the books and/or authors mentioned in this post in the hopes that you may wish to find one of these books for your children or as a gift for a child or teen you know.  Many of my books came to me second hand, however, as well as through my weekly trips to the library.  Church sales, book sales and yard sales are all great sources for used books, and, a trip to your own local library should certainly help you connect with these authors - and many more you find on your own - as well!




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