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12 banana muffins sitting on a wire rackPractical Man–my main squeeze, my boyfriend, my love–is in the kitchen whipping up a batch of banana muffins.

As he does.

I am mostly sitting in his favourite chair (as I do), holding my belly button with both hands and trying to take deep, cleansing, banana-muffin-scented breaths.

My hands are cupped, as if I’m carefully holding a baby chick, but what I’m really doing is attempting to keep my belly button from making a fast getaway.  It’s a task that requires vigilance and dedication, even through my bewilderment.  I don’t honestly know why my belly button has forsaken me in this manner.  I mean, I’ve been good to the thing, over the years.

  • I’ve kept it (mostly) from being sun burned.
  • I’ve kept it (mostly) from being mercilessly tickled.
  • I’ve never pierced it (my sister holding the waistband of her pants out for two days after she had hers done a hundred years ago, was a good deterrent).

As in most things, I am a belly button goody-two shoes.

Yet, here I sit.  In full-on Belly Button Betrayal.

I got terrible books out of the library and Olympic Golf has officially come back.  This is what misery looks like, my friends.

Every once in a while, I limp into the bedroom to the full-length mirror and lift my shirt to look.

Is it still there?  In one piece?

Now, I’m navel gazing.

For real.

Except, not like Gandhi or Elizabeth Gilbert (author of the wildly popular memoir, Eat, Pray, Love).  Someone with important socio-political/existential/spiritual (Gandhi) or even spaghetti questions (Elizabeth Gilbert) on their minds.

I do have those questions but, tra-la-la, the Olympics are on.

So, I’ve been navel gazing for a week, on account of the laparoscopic surgery I had.  Note to self:  my belly button does NOT look like the ones on the Canadian beach volleyball team.

Actually, navel gazing and fussing.  Lots and lots of fussing.

I don’t remember Gandhi doing much of that, do you?  Maybe you lose your belly button when you’re fasting for important, civil rights reasons.  Not that I’ll ever know.  I came out of surgery after lunch, ready for a 3-course meal, since I hadn’t eaten since MIDNIGHT the night before!

I’m really more like Elizabeth Gilbert than Gandhi.

More foodie than faster.

Uh huh, that’s me.

By the way, do you think making banana muffins is a sophisticated avoidance technique?  Practical Man is…well, practical.  When there’s a problem, he usually has a very practical solution. And, making banana muffins does afford a brief respite from your fussing/navel gazing wife doesn’t it?  Actually, don’t answer that.  I’m not sure I care if it’s a sophisticated avoidance technique, so long as I get some banana muffins out of the deal.

Naval gazing and fussing.  I feel like that might be on my headstone some day, darn it.  Kind of sums me up pretty well at the moment.

And, while I am a talented fusser, as Practical Man can no doubt attest, I would like to stop.

Really, I would.

It’s just that I never thought my belly button could hurt quite this much.  On account of, I am a documented ‘fraidy cat and I’ve never had a single baby and everyone knows (or at least, I knew with utter certainty when I was 6) that babies come out of that aperture thingy in the middle of our belly buttons.

YAWN.  (That’s how I thought the aperture part opened, when I was 6.  The doctor would tickle it a little, and the mama would YAWN and then the baby on the bench nearest the belly button door, would pop out.)

Uh huh.  Inadvertent childbirth.  That must be it.

That’s really the only reason I can think of that my belly button would feel like it’s had a grapefruit pulled through it.

Ta da!


Maybe not.  As far as I know, there is no tropical fruit lurking in my belly.

I’m more of a vegetable–okay, carbs–girl, to be honest.  With an ice cream chaser.

Good thing, too since I now know how much it hurts to get (what feels like) a grapefruit pulled through your belly button.  All you women who gave actual birth to an actual human and not a grapefruit.  Pfffffff.  Sure, that’s cool.  But, I mean, really.

Have YOU ever had a grapefruit pulled through your navel?

It’s almost time to head to the mirror again.

Watch for my life-changing memoir:



Banana Muffins.

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





My sister emailed from Tuscany this week and told us that her hotel room had only skylights in the ceiling, but no windows.

Poor, poor thing.

Not that I’m jealous of her trips to the Italian markets or the daily gelato she’s eating (it’s a cultural experience) or the million Fiats surrounding her that she’s probably not even noticed.

Two fiats

Why am I complaining? It’s practically like Tuscany in our garage.

Nope, not jealous.    After all, working with university students is kind of like Tuscany, without the markets or gelato or million Fiats.


Anyway, it got me thinking, what with my poor sister’s hotel room being what she affectionately calls “the dungeon”.  There is no sympathy because that dungeon is–let’s review–in Tuscany, but I did get to thinking about windows.

No gelato (boo hoo) in these parts, but boy-oh-boy, do I have windows.

Yay, me!

Tuscany should pine for these windows:

Tall ones, paned ones, broken ones, curvey ones.

All vintage.  All drafty, single paned and in need of regular painting, no doubt.  Some with wobbly, bubbly glass that would have been good and rattly in a storm (or when you stomped down the stairs in a huff because you weren’t in Tuscany).

All forsaken for new, shiny, vinyl things.   Bleech.

Some were abandoned, heartlessly at the side of the road, where, yippee, we picked them up.  Yippee!

By “we”, I mean, Practical Man leaped out of the car while I clapped my hands in glee.  Yippee!  He is what you call the “strong, silent type”.  Being the strong, silent type is perfect when you are asked to rescue another one of your wife’s collectibles, without the need to sigh or contribute snide remarks.

Apparently a little rolling of the eyes is permitted, however.

He may have been rolling his eyes, but he barely batted his incredibly long eyelashes recently when I bought two (more) vintage windows that we found, for a steal, at a sale.

old window with wallpaper on it

No, that is not lovely stained glass. It is dusty wallpaper. Bye, bye wallpaper!

Windows that my unfortunate, deprived sister doesn’t have in Tuscany, no siree.

I have big, big plans for these.  Yep, I do.  Uh huh.

Sometimes, I also buy doors (and then hang them sideways on the wall, because why wouldn’t you?)

Dutch door, hanging on wall

I’ve always wanted a dutch door. I think this used to be one.

Other times, I create a scene using bristol board, my giant box of craft paper and UHU glue (so I can regress to age 15 and pretend I am still in Germany eating Black Forest Cake for late afternoon snack.)   Plus, UHU is so fun to say, especially if you say it the German way:  OOOHOO!

Now you know:  OOOHOO!

Then, I call it art and hang it up, boldly, as if I am an artiste.

This piece (real art is always called a “piece” isn’t it?) is called “Waiting for Ferdinand”.  I was inspired by The Story of Ferdinand, the little bull who loved to smell the flowers.

curvy windows with art

See? Curvy windows make great art.

I like to pretend I am a Spanish sinorita with a flower in my hair.

Ferdinand, Ferdinand, wherefore art thou, Ferdinand?

He doesn’t respond, except to say, “UHU!”

scrabble lettering:  Waiting for Ferdinand

I think Ferdinand seems like a Scrabble kind of a bull.

This next one doesn’t have a name.  It’s from a time before I called things like this “pieces” and pretended to be an “artiste”.

I look at it while I’m trying to play Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven or the Apple commercial piano jingle.  It makes me feel as if I’m playing wonderful music by the seaside from my  home in a lighthouse.

Yes, my home in a lighthouse where I fly my hot air balloon to the mainland to get warm, fresh-from-the-oven baps and buy rhinestone sunglasses, once a week.  Tra, la, la.

Maritime scene, paper and antique window

This lovely window doesn’t stare, disapproving, at me like the Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, portraits I used to have above the piano.

Sometimes, I just put windows on the fireplace and then add a bunch of empty antique frames and favourite, vintage books.


Windows to nowhere, frames with no one. Love it.

These make me smile but they make my friend Bamboo Guy’s wife, very, very puzzled.  She doesn’t understand why every fireplace needs a copy of Peter Rabbit.

Sometimes, I’m not sure we can be friends.

Here is the view from our living room window these days:   autumn in southern Canada.

That’s the pool shed:  doesn’t it look quaint?  It has great, old-fashioned windows.

sugar maples, benches, shed

All our sugar maples are starting to snooze…

Now, I just need some gelato and I’m all set.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2013.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my latest book.

More window ideas:


50s and 60s coloured plates50s coloured plates
made in Australia by Johnson, Sovereign Pottery and others &
made in England by Roydon, Polo and others

Following on from my last post, here is a mish-mash of lovely 50s plates, collected from all over the place. There are eight large and eight side plates, in baby blues, pastel yellows, baby pink, pastel green…all made from different manufacturers.

Ever since student days, when having miss-matched crockery and furniture was all one could aspire to, I have enjoyed one-offs and still recoil from matchy-matchy things. My partner and I spent about a decade or so trying to buy a new crockery set once…in the end we found the only manufacturer in the world that produced single pieces in vibrant colours- a kind of contemporary harlequin set. It makes perfect sense- if you break something the whole set isn’t ruined…you simply replace the piece in the appropriate colour.

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Very groovy. Slightly dangerous.

You are reading a post from Christine Fader’s “A Vintage Life” blog.  Join the romance with all things retro at

Legend has it that I am to blame for the eclectic assortment of ornaments that adorned our family Christmas tree while I was growing up.

It was the 1970s and we had the classic large, multi-coloured lightbulbs all over our tree, emboldened by metal, multi-coloured reflectors surrounding each light.  We also had an assortment of metal, multi-coloured ornaments (which succumbed to breakage or loss of paint over the years) and of course, the requisite silver “icicle” tinsel festooned  every branch.

The story goes that when I was almost 1 (my birthday is in February), my dad went to a local store to pick up some Christmas decorations for his young family’s tree. He describes a decision method which involved me pointing my chubby finger at sparkly things, which he then purchased.   It should be explained that my dad has many exceedingly lovely qualities, however, the expression “his taste is all in his mouth” has been often attributed in his direction.   Perhaps this was why I often caught my mother sighing during the festive season and avoiding direct eye contact with the tree.

We always had a “real” tree and there was great debate about what kind.  Some of us favoured the elegant spruce while others loved the scotch pine and we

silver tree

The groovy silver tree I found recently

even had the occasional year with what I thought was a rather lumpy fir.  No matter the tree, it always had a hole somewhere in it.  This was a good thing for it meant that my sister’s nursery school papier mache ball (complete with gold spray-painted maraconi and bits of lace) could be called into service and have its season of glory.

On tree decorating night, my father would first go to the record player and put on the-record-that-to-this-day-means-Christmas-is-here:   Christmas with Nat King Cole.   Then, he would start sweating, as parents do, for their family’s Christmas happiness.

Year through year, my father struggled with chopping off the bottom of the sticky trunk with the hand saw he’d brought with him when we moved from Calgary and with some grunting and muttering, wedged it into the tree stand that required five hands to keep the red, metal legs from falling out while he was trying to wrestle the tree in.  Then, with his head muffled from way under the tree, he would try to tighten the completely inadequate three little screws that were supposed to impale themselves somehow into the trunk and hold an 8-foot tree upright and…uh..straight.

After all the sweating and muttering, (and sometimes some strategic bracing to ensure the tree wouldn’t topple out of its screws) came the lights extravaganza.  Broken lights had to be replaced, we had to vary the colours on the string and it was my sister’s and my job to poke the lights through the metal flower reflectors.  I remember them being quite sharp and I’m sure there would probably be some kind of kiddie safety ban on them nowadays.

After what seemed like several hours of grunting and bleeding and sweating, we would turn on the lights and marvel at their solar death ray brightness.  Nothing says Christmas like spots before your eyes and band-aids on your hands.

We had real trees, but when I found this silver tree recently, it brought back my childhood.   It’s of the era – an era of silver icicle tinsel and shiny metal ornaments and the gigantic


I have one, precious one of these left.

light bulbs and flower reflectors.    It’s got that 70s, not-a-colour-found-in-nature, solar death ray vibe about it and I love it.

My one remaining hot pink, metal ornament (just like the ones shown here!) from childhood is gonna look super groovy.

Merry Christmas!

So yesterday was Saturday, one of the best days of the week for a vintage hunter.  In our house, we’re not die-hards, photo of seatbelt beltrising before dawn to scope out the best sales or anything, but we sometimes saunter out, usually around 9:00 or 9:30 and meander our way down the country roads near (and sometimes not so near) our house in search of treasures.

Sometimes we don’t find much.

Lots of  clothes for children we don’t have and knick-knacks for dusting I don’t do.  There are some ambitious vendors ($80.00 for the tiny child’s chair) and some people whose interests or tastes just don’t give me that “oh wow look at THAT!” feeling.  But there are also the estate sales from houses that haven’t changed in 50 years and church sales where everything seems to be 10 cents.  My excited butterflies start before I’ve even left the car.

Yesterday, I spent $8.75 on a few fun finds (some of which had my husband rolling his eyes).   There was the vintage tolle-painted, metal garbage pail with foot pedal (red) and only slightly broken.  Luckily I live with the handiest of handymen and he assured me that “with a little coaxing with a hammer”, it would soon be sitting pretty in our ensuite bathroom.  

There was the antique jam jar which had long ago lost its wooden lid but which was still charming and a steal of a deal since I don’t care enough about junk pedigree to worry if it’s the real thing or not.  And a Fisher Price doctor’s kit (a great addition to the Operation game I put on my promotion table for my medical school admission business). Of course, there were the requisite children’s books to add to my collection but it wasn’t until after we’d munched our way through a country garlic festival and were returning home, sighingly satiated and stinky of breath in the afternoon, that we stumbled across the aforementioned eye-roll-provoking treasure.

The seatbelt belt.  Yup.  You’ve probably seen them in your travels.  You take an old car seatbelt and fashion it into a belt and well, being a car girl as I am, it struck a chord with me.  It was humorous and whimsical and slightly ridiculous:  the very definition of something I usually want to own.  The owner didn’t even barter (possibly because she was being bombarded by our garlic festival breath and just wanted to escape) and I had to have it…even though it did cost me the princely sum of 50 cents. 

There was much eye rolling as we made our way back to the car, me grinning from ear-to-ear.  And I know that a seatbelt belt is possibly stretching the “retro” theme of this blog because maybe it’s not retro, but rather, simply weird.  You decide.

Me, I’m too busy smiling about my belt.

Daizybug at the end of a rainbowOnce upon a time, there was an otherwise healthy woman who keeled over a lot. 

Okay, so maybe it’s me.

I am a rather substantial, tall person but despite my hardy appearance, I fainted while cooking pancakes.  I fainted on airplanes causing international incidents and on one of my most stellar days (not!), I fainted and woke up lying with my head in my boss’s lap while he yelled at everyone to call 911. 

I was treated, unsuccessfully, for years which meant that even though I had my driver’s license, it kept getting suspended and I couldn’t drive through my teens or twenties.

Y’know…probably not a bad idea when one is a keeler over type.

I realize that you can’t hear my voice as you read this and so therefore, you may not have fully grasped yet how completely sensible yet incredibly frustrating and sad it was when I couldn’t drive for 17 very, very, very long years. 

I mean, that’s enough time to yield an almost full-grown person with an attitude problem who will mock my choice of vintage vehicles, people!

Anyway, the persistent mis-diagnosis and its corresponding ineffective treatment meant that my husband and I were resigned to living on a suburban bus route.   And despite being a passionate lover of vintage “ugly duckling” cars, I despaired of ever being able to drive—let alone own—one of the vehicles in my dreams.

Thanks in large part to my husband who provided some helpful information to medical types, I now take anti-keeling over medication (I think that’s what the pharmacist calls it, actually) and I and our Beetle, “Daizybug” spend from May-September together every year.

Being able to not only own a vintage 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle but also actually drive said car is still wondrous to me–even after 6 years–so forgive me if I gush a little.

It’s a May-September romance, worth more than any ol’ pot of gold.

For those of you not familiar with Cockney Rhyming Slang, a “titfer” is a hat — as in “titfer tat” — which rhymes with “hat”. 

I know…bizarre stream of consciousness thing those Cockneys have going on.

Anyway, with all the compliments I’ve received about my hat and well, the warm (it’s a winter hat) and fuzzy (it’s vintage-inspired after all) feelings I get when I put it on, I wanted to give a shout out to the source for my luscious lid (pictured here and on my personal facebook page).

With its vintage-inspired cloche shape and OTT red crocheted flower on the side, I fell in love with it when I saw it.  I found it on – one of my favourite websites.  It’s a site for artists and craftspeople to sell their incredible, unique, definitely-not-found-in-a-big-box-store, wares.  This hat is designed and made by the femme of spiritsrising

If you visit etsy, you might find some treasures and then, you can gleefully shout something like, “check out my fab new whistle!” (translated from  Cockney Rhyming Slang as: “whistle-and-flute” or to us non-Eastender types:  “suit”.

So…anyway.  Check it out some time.  Support a creative type and the world will thank you because without them we wouldn’t have art shows in forests or 3-D chalk drawings on sidewalks or poutine (I mean, who else but a creative time would have thought that one up??) 

And you’ll have something very fun and possibly retro in nature to swoon over.  Ta dah!

You are reading a post from Christine Fader’s “A Vintage Life” blog.  Join the romance with all things retro at

Flower Hat