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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
But in the end, all that really matters, of course, is:
Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?!
Posted by Christine Fader in Inspiring Lives & People, Retro Decorating, Vintage Viewpoint Tags: 50s, Boler, camping, daisy pyrex, decorating, dishes, downsizing, glamping, jokes, Leonard Cohen, maplex, melamine, orange, Pyrex, retro, tiny house, vintage
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.
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.
Posted by Christine Fader in Retro Decorating, Vintage Viewpoint Tags: 50s, 60s, camping, Canada, Cottage, holidays, Humor, Humour, northern Ontario, outdoors, outhouse, poetry, retro, slice of life, summer, vintage
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Christine Fader in Flea Markets/Auctions/Sales, Retro Decorating, Vintage Shopping, Vintage Viewpoint Tags: 1950s, 50s, arborite, cabinet, cupboard, decorating, dresser, furniture, kitchen, painting, Pyrex, refinishing, retro, vintage
A vintage lover on a budget can be challenged these days what with the pattern of finding the same 5 chain stores in every city. Unless you can afford to shop in a local boutique (which I generally can’t), it can be hard to find unique treasures without spending a small fortune.
Enter, garage sales and auctions.
My fellow treasure hunter husband, M, and I love the country sales and church sales the best. We’ve found the nicest people, the most unique stuff and the biggest bargains at these sales. And, there’s usually great PIE, too.
I mean what’s a Saturday morning without pie?!
Recently, we imitated the Clampetts by strapping a porch swing found at a church yard sale to the roof of our car and driving home with it. It now sits serenely and Walton-like (thanks to some Macgyvering by M), suspended from our porch rafters. It makes me want to sip lemonade in a voopy dress, just looking at it.
A few weeks ago, we found some Pyrex in amazing condition. I love the images of 50s casseroles it conjures up and it also reminds me of my grandmother’s tiny kitchen and post-war house. A cute little red dish and a cheery yellow casserole complete with lid were purchased for–and this is why I love country yard sales–a grand total of 75 cents.
Add a little pie into the experience and it’s my definition of a perfect day.