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Category Archives: Retro Decorating

A few years ago, we started buying wood furniture.

Vintage and second-hand, to be sure.

Rockefellers, we are not.

Buying at auctions and garage sales is good for the budget.  Plus, I like the hunt for old stuff, yes indeedy.  Usually, the more unloved, the better.

Rocking chairs with the rockers worn off?  Sign me up.

Cabinets, magazine racks, abandoned table at the side of the road?  I’m out of the car like a chubby magpie.

pink wardrobe and green magazine rack

Slowly, we have replaced any of the press-board, laminated stuff that we used to find at a certain lovely big box store.  (I still go there for the window shopping, tasty meatballs and $1 ice cream cone, of course.)

Forget grey hair:  the press-board-to-wood-conversion is a sure sign of advancing age.

Anyhoo.

The other part about buying used is that it lowers the guilt factor.

The guilt factor when I go about doing that thing that I always want to do.

You know–that thing that makes some people cringe or exclaim in horror.

(Insert Practical Man’s cringe and horror here.)

That would be painting.

Painting (say this in breathy, hushed tones):  Real Wood.

As in, our fireplace mantel (giant chunk of pine).

As in, our kitchen cupboards (giant room full of knotty pine).

As in, this china cabinet that used to belong to my Grandma Verna.

40s china cabinet - brown

It’s been “wood” coloured for as long as I can remember, including the last 20 years that it’s been in our house.  I think it hails from the 1940s or thereabouts.  Definitely vintage and lovely but, oh so browny-brown-brown.

Which is really only good if it’s made of chocolate, yes indeedy.

This fall, I could no longer let the china cabinet live in peace.

So, it went under the knife.

Rather, the brush, as the case may be.

Don’t be so dramatic, wood lovers!

All that wood was going away.  Even though some of it, on the underneath part, was cool vintage crate wood with retro advertising.

We kept that.

Bottom view of china cabinet - one half of the interior floor of the cabinet was made from an old crate

Practical Man did some considerable muttering under his breath.

It might have been because he always seems to end up finishing the painting that his paint-happy wife barely started.

Or, it may have been an apology chant to the wood–the wood which his callous wife had so gladly forsaken.

He and my dad are both woodworkers.  They make beautiful things which I have (cross my heart) never painted.

The struggle is real, my friends.

But, back to the china cabinet, which they Did. Not. Make.

Bye-bye brown!

40s cabinet with lattice-work door closed - painted cream

Hello, dreamiest cream and robin’s egg blue!

Oooh, how I love your new tra-la-la.

If you do too, check out more great ideas at Vintage Chic – A Room by Room Guide by Laura Preston.  I hope to feature her as a guest blogger here soon!

Cabinet painted cream outside with robins-egg blue interior on three interior shelves and walls

Now, the cabinet is just perfect to house fondue pots, vintage melamine and Pyrex galore.

None of it brown, as you might have guessed.

Today’s dilemma is this antique tea cart, with its original shade of woody-wood-wood.

antique tea cart with wheels - brown

Of course, I want to paint it.

Pinterest wants me to paint it.

What do you think?

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Today, there was an auction of the very best kind.

#1:  It was the kind of auction that allowed me to sleep in (I do love my 12 hours/night, y’know):

It didn’t start until a very civilized 10:00 am.

#2:  It was the kind of auction that was perfectly timed to finish up with all the stuff we were interested in before the rain started:

We were home in time for lunch and a rainy afternoon nap.

#3:  It was the kind of auction that was a mere 8 houses down the road:

It seemed like fate and Humphrey Bogart.   Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, this auction was on our very own, country road.

Really, to ignore it would have been rude.

R.U.D.E., I tell you.

So, we wandered over–um, drove really, because hoofing it 8 houses back, not to mention through 100 acres of their windy lane before we got back to our country road with our auction treasures did not appeal–and settled in for the show.

I oogled the property, which had pastoral rolling landscape and a heritage, brick house.  It also had some lovely outbuildings made of antique brick.  The property is listed for a cool $899,000, so oogling was far as I was going to get to go with this charmer.

Accordingly, I oogled up a storm, surreptitious-like and trying not to salivate, as you do, even though officially, we’re downsizing soon.

Yep.

The auctioneer stood in front of one of the brick barns, hooked up with a wireless mike, like some kind of rural Ontario Madonna.   He stammered in his everyday speech, but, he was flawless in his auctioneer chant-erooning.

I’m sure that’s a technical, auctioneer term, isn’t it?

auctioneer holding out his cane and wearing a straw fedora, in front of a crowd

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee, who’ll give me b’dee, b’dee, b’dee $100.00 for this outboard motor, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.  Only needs a pull string and….b’dee, b’dee, b’dee…a motor, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

Such a cool way to parlay a speech difficulty into a successful career as a professional chanter-ooner!

I loved his vintage-style straw fedora and cane.

I have lots of hats.  Maybe I need a cane for when I’m leading workshops at the university.  I could point and gesture like a pro if I had a cane.

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee, let’s talk about some resume strategies and interview skills, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

Oh yes, I think it could work.

Our auction skills are rusty, having not been to one in a couple of years.  This auctioneer was making time, too, so you couldn’t snooze on the job, if you thought you might be a buyer.

No, sirree.

auction bidder ticket - #103

The giant, shiny maple syrup finishing pan that Practical Man had his eye on, went for a good deal but it was ever so lightning fast with the b’dee, b’dee, b’dee, and my maple syrup mogul hesitated.

No hesitating or dithering at this auction.  Dithering meant you walked away giant, shiny maple syrup finishing pan forlorn.

Sob.

The only thing I really spotted on our initial walk-around that made my heart skip (other than the $899,000 property itself) was a Fed-Ex/food truck-shaped van (dreams of a mobile cupcake empire danced in my head) and, be still my heart:

a genuine, hang-on-the-kitchen-wall, talk-on-your-party-line, rotary phone.

Tra-la-la.

vintage rotary phone with the receiver off

I usually see them when we’re touring house hovels that we don’t buy.  Like the one in Enterprise a couple of years ago.  And the one last week, that had the falling off chimney and disintegrating summer kitchen.

They make me want the house hovel–just because of the phone.

I’m sensible like that.

This phone wasn’t avocado green, robins-egg blue or 60s pink (that can be remedied with plastic paint, if I get bored some future Sunday afternoon) but, I figured its ho-hum colour meant the price would be manageable.  It was in among the “smalls” that Mr. Auctioneer was going through at break-neck speed.

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

Before we knew it, the phone was on the table, waiting for its turn in the limelight.

Before we knew it, it was being offered with a bunch of other stuff that got bundled in, because no one would bid on the stuff on offer, right before my phone.

But, but, but..before we knew it, we were the proud owners of (a smallish box of junk and) a genuine, hang-on-the-kitchen-wall, talk-on-your-party-line, rotary phone!

back of bidder ticket - reads: $2 for phone

We went all out at this auction, spending a grand total of $2.00.  Since we weren’t buying the $899,000 property, we figured we could splurge a little.

Back at home, we set about cleaning off the barn dust and checking out our purchase.  It was like new.

Even better, when we plugged it into a phone jack, there was a dial tone!

Even, EVEN better, Practical Man could call me on it!

off-white vintage phone rotary dial

That’s not our number, just in case you were wondering.

At first, it didn’t ring with that distinctive, brain-penetrating vintage ring, but when he opened it up, he found a disconnected wire and immediately fixed it, because that is what a Practical Man is best at doing:  making my strange dreams come true.

The 40-year old phone then proceeded to ring, like it was 1976 (the year it was made).

BRRRRING!

BRRRRING!

BRRRRING!

Really, it takes so little to amuse me.

Even, even, EVEN better, I channeled my inner tween self (in full disclosure, I was a tween long before the word “tween” was coined), put my index finger in the rotary dial and dialed Practical Man’s number.

Be still my faint-y heart.

Now, you might not get the thrill here.  You might be one of those people who have people on speed dial or voice-command, so you only ever have to push one button (or less) on your phone.

I am one of those people who loves to type (I rarely copy and paste, if I can help it) and I love, love, love to DIAL!

I can’t wait to dial the longest phone numbers I can come up with.

Really.

Can I call Australia?  Or, darkest Peru?

Someday, I’m pretty sure that there will be a giant auction at our house.  They’ll shake their heads and sell off all my vintage doo-dahs and Practical Man’s gizmos and gubbins (those are technical terms).

B’dee, b’dee, b’dee, b’dee.

In the meantime, for the love of all things vintage, please–as Blondie‘s Debby Harry used to sing–CALL ME!

The $2 auction purchase has been installed–where else, but where it belongs–and I can’t wait for our genuine, hang-on-the-kitchen-wall, talk-on-your-party-line, rotary phone to ring.

BRRRRING!

our new, vintage phone hanging on the kitchen wall

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet


“Auntie Kiss, it’s the first day of school!”

These words were fairy godson’s greeting to me this morning, when I arrived at his house to help walk with him on his very first day of school ever.

As in, it will never happen again, EVER.

It’s probably a good thing that Practical Man and I don’t have any children.

I don’t think the Kleenex industry could handle it.

Never mind that my heart has a tendency to plummet its beats per minute, without warning, and make me faint.   Yes, my biological heart is a drama queen.  But, my metaphorical heart is also kind of high maintenance.  I’m the person who cries during every Downton Abbey and Little House on the Prairie episode.  I can’t get through a whole verse when I’m singing the song that reminds me of Ugly Orange Sweater Guy’s mom.   I even get weepy at TV commercials (there was one when I lived in England, 30 years ago, that still makes me choke up.)

Suffice it to say, we go through a lot of Kleenex around here.  The extra-strength kind.

Yet, somehow, I manage to forget this fact from one minute to the next.  I run around in life, completely un-prepared, when it comes to mopping up my emotions.  The 3-ply Tempo tissues from Germany that I bring pillow-sized packages of back, every time I visit, are piled neatly in the hall linen cupboard. Practical Man buys the bulk boxes of Kleenex so we’re never, ever out.  I even have some lovely vintage handkerchiefs but, they are not tucked into the wrist of my sweater set, like they should be (in 1952).

5 vintage, embroidered handkerchiefs

Fat lot of good all this preparation and stockpiling does me when my eyelashes runneth over (as they do multiple times daily).

Case in point:  I turned up this morning and there was Fairy Godson, aged 4 years and 32 seconds, looking cute as a button for his first day of school.  Immediately, I realized that I Was In Trouble.

Double decker doo-doo kind of trouble.

If ever there was a day to carry on-board swaths of cloth for the mopping up of my eyelashes, today was it.

Little boy wearing a baseball cap

Sniffle, sniffle.

So, I distracted myself by helping his parents take the requisite First Day of School photos on the front steps and then, Fairy Godson and I headed to the back yard so he could open his “Schultuette”. This is basically a giant cone (the closer the cone is in size to the child, the better) that is a tradition for a child’s first time s/he goes to school, in Germany.  As my former German exchange partner said, “I’m surprised it hasn’t caught on in other countries.  It’s great for kids and also for commerce”.

A red German Schultuette with a ribbon tied around it. (Name has been smudged)

No kidding.

We can’t buy ready-made Schultuette here (but, this could be my million dollar business idea #823, ho ho!) so, Practical Man and I wielded the trusty packing tape gun and with some grunting and contortions, managed to fashion a piece of bristol board that I had cut, into some semblance of a giant cone, in which to put treats and school supplies.

A few M&Ms.  A couple of gumdrops.  Some jelly dinosaurs (a “Stegosaurus – that’s the one with the points on his back, Auntie Kiss”.)  Crayons.  Stamp markers.  Pencil case.  Frog and Ladybug magnets to hang artwork on the fridge.  Mini chocolate bars.

If my stolen idea from Germany catches on here, may I suggest one minor variation to the Canadian version of a Schultuette?   Ours should have treats and school supplies and TISSUES for the Auntie Kisses in the crowd.

Small boy opening his Schultuette cone

This is how you know your Schultuette has been a success: the child loses his arm down in it.

Sniffle, sniffle.

After all the treasures were discovered and Kite Papa gave Fairy Godson permission to taste one M&M and a jelly Stegosaurus from one of the treat bags in the Schultuette, we headed off for school.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Fairy Godson wasn’t sure what to expect either, since he was only born three weeks ago, by my count, but he was running at the beginning of the journey, so I’m pretty sure he knew that whatever was coming his way, it would be lots of fun.

Little boy skipping ahead of his mom

In the schoolyard, it appeared to be controlled chaos.  Kids and parents everywhere.  Giant backpacks on impossibly small-ish people and water bottles and teachers wearing name tags.  It was loud and busy and I felt as if I’d stepped inside the pages of a Richard Scarry “Busy Day” book (without the piglet firefighters).

I’m 47 and a half years old, not to mention 5’9″ and not waif-like.  I am pretty much built for handling a crowd.

Fairy Godson, on the other hand, is only 2 months old.

Oh, wait.

Anyway, he is small and sweet and was wearing a ginormous backpack that contained all the things he needed for his very first (never happening again, EVER!) day of school:

Lunch.

His water bottle.

A sweatshirt, in case it gets cool.

His “inside” shoes.  (Apparently, this has not changed since I went to kindergarten some 43 years ago.  Perilous the child without indoor shoes!)

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Why not?  Christmas is already happening in Costco, after all.  It’s only a matter of time before it ends up in kindergarten backpacks on the first day of school.

Small boy wearing a very large backpack

Fairy Godson’s Kite Mama pointed out some of his neighbourhood friends and friends from his daycare, too.  He was quieter now, looking around and holding his parents’ hands and taking things in.  It was very, very busy and hot and loud and all kind of new and strange, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, I was inwardly fuming.  I  couldn’t believe they didn’t let the parents (and Auntie Kisses) stay for the first week or few months.  Y’know, just to get everyone used to things, like how my heart is probably breaking and fainting because for goodness sakes, Fairy Godson is just a baby!

Look how small his shoes are and his little hat.

Sniffle, sniffle.

I was without tissues and I had turned into a helicopter Auntie Kiss.

The time came for Madame to lead Fairy Godson and his classmates into the school.  I took a deep breath and followed along at a distance.  And then, it happened.  This was the moment where Fairy Godson had second thoughts.  He clung to his parents and turned his face away from the red, brick school that he had talked about, with such excitement, all summer long.  He cried all the way into the school with Madame.  I cried right along with him.

We’re kindred spirits, y’know.  That’s how fairy godmother-ing works.

parents leading their son into school

Believe it or not, there was NO volunteer handing out tissues (or therapy) to the parents and Auntie Kisses at the door.

Heartless, heartless, education system.

I can say that, because I’m part of it.  I work at a university.  In fact, it’s my turn for the first day back, tomorrow.

Sniffle, sniffle.

Of course, I won’t have any tissues.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

 

 


We started out this year’s festive season—as you do—with a day-long marathon of vintage chair re-upholstering.  Yes, I had bought a lovely specimen (read:  sagging, dusty number with potential) online to act as the final flourish in a multi-coloured spectacle of seats collected from assorted corners around the house.

Dusty, vintage wooden chair with upholstery (falling off)

Some of you are aware that I have a slight um… chair acquisition problem.  I love ‘em.  Each one has its own little personality, its own unique flair.  They are like perfect snowflakes:  unique and special in all the world.

Why are you rolling your eyes?

However, this is not one of those times when I succumbed to the power that is a snowflake/chair vortex.  My excuse for this one is that I GENUINELY NEEDED IT to go with the newly-acquired kitchen table (handed down via my uncle, aunt and with a small detour via my cousin, but which actually used to be my grandparents where we ate Roast Beef and Leathers for decades – yes, that really is a thing – just stay with me.)  But, when the vintage, internet, snowflake chair arrived home, I remembered that old saying that “objects on the internet are smaller than they first appear” (except, of course, for certain American politician-wannabe’s hair and evil-ness) and realized that the chair was, well, to phrase it in holiday terms:

Slightly elf-sized.

chair stripped of all its upholstery and sanded

I am approximately 11 feet tall in my red-and-white-striped Santa socks, but, seeing as how it was soon to be the season of all things merry and I am also a soft touch when it comes to underdogs and sad, forgotten objects that look unloved and are sure to be the last item on the auction table that no one wants, I immediately fell in love with the chair’s elf-sized proportions and proceeded to pull it up to the table with the rest of its rag-tag companions.

Gingerbread crumbs!  It was, indeed, a vertically-challenged chair but, not wanting to hold that against it just because I happen to have knee caps that start higher than most, I opted to move another um… necessary chair to the kitchen (requiring re-painting and a seat cover re-do) and use the new, toy-making-sized specimen with my also vertically-close-to-gravity dressing table, instead.

The sound of giggling elves would have filled my head were it not for the seat springs of torture and upholstery of doom.  There followed muttering, upholstery tack pulling, fabric ripping, straw removal, more muttering, sanding, priming, painting and other blah, blah, blah that all goes under the un-desirable category in my mind called “prep”.

primed hair

I am not a fan.  Thus, I justifiably consoled myself with holiday libations in the form of truffle hot chocolate, so there!

However, all of this blah, blah, blah was in the name of getting ready for the main event, my favourite part:  the festooning, the fancifying, which was, in this case, the upholstering of the elvish chair into a thing of petite beauty.

chair painted pale green, no upholstery yet

It’s a small chair, I thought.  Positively elvish in proportions.  Even though the swoopy, curly bits of the back looked a wee bit tricky to me, I figured it would take a couple of hours, tops.

Um…yeah.

Practical Man spent a Sunday wielding a staple gun for approximately six hours straight, when he had intended to be spending a Sunday wELding (not wIELding) something fun on to his currently derelict but FREE fishing boat.  I therefore tried to appear innocent and unconnected to the Elvish Chair of Evil and do my penance by untangling the outdoor Christmas lights.

Which, were, of course NOT tangled because Practical Man had put them away and so, yes, they were labelled and wound in very orderly fashions on some kind of thing-a-ma-bobs that probably started life as something else like a bedroom slipper or a supersonic carrot peeler but have lately been wrestled into submission into something that you wind Christmas lights on to keep them labelled and orderly and not only that but they were secured further with twist ties so as to not escape the labelling and orderliness into which they had been placed.

So much for my penance.

I attempted to atone by flinging Christmas lights with festive flair into the bushes in front of our front porch, so if you happen to be driving by, it’s my fault they look like that.  I re-fueled with more truffle hot chocolate and some flirting with the upholsterer to keep his spirits dashing and dancing while he did battle with fabric, fluff and staples.

The elf chair is nearly finished, but for the part that involves me heating up the not-so-innocent-sounding glue gun (my first clue that I shouldn’t be using a tool with this label) and burning myself repeatedly while attempting to adhere some kind of ribbon-y stuff–whose technical name is bric-a-brac. rick-rack, Cadillac or something–to hide the 6 hours of stapling that Practical Man worked so hard to perfect.

finished chair with pink flowered upholstery

Anyhoo, it’s a magical chair and I think Santa will help with the final touches.

The Mensa puzzle calendar on the desk (not mine–I know you are shocked to learn) says Wednesday, October 15 and now, fresh from a day of Christmas shopping in nearly 13 degree weather in the middle of December in southern Ontario, I am slightly confused about what season it is.

But, the arrival of the first batch of fast-tracked Syrian refugees yesterday to Canada has reminded me:  it’s the time when we invite those we love and also, those less fortunate, to come a little closer.  A time for the elf chairs and all the others to celebrate together at our grandparents’ precious table.

Whatever the language or constructs of each of our faiths or beliefs, it’s the season of hope, of giving, of kindness and peace.

(And lots and lots of cookies, hurray!)

From our house and hearts, we wish you Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2016.

 


As I’ve said before, not everyone appreciates a vintage life.

Case in point:  Practical Man has been known to shake his head at something I’ve purchased while muttering, “I threw one of those out in 1978” under his breath.

It seems to happen quite frequently during yard/garage sale season.  Lots and lots of head shaking and muttering.

But, I ask you:

Who will bring the ugly ducklings of the world home to be loved and cherished, if not I?

daisy pattern on the Lawnware lamp - up close

Oooh, look at the pretty patterns!

Especially when they’re vintage Lawnware for RVs (whatever that is) and only $1.

This particular vintage Lawnware for RVs needed a plug, but Practical Man is so very handy that a mere plug was no impediment to the purchase.

More muttering.

inside the lamp

A look up into the “gubbins” of the lamp, as my dad would say. Isn’t saying “gubbins” fun?

When I lived in England decades ago, I once wired a plug on to my newly-purchased curling iron after arriving home and remembering (when I went to use said curling iron and had only some metal wire sticking out the end of the cord) that small appliances didn’t come with plugs.  That way, they could sell them all over Europe and everyone could put their respective plug on or electrocute themselves trying because they couldn’t remember how to do it since it was O level Physics the last time they had tried and there was a really cute teenager distracting them from Ms. Russell’s fascinating lessons on plugs and besides that was so long ago because O level Physics hasn’t existed in a generation.

Anyway.

I haven’t wired a plug since then, but I will assume that Practical Man did it correctly.

Possibly, while muttering.

Even I have to admit, this is kind of an ugly duckling.  But, it has a style about its ugly duckling-ness, don’t you think?

The lamp in its entirety

Especially once the wasp nest inside and 40 years of gummified dust was cleaned off.

It will work perfectly for a romantic evening under the stars (or Ugliest Lamp in the World)  celebration as we hang out on our $1 for the pair, vintage, metal, scald-your-legs lawn chairs (totally impractical but I l-o-v-e them anyway).

red vintage lawn chairs (2)

Mutter, mutter.

Or, it will look fetching and appropriately “Lawnware for RV-ish” in our ugly duckling, vintage Boler trailer.

The lamp lit, with all its multi-coloured lights glowing

Ooooooh Aaaaaaah!

It’s like the Lite Brite of lamps!

Who wouldn’t like that?

Practical Man seems to be raising his hand.

And muttering.

Tra-la-la.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2015.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet


Apparently, I live in a hovel.

I came to that conclusion this weekend, after a friend invited me to join her on the Kingston Symphony’s annual Music Lover’s House Tour.

What’s a Music Lover’s House Tour, you ask?

Why, it’s the day when all us snoopers and gawkers can wander through really swanky houses in our community to see how the other 5% (2%?  32%?) live.  There is some super cool, vintage real estate in my town, since it’s one of the oldest cities in Canada and all limestone-y and such.

On the symphony House Tour, we enjoy live music at each house, remove our shoes (or put on little blue booties) and wander around, mouths hanging open, with choruses of whispered sighs and gasps emitting from our enchanted lips.

It’s good exercise for the diaphragm.

First stop was at 44 and 46 Colborne Street:

Brick 19th century townhouses

[photo credit: cityofkingston.ca]

Both 19th-century townhouses are quite unassuming from the street.  In fact, you would probably walk right by them, if you didn’t know to look (unless you are a window gawker who lives for the nights when people are in their kitchens with all the lights on, like I am.)

I know it’s rude, but I can’t help it.

It’s even ruder for me to comment when the unsuspecting homeowners have their art and pictures hung too high on the wall (which they almost always are) but such was not the case at 44 and 46 Colborne Street.

They had the kind of art Practical Man dislikes:  that is, lots of swoops and smudges and layers of paint, all abstract and mysterious in a way that makes his face crinkle all up because all he asks for is some real, ahem, talent, for pete’s sake–something that resembles…something!

The irritating-to-some art was all hung at the ideal height on the walls and surrounded by many other beautiful things:  steel staircases and a living roof, art deco yellow and chrome chairs, penny-tiled bathroom floors and a covered patio perfect for dancing in bare feet with a sweetheart.  In the living room, as this was a Kingston Symphony event, a tousle-haired teenage boy played achingly beautiful piano music from the score of Pride and Prejudice by Dario Marianelli.

Swoon, swoon, swoon.

Then, we moved on to Centre Street, where we visited an historic “cottage”–in the manner of “cottages” of the type owned by the Bill Gates-types of the 19th century–that is, to say large, with fireplaces, chandeliers and antiques abounding.

Object in picture is larger than it appears.

limestone house with centre peaked roof

[photo credit: Google maps]

A trio of musicians played in the salon as I oogled the place up and down, admired the gardens and wondered what was inside the Tiffany & Co blue box perched on a daughter’s dresser upstairs.

Sigh.

On to the next house, which was not vintage so it barely warrants mention here except to say that it too, was beautiful and had a “mast” running from the basement to the top floor.  But, I really can’t understand how a family actually lives in a kitchen with 8 base cabinets and no shelves, no pantry–absolutely nowhere else to put dishes or food.

I think at least one of the home owners was from France, so that must be it.   The French are very clever (and thin, come to think of it.)

They also had a LiebHerr fridge.

Liebherr construction equipment

[photo credit: Liebherr.com]

LiebHerr!  The people who make giant construction equipment.  Apparently, they also make stainless steel “petite” fridges for the clever and French.

A woman played a soothing piece on the recorder in the living room while a harpist set up.

House number five on our route was the heartbreaker:  a vintage 70s masterpiece on Riverside Drive that had been completely gutted and renovated in 2014.

Riverside Drive

[photo credit: Google Earth]

I wanted to hate it.  They had divested this St. Lawrence River lovely of all that was retro and vintage and cool about the place and replaced it with…

Serenity.  Beauty.  A luscious solid walnut dining table that I couldn’t stop touching.

I have no idea if there were musicians.  Seriously, I was getting into an unhealthy relationship with that table.

Everywhere you looked were calm, neutral colours and windows, windows facing the river.  When I could tear myself away from the table and the windows, I fell in love with the light fixtures.

Swoony, swoony light fixtures.

Finally, to a house on Treasure Island (and yes, that’s every bit as fun as it sounds).    Built on a cottage lot recently, the house was peaked of roof with the requisite “sea-side” (although it was St. Lawrence river-side) cedar shakes and a second floor that was entirely master suite.  They too, had a fridge made by Someone & Someone (I can’t remember the exact names but it was a company I’d never heard of, let alone as a fridge manufacturer) but who cared about the fridge when there was a gorgeous view of the water from every window?

More swooning.

And then, it was over.  Both gnashing our teeth just the teeniest little bit, I bid my friend goodbye and drove home to my house.

You may remember my house:

  • Full of garage-sale, thrift store style (not designed by a professional) that could use a serious de-cluttering (and dusting)
  • No stainless steel or construction equipment-manufacturer fridge (lots of cupboards for chubby people like me)
  • Close to (but, not overlooking) the water

Apparently, I live in a hovel.

brick house (mine)

[Our house]

Well, okay, maybe not.

Yes indeedy, I told Practical Man: all we need is some classical music to swank this place right up.

Tra-la-la.

 

 

 


Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Banana.

Banana who?

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Banana.

Banana, who?

I interrupt this vintage joke to ask an important question:

Do you like orange?

It seems like one of those colours that people have a love it or hate it thing for.

Christine wearing an orange and burgundy striped hat and burnt orange scarf.

Lately, I’ve been cozied up in this burnt orange scarf.

I’m on the side of love it.  Maybe that’s because I learned the magical, mystical power of orange when my friend, Grover, introduced me to Ugly Orange Sweater, way back in 1986.

Y’see, not only is orange the colour of creamsicles and beach vacation toenail polish, it is one of the few colours Grover can really identify, on account of the fact that he has colour blindness.

And, even though he is super talented and great at lots of things including but not limited to gift giving and swinging on non-pinchy-bum swings, Grover couldn’t really appreciate the nuances of periwinkle blue, Tiffany blue, or the colour of a certain Leonard Cohen raincoat.

So, orange it was.

Then came the day that his mom (if I’m remembering the legend correctly) knitted him a gigantic orange sweater.  It was (let me emphasize again) gigantic and orange and the wool kind of pilled up and the sweater ended up looking like a gigantic and orange, wearable muppet.  Grover (who I also think of as a lovely, wearable muppet, hence his nom de plum) named it Ugly Orange Sweater (U.O.S.) and it became a Thing.

If you don’t get the significance of a Thing to teenagers, you need to stop everything and read more John Green books.

Anyway, ever since 1986, I have loved Grover and U.O.S. and orange.

I found these two melamine plates recently and even though I have enough vintage melamine to host the entire cast of the Mary Tyler Moore show, they had to come home with me.

On account of the orange.

melamine plate with orange funky flower design

Yep, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Even though I keep putting “tiny house” pics on Pinterest and we’re supposed to be downsizing, not bringing even more stuff that Practical Man gave away in 1976, into the house.  And, even though the orange in these awesome plates is not really the same colour as the orange in U.O.S.

Anyhoo.

These are vintage Maplex (from Toronto, Canada).  And, even though I’m definitely down-sizing, I just love their funky, flower-power motif.

Of course I do.

They go so well with the vintage daisy Pyrex (that my friend Shades gave me) and the vintage orange melamine (that we found in the melamine-mecca of Ompah, Ontario two years ago) and the little Japanese creamer that almost looks like the same flower-power pattern (that I found for 10 cents on a sunny morning of yard sale-ing with my sister-in-law in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, four years ago).

Vintage pyrex bowls with daisy lids; orange melamine coffee cups and plates

It’s as if they were all meant to be together, from the beginning.  So, if you happen to find this Maplex pattern anywhere (I can’t find it, even online), please save it for me because, these would look great in our vintage Boler trailer.

Yes Indeedy, I am incurable.

It might be Grover’s fault.  Too much cozy orange scarf and not enough non-pinchy-bum swings or U.O.S. sightings.

Or something.

But in the end, all that really matters, of course, is:

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

Orange.

Orange who?

Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?!

——————————————————–

Copyright Christine Fader, 2015.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet


I am currently reading the book, Wonder and in it, there are a number of precepts.

Am I the only one who had to pause to remember what “precepts” meant?

I hope not, but, just in case I am not the sole grade-3-spelling-bee-champ-with-an-adult-onset-short-term-memory-deficit-for-proper-nouns, here’s a refresher:   precepts are mottos;  wise sayings;  noble rules by which to conduct one’s life.

It is important to have precepts.  Especially ones like this one:

“Never admit that using your e-reader is a clever way to find out the meaning of a word in a book designed for middle-school children.”

Anyway.

I have another precept:  Fake It ‘Til You Make It.

(Precepts get taken more seriously when they are written with a few capital letters).

My precept is not to imply that I advocate fibbing or mis-representation or passing off that 7 layer cake you got from the artisan bakery as your own work (although having had my own layer cake trauma, I could almost understand if you felt compelled to do that).

No, what I mean is, be your authentic, flawed and wonderful self and then go ahead and FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT.

(Okay, so all caps is just too obnoxious, even for a precept).

Yep, instead of wallowing in your insecurities and all the things you just can’t do (although goodness knows, that’s fun on a cloudy afternoon with a box of ice cream), pretend you know how.  Just for a little while, make the little voice in your head say, “Ha!  This will be a breeze!  I am great at knitting daisies/folding kirigami trees/building swings/crafting papier mache chandeliers/drawing purple elephants using my elbows” and then, as the megalo-maniac athletics company says:  JUST DO IT.

(See, their precept, while lovely, is just a tad obnoxious with the all caps thing).

But, get on with it and maybe, just maybe, you will find that you actually can, after all.

I Fake It ‘Til I Make It all the time.  In fact, I have recently convinced myself that I can play guitar, even though I only learned three-and-a-half chords around age 12.

blue, acoustic guitar

Practical Man gave me this blue guitar for Christmas. I love it!

And now, a few short weeks later, I sort of CAN play guitar.

I’m constantly Just Doing Things I can’t do.  Faking It ‘Til I Make…something.

Like fabu-lizing my father’s old guitar case from 1964.

Dad's black guitar case from 1965

I had already festooned it with a few stickers after he gave it to me recently but, even though I adore festooning, that wasn’t Just Doing It for me, so, I came up with the idea to jazz it up with some vintage fabric I had lying around (jazzing up is like festooning on steroids).

1 metre/yard of vintage, colourful fabric

Vintage fabric – approx. 1 metre/yard

Practical Man suggested that first, we fix it.

guitar case with assorted clamps attached for first aid

After all, this case is from 1964.

And by “we”, I mean “he”:

I don’t have a lot of patience for the clamping and gluing, the molding and re-laminating.  But not Practical Man.  He is a big fan of clamps.  With a handful of clamps, he is one happy clamper.

Ha!

After all the first aid, I finally got to play with the fabric.

Well, actually, Practical Man suggested that it would be a good idea to iron the fabric, first.   The Faking It ‘Til I Make It project nearly ended right there because nobody told me that there was going to be ironing involved in this extravaganza.

Ironing was not part of my fabu-lizing plan.  It is the very definition of anti-fabu-lizing.

But, I took a deep breath and I Faked It Like I Was A Person Who Ironed.

iron on top of fabric

This was almost the end of my Faking It ‘Til I Make It. I don’t love ironing.

Then, it was back to the joy again as I got my nifty pinking shears (that’s just fun to say) and snip, snipped out the guitar shape from the very lovely, newly-ironed, vintage fabric:

guitar shape fabric cut out

I contemplated just varnishing this on to the floor because wouldn’t it be fun to have a flowery guitar inlaid into the floor?

Please ignore that whisper of fold near the top.  No amount of Faking It or steam could help me flatten that.  Also, I didn’t have quite enough full pieces of fabric so the bottom of the case is in two pieces, sewn together.  I Fake It While I Say Bad Words and Sew quite frequently so this was not too traumatic.

two fabric pieces, pinned together at the neck of the guitar

Luckily, straight line sewing on linen, non-wiggly fabric. Not too many bad words.

Because of the scarcity of this vintage fabric, we decided to fabu-lize the sides of the guitar in other ways:  using paint and tape.  I was eager to get on with the Faking It While I Painted It but Practical Man reminded me that we should tape the inside of the case so it wouldn’t get red paint all over it.

Very thorough taping/papering ensued.

I may have rolled my eyes and sighed loudly, a couple of times.

guitar case taped with newspaper

So important. So not fun.

Then, came the painting.  Practical Man doesn’t have to Fake It ‘Til He Makes It while painting so he took the reigns and the spray can and got down to business.  This being red, it took a few coats.

guitar case being painted

 

Then, there was waiting.

Between coats.

And after the final coat, for curing.

Waiting, waiting.

Finally, it was time for the fun fabric-izing!  We covered the lid of the guitar case with white glue, using cheap paint brushes.  Then, quickly, quickly, carefully, carefully, we laid down the fabric on top.  We smushed it all down so that it all made contact with the glue, then we quickly, quickly, before it could dry, painted a thick layer of glue on top and worked out any bubbles we found to seal the fabric in.

guitar case with glued fabric (whitened while drying)

We used white glue (dries clear). You could also use Mod-Podge (basically thinned, more expensive white glue)

Then, we had brandy to recover from the stress.

Just kidding.

It was chocolate milk in a fun glass.

More waiting while the magic happened:  the glue turned clear when it dried!

Once it was fully dry, we turned the case over and applied the second piece of fabric to the bottom.

More quickly, quickly.

More stress.

More brandy (not really).

More waiting.

I do a lot of Faking It ‘Til I Make Like I Enjoy Waiting.

One day or a hundred years later, it was time to tape!

rainbow coloured duct tape

Oooh, quite stressful as well.

Using an exacto-knife, the tape, and nerves of steel, Practical Man and I carefully applied the tape to the edges of the lid, making “relief” cuts using the exacto knife on the tape when needed, to go around the underside of the curves.

Not only does the tape look fun, but it also strengthened the 51 year-old rim.

the edge of the case, taped

we cut around the hinges and buckles.

YAY, I thought.

We’re done!

No, no, not so fast there, Speedy Gonzales.

Practical Man reminded me that spraying the whole thing to protect it, was a good plan.  I agreed but, honestly, that was before I realized that spraying meant scraping off all the excess, dried, clear glue that was on the edges (so that it wouldn’t crack and turn white every time we set the case down on the floor) and also:

Taping.  The.  Whole.  Case.  Again.

Guitar Case, nearly finished with tape and paper all over it again

I am Faking It While We Tape It

 

I wish I drank brandy.

guitar case propped open on table

But, it is starting to look beautiful, don’t you think?

 

So, there you have it.   Approximately two weeks later, presto-bongo, we have a sturdy, repaired, carefully fabu-lized work of guitar case art and I love it:

flowery fabric on top and bottom, rainbow duct tape edges, red sides on finished guitar case

 

But wait!

There are apparently only two tasks left:

  • rubbing 4-0 steel wool over the whole fabric surface to smooth off the fibres that have risen during gluing and then
  • applying a coat of wax

The demonstration sample Practical Man made me has shown me that these two steps will, indeed, result in a superior end product.  And, it’s also made me realize something:

Practical Man’s doesn’t live by the precept:  Fake It ‘Til You Make It.

He lives by the precept:

Do It Right Or Don’t Do It At All.

I  think we make a great team.

 

Copyright Christine Fader, 2015.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet

 

 

 

 


The Camptown Ladies sing this song,
doo da, doo da,
The Camptown racetrack’s five miles long,
Oh, de doo dah day.
– Stephen Foster (1826-1864)

I have been humming this very vintage song lately.  Not because I’ve ever been to the camptown races (or even know what they are, if I’m honest).

I have a rather frilly and can-can-esque vision of the “camptown ladies” from the song in my head (probably wrong and sexist to boot but I’m a little afraid to google “camptown ladies”) and I had no idea that the song’s writer was walking around (and probably humming some annoying song from his village mistral), well before Canada’s confederation.

I can’t help but be impressed.  200 years is some serious longevity for a song that isn’t, y’know, required singing like the national anthem or 99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall.

I wonder if, in 200 years, people will be walking around humming one of Taylor Swift’s extremely catchy/annoying songs.

Ack!  Just a second while I (groan) shake it off, shake it off.

Or as we’ll sing it in the year 2214:  Shake It Off 99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall while We Stand on Guard For Thee.

Anyway, back to the camptown races because yep, that song is annoying me almost as much as Taylor’s is these days,  and I believe it all started with the doo da-s.

Yep, it’s all their fault.

On account of the fact that I have recently become the proud owner of four of them.

Doo dahs, that is.

Two amber ones:

amber depression glass curtain tiebacks

And two purple ones:

purple depression glass curtain tiebacks

I can’t decide which colour is my favourite.  The purple ones remind me of the beautiful glass we have found while beachcombing in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.  Apparently the process used to make glass back in the day meant the clearness (insert technical glass-making term here) wasn’t stable and over time, glass would turn a lovely purple hue.

I love beautiful mistakes, don’t you?

So yes, the purple ones are wonderful.  On the other hand, the amber doo da-s are like owning a piece of tree sap that has turned into something mystical and fairy-like and gorgeous.  As a result, both pairs have been given pride of place in our living and dining area.

amber curtain tieback holding beige curtains

Note to self: get curtains befitting amber gorgeousness

I looked these flowery beauties up online and they were frequently described as “antique, Victorian depression glass”.

I’m not quite sure how something can be of the Victorian and depression eras simultaneously.

Sounds a bit like time travel to me.

But, despite their muddled pedigree and annoying accompanying campfire races ditty, I really do love the doo da-s.  They used to sit on my friend, Mother Nature’s window sill, catching the light and sparkling it around on the beamed ceiling at her house.  Before that, they were at Mother Nature’s oldest sister’s house, having been rescued from a yard sale, auction or some other upcycling venue.

One lovely day, Mother Nature asked me if I wanted the doo da-s for my very own.

She said she wanted to give them to me because I would “do something with the doo da-s”.

Do something with the doo da-s.  Haha.

See how I almost wrote an annoying song there?

Anyhoo, we brought the doo da-s home and Practical Man got out the measuring tape so they would end up equal distances from the floor, once installed.

Boring measuring and blah blah blah but, with happy results.

purple curtain tiebacks holding back red, toile curtains

Yep, this is more like it. Love the purple and red combination.

They make me smile (and hum an annoying little tune).

Yes ma’am, I think to myself, those are some mighty fine doo da-s.

Doo da, doo da!

Sorry.

Shake it off.   Shake it off.

 

Copyright Christine Fader, 2014.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my book.

 


 

photo credit:  Shawn

Photo credit: Shawn Ford

Someday soon, I’ll tell you about our great northern escape to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s cottage–which they call “the camp” (less pretentious)–and which, despite its beautiful lakeside location, will never be referred to as “the lake house” (even more pretentious) or “the compound” (we are obviously not Kennedys).

Every summer should include a vintage cottage, don’t you think?

Even if it does take approximately 8 hours of driving, countless close encounters with partridge, deer, foxes, and chipmunks (whose furry and feathered mamas and papas obviously never taught them to look both ways for the killer automobiles before they crossed the road), several “comfort” breaks and once, a very treacherous 4-hour detour to nowhere thanks to our bewildered GPS, Emily, who didn’t understand that long-abandoned logging roads from 1950 and bouldered creek beds that have been dry since the same era were not actually ROADS, to get there.

That’s another story and suffice it to say that Emily and I are no longer on speaking terms.

But, hurrah, we arrived without incident at the camp this time and I immediately rushed from the car to one of my favourite features:  the vintage outhouse.

I had been holding it since Mattawa and oh sure, there is indoor plumbing at this vintage cottage but, where’s the fun in that?

Maybe you thought that since I am sometimes a little reluctant vis-a-vis The Nature, that I would never darken the door of one of these crescent-moon-bedecked beauties.

Silly you.

In fact, I consider myself a bit of a vintage outhouse connoisseur and really, who wouldn’t want that written on their tombstone?

The outhouse at this camp is quite the snazzy specimen.   Not only does it boast the requisite reading material (Ontario Out of Doors), but it has a light–all the better to see the mosquitoes with–, a genuine, real-for-true linoleum floor, walls of gleaming white and fetching ivy stenciled around.

Such a refined and genteel outhouse it is, that I’m tempted to upgrade the name of the whole place to “The Compound”.

Take that, Kennedys.

I see your Martha’s Vineyard and raise you one McLaren’s Bay.

The outhouse attached to the Little Cottage at my grandparents’ 60s cottage was not the fanciest version but it holds great affection as it was the first foray I can remember into the world of outhouses.  The Little Cottage was the original “bunkie” on the property, relegated to guest quarters and later a playhouse for us grandkids after the main cottage was built.

Oooh and its outhouse was replete with vintage charm and a certain je ne sais quoi.

First, you exited the one-room Little Cottage through a door into a slatted “hallway” that was for all intents and purposes, outside (all the better for allowing the midnight moon to shine through), complete with a small sink and mirror.  A right turn and another door opened to to the throne itself, festooned with Reader’s Digests galore and, if my memory serves, some of-the-era carpeting and a can of air freshener.

I think that was the je ne sais quoi.

More recently, I have frequented an outhouse that is not vintage, but harkens back to yesteryear with its wooden structure and back-to-basics design.  It involves a slightly perilous climb up a sandy, milkweed and thistle-dotted hill and a door that refuses to stay shut, despite the handy log kept nearby for just that purpose.  Also, our friends must have been anticipating very tall visitors.  Assuming the position (after a bit of a running jump) causes me, at nearly 6 feet tall, to have dangling feet.   It’s worth the slight indignities and aerobic exercise however, for this outhouse boasts a magnificent salvaged window with a glorious view over the pond.

But, the leader in the outhouse division has always been the outhouse at my aunt and uncle’s cottage:  the Stoker Bay outhouse.

(Sound the trumpets.)

With its twin side-by-side holes (one with pink toilet seat, one with blue), chalkboard (for composing Stoker Bay Outhouse Poetry) and Outhouse Poetry Notebook (for the rhyming couplet gems that just shouldn’t be lost to a chalkboard eraser), it was the standard to which all other outhouses have been held, since.

The double seater outhouse is such a rarity these days.   I’m sure I’m not the only one who yearns for those cozy-up-with-a-friend bathroom times because visiting this outhouse was an EVENT.

In the summer, it was hot and full of mosquitoes, deer flies and the odd directionally-challenged tree frog.

In the winter, you had to sit with your snowpants on the seat for a while to warm it up before getting down to the deed.

But no matter the season, you could take a friend (or, let’s face it, become friends as a result) and sit, shorts around ankles, slapping at mosquitoes or shivering while dreaming up your latest outhouse poem.

Now, those were some classic moon-June-spoon ditties, let me tell you.

We pause and ponder life and lunch,
We think of bikes and art,
We ruminate on all things fine,
and then, of course, we fart.

Oh, my years of writing Stoker Bay Outhouse Poetry have served me well, haven’t they?

This high-brow art form was, of course, most appreciated–if at all–by those under 13 (or those slightly intoxicated or those with a Y chromosome or any combination thereof).

Even if a couple of visitors weren’t feeling particularly poetically-inclined, one look through the slightly damp, dog-eared Outhouse Poetry Notebook and the giggling would ensue.

And, if you haven’t giggled in an outhouse, well, you really haven’t lived.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2014.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my latest book.