7/31/2011

The Vintage Office

The vintage industrial design trend seems to be everywhere these days. I was a little slow to come on board but it's grown on me quite a bit. To wit, my old beat-up metal trunk is taking up real estate in my house. I have an old galvanized dust pan that I've turned into a mail holder. Assortments of metal office files and boxes are in nearly every room of my house since they are so versatile. An old typewriter cart is soon to find a home as either an end table or nightstand in the house. Two vintage metal barrister bookcases flank the front window in our living room. A big red plastic letter "N" from an old sign leans against the wall on top of my credenza.

I'm particularly drawn to vintage office accessories. When entering a thrift store I usually make a straight beeline to the section where I find office stuff. Still readily available and to be had at bargain prices I rarely leave without something. Following are just a few things I own, have sold or are currently in my Etsy shop.

Vintage push-button alphabetical phone index.

1. Bank check writer.             2. Swingline stapler.
3. Office memo roller           4. Tape label maker.
Wire paper tray.

General Fireproofing Steel Barrister Bookcase

Smith Corona typewriter

Index card file.

Roll stamp dispenser.
File holder.
Vintage sun lamp used as a desk lamp.



Now I'm off to enjoy a Sunday parade with family. As if Wisconsin isn't hot enough this summer, the parade will be ruined mobbed with politicians and their cronies thanks to Wisconsin's hot political climate at the moment. Hope you're enjoying your weekend. Stay cool!









7/25/2011

Vintage Sewing Machines

My grandmother's treadle sewing machine.

I've done lots of sewing over the years. In high school, in particular, I sewed the majority of my own clothes. That included everything from lingerie to blue jeans to a wool coat and down parka. If I could have sewn shoes I probably would have made those too! When my children were small I did quite a bit of sewing for them, especially my daughter since it was so much fun making little dresses and cute outfits. With two boys there was always mending to be done or a Halloween costume. I wonder how many knees I've patched over the years! Of course I've also done my share of sewing for the home, from pillows and placemats to curtains and quilts.

I have an admission to make. I currently have five...yes, five...sewing machines in my house. I know. It sounds like I have a problem.
1. There's the first machine I ever owned, a Singer, that was a graduation gift from my parents. It was state-of-the-art for it's time, with stretch stitches no less! I used that machine for a long, long time. 
2.  I replaced that machine with a much nicer Bernina. It's a good quality built basic machine that has everything I need and nothing I don't. It's now about fifteen years old and is still my main machine.
3. I also inherited my paternal grandmother's treadle sewing machine. At some point my grandfather electrified it for her, removing the treadle and hooking it up to a motor. After I got it it I converted it back to a treadle. I've never done any real sewing on it. Mostly it's just been to play with and the kids always got a kick out of working the treadle. My older son has called dibs on it. I don't know why. He doesn't sew. I guess it's just the nostalgic memories or something. For years it's been used as a nightstand in our bedroom and we just recently moved it to another room. I'd really love to get it out of the house if Son #1 would just settle down and get his own house already!
4. Machine number four is actually my daughter's "learn to sew" machine. We gave it to her for Christmas a few years ago. It was inexpensive and, as it turns out, not even worth the little we paid for it. It didn't work correctly right out of the box. So I took that one back and got a replacement. That one wasn't much better. She recently upgraded to a much better machine. As a theater major in college she spent many hours in the costume shop and has picked up some nice sewing skills so was ready to move on to a better machine. Her old machine came home with us so that's #4.                                  
5. And last, but certainly not least, is my favorite machine. It's one of my best thrift finds ever, a 1950's Viking-Husqvarna machine. It's built like a tank, all metal construction. It doesn't hurt that it has fantastic lines and is a really beautiful green color, appealing to my design aesthetics. It sews like a dream too! I paid $50, not even knowing if it would work, and was pleasantly surprised that it works like a charm after just some tweaking and oiling. 
1950's era Viking-Husqvarna CL 21A

To be entirely accurate I suppose I could add my serger which would make it six!

I used to laugh at the fact that my mother-in-law had several sewing machines in her house. Never could understand why anyone would need more than one. I guess it's not about the need is it? At any rate, my son and his girlfriend became engaged this past week. Now I'm going to become a mother-in-law, so I guess things have come full circle. By the way, my future daughter-in-law took machine number one off my hands! I now have hope that with one child setting up more permanent housekeeping that the boxes of books and sentimental stuff he has stored here will eventually find another home! Gain a daughter-in-law, and a closet?!!

7/14/2011

Ramblings

I'm feeling lazy today. I guess I'm practicing for next week when the temperatures are supposed to soar into the mid 90's and stay there for about five days. In that vein I'm sending you off to enjoy some other bloggers today.

Apple Cheddar Sandwich
I recently discovered a couple of new favorites that I've been pouring over. The first is a food blog called a pear to remember. There are tons of food blogs out there but I like this one because 1) it's mostly vegetarian and 2) has lots of easy quick recipes that are budget conscious. Last night we had apple cheddar sandwiches for supper. Talk about easy and quick. It just fit the bill for a light summer meal along with some kettle chips and a cold beer. It's not uncommon for us to be eating dinner at 8:30 or even 9:00 some of these summer evenings. We want to take advantage of the long daylight hours while we can.

The second blog which I found via the aforementioned blog is Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander. It's a humorous, tongue-in-cheek blog about just what it says. And please, no comments that it's racist. It's meant to be funny. It's not mean or hateful. Okay? It's a white guy writing about white people. He also has a NY Times bestseller by the same name. This is what he has to say about his book and white people:
They love nothing better than sipping free-trade gourmet coffee, leafing through the Sunday New York Times, and listening to David Sedaris on NPR (ideally all at the same time). Apple products, indie music, food co-ops, and vintage T-shirts make them weak in the knees.
They pretend to be unique, yet somehow they’re all exactly the same, talking abut how they “get” Sarah Silverman’s “subversive” comedy and Wes Anderson’s “droll” films. They are also down with diversity and up on all the best microbrews, breakfast spots, foreign cinema, and authentic sushi. They’re organic, ironic, and do not own TVs.
You know who they are: They’re white people. And they’re here, and you’re gonna have to deal. Fortunately, here’s a book that investigates, explains, and offers advice for finding social success with the Caucasian persuasion. So lose yourself in the ultimate guide (featuring brand-new entries and extras!) to the unbearable whiteness of being.

My favorite on his list of white people likes is #49 Vintage.  It's hilarious and personally a tad bit too close to home. I haven't read through too much of the blog yet. I'm saving it for the next few hot days when it gets too hot to move. A cold drink, some AC, a comfortable chair and blog reading sounds just about right.

Image: A Pear to Remember




7/12/2011

Those Fabulous 50's

Times have changed, thankfully! I can remember these days pretty well. Luckily my dad worked close enough to walk to work so my mom usually had a car at her disposal. I love seeing the decor on old TV shows and commercials like this. Whenever I watch an old movie I'm usually more engrossed in the set design than in the story. 


And gosh, my pearls and tea cups have been getting rather dusty lately. 




7/11/2011

New at Etsy and a Recipe For You



I was up way too late last night thanks to one of those July storms I mentioned in the last post. They started blowing the warning sirens shortly before midnight. Fortunately it was just rain and lightening, nothing severe, but I did drag myself out of bed with my pillow and blanket to camp out on the couch downstairs for awhile. We have two big trees just outside our bedroom window and it always makes me nervous when the wind starts blowing. The hubby, as usual, didn't get too worried and slept through most of it.


I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon listing some new items on Etsy. You can check out my shop anytime by clicking on the tab just under the header at the top of the page here. I still have a few things left to list and then I'm putting on blinders whenever I go past any garage sales or thrift stores. I'm running out of room to store anything else until I sell some of my current stock.


Here are just a few things I haven't listed yet.


This Danish modern wall fixture would be really nice for anyone with mid-century decor. It's in really great condition, including the shades, which are clean and perfect. I love the way it looks at night with the lamp lit to show off the texture of the shade fabric. The lamps swivel and you can light either side or both at once. 


Now that I'm thinking about it, it rather reminds me of one of those motel light fixtures that you'd see between two beds. Okay, so maybe it did come out of a motel. Maybe one of those old mom and pop establishments along Route 66 where you park right outside your room. The kind with the metal lawn chair next to the door and the coin operated vibrating bed. Not that I'd know anything about that!


 I keep hearing that brass is making a comeback. If so my bathroom will be back in style I guess. (I just have to wait it out until wallpaper borders make a comeback too.)  I picked up a couple of these wall sculptures just in case. Have you seen this really great one over at The Brick House? Very cool and edgy...really edgy, as in ouch! Granted, mine weren't cut with a torch, but for someone wanting to start out with a  small dose of brass this might be nice. 


I found the Chinese ceramic bank at a thrift store. I've never seen anything quite like it before. I would love to know what it says. It has a rather cartoonish figure on the side with a dragon and a kite. It's made of ceramic and has a faux leather top. A metal bar runs through the cap and bank to keep the contents safe and it's secured by a padlock. I tried searching the internet for something like it but haven't had any luck yet. 


I love old metal boxes like this. I have several in my shop already and a couple more yet to list. They can be used for so many things. I particularly like them for storing photographs. I have quite a few photos from pre-digital days that aren't in albums that I want to preserve. You don't have to worry about off-gassing and chemicals that will harm the pictures in these metal boxes, as opposed to the plastic or cardboard photo boxes. 


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I'm heading to my kitchen next to spend the rest of the afternoon doing some baking. 

via Whole Foods Market
I made a batch of gluten-free carrot date muffins last week. So, so good. I used quinoa flour and regular flour, so mine aren't gluten free, but still very yummy. They're almost gone so I need to make more. 

**************

Been baking anything in your kitchen? Or is it too hot to use the oven? I'd love to get a solar oven some day. Then I wouldn't have to worry about heating up the house or using any fossil fuels. 








7/09/2011

Saturday...


It's the start of another summer weekend and I'm making it my ritual to have breakfast on the front porch on at least one morning of the weekend. So here I sit with my coffee, blueberry bagel and cottage cheese. The birds are busy having their morning chats. An occasional dog walker passes by. It's so nice and quiet early on a Saturday morning, and cool. Soon the farmer's market vendors will be making their way to the market a few blocks up the street and then the shoppers.



The heat and humidity of summer have settled in for the duration. June was a cool and rainy month and it seems everyone was lamenting that we weren't going to have summer. With the humidity often come storms late in the day. July usually brings some of our biggest storms which we could do without. We have a good warning system in our community and it's not uncommon to hear the sirens this time of year.



Plans for this weekend include a trip to the farmer's market in a nearby town. They have a beautiful market site and many more vendors than our local market. There's usually live music of some kind to entertain the shoppers. The site is an urban park along a meandering river, that connects with bike trails and foot bridges to the city and beyond. It used to be a blighted industrial area and the city has done a fantastic job in renewing it as mixed use urban development. Next to the park old brick buildings are being rehabbed into lofts with retail space at ground level. New construction is taking place in the empty lots left by buildings that were deemed unsalvageable. It's a very attractive area for young singles and empty nesters in particular and the added accessibility to biking and walking makes it even more so.




Have a great weekend doing something you love. Back on Monday with some new items for my etsy shop. 

7/07/2011

The Farm

I've talked about my family's cottage and the fun gatherings we have enjoyed at the lake. There's another place near and dear to us that has also been an important place in our family's life. That is my husband's family home, the farm where he was born and grew up. 


Being raised on a Wisconsin farm with seven siblings was quite an adventure I'm sure. Milking cows, weeding the gardens, helping with field work and tending to younger siblings was all expected in such a big family. But there was always a playmate at hand. As they married and had families of their own the large family gatherings at the farm, particularly in summer, became quite an event! We still meet there, now with four generations of family enjoying the farm, but my fondest memories are of those days when our kids and their cousins were small. 


A typical summer gathering would include an outdoor meal at tables set out on the lawn. Fun was had jumping on the big round hay bales in the field, chasing giant bubbles made with coat hangers, rolling down the barn hill, searching for kittens in the barn, going to the creek, potato cannons and water balloon catapults, swinging on the tree swing, getting rides in the garden cart, playing softball in the field, running through the corn rows, and just running, running, running! 


The food is memorable in itself. There was always Polish sausage, Grandma's homemade bread, rhubarb drink, corn on the cob, and cheese curds to name a few standbys. With the bounty of the big gardens, the apple trees and numerous nearby cheese factories we never went hungry. Nor did we ever leave without a carload of produce to enjoy at home. 


Grandma always expected a "show"of some kind from the grandkids. Whether it was a song, a dance, a story or a play it was always fun and silly. Afterwards the kids would be rewarded with treats or a handful of coins. They never left without a treasure of one kind or another. 


Everyone from young to old enjoyed the wagon rides.  Grandpa would hitch up the hay wagon to one of the old Allis-Chalmers and we would all pile on. We'd bump along behind the chugging tractor as he made a big circuit of the farm fields all the way back to the woods and along the creek. 


There's a white wooden porch swing out front that everyone enjoys taking turns with. Swinging gently on the porch while enjoying the sounds of the birds and the wind chimes or a distant tractor is very calming. Cars pass on the gravel road leaving a plume of dust behind them. The wind is always blowing on the farm. It would be a perfect spot for a wind tower. 


There are often side trips to check out a few favorite spots. Almost always there is a visit to a cheese factory to buy curds and cheddar, colby or gouda cheese. In the last few years many Mennonite and Amish have been moving into the area. We like to visit their little country stores to buy bulk pantry items like flours, spices and herbs. One of my favorites is a sewing shop run by Mennonite women that has all manner of fabrics and notions, as well as ready made clothing and household items. It's fun to see the buggies and horses tied up to a post or trotting down the road.  Passing by farmhouses with clotheslines full of colorful dresses, aprons, overalls and bonnets blowing in the breeze is a common sight. You can always tell the Mennonite homes because they don't have power lines running to them.


When the house was remodeled a deck was added to the back with a ramp so that my husband's nephew, who was in a wheelchair, wouldn't be left out. He would roll up in his motorized chair and right into Grandma's kitchen. My daughter has fond memories of riding on the back of his chair as he zoomed down the ramp or sped along the driveway. 


Most of the grandkids don't remember when there were cows on the farm. But the barn is still there and they would have fun climbing the hay bales up to the top. They would come out dusty and itching and then roll down the barn hill. 



The drive home at the end of a visit to the farm was usually very quiet. Our three kids worn out from a day of fresh air and sunshine, playing with cousins, and bellies full of good food, fell asleep quickly in the back seat while us parents enjoyed a rare peaceful hour of quiet driving into the setting sun. Beautiful memories.






7/06/2011

Of Procrastination and Fruit Cakes

This post title should be in bold, large font, capital letters. Procrastination should be my middle name. My mother tells me I was actually born on my due date but then things went downhill from there. I am the queen of unfinished projects. I bow down at the feet of people who get an idea, dive in and are done with something in the time it takes me to write this blog post, like John and Sherry at YHL or Benita at Chez Larsson.  Amazing! Me? I like to mull things over and let them age like a good fruit cake. Or in this case like one of those fruit cakes no one wants that gets passed back and forth year after year. I want to be absolutely sure that a project I'm considering has been looked at from every possible angle, that I've researched it to death and will love the results. Of course in the meantime I get distracted by the next great idea which continues the ugly cycle.

I have two "fruit cakes" in particular that I'd really like to get crossed off my list. These have been aging for a few years to the point of stinking. My husband has threatened to toss them (or me) on the curb with "free" signs on several occasions, only to get a reprieve when I promise that I'll take care of them soon.

Fruit cake #1:
Goldie then...

I found a chair with lots of potential at a thrift shop. Let's call her Goldie. Nice mid-century lines and very similar to a chair sold by Room and Board for hundreds of dollars. It only needed to be reupholstered. By me, of course, who has never done anything of the sort before, but how hard can it be? Tying new springs? Can't be that hard. After about $150 investment in tools (air compressor, upholstery stapler, tack hammer, webbing stretcher) and supplies (springs, webbing, tack strips, batting, foam, fabric) I carefully took the chair apart, documenting it all with photos so I'd remember how to put it back together. Well, that's as far as it got. It's been sitting naked in a corner of the back porch for about 3 years now, maybe more. I don't want to know. I've forgotten how it goes back together, even after studying my photos. And I really don't like the new fabric I chose, a boring neutral. I also don't know where I'll use the chair. But I won't let it go. I should, but that would be conceding defeat, and I just can't. Oh Goldie, I'm so sorry to have neglected you for so long.

...and now.

Fruit cake #2:


Next meet Ratso, a pest of a project that I can't seem to finish. It's actually a three-piece rattan sectional with an armless middle piece. I don't even know how many years this has been hanging around. It came from a dumpster up at the lake. It sat on the deck of the house next door to the cottage for years, exposed to the elements. Then there was a fire and the house sat vacant for another year or so before being torn down. That's when they ended up in the dumpster. I talked my husband into retrieving them, with the intention of donating them to a thrift store since they seemed too good to just be thrown away. But then I had the bright idea of fixing them up and maybe making some money by selling them.  I invested about $80 in upholstery foam for new cushions. Another chunk of change for some outdoor fabric and zippers.  I'd already blown any profit I could possibly make on these.  

A new house has been built where that burnt one stood and has been there for a several years now. I can't even manage to refinish and make cushions for a couple of chairs! I did complete the armless middle section which I'm using in my living room temporarily. The other two sections are taking up space in my garden shed. The foam rubber pieces are stashed in an upstairs closet, springing out at me every time I open the door. Out of sight, out of mind. Now if I can just remember the color of that stain I put on the middle section...

So those are my fruit cakes. Well, a couple of them. There are more I'm afraid. Do you have anything you've been putting off tackling? Any half-baked projects you've been tripping over for years? The procrastination confessional is now open. Tell me about your fruit cakes in the comment section after the post. I'd love to know I'm not alone. Maybe we can start a support group. 




7/05/2011

At Last! My Kind of Camping!

Apartment Therapy

I don't like heat and humidity. I don't like bugs. I don't like having to trek to the other side of a campground to use a bathroom. I don't like feeling grubby or smelling like campfire smoke. Therefore, it stands to reason I'm not a fan of camping. So when I saw this Berlin indoor camping hotel on Apartment Therapy today I couldn't help thinking it was a brilliant idea! Short of investing in a fancy uber expensive RV with all the amenities, which isn't really camping anyway, this is the next best thing to getting the camping experience.

It's a great idea for urban campers. Maybe they don't have the time to get away for a whole week or long weekend. Or perhaps they don't have the transportation to get out of the city to a campsite. A lot of urban dwellers also don't have space in small apartments to store bulky camping equipment that's only going to be used a few times a year.

Sure, it isn't going to be an authentic camping experience. No campfires for one thing. No smell of the great outdoors...no pine trees, mountain air, or ocean breezes. Then again no mosquitoes, woodticks, skunks, raccoons or bears. No getting rained out. No long drive back to the city. I think the pluses outweigh the minuses here. See more pictures at Apartment Therapy and Hutten Palast.