Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just another New Year's Eve...

Thought I'd share a bit of fun viewing for New Year's. My dearest and I always watch "After the Thin Man" on New Year's Eve - why, of course we have cocktails, but thankfully, no murders. Enjoy!

Dragnet: The Big Betty - Sgt. Friday makes an arrest on New Year's Eve

After the Thin Man - Nick and Nora celebrate the New Year with style and crime.

Sunset Boulevard - Norma Desmond throws a New Year's Eve party for two.

And, of course, it wouldn't be New Year's Eve without Guy Lombardo and the ball drop in Times Square!

"Here's to the bright New Year, and a fond farewell to the old; here's to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold."
-- Anonymous

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All That Glitters Is Not Gold...

Sometimes it's Silver Gleam Icicles!

Just this past Monday, I stopped into a nearby multi-dealer antique shop to buy some vanilla beans (oddly enough, there's a booth with spices, herbs, etc.). While there, I decided to have a look about the place, being unable to resist the lure of antiques. As I approached a booth near the front, a silver gleam caught my eye... There before me on a 1950s formica table were, not one, not two, not even four, but SIX BOXES of vintage tinsel! I couldn't believe my eyes. Vintage tinsel, the real thing, was not something I ever expected to find other than online. I bought four of the six boxes (yes, I know, why not buy them all??).

The metal used in this tinsel is not indicated on the box, so I'm not sure if it's silver, lead, tin, aluminum, or a mixture of metals. I can tell you that it has weight, although my dearest doesn't believe it's heavy enough to be lead. Whatever the content, it drapes beautifully. The tinsel is also crimped for more surfaces that reflect the light. And thankfully, it's not affected by static, like the PVC tinsel of today.

Here's a close-up photo of how it looks on the tree. The golden teapot ornament is a family heirloom that was passed to my mother by my grandmother, and now to me.

And now, the tree, tinsel, lights, and ornaments in all their glory....

Wishing you a special silver gleam for your holiday, however you may celebrate!

Now, where'd I leave my cup of eggnog?

Monday, December 7, 2009

A day that will live in infamy...

December 7, 1941. A radio announcer breaks into the regularly scheduled program to tell us that the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor...

I've often tried to imagine what it must have been like for my grandparents on that day, just weeks before the joyous Christmas holiday. I wonder if they experienced feelings similar to those I felt on September 11, 2001... Shock, disbelief, anger, grief. Thousands of lives were lost in a matter of minutes.

Here is the shorter version (32 mins.) of John Ford's "December 7th" - worth watching particularly for the section which pays tribute the American soldiers killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Let's Talk Turkey...

And I mean turkey!

Well, the turkey platter has officially been passed from my mother to me. This year marks my first as Thanksgiving hostess and, perhaps surprisingly, I'm not really nervous about it. My dearest and I have had a bit of practice over the past couple years at hosting non-holiday family dinners. And we cook a turkey for the two of us just about every year in October or early December. We like turkey... a lot.

When the mister and I first started our tradition of turkey for the two of us, we used a non-antique blue spattered enamel roasting pan. It always seemed a bit flimsy for roasting even a fifteen-pound turkey, nothing like the good and heavy vintage roasters. However, from these early turkey-cooking experiences, we learned the value of basting and perfected our stuffing recipe.

One day, many years ago, we spied a lovely brown Corona graniteware roaster in an antique shop. I'm almost positive that there was a beautiful heavenly light shining down on it and an angelic chorus singing as we approached this holy grail of roasters. Little did we know what magic this pan could do with a roast...

The first time we cooked a turkey in our magic roaster, it came out nicely browned, juicy, and tender, with minimal effort. The roaster is designed so that the meat essentially bastes itself as it cooks. And the really terrific thing about our magic roaster is that the turkey cooks more quickly than the total minutes per pound time. What a difference between using the modern roaster and the vintage roaster!

The only hitch with our magic roaster, and it's minor in my book, is that a turkey larger than about 18 pounds doesn't fit well. However, a year or so ago, we acquired a 1940s Westinghouse electric roaster. Last month, we cooked a 22 pound turkey in the electric roaster for the first time. It was almost as fabulously delicious as one cooked in our beloved magic roaster. So, now we've got all sizes of turkeys (or other roasts) covered. After all, we'll be hosting a big Christmas dinner this year too!

Here are a few photos of turkeys past (I mean the ones in the pan)...

Would someone please pass the sweet potatoes?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recently discovered treasures...

Since I'm experiencing the calm before the storm (a.k.a. The Holidays), I thought I'd take a moment to share my recent vintage finds with you.

I'm frequently surprised at the places I find a treasure that I can't live without. An inauspicious-looking moving sale, featuring primarily modern furniture and housewares, yielded these fantastic vintage metal lawn chairs for $5 each. Where the green paint has flaked off, one can see that these chairs have been painted at least 5 different colors over the years.

We also bought an L.L. Bean camp cot there for $3, which Mr. Lucky has claimed for himself...

Now, barn sales always seem to bode well for the vintage treasure hunter. I got a fabulous red plastic Solo barrette - still on it's cardboard holder (50¢), an adorable little necklace with red bakelite beads ($2.00), and a green polka-dot chiffon scarf ($3.00). There were many other things I wanted to buy, but, unfortunately, they were too pricey for my purse. Here's the barrette, necklace, and scarf...

The barrette is a nice size - about 4.5 inches long, although I couldn't possibly put all my hair in it as the ladies in the picture have done.

I love the color combination on this necklace and the length is perfect for dresses or sweaters with a round neckline.

The scarf was a must-have. I mean, I love polka dots. And green polka dots are big fun in my book.

These final two finds came from a small multi-dealer antique shop in the next town over. When the prices are this good, I say "buy them all"! Okay, well, actually, my dearest was the one who suggested that I buy them all.

A crowd of cookbooks...

Yes, the book in the foreground does have a real wood cover. I have a couple of similar vintage recipe books, each featuring a chef on the front and blank pages to fill in your own recipes, and three cocktail books with wooden covers, as well. Do you own any vintage wood-covered books?

And a passel of patterns...

There are some absolutely amazing patterns in this bunch, including one from the late 1920s! As much as I love vintage patterns, I'm not well-versed in sewing, so these are headed for my Etsy shop. There are so many that it'll take the next several weeks to get them listed. If you're looking for a specific type of pattern, let me know and I'll be glad to get it listed sooner :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night....

Cue thunder crash!

Much as I love handing out delectable treats to the little goblins, monsters, and witches who visit on Halloween, I'd rather be watching a scaarrry movie whilst eating said treats. My taste in Halloween motion picture fare leans toward those featuring old, dark, haunted houses. That's what I get for reading all those Nancy Drew books in my formative years ;) I like a movie to be creepy, but not disturbing. Unexpected frights that make me jump are fun, but gore is just, well, gory. And isn't it too bad that scary movies don't include eerie theremin music anymore?

Grab some popcorn, turn out the lights, and enjoy my spook-tacular list of
Halloween movie favorites....

The Cat and the Canary (1927) - Spooky mansion, family gathered for the will-reading, and Laura La Plante.

Dracula (1931) - Suave foreign-accented vampire, dames running around in their nightgowns, and Dwight Frye (the old fly-eater).

The Old Dark House (1932)
- People caught in a storm, a creepy family in a sinister house, and Boris Karloff.

Topper Returns (1940) - Ghosts, madcap hilarity, and Joan Blondell.

The Uninvited (1944) -
Haunted mansion on a sea cliff, the scent of mimosa, and introducing Gail Russell.

The House on Haunted Hill (1959)
- Screams galore, eerie mansion, and Vincent Price.

Carnival of Souls (1962)
- Scary man that keeps appearing unexpectedly, creepy organ music, and Candace Hilligoss.

The Haunting (1963)
- Poltergeists, eerie statue in a spooky house, and Russ Tamblyn.

Halloween (1978)
- Murderous maniac, downright scary theme song, and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Oh! What was that noise? Did you hear something too?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Motherlode of Vintage Enamel Top Tables...

Over the Columbus Day weekend, my dearest and I went on a little autumn excursion which included lunch at Frank & Mary's Restaurant in Stevensville, PA. That's the restaurant in the photo above - an unassuming little place, don't you think? There's not much to the town of Stevensville, but you'll find the restaurant, a vintage linens shop, a bakery, a country store, and a great deal of trees lining the hillsides.

Frank & Mary's serves up some fine eatin', but what I find most remarkable about the place is that all the tables are the vintage enamel-top type. The styles cover just about every decade in the history of this sort of table. Have a look...

And here is my favorite table - very art deco...

Since other customers were trying to enjoy their lunches in peace, I didn't photograph all the fantastic tables in the restaurant . Maybe the next time I'm out that way...

We were seated at a table with a lovely floral pattern whose pull-out extensions didn't have the usual square edge...

Here I am just before I became bold enough to run around like the paparazzi. My autumn-colored vintage wool plaid jacket is a Minnesota Woolens, but it's the same style as the Pendleton 49er.

My dearest had a toothache that day, but he didn't want to give up our annual fall outing. And he's even smiling here - guess that soup really hit the spot.

I had planned on having a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert, but after the huge turkey club sandwich, alas, I had no room.

And so, it was with full tummies that we paid our bill and headed out on the open road again. If you ever find yourself in Stevensville, PA, do visit Frank & Mary's Restaurant. The enamel-top tables and the food are worth the stop.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Harvest... Or 'Out of a Can'

Ah, harvest... a time to begin 'putting up' food for the long cold winter. I had high hopes for trying my hand at canning just one recipe this year. My plan was to pick lots of green tomatoes from the four tomato plants I had and make a big batch of green tomato relish - just like my mom used to make. The plants were loaded with blossoms which became lovely pale green tomatoes. And then I noticed the growing brown spots. My tomato plants had blight! It was with great disappointment that I destroyed the plants - tomatoes and all. No green tomato relish and no first-time canning experience this year. Thankfully, I don't have to depend on my harvest (or lack thereof) to feed the troops through the winter. And thank goodness for grocery store canned goods - they'll do in a pinch!

Speaking of canned goods, I was recently browsing some newly-purchased vintage cookbooks and found a chart that gives a conversion from can size to number of cups and ounces that the can contains. I don't know about you, but I have a few old cookbooks in which recipes call for a "No. 2" can or a "No. 1 can" of something or other. Of course I had no idea how much of that particular ingredient was needed - we just don't refer to canned goods by their can size anymore. Hope you find the chart as helpful as I do!

From the American Can Company cookbook
"Appetizing Recipes from Canned Foods"

Now, the pumpkin patch in our yard is coming along nicely. A week ago, I wanted to bake pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie, but the pumpkins weren't quite as ready yet. So, a trip to the grocery store was in order and I bought what would be the equivalent of a No. 2 1/2 can of pumpkin (28 oz.). It was enough to make 12 muffins, one pie, and 8 spiced pumpkin waffles. All that sure whet my appetite for making pumpkin things... those ripening pumpkins on the vine better watch out - there may be baked goods in their future!

Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Chips

Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Sprinkled on Top

"Judge each day not by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant."
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Happy Harvest! Happy October!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Coiffure! Okay, it's really just a 'do...

A long time ago, I faced the fact that I'm not very good at styling my hair. And unfortunately, the ladies of yesteryear had rather high-maintenance hairstyles. Put these two together and what do you get? Well, let's just stay I won't be gaily singing "I Feel Pretty".

Today, I tried a simple pony-tail & roll 'do and was surprised that it came out kinda cute. The roll adds a great deal to the basic pony-tail look and it worked well as a casual, yet fun look.

This is one of the reasons why I am grateful for the technology of 2009. I am able to view vintage hair tutorial videos, locate and purchase terrific books about retro hairstyling, and find hair products like setting lotion and snoods. So, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you...

I recently came across LisaFremontStreet on youtube. She does terrific retro hair and makeup tutorials, as well as product reviews. The tutorials go along step-by-step and feature great music, too. And don't miss her Pinup Series and Starlet series.

Elegantlyamused also has fabulous vintage-style hair and makeup tutorials/tips on Youtube. In fact, it was the video below that inspired me to try something different with my pony-tail style today.

I have a few favorite hairstyle books, but have found the ones by Stephanie Strowbridge of the newly-opened Moxie Beauty and Hair Salon most helpful. She has written a book on women's sets and styles, as well as one on men's vintage hairstyles.

Now, I don't know about you, but I sure do like a good snood. And thank goodness for ArtheliasAttic on Etsy because it may be awhile until I make my own! There you'll find hand-crocheted snoods made from a 1942 pattern in your choice of colors.

Hope you find my vintage hairdo favorites as fun and helpful as I have!

Happy Hairstyling :)

**Please note that you can pause the music at the bottom of this page in order to enjoy the videos I've included**

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

They say it's bad luck....

...to open an umbrella in the house.

But this vintage paper parasol has such a lovely pattern, it would be a shame to leave it closed.

I was offered this awe-inspiring parasol by a friend who couldn't think of anyone else who might be interested in it. And, of course, I was thrilled to accept this gorgeous piece of vintage memorabilia.

From the background information my friend gave me, it's likely from the 1920s. As soon as I opened it up, I could picture a flapper in a canoe being serenaded by a handsome ukulele player whilst shading her creamy complexion from the damaging sun.

Now here's the odd thing about being offered the parasol at this particular time. Just last week, I discovered that my 30-year-old souvenir lacquered paper parasol from Toronto's Chinatown had become stuck to itself. It was a lost cause. I was unable to un-stick it without significant destruction. Needless to say, I was sad that it couldn't be saved... Then on Sunday, an email arrived from my friend wondering if I could find a use for a vintage paper parasol!

My dearest and I had originally planned to use my Chinatown parasol as decor in the living room. The one pictured above actually fits in better with the tiki/tropical/oriental decor in my living room and the colors are perfect. Now to find just the right spot that will display it to the greatest advantage...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let's Take This Outside!

One recent summer Sunday morning, the backyard looked so inviting that we decided to head outdoors for breakfast. Nothing beats bacon and eggs cooked over a fire - or, in this case, in a big skillet on a vintage plaid grill!

On the left is a Skotch grill and on the right, we have a Grillryte. The Skotch grill has seen quite a bit of action on picnic-y outings, but this was the maiden voyage of the Grillryte. Don't you think plaid makes everything more fun?

Of course, coffee is a must for Sunday morning breakfast! Since we haven't yet acquired a swell campfire coffee pot, the Sunbeam vacuum pot will have to do.

Now, once we get some good coals, we'll start cookin'!
Careful, dearest, don't burn yourself - I don't think we have any Unguentine...

The bacon's sizzling and the bread is toasting - won't be long now....

Finally we're ready to fry some eggs - hope I don't break a yolk! Connncentraaate...

And before long
, we've got a mighty fine backyard Sunday breakfast. Don't be shy, just grab a plate and dig in!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but nobody said it couldn't be the most fun too!

Here's to breakfast in the great outdoors...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Stroll Through My Garden...

It's summer, my dear friends, and time to enjoy what nature has to offer!

What better way to do so than to take a stroll through my garden. You won't find organized rows or flower beds here, and many of my plants have had a way of springing up where I least expect them. But, oh the joy of seeing a frenzy of beautiful blossoms and fruit everywhere you look!

I've been working on adding old-timey plants to my garden, the most recent of which is Hollyhocks. I started with one, and now that it's in bloom, is it ever pretty! This one's on my list to add more of next spring.

Last year, I finally got the Hydrangea bush I'd wanted for so long. It was originally blue, but came out pink this year, so I need to add some aluminum sulfate to make it blue again.

Here are more flowers scattered about the place....

Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)

Geranium (almost done for this year)

Fairy Rose (these are actually very small roses)

Sunflower (with bee)



I've also got Bee Balm and Brown-Eyed Susans, which will bloom shortly.

Moving along to the edibles now...
Three years ago, my dearest and I started a hedge using Dwarf Ground Cherry bushes. These produce a tart cherry that's quite tasty. Now, you just knew I would have cherries in my garden, didn't you?

Now here's an old-timey one added last year: Gooseberry. Its berry can be eaten either green or when it becomes a ripe burgundy color, and the flavor is a bit like a combination of grape and apple. I found recipes in my vintage cookbooks for Gooseberry Jam and Gooseberry Pie. If only I can pick enough berries before the wildlife eats them all, I might try the recipes!

A few more edibles....

Tomato (my first try at growing them!)

Black Raspberries (these are spreading like wildfire)


Last, but not least... The Pumpkin & Gourd Patch

Add the Thyme, Basil, and four types of Mint I'm growing in containers and I think I might need to do some canning and drying!

"A garden is a delight to the eye and a solace for the soul." -- Sadi