Share, source and sigh over all things vintage

Category Archives: Flea Markets/Auctions/Sales

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?

Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?  Please feel free to share!   


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


Everyone knows that collecting books isn’t the same as hoarding, right?

Right?!

Collecting books is literary.  It’s a luxury (after all, how many mansions and castles didn’t have a library room?)  It’s professorial.

And, even though I’m a professor’s daughter and not a professor myself–not to mention a library user and advocate–I do love to keep me some books.

Especially vintage books.

Just a few.

Before you start picturing the worst-case scenario, let me clarify that we only have four bookshelves in our home.

Okay, fine.  We have books in nearly every room (on tables, in magazine racks, in cabinets,) but only four official bookshelves.  That’s what counts.

Four bookshelves is nothing for a bookworm/vintage lover/pack rat, all rolled into one.

No, siree.

three white bookshelves, loaded with books

I know there are only three bookshelves here. The fourth is against a different wall. This helps to break up the “hoarding of books” impression.

Really, I’m small potatoes in the world of book hoarding–I mean–collecting.

I once knew a couple who brought back over 250 books from their honeymoon.  He was doing his PhD (What did I tell you?  Book collections are professorial.) and she just loved books.  Their Victorian house was a maze of floor-to-nearly-ceiling shelves, lining the walls in every room, the hallways and even up the stairs.  The top floor used to be fiction and the bottom floor was non-fiction.  Even if I hadn’t been living in a village with a teeny, tiny library at the time, I would have loved their house.  It came up for sale recently and I was tempted to buy it even though they and their books are long gone.

Their collection made that house a home.

It was a swoon-y, book lover’s house of the best kind.

Like that couple, our measly four bookshelves are also floor-to-ceiling and chock-a-block with books of all kinds.  Mildly organized, as I like to be once or twice a year and clustered among other vintage objects that need a home.  I also (ahem) collect a few vintage toys, which fit very well in my children’s book section.

I believe the staging experts calls this “giving the eye a place to land.”

Uh huh.

One shelf with lots of children's books on it

Anyhoo, the annual book sale for the local symphony orchestra started this weekend and I have never been.  I can’t imagine why, especially after all the fun I had there on Friday evening.

It was in a warehouse, which made it even more fun because of the whole forsaken, industrial vibe.  Plus, there is bound to be tonnage of books in a WAREHOUSE!

warehouse building

This is actually the warehouse BESIDE the warehouse that we went into, but I loved the look of it. It deserves some admiring glances.

When we got inside, there was a map which showed what types of books were in each section.

Maps = tonnage!

Sections = tonnage!

I consulted the map and tried not to squeal.  There was a children’s section and music A, B, and C sections!

Three sub-sections = tonnage!

view of the book sale

Practical Man and I mused about the definition of “Ephemera”.

Such a fun word, don’t you think?

Can’t remember what it means, of course.  This is why I don’t do crossword puzzles, like my sister and Grandma Helen.  I could Google the word, but I like to give my brain a chance to percolate for a few days.

It’s cheaper than Lumosity.com.

I hot-footed it to the music section, leaving a Practical Man in my book-hoarding dust.  There were books about genres of music and books about the people who make music.  But, I’m not as keen on reading about music as I am about playing it.  So, I searched through lots of classical piano books–even a couple that looked just like the ones I scored in East Berlin back in 1985, before the Berlin Wall came down.  (You had to spend all your money before you came back to the West and I spent it, even then, on super-economical, communist music books.)

On Friday evening, I looked for guitar books to help me with my new-ish relationship with Alice, my guitar.

It was a fun search but, yielded nothing interesting.

music books

One part of the music section: full of memories from my childhood of piano lessons.

Then, I saw them:  piles of vintage sheet music.  There were boxes full of music with retro graphics and songs from the likes of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Swoon-y swoon, swoon!

There was music featuring my friend (well, in my imagination anyway), Julie Andrews.  I’ll frame this score by my piano.

title page to the score for My Fair Lady

Some of the books just SMELLED vintage and special and the pages and illustrations dated them instantly to a by-gone era.  Like, this Fireside Book of Folk Songs that is a large, hardcover book from 1947.  There are songs to sing and play from South America and Scotland, Cowboy songs and Railroad songs, Hebrew songs and Chinese songs.   There is even a part for spirituals and hymns. The arranger notes in the preface that “To avoid the monotony and vulgarity, no attempt has been made to persuade one style of accompaniment to suit varying styles of melody, and the square-toed “oom-pah” bass had been studiously avoided.”

Now, who wouldn’t want to take that book home with them for the bargain price of $1?

The Fireside Book of Folks Songs - cover (green with red printing)

I found a couple of gifts for people who appreciate this kind of dusty treasure just as much as I do (I wish I could show them to you!) and Practical Man popped by every once in a while to carry my growing pile, because opening my car door and carrying my books is the kind of vintage gallantry that oozes out of his pores every old day of the week.  He paid my $12 total at the end of our book sale, Friday night date, too.

He’s a keeper, that man.

As I rifled through the sheet music, I felt my heart begin to beat faster.  Judging from the era of most of the music, I wondered if it had come from one person’s collection.  And, I suddenly realized that something really special might be found within the stack.  Something that was worth far more than the 10 cent price tag that was listed on the sign.

And then, I found it.

The song that would bring tears to my eyes in a warehouse full of bargain book tonnage:

Cover to sheet music: Let Me Call You Sweetheart

It was sung in an episode of Downton Abbey in recent years, but, that’s not why I know the chorus by heart:

Let me call you sweetheart

I’m in love with you.  

Let me hear you whisper

that you love me too…”

Originally a hit in 1911, it became the biggest selling popular song on the market again, in the run up to WWII.

But more than this, it’s the song my grandparents played in their “cellar” rec room, amongst the ’50s furniture, when I was growing up.

It was the first song that they danced to at their 40th wedding anniversary, when I was 13 years old, my grandfather with tears brimming in his eyes.

my grandparents, dancing outside at their 40th anniversary

That’s my grandpa Lou, trying not to cry as he dances with grandma Helen, on their 40th wedding anniversary.

It was my grandparents’ love song.

Their song.

And, in part because of the symphony book sale, its ours too.

books in a giant warehouse setting

 

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


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.

 


Once upon a time, there was a very shiny, brown, plastic-y kitchen cupboard.

Naturally, I fell in love.  Y’know, as you do when something is–ahem–shiny, brown and plastic-y.  With fake gold handles.

Did I mention that it was also $15.00 (CDN)?

That’s practically free in many parts of the world (like England, where I paid an outrageous $38.00 for a one month supply of contact lens solution in 1996 but I forgave England because her chocolate bars were so cheap and Wispa love cannot be measured in mere dollars/pounds/euros because Wispa love is forever.  Especially, when it’s a bargain.)

But I digress.   I was in love with a brown, plastic-y thing.  Said plastic being manufactured during the last decades under a variety of monikers, which shall remain nameless–except for Arborite.  Did you know that quintuplets can basically ice skate down an Arborite table surface and it will lose none of its durability or give even a hint of the real wood underneath?  That stuff is practically indestructible.  And, oh-so shiny and plastic-y with its fake wood grain.

What’s not to love?

Oh sure, there are people who go for the obvious lookers of the furniture and decor world, all gleaming teeth and hair (or as they say in furniture and decor and seemingly every single show on HGTV:  granite you-know-whats and stainless steel blah, blah, blahs.)

There’s no challenge, no thrill of the hunt, no wallflower’s revenge in that!

I tend to find the least desirable thing at the auction/flea market/thrift store/garage sale and suddenly, my heart is overwhelmed with desire for, um…shiny, brown, plastic-y-ness.

Who knew?

Practical Man, that’s who.

As soon as we entered the shop, he immediately started sidling, as if drawn by an invisible magnet or the force of my slight hyperventilation–towards the most downtrodden, bits-missing, unloved, dented, moth-eaten, fake wood grained, shiny, brown plastic-y, ugly ducklings of the lot.  He knew that it was only a matter of seconds before I honed in and it has become a race between us–to see who can leap on the most pathetic specimen of all, first.

I won, this time.  MWAH, HA, HA, HA.

This ugly duckling had pristine, original 1950s etched glass sliding doors and perhaps most important to a co-dependant, against-all-odds,  happily-ever-after gal like me:  POTENTIAL.

Tra-la-la!

Practical Man had that look on his face:  the one that said “wee-hoo, that is one ugly specimen, as usual” and then he had the look on his face that said, “and where, exactly, is she going to put that thing?!” but then, magically, his face transformed into the face that said, “well, it does appear to have lots of practical hide-y holes for useful stuff like levels and flashlights and lock washers” and then, most compellingly, he got the look on his face that said,”at least the darn thing is cheap.”

Then, he went to work with his superlative haggling skills.

I love Practical Man.

Then, not unlike Cinderella, our shiny, brown, plastic-y cupboard got some:

  • sanding (ugh) to scuff the shiny, brown plastic-y-ness,
  • priming (double ugh) to make the shiny, brown plastic-y-ness more receptive to paint and
  • painting (by which time Practical Man had swooped in to rescue me from the ughs) to hide and transform the shiny, brown, plastic-y-ness and

Voila!  Presto-Bongo!  Abra-Cadabra!  Our ugly duckling was further bejeweled with my collection of vintage Pyrex and suddenly, it turned into a vintage swan.

Finished dresser - sage green with vintage pyrex inside

Kind of a green swan and to my new friend, Disney Dancer, who I recently met in Colorado, I know that I’m mixing Disney/Hans Christian Andersen metaphors a little, but you get the idea.

Whatever the story, one thing is not in question:  Practical Man is like a real, live, fairy godmother for my shiny, brown, plastic-y cabinet.

I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.

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


If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to fit a giant vat of olives into your fridge or an 84-roll mega pack of toilet paper under your bathroom sink while wondering why on earth they had seemed like such a bargain at the membership-only warehouse store:

You might understand our house.

Our house

Photo: our house (the weeding fairies have obviously been there, whew!)

Oh sure, there was no photo ID required or free samples like at the membership-only warehouse.   But, as we strolled around looking at the house and property the first time, we could see that it had good bones and underneath all the neglect and grime, it had potential.  In short:  it was a deal.

My husband, Practical Man, loves a deal.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why he married me.

Almost positive.

Or, maybe it was for my membership-only warehouse card.

Anyway, the property was great but the house was a mess and it was much bigger than we needed.    3+2 bedrooms.   In Canadian real estate vernacular that means 3 bedrooms on the main or upper floor of the house and two in the basement (often desirable in case you have teenagers or trolls you would rather keep partly underground.)

Just a reminder:  there are two of us.

No growing, space-hogging children.

No gigantic, space-hogging pets.

Just space-hogging vintage vehicles (my idea) and assorted practical things (definitely not my idea) that need yard space.  But, we really just wanted a small-ish house.  Yet somehow, we ended up with five bedrooms (albeit two for trolls).

I know, I know.

But, try to remember:  it’s like the 84-roll mega pack of toilet paper.  It was a deal.

So, the upshot of all this is to confess that I commandeered a room (or two), one of which we call, “the dressing room”, because naturally, every room needs a name since we have so many darn rooms to keep track of.  I think “dressing room” sounds very shi-shi or possibly Mariah Carey-ish or Jennifer Hudson-ish but my room is less personal shopping mall and more grown-woman-reverting-to-some-girly-persona-she-had-never-actually-had-as-a-child.

Cecily Barker flower fairy

Beautiful Cecily Barker lithograph from her flower fairy series (gift from my sister)

This room is entirely comprised of objects found, purchased at auction or in a thrift store except for a few items given to me as gifts by thoughtful people who played right into my designer-ific master vision.  The 10×11 feet of space seemed to give me just enough room for all my girly infatuations to come bubbling up from I don’t know where.

Actually, I know from where.

I blame it on the 1980’s movie, Top Gun.

Dressing table

Dressing table with original, squinty/streaky glass

Kelly McGillis’s character had a gorgeous Porsche Speedster (drool!) and lived in a cute ocean-view cottage that was decorated in a sort of beach-cottage/shabby-chic look that I remember noticing.   And, since the sweet little cottage from Top Gun inspired the room, I’ve decided that it shouldn’t be called the “dressing room” anymore. (even though that does appeal as it makes me sound a bit like an upstairs character in Downton Abbey.)

Instead, we’ll call it the Top Gun Room.

Couch view

Folded quilt made for me as a child by my great-grandmother; quilt on couch back made by someone else’s grandmother (purchased from thrift store)

As you can see, it’s mostly pink.  I’m sure that’s the first thing you thought of when you conjured up your image of a place called the Top Gun Room, right?

And yes, I’m aware that it’s completely self-indulgent.

Also, I’m not even sure I like pink, yet, I have a pink room and I also wrote a very, very pink book.   I feel like it’s becoming a theme, but it’s not my fault.

vintage barkcloth curtains

Vintage barkcloth curtains (Value Village)

I had planned just a few touches, but you see, the giant can of pink paint costs barely more than the teensy can of pink paint.  So, Practical Man was quite right to suggest that it made no sense to buy the amount I actually needed when it actually cost so much more per brush stroke.  Except, I really only needed about 400 brush strokes and now I have around 50,000 brush strokes of “bridal rose” still available.  That’s a lot of pink paint to go around.  As a result, it sometimes tries to splash into other places outside the dressing room.

Y’know, just the odd chair, bookshelf, or picture frame.

Room view - window

Photo: waterfall dresser, vintage barkcloth curtains, armoire, watercolours of our garden roses painted by my mom

When this happens, Practical man mutters pointedly, “the pink is travelling” which I think is code for, “Good grief, isn’t that paint can empty yet?”

If you’ve ever bought the giant vat of olives, I know you understand.

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


When I was 8, I wanted to grow up to be a nun.

I had done very thorough research on this career path and had decided that since nuns did a lot of singing in the hills, rode bicycles, and had picnics with lovable Austrian children, it was definitely the career for me.

But my dad said we weren’t Catholic (which was apparently against the rules if you wanted to be a nun — bummer!) and so I turned my career attention to something infinitely more sensible:

I would be a detective with a cool sports car and a bouncy ponytail.

This may have had something to do with spending many days after school pretending that I was one of Charlie’s Angels or intrepid girl detective, Nancy Drew.  My aunt had loaned me her large Nancy Drew book collection which I read under the covers when I was supposed to be sleeping at night.

Nancy Drew - The Secret of the Old Clock

In defence of my disobedience, our parents put my sister and I to bed at 7:30.

Yep, 7:30.  Until we were about 13.

This is why I need 12 hours of sleep to function, now.  Which, of course, I can never get, even though I go to bed practically immediately after supper.  But, I don’t drink coffee and I almost never get 12 hours of sleep.

So, excuse me if I seem a little dazed and confused.

Anyway,  (YAWN), I used to I read with my face squished up against the pages of each Nancy Drew mystery, so I could try to see the words with my curtains closed and the covers over my head.   Inevitably, I ended up needing glasses at the ripe old age of seven.

Me in glasses

And, then I looked a lot more like Anne Sullivan than Nancy Drew, but that’s another story.

Here are some of the reasons (YAWN again) I wanted to be Nancy Drew when I grew up:

1)  She had a blue, roadster convertible.   I believe it matched her eyes.  Obviously, every independent woman needs a car that accessorizes her best features.

2)  She had “titian” hair.   I knew what that meant because the author, Carolyn Keene, was kind enough to tell me that it was a vintage term that denoted reddish-blond.  However, it was a word I had read, but never heard spoken.  I remember wishing that my boring sandy-blond head would turn a lovely shade of “tie-teean”, with all my heart.

3)  Nancy had a “kindly housekeeper” named Hannah Gruen.  I always wanted a kindly housekeeper, like Hannah or, if she was unavailable, then Alice, from the Brady Bunch (who seemed, somehow, slightly scarier to timid me).

4)  She had a boyfriend named Ned Nickerson.  At 8 years old, I didn’t give two hoots about the boyfriend but, I was already a pushover for some good alliteration.

Now that I’m older and (gulp) wiser, I have lots of reasons I’m glad I’m not Nancy Drew:

1)  I have a Fiat 500 with a squishy-back roof (um…I don’t know the official name for this so I came up with something technical).   Way-y-y-y cuter and more interesting than a blue convertible.  Maybe I’ll paint it turquoise to match my eyes (I’m pretty sure that if  I lean right up against the car, my eyes look turquoise…yes, indeedy).

Fiat

My little 1970 Fiat, “Bellina”

2)   I now have brown, not “titian” or “tie-teean” hair.  It might not be as interesting but I was able to pronounce it correctly, even before I heard the word spoken.  Although, to be fair to “titian”, I also pronounced “nonchalant” as “non-kallent” until I was about 14 and heard somebody say it.   I was an “A” student…honest.

3)  I don’t have a kindly housekeeper but I have a kindly house husband.   He won’t deign to respond if I call him Hannah and he definitely won’t wear a cute vintage apron, but that’s okay.  His banana bread makes me forgive anything.  There was never a peep about Hannah Gruen’s banana bread in all the Nancy Drew books.  Kindly only goes so far, I guess.   Poor Nancy.

4)  Practical Man’s name doesn’t alliterate but it kind of rhymes with Darth Vader.  Even I know that Star Wars trumps Nancy Drew.  Every.  Day.  Of.  The.  Week.

My entire collection

Despite my Nancy Drew adoration, I actually only owned three books of my own so after I returned my aunt’s books to her, I was left with:

#1 – The Secret of the Old Clock

#14 – The Whispering Statue

#32 – The Scarlet Slipper Mystery

I practiced my detective skills–like developing spy codes and writing backwards–for hours, in case I was ever pressed to write a secret telegram or message.  I can still write backwards almost as quickly as I can write forwards.  Call me if you can think of any useful application for this skill or if you live, trapped, in an alternate world behind a mirror.

You can probably tell, what with my squishy-back-roofed car and my brown hair and my writing backwards, that I would be a good stand-in for Nancy Drew, if she ever wanted to take a weekend mini-break or a sabbatical (with or without her “keen” friends George and Bess).  My mysteries could be:

#1 – The Tupperware Mystery

# 14 – The Case of the Backwoods Boler

# 32 – The Secret of the Frightened Fiat.

This weekend, I made progress on (re) building my Nancy Drew collection.   I found #3 – the Bungalow Mystery, copyright 1960 at a garage sale for the bargain price of 50 cents.

Bungalow Mystery

I now have exactly 10 Nancy Drew books (not all sequential) in my desired 1959-1970 vintage editions.  I saw a whole collection at an antique shop last weekend too, for $5/book, but that’s no good, when they’re just all sitting right there in front of me, now is it?

So, now, I’m all grown up (at least in theory) and I didn’t become a nun or a girl detective in the end.  Honestly, who can get to bed by 7:30 (YAWN) and cope with any of those jobs?  But, I still like to play the “what will I be when I grow up?” game.

I am a career counsellor, after all.

This week, I picture myself as the Bionic Woman.   The Bionic Woman can bah-bah-bah-bah-bah run-in-slow-motion bah-bah-bah-bah-bah towards her next vintage treasure and beat everyone to the bargoons.  How fun would that be?

But, I still love you, Nancy Drew.  See you in the morning.  Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Nancy Drew's Guide to Life

Copyright Christine Fader, 2013.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet
http://www.avintagelife.wordpress.com

 


There’s not enough room in the kitchen cupboards.

However, I’m almost positive that nearly getting beaned every time I open a door to fetch a plate has nothing to do with the oval, pale pink, melamine bowl I got at a garage sale for 50 cents last Saturday.

Pink melamine bowl

It belongs with the vintage pink, melamine salt-and-pepper shakers that our friend, Safety Bob, gave us…er, me, last summer.

Pink melamine salt and pepper

Ditto the custard-yellow platter.  And the darling celery-green serving bowl.  But, that’s not why there’s not enough room in the cupboards.  I’m sure of it.

Almost positive.

Here are 10 ways Practical Man and I differ when it comes to what should be in the cupboards:

1.  He likes utilitarian things.
I like, uh…things.

2.  He says stuff like, “the right tool for the right job”.
I say stuff like, “I don’t know what I’ll use this (vintage drinking straw dispenser) for, but I love it!”

strawholder

3.  He buys staple foods (on sale, of course) like oats, coffee and veggies from The List.
I don’t buy food (can’t be trusted to stick to The List).  Consequently, I need a GPS and several stock boys to find anything in the grocery store.

4.  He uses things like cheese slicers because they are safe.
I cut myself regularly because using anything but a knife to slice cheese would never occur to me.

5.  He buys the gigantic jars of spices (because they’re cheaper).
I would like him to buy the gigantic bags of chocolate chips (I’m sure they’re cheaper).

6.  He stockpiles non-perishable food (on sale, of course), like we’re preparing for the apocalypse.
I stockpile Wispa bars, just in case the Queen (or Bono) happens to stop by for lunch.

7.  He buys 32 different kinds of herbal tea to try to entice me to drink it.
I only drink tea under duress because most of it tastes like 32 different kinds of grass clippings (chocolate chai grass clippings, mint grass clippings, lemon zinger grass clippings…).

8.  He likes using a kitchen scale when he’s dividing up the leftovers to put in the freezer.
I prefer to stay far away from anything remotely resembling a scale (see earlier note about Wispa bars).

9.  He uses a meat slicer to slice the giant summer sausage from our favourite Mennonite store.
I cut myself regularly because using anything but a knife to slice summer sausage would never occur to me.

10.  He thinks meat slicers, scales and cheese slicers are very practical.
I think they’re the reason we have no room in the cupboard.

I’m almost positive.