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Tag Archives: Fisher Price

It’s October, so my Christmas list is well overdue.

Of course it is.

Santa is so demanding.

And, lest you think this is all a tad early, let me inform you that Costco has been Christmas-ing since August, yes indeedy.

There are entire aisles you can Deck the Halls in, wearing your flip-flops (we can’t generally wear flip-flops during the ACTUAL festive season in Canada).

There are buffalo-checked Christmas doo-dahs as far as the eye can see (I try my best to avert my eyes back to the free samples they give out at Costco, which it’s really important to keep one’s eye firmly upon so as not to forget the real reason we shop at Costco).

Buffalo check pattern

Photo credit: Spoonflower

Practical Man does not approve.

Of the Christmas doo-dahs, I should clarify.

No sirree.

He’s a free-sample fan, though.

What kind of Practical Man would he be if his favourite thing was not anything, preceded by or followed by the word, FREE?

He never eats the free samples – he gives them to me, like some kind of Snack Saint.  He doesn’t snack and did I mention that he’s kind of annoying, sometimes?

Lovely, but annoying in a Snack Saint sort of way.

Or, maybe Snack Santa.

But, festive flourishes (even with free snacks for his beloved) before a respectful observance of Remembrance Day (Nov 11)?  Now, them’s grounds for grunting and Rick Mercer-esque rants.

I don’t disagree.

It’s only October, merchants!  My Hallowe’en costume is barely out of my head and onto the sewing machine, yet.

But, Practical Man still wants my Christmas list early, early, early.

He’s not a huge fan of all the commercialism and forced gifting that comes with the season but, he does like to make someone happy.


“You know that I don’t go in stores after the beginning of November,” he warns in a Bah Humbug sort of voice.

Who cares about that when everyone knows that Santa doesn’t shop in stores?  Santa has elves making things in workshops and eating gingerbread, dontcha know.  They don’t shop at Costco (unless they are snackers, in which case, who can blame them?)

Ho, ho, ho.

Still, on account of their too early Christmas hullabaloo, I wonder if Costco has been listening to our conversations about overdue Christmas lists?  Like a George Orwell, big-brother-is-watching-you kind-of-creepy, Santa?

Oh wait, that’s Siri and Okay Google.  Neither of which we use and yet…

I’m feeling spooked.

Which would be fine because it’s nearly Hallowe’en:  the season of spookiness.


And what with my distraction about whether my non-Siri/Okay Google devices are listening to my conversations without my permission, it’s a bit difficult for me to think of what I want for Christmas.

Except maybe a vintage, Fisher Price hospital, complete with X-ray machine and working elevator.

Vintage Fisher Price hospital with all people and equipment

photo credit: YouTube

Because, every woman in her 40s needs one of those, right?

And peace on earth, wrapped in buffalo check flannel.

Except, not yet.

Because it’s wa-a-a-a-y too early for Christmas-y stuff.

So says Practical Man–and me.

But, not Costco.

Boo Humbug.





There is a type of person who aspires to live in weird places.

Like, a lighthouse, say.

Or, a converted barn.

Who me?

Yes me, but not just me.  There are other weirdos about.

Behold the Tiny House movement.

Naturally, I would love a Tiny House.

Of course, a vintage Boler is really a kind of Tiny House.

Our vintage Boler travel trailer with awning up, rug and chairs in front, door open


Arlo Guthrie memorialized the cool, weird house back in the 1960s with his song, “Alice’s Restaurant” in which Alice, Ray, and Potcho the Dog lived in an old church.

My dad introduced me to the song when I was about 12.  As an adult, my friend and fellow Alice’s Restaurant fan, Bamboo Guy, even owned a church that was very swoon-y.  Bruce Cockburn lives there now and how cool is that?

I’ve wanted to live in a church ever since.

And, even before.

In fact, my fascination with weird houses manifested itself as a child when, with every snowstorm, I attempted to build a house made from snow.

Unfortunately, I never learned the Inuit tradition of igloos (although I tried to build one many times!)

Usually, it was just me and my sister with shovels and soggy mittens, making a hole in the snow bank at the end of our driveway and trying to pretend that the result was a cozy as a Hobbit house.

In a melty, collapse-on-your-head kind of way.

My mother was concerned (as all Canadian mothers were) that the snowplow driver would kill us, by accident, with all that gallivanting at the street side.

That meant, my other option was an old margarine container in the back yard.

I would pack the snow in the container tightly, then tip it out carefully on the ground.

Sometimes, it was that dumb sugary snow that wouldn’t hold together.

Boo, hoo, hoo.

Other times, it was close to Spring and my “bricks” had a lot of leaves and twigs in the mix.

It marred the pristine, crystalline, margarine beauty I was going for, but I tried to just pretended it was mortar.

I wonder if Frank Lloyd Wright ever had these kinds of issues?

I’d lay out the floor plan:  kitchen here, library here, secret passageways there.

My projects always seemed to cover the whole back yard.

Not one able to keep to minimalism even then, no siree.

Which meant that either I got discouraged, or the snow melted before my margarine-tub-formed walls were more than about ankle height.

As an adult, I drag Practical Man around to look at every weird building I can find.

Yesterday’s schoolhouse was very fun.

Historic brick schoolhouse front with bell tower

Built in 1847, it counts as “very old” among buildings in Canada.

It was kind of in the boonies, of course, since that’s where country schoolhouses tend to spring up.

It still had slate chalkboards.

Original slate blackboards with wood wainscotting below

Be still my heart.

There were tin ceilings in what used to be the girl’s and boy’s entrance foyers.   Oh yes, they were of a time:

tin ceilings - scrolly square pattern

And the original schoolhouse lights (SIX!):

Wooden floors, blackboards, view of one schoolhouse light on the ceiling

Swoon-y swoon, swoon.

As you may have observed, it even had a bell tower.

Ding, ding, ding!

Minus the bell, but I’m sure we could remedy that.

Alas, it had a bidding war planned for Monday and about 10 years of hard labour involved after purchase.

Boo, hoo, hoo.

One of the things stopping me from buying some of these weird buildings (besides a usefully-practical Practical Man) is their one-room schoolhouse size.

Since we can’t usually afford the life-size ones that don’t have 10 years of hard labour, I’ve been collecting small buildings.

Fisher Price vintage ones.

I’m sure you guessed that’s what I meant, since I have no children and I’m pushing 50.

They do take up a bit of space, as you can imagine.

So far, I have a castle:

vintage fisher price castle with Queen and Princess standing on the drawbridge

A farm:

Vintage Fisher Price farm with animals, silo, and farmer driving tractor

Sesame Street:

Vintage Fisher Price Sesame Street with garbage truck, The Count, Mrs and Mr. Hooper, Ernie

an A-frame Cottage:

Vintage Fisher Price A Frame Cottage with RV

A Firehouse:

Vintage Fisher Price fire station with fire trucks, ladder truck, ambulance, police car

and perhaps best of all,

the School house:

Fisher Price Schoolhouse with bus, swing set, merry go round

This Schoolhouse was the perfect price and size.

It even has a bell in the bell tower.


When I was 5 or 6, I decided to run away.

I can’t recall what unspeakable childhood injustice led to the moment when I flounced into my room and started packing my suitcase, but I do remember the dilemma:

how to fit everything in?

The little blue suitcase that I kept my doll’s clothes in wasn’t nearly big enough to hold the non-negotiable running away necessities such as:

  • a flashlight to guard against bogey man,
  • books and books and books to read while “on the road”,
  • clean underpants (in case I was in an accident),
  • penny bank (a plaster, brown-and-white pig approximately the size of my entire torso),
  • and red-and-white checkered umbrella and raincoat ensemble (one can never be too stylish while running away),

let alone my TREASURES.

Red cowboy hat:

red cowboy hat and rubber boots on swing

There’s me in my red cowboy hat (and rubber boots, of course).

Thumbelina doll:

Thumbelina doll

Really quite small but somehow, trying to squish it in the suitcase, it seemed so very, very big.

Mickey mouse record player:

Mickey mouse record player

This played REAL records!

and my Elizabeth doll:

Elizabeth doll by Fisher Price

Elizabeth (and her companion, Audrey) were much-loved Christmas presents to my sister and me from Santa


I should have known right then and there, that I was never going to be a footloose and fancy-free kind of gal.

Too.  Much.  Stuff.

My new vintage suitcase evokes a 1974, running away kind of vibe too.


As in, Practical Man wants to run away when he sees the loud pattern.

I think he might have some kind of rare retinal disorder.

I love him anyway.

This suitcase is approximately the same size as my old running away version.

vintage suitcase with wild flowers all over it

LOVE the vintage fabric!

The inside is pristine, as if someone 5 or 6 years old couldn’t quite fit all her treasures in there either.  As a result, it probably rested, only occasionally disturbed by a fleeting fancy of running away, until it was returned to under the bed.

I think it wants to be my new briefcase.  It is not only (obviously) fabulous looking but eminently useful with both interior and exterior pockets and a handy umbrella slot.  I can’t wait to take it out into the world and around the university, full of fun stationery supplies, snacks, a sunhat, music, assorted Sharpie markers, and life’s essentials:  books and books and more books.

top of suitcase with umbrella slot

Who wouldn’t want a briefcase like this?

Some things never change.

Vintage tupperware meal trays - 4 for 10 cents!

Vintage tupperware meal trays – 4 for 10 cents!

I talk a lot about the bargains and great treasures I find at yard/garage/church sales.

They’re so much fun and where else would someone on my modest income and surrounded by big box stores score vintage tupperware meal trays or a 1920s Winnie the Pooh book or a belt made from a car seat belt?

But I have a teeny, tiny confession to make.

I’m a terrible haggler.

I know, I know.  I’ve probably just lost my membership in the vintage/garage sale club.

Haggling is supposed to be part of the experience but I get a terrible pain in my stomach (and the worry wrinkle between my eyebrows gets ever more in need of one of those creams that Ellen/Diane/The Other Diane/Andie recommend) every time I contemplate the scary part of garage sales.  Yes, the scary part where I have to waltz up to the owner of the vintage Tupperware meal trays or the 1920s Winnie the Pooh book or the belt made from a car seat belt and look them in the eye and actually negotiate the deal.

Scary because…

  • I have to act as if I don’t really care about the vintage Tupperware meal trays (when, in reality, I’ve already thought of ten reasons that could convince a jury of my peers why I absolutely. must. have. them.)
  • I have to conjure up a face that belies the fact that I have already silently sighed over the completely intact spine and gorgeous drawings in the 1920s Winnie the Pooh book.
  • I have to pretend that I just accidentally sort of stumbled across the belt made from a car seat belt amongst their boxes and that really, they’ll have to talk me into taking it because it kind of looks like junk.
  • And, plus, there’s a very de-valuing dent in the side of the buckle.  Uh huh.  Very de-valuing.

But, I can’t do that.  I have the biggest non-poker face in the world.   Chris Hadfield actually tweeted a few weeks ago from space that he could plainly see what a pushover I was for the vintage melamine cups I held–I thought, nonchalantly in my hand–all the way from the International Space Station.

I blush.  I stammer.  I can’t think straight or maintain eye contact what with the visions running through my head of me wearing a voopy dress, drinking lemonade from my vintage cups while hanging out with my handsome, Practical Man in our Boler.

I mean, let’s face it, I would just pay whatever price they’re asking for.   And often, try to to convince them to charge me more.  But, it’s not all my fault that I would pay through the nose.   They’re partly to blame.   After all,

  • their baby probably played with this Fisher Price car
  • and, they probably had their first kiss wearing this 1940s brooch.

Oh, who am I kidding?  If I had my way, they’d re-consider the whole thing and run back into the house, crying, object clutched to their grateful chest, never ever to be sold to some feckless bargain hunter like moi.

But Practical Man has no such fear.   In addition to having really great forearms, he’s a haggler extraordinaire.

He spots my blushing and stammering quickly and moves to block me from the garage sale proprietor’s (and Chris Hadfield’s) view.   Then, we have an eyebrow conversation which roughly translates like this:

Practical man:  “So, you want this?”  

Me, trying in vain to raise either one of my eyebrows enthusiastically (I am eyebrow impaired).

Practical man:  “So, that grimace means that you’re interested?”  (He can raise one eyebrow sardonically in a way I much admire).

I squeeze his large, haggler-heroic hand and he notices that I have an attractive sheen of hyper-ventilation and look as if I might need a higher dose of my anti-fainting medication.  I’m pretty sure that I look rather fetching and also, nauseous.

This is the official go-ahead signal.

I then turn and head  in the opposite direction, trying to look casually-dawdly and extremely interested in the moldy golf shoes that are lying on one of the sales tables, while simultaneously avoiding all eye contact with anyone who might have owned or loved the object(s) of my desire.

In other words, I skulk and feel even more nauseous.

Meanwhile, Practical Man (who is not just practical but also very charming) chats up the former owner of my treasure.   His normally mono-syllabic conversation style (very practical) suddenly blossoms into full-blown hey-isn’t-this-weather-crazy-and-how-long-have-you-lived-around-here-anyway-by-the-way-I-love-what-you’ve-done-with-your-shingles kind of garage sale unisex flirting.

I ask you:  why, oh why, would I ever shop at a big box store?


I admit it…there was squealing.

As we drove away, all my pent-up, cool buyer nonchalance burst in a very un-dignified way.

A. GIANT. BOX. OF. VINTAGE (MY vintage…ie. 70s). FISHER. PRICE.collection

Ten whole dollars.  And, I don’t usually spend in the double digits at garage sales so you know it was a major score.

That’s ten Canadian dollars too, so that’s almost practically free in England (not that I live there but I did a few times, years ago, and in one traumatic incident paid $37 for contact lens solution!  $37!)

But this…this vintage awesome-ness was a genuine karma-paying-me-for-past-purchasing-injustices deal.

I might have swooned but since I take medication for that (I have a fainting disorder), I merely hyper-ventilated slightly with a huge grin on my face.

Yes, they are toys.  And, I know, I know.  I don’ t have any children.  Or nieces and nephews.   Or even a pet.

Yet, my vintage Fisher Price collection continues to blossom.

Saturday’s large treasures included the Happy Family Camper (complete with row boat AND easily-lost-over-30-years oars!).  There was also a tent (which I have never seen) and a sleeping bag.  The giant-box-of-glee also contained the Play Family A-frame house with assorted furniture (baby furniture, beds, hibachis, lounge chairs), a few cars and 29 Little People to add to my collection.

Not that Practical Man complains much, but I am now justifying the encroachment of vintage FP stuff by using it as props for photography.   I see special occasion cards, re-usable shopping bags, message Ts, buttons and other  fun FP stuff being churned out of my craft room in the near future.Life is better when you share a boat

Now, I just need to find the vintage dog (red collar, black body) and a few more ethnically-representative Little People.  My collection is looking unnaturally caucasian (and blond) at the moment.

While I was fawning over my Fisher Price finds, Practical Man had his own treasure.

A meat grinder.  Not vintage.  Very practical, as befits his name.

I think he may have hyper-ventilated just a little.