Saturday, February 27, 2010

Taps for Col. Lap

You may recall a few weeks back I posted a link to an article on one of the volunteers in my museum, retired Marine Col. "Lap" Lapkiewicz. Well, this morning he passed away suddenly, collapsing after coming in with morning paper.

Of all the WWII vets I've come to know, he was -hands down- everyone's favorite. He never had a bad day and never let you have a bad day when you were around him. He always had a funny story or corny joke to tell. I can still hear him in my mind telling about the time he went to Maine for some lobsters for a squadron party. He stowed them in the ammunition hatch on his Corsair and flew back to Willow Grove with them still alive.

Or the time he buzzed an apartment building to see the naked girls sunbathing on the roof. Or the time he belly landed his FJ4B Fury jet because it would be a waste of a million-dollar plane to eject and save himself.

He had been a trumpet player as well, and we talked about playing quite a bit. He asked me to play Taps for him when it "was his time" and I agreed, never really believing it would happen. Well, now here it is, and I think this will be the hardest thing I will ever have to do as a musician. I hope I can get through it because he deserves it.

So if you have a WWII vet nearby, give them a handshake and a thank you and remember that we lose so many of them everyday. You never know when it will be "their time" and you'll be hearing Taps sound for them.

Friday, February 26, 2010

TV Land

I love TV Land. Or at least I used to. Lately they've been adding more and more newer shows, to the point where I'm starting to wonder if I'll never see some of my old favorites again. Like "Hazel"- I doubt I'll ever see that one again. (And what's with the crappy reality shows? Come on, I can see that garbage anywhere.)

But for now, at least, they're still showing the Andy Griffith Show every night. I like the show well enough, but my kids LOVE it. My son races to get a bath and into his pajamas by 8 just so he can watch it. (He calls it "Andy the Policeman.")

And that's fine with me. I'm not a real big TV watcher, and I hate using it as an electronic babysitter, but it sure beats some of the other stuff geared for kids these days. Some of those shows on the Cartoon Network are just plain scary for a 5-year old. Heck they even scare me sometimes.

So I'm glad that my kids can watch some real entertainment with a strong dose of 50s morality thrown in. I never have to worry that they're going to learn bad words or absorb questionable modern influences- they get enough of those already.

Let's hope they keep showing it. But I have a strong sense that it's soon to be replaced by "Everybody Loves Raymond". And you know what? I don't.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


This just in: MissCherryBubbles over at her wonderful blog has a super-cool giveaway. If you love WWII and the homefront, you will love this! But hurry over, because it ends tonight!

Now back to your regularly scheduled program, already in progress!

Thrifted Thursday, part deux!

This is my favorite blog day of the week. It's also the hardest!

I mean, I have so much great thrifted stuff to choose from, but then again I have so much stuff to choose from! So I thought I'd share one of my most recent favorite thrift store purchases, something I've been looking for a long, long time.

50s lamp

I've been looking for 50s-style tiered lampshades for years. I just never came across any in my price range (i.e. dirt cheap) until now. I've seen many many bases; some really neat ones, but never with the original shade. I even bought a couple bases, until I realized that without the original shade they just didn't look right.

So imagine my surprise when I went into my favorite thrift store just before Christmas and found not one, but two shades! I was so excited I think I must have knocked some people over going to the register.

The one pictured came as a set, base and shade, for $15. The other shade is a bit smaller and I put it on one of those other bases- a flying saucer-type chalkware one. I've seen many lamps that were way cooler and kitschier- I know some of you have incredible lamps- but I think this one just fits my living room perfectly. It adds the right bit of retro cool to my more traditional furniture.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's another Trash-picked Tuesday!

I found this adorable vintage stroller out by the curb about three years ago. (Without the baby in it; that's my daughter sleeping in it last year!) Since then, I've used it quite a bit and it never fails to get compliments. It has three main parts, all of which were intact and in great shape.

The main stroller frame is chromed steel with white rubber tires. It has a springer suspension, wire wheels and a foot board that is embossed with "Collier". This part is used once the child is big enough to ride sitting up.

The other parts are a bassinet top and hood made of "Black Watch" plaid fabric with white trim. There is a mattress inside the bassinet so the baby can lie down. My daughter loved it- she always slept in it. I even parked it inside (as you can see in the photo) so she had a place to nap while I worked in my office.

The stroller folds down just like a modern "travel system" so you can put it in your car. It's a lot lighter than a modern stroller as well. It just doesn't have all the bells & whistles, like cup holders and storage bins. But for taking walks to the park or around town it was so much fun, and got so many compliments. I loved to tell people where I got it! ;) And to top it off, I saw a modern reproduction of this stroller somewhere for over $600!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thrifted Thursday!

Who doesn't like to shop thrift stores? OK, I can answer that one- my mother-in-law. It's hilarious dragging her into all the seedy places I like to shop. She never met a brand name she didn't like. Me, I'm just the opposite. If it has a logo, a designer name (unless it's vintage!) or for that matter a price tag of much over $10, it ain't going home with me! I've even converted my husband.

I know most of you are thrift store devotees. You simply have to be, or you couldn't live a vintage lifestyle. (I know, there's eBay & etsy, but the thrill is in the hunt, for me.) So I thought I'd take a day to share some thrift store treasures. And because I'll pinch a penny until it squeaks, I'll even tell you how much I paid.

First up, my 1940s Sunbeam Mixmaster. This is really a four-for-one Thrifted Thursday since it took me four separate purchases to complete the set. And there are still tons of attachments I'm on the lookout for- this was the KitchenAid of its day, with juicers and meat grinders, etc. If you want to read more, there's a great site here

And it's funcitonal- it's a great mixer. 10 speeds, endless attachments, American made and built to last (obviously). I use it about twice a week. First I found the mixer- that was $9. Then I found the stand and bowl platform- that was $8- and it came with another mixer, so I have a backup in case this one goes.

Then I found the two milkglass bowls- $2. The bowls are unique because they have a little hump in the center bottom, much like a wine bottle. (There are also jadeite bowls out there, but I haven't been so lucky.) This hump, when matched up with the correct beaters, automatically causes the bowl to spin. I have a propensity to break the beaters (usually by getting a knife or spatula caught in them while it's running, which I know is dumb...) so I picked up four pairs for 50cents each. I knew they would be correct because of the shape and the fact that they have a little plastic "button" on the bottom which touches the bowl & makes it spin. So over the course of a few years I've gotten myself a good little vintage mixer that works great, didn't cost a fortune and has tons of style. And there's still so much out there I can get for it.

I understand that some may wonder why I went to the trouble of searching for various parts & pieces over the years to make a vintage mixer, when I could run over to Wal-Mart and get a brand new one for $20. The answer is that I did do just that- about three times- and every time the mixer broke within a year. That's why I buy vintage; it looks better, it lasts and it's good old American craftsmanship.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Trash-picked Tuesday!

Just about all of us that love vintage have trash-picked some gems. I don't know what it is about us, whether we just have this compunction to save things from certain death or whether we're just cheap. In my case, it's some of each!

So I thought I'd designate Tuesday as a day to share some of my curbside finds.

I know I probably should start small and work my way up to the biggest and best just to keep you all intrigued, but what the hell, I'm so in love with this piece that I'll show it off first.

I have never seen a better mid-century upholstered chair than this. Period. Never. And here it was sitting out by the street on my way home from the gym last year (See- I knew going to the gym would pay off!) FREE! The guy even came out of the house to help me load it in my truck.

The upholstery is wool houndstooth, the cushions are comfy, and most importantly, it didn't smell like smoke or cat pee! Jackpot!

Stay tuned for more Trash-picked Tuesdays!

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Peek inside Chez QT

When we were looking at houses seven years ago I had a list of things I wanted: an older home with a front porch and a fireplace, and tons of vintage charm. A bungalow would have been perfect.

We bought a 1960 split level with a bad septic system and a tainted well.

But at least we got it for a good price! ;) This was at the height of the real estate boom, and we considered ourselves lucky to even find a house after selling our townhouse in 4 days.

So it wasn't my dream home, but over the years I think we've made it our own. We love the area and the countryside is open all around us. The house was being sold by the estate of the original owner, so all the "period" 1960 details were mostly intact. There were two things that closed the deal for us: a knotty pine-paneled family room and an original pink bathroom.

Now I know those of you who are not "retro-inclined" may be wondering what sort of mental delusions we suffer under to consider those things virtues. But I assure you that we are in complete control of our faculties (if little else, these days.)

My husband wanted the paneling because he could hang his deer heads right on the wall and wouldn't have to worry about them falling down. (He's nothing if not practical, and a very good shot- we have enough deer on the wall to name them at Christmastime.)

I wanted the pink bathroom because my grandmother had one, and I inherited all her vintage pink towels. Nothing like matching your bathroom to your towels! Besides, the pink bathroom is an icon of mid-Century America and so many have been ripped out in favor of the trendy "spa-like" look that I thought it was time someone made a stand.

So we embraced our pink bathroom, even retro-vating it a little by installing a white hex tile floor in place of the previous carpet. (Which was pink shag, although until we took out the vanity that sat on top of it, I thought it was brown! Blech!) We installed a pedestal sink, new light and painted the walls white. We also replaced the baby-blue tile border with black, which I think makes it a little more sophisticated.

First here's the "before" picture- the walls and ceiling were freshly painted like the inside of a swimming pool, presumably to match the blue tile, although it glowed like neon!

Here's the "after":

I think it came out quite well, don't you?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Katy and the Big Snow!

Welcome back to me!

After a week in sunny Florida (plus a couple extra days due to our Saturday flight being cancelled from the first storm) we got home to a dose of reality, Pennsylvania-style. With yesterday's 2+ ft on top of the Saturday storm we have about three feet of snow on the ground. This is one of the top three snowstorms I've ever experienced in my life. I think my kids believe that this is what winter is always like, and they're having a ball.

The adults, on the other hand, know better.

DH spent most of last night trying to plow our driveway out and I spent all morning finshing the shovel work. Not to mention trying to keep a 5- and 2-year-old safe and warm (and out of drifts that go over their heads) while I'm working. My arms are sore, I'm exhausted and I barely even dug out my car!

So there's nothing better after all that than to curl up with a cup of cocoa, two little snugglers and the classic 1943 book, Virginia Lee Burton's Katy and the Big Snow.

I am a big fan of vintage children's books- mostly because they tap into that realm of a kid's imagination without any of the modern distractions. They allow my kids to form a bond with the same memory associations I have with this book, and that my parents' generation has. The story and the illustrations are iconic, and very distinctive. When we read it, my kids are no different from those kids in 1943 that imagined themselves helping Katy plow out the city of Geopolis. And that's the way I like it.