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We’re having enchiladas for supper tonight.

They use up our leftover tortillas, grilled chicken, tomato sauce, veggies and such, so they are fairly regular fare for us.  While enchiladas are certainly not fancy, we do eat them in the dining room and pretend we’re grown-ups, tra-la-la.

Tonight though, is no regular supper.

For, if I squint a little, I can see that the glasses are crystal goblets, from the 1920s.  Just the kind of heirlooms that are magically filled after each course.  I can imagine that our enchiladas are sitting on delicate china and that I am wearing satin gloves that cover my aristocratic elbows.  I blink and there is Carson, the butler, standing over by the drinks cabinet.

old radio turned bar cabinet

Practical Man converted an old radio into this bar cart, many years ago. I am pretty sure that the crystal goblets dance to Irving Berlin, when we’re not around.

Of course, Carson is glaring at our choice of food and lack of footmen.  In fact, I can already hear his remonstration about how we are not “keeping up Standards” with those “foreign”, tex-mex morsels and laissez-faire attitude towards our cutlery.

Worry not, darling Carson:

At least I have my purse.

purple crushed velvet with red and green flowers

Here’s a first peek at its velvet lusciousness

If you have ever seen the television show, Downton Abbey, you’ll know that it is terribly important for a lady to dress for–and carry one’s purse–when she goes down for dinner.  Never mind that the lady has heard the dressing gong ages ago and is still wearing yoga pants and a hoodie instead of Downton-dinner-appropriate jewels and tiara:

At least she has her purse.

I mean, I do.

And a very Downton-esque specimen it is.

purse open with long chain visible

It has this lovely, stowable long chain strap, in case we go dancing, after the enchiladas

Practical Man (who reminds me a little bit of Carson, sometimes, but more often of Bates) found it at a local thrift shop.   Like Bates, Practical Man is full of honour and penitence (and the resignation and shoulders to be able to pull off the requisite suit of that era).  Case in point, Practical Man not only spots treasures like this purse among the fray, but actually shows it to me, instead of burying it deeper on the thrift store shelf in the hopes that I will never find it.

He’s the Bates to my Anna, really.


Anyway, this lovely, beaded bag was CDN$6.50  and looks as if it has never graced the dinner of an enchilada eater (no tomato sauce stains) or an aristocrat (no diamonds inside).  I’m not sure if it’s truly vintage or merely a reproduction, but I love it all the same.

Sure, I’m still wearing yoga pants and a hoodie.

downton-inspired purse, sitting on a dresser

But, with this flapper-inspired beauty beside me, our enchiladas have never looked so good.

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.