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
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
I spy with my little eye…
something that has polka dots.
I spy it and then, of course, I buy it.
It’s like poetry, really.
I wasn’t consciously collecting dotty items, but I like them and a recent scan of my surroundings revealed a preponderance (definition: more than a grown woman should own without being in some sort of 12-step program) of playful polka dots. I started to wonder: what does “polka” have to do with dots? Why aren’t they just…dots?
But, maybe that sounds too plain for such a fetching sight.
Apparently in the 1840s, the polka was “the dance craze sweeping America”. Yep, THE POLKA. It wasn’t just us Oktoberfesters in our Lederhosen and Dirndls who were leaping around (hop left two three, hop right two three, hop left two three, hop right two three) and sweating with the encouragement of a beer-sticky floor and an oom-pah-pah band–a band, by the way, that was inevitably fronted by someone named Herb or Walter.
Who me? I haven’t done the polka or the bird dance to an oom-pah-pah band.
Okay, maybe I have.
But, in 1840, I and my Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario polka co-hort were apparently hip. Who knew that tuba and accordion players were the 1840s equivalent of Justin Timberlake?
So then, that made me think: what if it had been some other kind of dance craze that had “swept America”? Like, for instance, the Minuet? In my classic piano books growing up, those old-timey Beethoven, Bach and Mozart guys were always writing minuets. Minuet in G was an especially hot number. It was a bestseller for Beethoven.
Just think: polka dots could have been: minuet dots.
Or tango dots (sounds like some kind of street drug).
Or foxtrot dots (try saying that with a mouthful of crackers).
It could have been line-dance dots or zumba dots or (shudder) chicken dance dots.
But polka it was and polka it still is. Polka + dots. Polka dots. Probably a good thing. Even though, now it sounds weird because I’ve said it aloud too many times.
Anyway, the polka dance was huge back then and manufacturers, wanting to cash in on the fad (so not much has changed then), started creating all sorts of things and adding the word “polka” to it, to entice consumers.
It was the 1840s equivalent of tacking the words, “acai berry” or “zero carbs” to your product.
Then, some handsome tuba player (probably named Herb or Walter) would flog the items at the local market stall and the mere mention of the word “polka” would have buyers clamouring for the goods and asking Herb/Water for autographs. But, out of all the polka-infused, pro-polka-biotic and generally polka-fied items, apparently only polka dots made it through the ruthless and fickle consumer trends to survive until today.
But, of course they would. Polka dots are friendly and whimsical. And, they make me smile.
I hope you smile too (and stop picturing me in Lederhosen. It never happened).
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.