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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?

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Every year, when we take the tree and decorations down, I am startled.

I don’t think I have reached the Griswold level of festive decor, so that can’t account for the Disturbing Disappearance of Decor.

Triple D – that’s a thing, right?

foam cut outs that make a white fridge look like a snowman

Okay fine, I made the fridge into a snowman–that’s proof of nothing.

Yet, take away the seasonal dressing and everything suddenly looks bare and forlorn.

I guess it’s to be expected when you remove a giant conifer and acres of greenery and glittery things from your Not-So-Great Room.

(Our house was built at a time when Great Rooms were not yet a thing, so we only have an ordinary living room or as realtors probably think of it:  a Not-So-Great Room.)

Our Not-So-Great Room looked perfectly fine in November.

In early December, it suddenly got bulge-y with a seriously extraverted Tannenbaum and all its festive friends.

I think we might be kindred spirits, me and the Not-So-Great Room.

I feel quite bulge-y in December myself.

“Deck the Halls with crates of Toblerone“…isn’t that how that song goes?

Anyhoo.

Every year during the time when the Not-So-Great Room is still looking seriously festive, Practical Man and I head out to admire our neighbourhood lights.

First, I admire the heart he stamped in the snow of the front lawn, with our initials in it.

Swoon-y swoon.

Then, we cruise around for a while (we used to walk when we lived in town but we’d have to be Santa to make any time, now that we live rurally), surveying the crop of Griswold-esque specimens.

Deciduous trees lit with blue lights

I’m not really keen on the blow-up thingys, so I haven’t photographed those.

suburban house completely outlined with lights as well as lit trees and Charlie Brown Christmas motif

Nor the keel-over-inducing light shows (even when coordinated with music).

Completely lit house, yard full of lights and a steeple on the garage!

Give me a loaded, over-the-top, plain old, static light show any day.

Country house in Battersea, lit modestly but fully

Or night, as it were.

Once we have oooh’d and aaah’d for a good while, then comes the hard part.

We have to choose.

We each get one thank-you card, that we filled out before we left the house:

Thank you for your beautiful lights.  Your house was our favourite!

We don’t sign our names.  We simply slip the thank-you card into their mailbox.

house and garage completely outlined in multi-coloured LED lights

It’s seriously festive and fun.

Fa-la-Tra-la-la!

Then, we return home to our own festively-adorned, albeit slightly bulge-y Not-So-Great Room and cuddle up.

Even though I don’t think I’m quite at Griswold level of festive decor, I can still love those who are.

I’m just too lazy for that sort of outdoor, holiday hulla-balloo.

Forget the 12 Days of Christmas, I’m all about the 12 Days of Pajamas.

Zzzzzzzzz.

Happy New Year to me!

Except, that after all the Disturbing Disappearance of Decor, our Not-So-Great Room will soon look like the Nearly-Naked Room.

Naked, I say, in January.

Please agree with me that naked in Canada in January is sometimes not such a good look.

‘Tis the Season for down-filled puffy coats, thank goodness.

But, having no such down-filled puffy coats for the Not-So-Great Room, it has to spend the first parts of the new year standing around, naked.

Naked in the season of diet and exercise commercials galore.

Naked in the season of resolutions and recriminations.

After a little while, we get used to our naked, Not-So-Great Room again and can see it for all the beauty that it holds.

Unadorned and lovely, in its year-round state.

Naked.

Perhaps, a lesson for us all.

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


It’s nearly Christmas so naturally, we are going camping.

Yes, I know we live in Ontario, home of frosty windows and big, fat snowflakes and other wintery stuff (like -40 antifreeze for the car because we need that, yes, we truly do) but, camping in December is not such a stretch.

We’ve got trees in the forest on our property.

We’ve got a fire pit, around which to toast marshmallows and the like.

We’ve got the super-duper, flannel, camping sheet set and three or twelve duvets (and a partridge in a pear tree.)

Okay, fine.

We’re not camping.

That’s just Practical Man, driving around the lawn on your average Tuesday, towing our vintage Boler travel trailer.

I’m pretty sure the neighbours are whispering about me.  They wouldn’t blame it on Practical Man because they all know him.  I’m the mysterious person who drives up the driveway into the garage and disappears inside (away from The Nature).  He is the guy who is always out in the yard on one tractor or another, or on the roof, or in the forest, or building something or growing something.  Plus, he fixes things for the neighbours, regularly.  People who fix things don’t drive around the lawn on your average Tuesday in December in Ontario, towing their travel trailer, unless they are very sweet and have been put up to it by an annoyingly festive ELF.

Like this one:

me, dressed as an elf, standing beside our Christmas tree

Tra-la-la.

Or, as I like to say at Christmas, when I’m wearing an elf get-up that I made out of a green sweater, some felt, and a pair of socks:

Fa-la-Tra-la-la!

Aren’t you glad you don’t live with me?

(The socks are at my wrists, in case you can’t concentrate, after my costume-making teaser.)

It all began when I joined one of those groups on Facebook–or maybe, I can blame the Facebook algorithm.  You know the algorithm:  it thinks I need bifocals and wrinkle cream.

Evil algorithm.

Yes, let’s blame it.

Anyhoo, I kept seeing pictures from some group foisted on me by the evil, mind-reading algorithm.  Disturbing, provocative pictures–you know the kind–pictures of pretty barns and burlap all swirly-dirly and bells and thing-a-ma-bobs that bring out the inner decorator dictator in me.

Mere minutes scrolling through these groups and I get obsessed with teeny, insignificant details…like angels and angles.

Now that sounded a bit confusing.

That is to say, I’m obsessed with whether the angels on our shelves are at a 45 degree angle to…I’m not sure what.

They looked so good on Pinterest.

There are evil algorithms there, too.

Algorithms and angled angels anon.

(That’s called festive alliteration.)

Lest you think I’m reaching, I’ll have you know that “anon” is the festive word for “and other junk that I feel the need to copy, for reasons that must be based in my primitive, lizard brain because it is un-explainable, even to me, why I would care about this kind of fluff”.

To get back to my point, I was on one of those groups and there were other vintage trailer weirdos like me and well, they don’t live in Ontario.  They live in warm climates where there is still green grass visible on the ground, not to mention palm trees (public service announcement:  it’s very un-Christmassy to blatantly display aka gloat about your palm trees at this time of year to a Canadian).  Then, to add insult to palm-tree injury, they post pictures of their vintage trailers all dicky-doo’d up for the holidays.

I do love a little festooning and such.

So says the evil algorithm.

Insert lizard brain here.

But, I live in Ontario, home of frosty windows and big, fat snowflakes and other wintery stuff (like -40 antifreeze for the car because we need that, yes, we truly do).

Year-round festooning.  What luxury is this?

The luxury is living in San Anbambino or some place where they don’t know what long underwear is–that’s what.

Still, all I see is post after post of cute, vintage trailers with Christmas lights and mistletoe and plaid blankets and stuff.

Sometimes with snow (why oh why doesn’t our snow fall when I have a camera in hand?)

Sometimes without snow (and avec the aforementioned gloat-y palm trees.)

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

Or, as I like to say,

‘Tis the season to be jealous.

At any rate, before I knew it, out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter.

The clatter being due to the fact that I had batted my not-insignificant eyelashes (Rimmel’s Extra Super Lash mascara) and asked Practical Man to hitch up the “sleigh” (aka vintage Boler travel trailer) and move it to a more photogenic location so I could get my festive festooning underway.

On the one day we haven’t had snow in the last 2 months, yessirree.

Practical Man is forever granting my Christmas wishes.  Year round.

But, even he can’t summon the snow where the snow won’t be summoned.

Palm trees, either (although with enough notice, I have no doubt he would have grown something from a pineapple nub he got at the grocery store).

The point is, there I was, in the front of the front yard’s brown-ish grass, throw cushions and wreathes in hand, decorator dictatorship rearing its ugly head.

Cue the whispering neighbours.

green and white boler decorated with red chairs, ,pillows and a vintage metal cooler

My lizard brain was desperate to decorate and I love our tiny Boler but, its figurative chair (or vintage, metal lawn chairs, as the case may be) is never at our Christmas table, on account of it’s always put away for the winter at this time of year.

It’s kind of the Tiny Tim of our yard.

Sob.

But now, joy of joys!  Thanks to Practical Man and my lizard brain, here was my very own Tiny Tim, in the front yard.  So, in the repentant manner of Ebenezer Scrooge, I got busy with the festive festooning while also reflecting on the 2016 ghosts of past, present, and future.

  • Practical Man had a near record maple syrup crop in the Spring.
  • I learned more songs on the guitar from musicians too-soon taken.
  • We met new friends who joined us as I twirled my way through our first Bolerama.  And, Practical Man survived!
  • We shared wonderful memories (and mosquitoes) with family and friends in the summer.
  • We worried about people fleeing violence around the world and here.
  • We cried for Practical Man’s Mutti, who died in October.  She will be cried about for some long time to come.
  • I made a snowman, tobogganned and shovelled snow with some English sweeties, before Winter was really due.
  • We are trying to be advocates and people of hope in the wake of an earthquake-y election, even though it wasn’t ours.

I feel so lucky to have a small, safe place like a Boler.

It’s a little nest.  A place to curl up and take a nap or maybe just stare around the inside or pretend you’re Laurie Partridge for a while (because when you’re a Boler geek like I am, that’s a fun afternoon).

Of course, the Boler is not my only blessing or refuge, by a long shot.  I am sheltered and fed and loved and safe.

Occasionally, I have useful eyelashes.

I am so, so lucky.

I hope you all are, too.

Except for the evil algorithm.

Sorry.

That was my lizard brain again.

A Very Merry Christmas and Happy Everything from our house to yours.

Green and white Boler travel trailer decorated for Christmas, with 2 red chairs in front, a vintage, plaid cooler, red wreath, bell wreath and "Santa, I can explain" sign.

 



vintage bulb reflectorsDie Hard is Practical Man’s favourite Christmas movie.

Fa-la-Tra-la-la!

Maybe you didn’t know that Die Hard—the Bruce Willis/Alan Rickman shoot-em-up extravaganza—was even considered to be a Christmas movie.

Oh ye of little festive imagination.

We have a broad definition of “Christmas movies” at our house, partly on account of the fact that one of my favourite things to do during the Christmas holiday break that I’m lucky enough to have, is to lie around all day wearing my PJs.

ALLLLL Day.

Wearing PJs, as I mentioned.

Preferably brand new, cozy PJs that Santa has brought me because I’ve been SO good all year!

Or, maybe, because they were On Sale (Santa is a bit of a coupon clipper) and he knew they would make me happy and cozy for a week of lolly-gagging around.

Yes, that’s it.

When it comes to Christmas—as in many things—I don’t act my age.  Give me some stickers and some gold, coin-shaped chocolates in the toe of my stocking and I’m four years old again.

Many four year olds get new PJs for Christmas, you may have observed.

Fa-la-Tra-la-la!

Ah yes, it’s days and days of PJs and Turtle chocolates for breakfast (and maybe some Toblerone triangles and Christmas movies like:

  • Elf (I love it, even though it has Will Farrell).
  • The Holiday (makes me homesick for England and old movies).
  • Love, Actually (possibly the best Christmas movie of all time, except for Die Hard, of course!)

Oh, I know I should be all Joy to the World and Peace on Earth about the festive season and the prospect of getting together with family and friends.  I do love all the “goodwill towards men” (and women) stuff but if I’m honest, at the twilight of each year, it’s kind of more about the PJs.

Who says we can’t have good will towards men (and women) and PJs?

And, good will toward movies like:

And, I can’t forget that whole extravaganza that is:  Chocolate For Breakfast (totally legal)!

It’s a Christmas thing.

Maybe you haven’t heard about it, but I BELIEVE.

At this time of year, that counts for something.

Haven’t you seen It’s a Wonderful Life?

But, with limited number of days available for such indulgent loafing about, I have a hard time deciding.  Should I watch:

Then again, why choose favourites?  Someone always feels left out, like:

  • A Muppet Christmas Carol (Muppets are awesome but I’m not a Dickens fan).
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol (Mickey’s voice bugs me and I’m not a Dickens fan).
  • A Christmas Carol (the scratchy, slightly sinister Alistair Sims version that my dad liked to try to make us watch every Christmas eve and I did it sometimes, because I love him, but, really, I’m not a Dickens fan).

Yes, with only The Twelve Days of Sloth at my disposal and the requisite social events sprinkled throughout, it’s sometimes hard to choose which movies will grace this year’s Christmas season.

I feel the same way about Christmas socks.  If I choose the red and white stripe-y ones, the green and red stripe-y ones might feel left out.   Try as I might, I just can’t quite reach the level of equal opportunity movie watcher and tacky Christmas sock wearer.

As they say in that not-Christmas, famous, book/movie (although if I ask Practical Man, he may be able to put a festive spin on it):

May the odds be ever in their favour.”

As you would expect, Practical Man has no difficulties carefully choosing his (restrained) festive touches at this time of year.

He eschews the gregarious socks and opts for the plain grey sports variety, thank-you very much.

Fa-la-Tra-la-la.

And, once Die Hard has been watched, it’s on to his next favourite Christmas movie:

Die Hard II.

Do you not recall the snowstorm outside the plane on the runway?  It’s a Christmas movie, plain and simple.

Yippee Ki-Yuletide, everyone.


So far I haven’t died.

Or hallucinated.

That seems like a good thing.

Practical Man found a giant puffball yesterday, when he was out in our forest.   When he told me how large it was, I decided I had to see it for myself.

Out in The Nature, as it were.

This tells you what a momentous occasion it was.  Me, out in The Nature, in the middle of the week, no less.

Practical Man standing in the forest by a fence.

That’s Practical Man, not me. If you catch a picture of me in the forest, it’s kind of like capturing a picture of a Sasquatch in the forest (ie: rare).

We ventured out today after lunch, across the yard, down our forest path and back to the last part of our trail, before it ends at the farmer’s lane.  I pointed out what I thought were new trees and Practical Man assured me that those trees had been there for 10 years.  I noted the grassy areas where there used to be just rocks and he shook his head.

Sigh.

Things sure do change in The Nature, when you only come out to visit a few times a decade.

Finally, under the trees, off the trail, I saw it.

I didn’t see any fairies dancing.

But, then, this wasn’t a toadstool.   It was a puffball.

I picture Rubenesque fairies (of the sort I could blend in with), eating ice cream under this cherubic baby.

Or rather, babies.

There were two.

Two puffball mushrooms - one very large one in the foreground.

A giant puffball and a super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious puffball.  The giant-est puffball of them all.

It’s hard to capture the scale, when it’s in the forest, but it was GIGANTICO.

Bigger than my head and we all know that my head is blessed with some magnificent largesse.

This mushroom was endowed with some encephalic proportions, yes sirree.

Here’s a picture of it in the kitchen sink, in case you had any doubts about the size of it.

giant puffball so large, it almost won't fit in a standard kitchen sink

The puffball, not my head.

I was slightly nervous, what with it being a wild mushroom and all.   Practical Man knew what it was (Calvatia gigantea) but, to reassure his suburban-born wife, he did a little extra research.  The Google assured us that it was the harmless and edible Giant Puffball (The Google is always truthful and wise, as long as you don’t believe much of what it says.)  And, our friend, Trail Diva, reassured me that we seemed to be the lucky owners of a forest delicacy.

Fried in some butter, it could even be used in lieu of noodles for lasagna, she said.

She had me at “fried in some butter”.

Accordingly, Practical Man plucked it from its forest home and brought it to the house.

It was kind of like bringing home the moon.

A moon that might kill us with its toxins and pent-up mushroom rage.

What, what, what?

A puffball is a pretty show-offy mushroom with its moon scape-y shape and super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious size, I think you’ll agree.  This made me wonder if it might be the mean girl of the mushroom world.

You can tell I love The Nature, right?

We had to use a very big, bread knife and even that wasn’t enough to deal with the extravaganza of mushroom we had on our hands.

Practical Man's hands slicing the first slice off the mushroom

Houston, we need more counter space!

I can hear my friend Pippi saying, “Bleeech”, as I write this.

Not a mushroom fan, that one.

Even I was slightly overcome.  This was bigger than the watermelon we had last week and that took a party and 4 meals to devour.

We have mushroom enough for crowds.

large slices of mushroom on the cutting board. The remaining mushroom beside them still looks HUGE.

Or, for a wicked show-and-tell at school.

Yes, definitely that.

Except, there’s no show-and-tell when you’re an adult, more’s the pity.  Many a meeting could be livened up with some show-and-tell, don’t you think?

I’m not sure mushrooms would make it past the (inevitable) safety checkpoint on the way to work show-and-tell, though.

A plate piled high with strips of mushroom

Looks like tofu, tastes like butter.

Anyway, we cooked it, outside on the barbecue (it’s the expensive hydro rates in the afternoon and it’s 30 degrees C today, that’s why).

Fried in butter, ‘cos those were our instructions.

Honest.

frying pan with slices of mushroom, golden brown

We both tried a little schnibble, after it had been fried.

(I watched for convulsions, in case Practical Man and The Google and Trail Diva were wrong.)

It tastes pretty good but we’re not sure about the consistency.

Slightly mushy.  Too much butter?

Is there such a thing?

We’ve decided we’ll make lasagna a la Trail Diva with it.

Even though the Italians are probably rolling over in their gnocchi-lined graves.

And Pippi is probably saying, “Double Bleech.”

By the way, this post is a bit of a “do not try this at home” affair.  Don’t–I repeat:  DON’T just grab mushrooms out of your yard and chow down.

Gotta be careful with the fungi, friends.

If we end up hallucinating or dying, I’ll let you know.

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


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


“Auntie Kiss, it’s the first day of school!”

These words were fairy godson’s greeting to me this morning, when I arrived at his house to help walk with him on his very first day of school ever.

As in, it will never happen again, EVER.

It’s probably a good thing that Practical Man and I don’t have any children.

I don’t think the Kleenex industry could handle it.

Never mind that my heart has a tendency to plummet its beats per minute, without warning, and make me faint.   Yes, my biological heart is a drama queen.  But, my metaphorical heart is also kind of high maintenance.  I’m the person who cries during every Downton Abbey and Little House on the Prairie episode.  I can’t get through a whole verse when I’m singing the song that reminds me of Ugly Orange Sweater Guy’s mom.   I even get weepy at TV commercials (there was one when I lived in England, 30 years ago, that still makes me choke up.)

Suffice it to say, we go through a lot of Kleenex around here.  The extra-strength kind.

Yet, somehow, I manage to forget this fact from one minute to the next.  I run around in life, completely un-prepared, when it comes to mopping up my emotions.  The 3-ply Tempo tissues from Germany that I bring pillow-sized packages of back, every time I visit, are piled neatly in the hall linen cupboard. Practical Man buys the bulk boxes of Kleenex so we’re never, ever out.  I even have some lovely vintage handkerchiefs but, they are not tucked into the wrist of my sweater set, like they should be (in 1952).

5 vintage, embroidered handkerchiefs

Fat lot of good all this preparation and stockpiling does me when my eyelashes runneth over (as they do multiple times daily).

Case in point:  I turned up this morning and there was Fairy Godson, aged 4 years and 32 seconds, looking cute as a button for his first day of school.  Immediately, I realized that I Was In Trouble.

Double decker doo-doo kind of trouble.

If ever there was a day to carry on-board swaths of cloth for the mopping up of my eyelashes, today was it.

Little boy wearing a baseball cap

Sniffle, sniffle.

So, I distracted myself by helping his parents take the requisite First Day of School photos on the front steps and then, Fairy Godson and I headed to the back yard so he could open his “Schultuette”. This is basically a giant cone (the closer the cone is in size to the child, the better) that is a tradition for a child’s first time s/he goes to school, in Germany.  As my former German exchange partner said, “I’m surprised it hasn’t caught on in other countries.  It’s great for kids and also for commerce”.

A red German Schultuette with a ribbon tied around it. (Name has been smudged)

No kidding.

We can’t buy ready-made Schultuette here (but, this could be my million dollar business idea #823, ho ho!) so, Practical Man and I wielded the trusty packing tape gun and with some grunting and contortions, managed to fashion a piece of bristol board that I had cut, into some semblance of a giant cone, in which to put treats and school supplies.

A few M&Ms.  A couple of gumdrops.  Some jelly dinosaurs (a “Stegosaurus – that’s the one with the points on his back, Auntie Kiss”.)  Crayons.  Stamp markers.  Pencil case.  Frog and Ladybug magnets to hang artwork on the fridge.  Mini chocolate bars.

If my stolen idea from Germany catches on here, may I suggest one minor variation to the Canadian version of a Schultuette?   Ours should have treats and school supplies and TISSUES for the Auntie Kisses in the crowd.

Small boy opening his Schultuette cone

This is how you know your Schultuette has been a success: the child loses his arm down in it.

Sniffle, sniffle.

After all the treasures were discovered and Kite Papa gave Fairy Godson permission to taste one M&M and a jelly Stegosaurus from one of the treat bags in the Schultuette, we headed off for school.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Fairy Godson wasn’t sure what to expect either, since he was only born three weeks ago, by my count, but he was running at the beginning of the journey, so I’m pretty sure he knew that whatever was coming his way, it would be lots of fun.

Little boy skipping ahead of his mom

In the schoolyard, it appeared to be controlled chaos.  Kids and parents everywhere.  Giant backpacks on impossibly small-ish people and water bottles and teachers wearing name tags.  It was loud and busy and I felt as if I’d stepped inside the pages of a Richard Scarry “Busy Day” book (without the piglet firefighters).

I’m 47 and a half years old, not to mention 5’9″ and not waif-like.  I am pretty much built for handling a crowd.

Fairy Godson, on the other hand, is only 2 months old.

Oh, wait.

Anyway, he is small and sweet and was wearing a ginormous backpack that contained all the things he needed for his very first (never happening again, EVER!) day of school:

Lunch.

His water bottle.

A sweatshirt, in case it gets cool.

His “inside” shoes.  (Apparently, this has not changed since I went to kindergarten some 43 years ago.  Perilous the child without indoor shoes!)

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Why not?  Christmas is already happening in Costco, after all.  It’s only a matter of time before it ends up in kindergarten backpacks on the first day of school.

Small boy wearing a very large backpack

Fairy Godson’s Kite Mama pointed out some of his neighbourhood friends and friends from his daycare, too.  He was quieter now, looking around and holding his parents’ hands and taking things in.  It was very, very busy and hot and loud and all kind of new and strange, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, I was inwardly fuming.  I  couldn’t believe they didn’t let the parents (and Auntie Kisses) stay for the first week or few months.  Y’know, just to get everyone used to things, like how my heart is probably breaking and fainting because for goodness sakes, Fairy Godson is just a baby!

Look how small his shoes are and his little hat.

Sniffle, sniffle.

I was without tissues and I had turned into a helicopter Auntie Kiss.

The time came for Madame to lead Fairy Godson and his classmates into the school.  I took a deep breath and followed along at a distance.  And then, it happened.  This was the moment where Fairy Godson had second thoughts.  He clung to his parents and turned his face away from the red, brick school that he had talked about, with such excitement, all summer long.  He cried all the way into the school with Madame.  I cried right along with him.

We’re kindred spirits, y’know.  That’s how fairy godmother-ing works.

parents leading their son into school

Believe it or not, there was NO volunteer handing out tissues (or therapy) to the parents and Auntie Kisses at the door.

Heartless, heartless, education system.

I can say that, because I’m part of it.  I work at a university.  In fact, it’s my turn for the first day back, tomorrow.

Sniffle, sniffle.

Of course, I won’t have any tissues.

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