Friday, October 29, 2010

Decorating Chez QT for Halloween!

 It was a dark and stormy night....

when I took these pictures. I was hoping to get some of the eery fog in the photos, but as you can see, they didn't turn out so well. ;)

Anyway, the front porch has a string of orange LED lights, as well as an orange candle flicker bulb in the fixture.

We have an area under a tree that I made to look like an upturned grave site, with a wooden coffin and skeleton, and tombstones. The light that looks like fire is a spotlight I use to uplight the tree, and the rags in the branches are ghostly tatters.

Inside I used a bunch of faux spiderwebs (my son helped with this part) and brought out some subtle creepy things (my kids aren't old enough to do full-on horror, but soon...), like a collection of stopped clocks:

These clocks are kind of funny, because visitors always wonder what time it really is! (the only working one is on the far right). And my turntable is in the background with the Mr. Lucky album on it- great Halloween-ish black cat graphics on that.

Some gargoyles,

Candelabras (I love these-they're made from old spoons & forks) and white pumpkins.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thrifted Thursday- Don Draper's Desk Clock

I've been wanting to share this little beauty for quite a while. Problem is, I had to share a video, so it took me some time to figure that out; hopefully it works! I will say one thing about keeping up this blog- it has forced me to embrace new technology, and without it I'm sure I would never have learned about a lot of things...

I thrifted this at least 2 years ago. I saw it several times before I finally bought it; it was just one of those things that kept calling my name but I really couldn't justify. Until it went on sale, at half off. For 50 cents, I brought it home. To my surprise it worked, lights up and keeps good time. I love to watch the numbers flip over - there's something so primitive about that, in this digital age!

The brand name is "Caslon", which I've never heard of, but it just has a 1960s look about it- it would definitely be at home on the Mad Men set! The back has the original instruction card which explains how to set the time, day and date. (Also note the price tag...) 

And here's the video of it in action. The glowing red dot is not some spectre, but the video light on my camera... If it were darker, though, you could see the orange interior light.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Vintage Gene

How many of you have sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. who are into vintage like you are? I wonder sometimes how we get interested in this stuff... Without going into the nature/nuture debate, are there others in your family that like some of the same things you do?

For me, the answer is yes. My brother, for one, and several of my cousins. Obviously, my brother and I were brought up very similarly, and while my parents did not express an overt interest in the past, they were still products of their generation. Being born and raised in the 1930s-50s, probably a bit of their life experiences fostered our interest in that time period.

But recently I got to know some of my older cousins a little bit better, and found that they have similar interests. In particular, my cousin John B., who is the oldest son of my dad's brother. We were not close in age or location growing up, so we did not realize we had so much in common until now.  But over the last few weeks we've been getting back in touch and really some of the interests we share are uncanny.

Here he is at age 3, loving his favorite blanket drying on the line. Now he's an architect living in Virginia.

 Here's his place now- an atomic-era ranch house, c. 1955. Doesn't he have the greatest taste? I love that bullet plant stand.

His kitchen, which looks remarkably like mine, but neater!

A closer look at some of his collection:

These are Hall pitchers and refrigerator dishes from the 40s and 50s:

Red Lustroware:

 Some of this stuff would be right at home in my kitchen as well!

A Fada catalin radio. For radio collectors, this is a Holy Grail. Back when I was really into radios, this was one I dreamed about, so he's a lucky fellow indeed to have one!

He even used to drive a Studebaker like this one!

And I especially want to mention that the Jack O'Lantern photo in the header this week was scanned by him from one of his Dad's (my uncle Phil's) vintage photos. It's great that someone cares enough for their family history to scan and save thousands of snapshots. Thanks John! 

I hope you all enjoyed getting to meet him and see his collection! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thrifted Thursday- Rack 'em up!

A couple other bloggers have mentioned finding MCM magazine racks lately. I had never really looked for one, but of course after reading about all the other great ones, I realized that, of course, I needed one too, and I should get one ASAP.

So wouldn't you know on my next thrifting trip, I came across this one for $3. Of course, it fit the bill and offered me that immediate gratification... and came back to Chez QT. It is already filled with magazines and books that would ordinarily be on my coffee table, but as those of you with small children know, nothing is safe on a coffee table except Matchbox cars and Golden Books! (And even those should be of the non-vintage variety...;)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Our Anniversary, 2001-2010

Nine years ago today my husband and I were married. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we got a bunch of great pictures which I think you all might enjoy. The car is a 1934 Buick, which was owned and driven by a guy I met through a mesasge board. He was so cool- didn't ask for any money (we gave him some anyway) and wore a vintage chauffer's uniform. What a special thing to do for someone you don't even know.

We didn't plan a "vintage" wedding, but it was very traditional with vintage touches.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trash-picked Tuesday: Pumpkin Man

If you think about it, Halloween is a rather strange holiday. Celebrating death, monsters and creepy crawly things is a bit bizarre, let alone going out of your way to be scared by haunted houses or gory costumes. That said, sometimes I think its very telling of the times we live in. It seems that as a society, we need more and more shock value in order to pay attention.

And I have to say that as Halloween mania has increased over these last 10 years or so, I'm all for it. It's mostly all in good fun. However, the increase in Halloween consumerism is beginning to mimic that of Christmas, and I really dislike that aspect of any holiday.

So what is a vintage, thrifty, Halloween-lovin' gal to do?

Trash pick someone else's old Halloween decorations!

I spotted this poor soul out for the trash this summer. I don't know if he didn't sell at a yard sale, or his family was just tired of keeping him around the rest of the year, but he has found a home with us! We propped him up back by our barn where we can keep him tied up and plugged in (because that's how he likes it, LOL). He runs on one 5W candle bulb, which was still in place and working when I brought him home.

I was never real big on lighted lawn decorations until I had kids. I always used to turn up my nose at those people with lawns full of blow-molded Frostys and Santas. But once those horrid inflatables became popular, the older stuff took on a new charm. (It just goes to show that in the realm of lawn ornaments, something worse is always right around the corner!) And my kids love it- they even have a song to sing about him that my mom taught us as kids. This song is part of a game she taught us in Brownie Girl Scouts that is probably at least from the 1960s if not before (maybe you know this one, too?):

Pumpkin Man, Pumpkin Man,
Catch a Brownie if you can.
"Yes I will, yes I will-
But the Brownie won't stand still!"

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Living Vintage: Biking through Bucks County

One of the things I really enjoy is riding my bike. I bought this bike about 10 years ago, back when balloon tire cruisers weren't really in style- all the cool kids back then rode mountain bikes. But I bought it because it had great vintage style (even though it was new) and I didn't need 18 gears and knobby tires to ride around my neighborhood.

It has whitewall tires, wide handlebars, a comfy seat and coaster brakes. I used to ride to the library and the grocery store all the time. Sometimes I went almost a week without using a car. Then we moved to a more rural area and had kids and I found myself riding for exercise and pure enjoyment.

Thankfully we live in an area that is mostly flat and with very little traffic. I bought a Burley trailer and hooked it onto the bike so I could take my 2 kids along on my rides. They were small enough to ride together in the back, and it was great exercise pulling all that weight (I would say the trailer and occupants weighed close to 100 lbs) on a single gear bike. Now that they're too big to ride in the trailer, I am back to riding alone.

When I tell people I live in Bucks County, I think this is what a lot of people think of:

And I'm fortunate to live here, in a part of Bucks County that still looks like this. Because most of it does not. I grew up slightly south of here, in a part of Bucks that used to look like this 25-30 years ago. Now it looks like suburbia everywhere, with shopping centers, McMansions, and 4 lane highways.
Hopefully this area will stay like this for a while, because it's nice to ride on the road and not have to worry about speeding cars or trucks. You get to just enjoy the scenery, which is something like this:

Notice the Horse Xing sign? There's a horse rescue near here.  There are also lots of horse farms and a few weeks ago on my ride I came across a man driving a carriage pulled by two draft horses. Just for fun and exercise (for the horses). Many of these farms are owned by New Yorkers who just come out on weekends, as they have since the 1930s (like Dorothy Parker, Oscar Hammerstein and S.J. Perelman).

This is one of my favorite mid-century houses, and it just happens to be nearby. I always wish I had the guts to stop and knock on the door and ask to look inside. I can see a great 3-tiered pendant light in the entryway- I just know it's full of more MCM goodies. I have even exchanged pleasantries with the owner as I ride by, but never had the courage to ask!
Here's some more eye candy- you can see why I like to ride this route:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
-Robert Frost

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flea Market Friday: Christmas in October

I don't know about you, but seeing some stores with Christmas stuff out already (I'm talking to you, Lowe's!) seems a little bizarre.

However, the time to buy vintage Chirstmas stuff is when you see it, and I saw a bunch of it last Friday at our local rummage sale. So I guess that makes me an an accessory to all this early Christmas madness?

Anyway, I bought this killer bottlebrush wreath with its original box:

The original price sticker said it cost $1.50 new, so I guess I got a pretty good deal at 66% off (that would be 50 cents). The box was also marked that the color was "blue", though, so unless I developed a sudden case of color-blindness, that was way off. Imagine what the original purchaser must have thought when they ended up with a red wreath instead of blue. (Maybe relief? LOL, but a blue wreath would be totally cool nowadays)

I bought some other non-Xmas stuff, like a retractable flying-saucer kitchen light for my brother's new house ($3) and an Oster kitchen center ($7.50) just like my mom had when we were growing up. I managed to resist a couple dozen vintage Xmas balls; I just have way too many already!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thrifted Thursday: Got a Crush?

First off, I want to apologize for being AWOL the last week & a half. Just in time for Halloween, I had a week from Hell.  After the flood in our basement, my husband was home on vacation for part of the week. Now while that doesn't sound so bad, and I love him, of course, it means all our daily routines are thrown out of whack (I know some of you SAHMs know what I'm talking about!) and I don't get my usual computer time. Then he went away on a hunting trip and while he was gone my son came home from school sick. (I'll spare you the details, but it involved a lot of cleaning....)

But hopefully we'll get back on track with this week's Thrifted Thursday:

I bought this Orange Crush dispenser a while back at a thrift store for $4. I loved the colors and the graphics, and it happens to work well with Halloween. The Harlequin and Scottie dog images just scream 1930s to me, but I don't know enough about this style of dispenser to date it definitively. I do have a fairly large collection of vintage soda bottles, but this is the only syrup dispenser I have. As with most of the things I buy, I bought it because it was cool!

Here it is with another Halloween themed-bottle, a milk bottle from Witchwood Dairies with a witch on a broomstick!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meat Rope! (no, nothing to do with Lady Gaga...)

It's really starting to feel like fall around here. Cold, dreary, rainy... just perfect for some comfort food!

I don't know about you all, but I definitely cook differently during warm and cool months. In the summer, it's lots of grilling and salads, and in the winter more soups, stews and roasts.

I think tonight I'm going to make a meat loaf. We always laugh about this at my house, because when my son was about 3, he couldn't say "loaf" and always called it "meat rope". It kinda stuck, and now we all call it "meat rope"!

And as you might expect, we make it a little differently here as well....

I've mentioned before that we do a lot of hunting and fishing and that is primarily how we put meat on the table. With the exception of chicken and the occasional steak, most of what we eat is hunted, fished or raised ourselves. And archery season for deer just opened around here so we need to make room in the freezer for fresher meat.

When we harvest a deer, we are very careful to use the entire animal- nothing goes to waste (we even tan the hides to make buckskin) in the spirit of the Native Americans and Pioneers. So even the smallest scraps of meat get ground into hamburger. Since my husband is a butcher by profession, this is fairly easy for us- we even have our own commercial grinder and slicer.

Venison is extremely lean and is one of the healthiest red meats you can eat. Since deer are wild animals, they are not fed commercial feed and of course are not given antibiotics, hormones, etc. All the meat is by definition free range and organic.

When you cook with venison you can use it just as you would a cut of beef, but you need to remember that the meat is much tougher and leaner than commercial beef cattle. When you grind it for hamburger, you need to add some fat for it to hold together during cooking. We usually add about 10% beef fat to the ground venison, and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference in taste between it and ground beef.

For a recipe like a meatloaf, it is perfect. There is very little fat (sometimes beef/pork meatloaf can be very greasy) and adding breadcrumbs, ketchup and a packet of onion soup mix make up a tasty meatloaf that is also better for you. Add some mashed potatoes from our garden and a salad of the season's last tomatoes and I don't think you could have a better "locally sourced" meal.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Flooded Friday!

No pix today (a good thing- you would die), but we woke up to 3 inches of water in our basement. We don't often get water there (like once every couple of years) but six inches of rain overnight will do that, I guess. There were lots of things on the floor, so we've been salvaging what we can.

The best part is trying to keep the kids from sailing boats down there while we're trying to clean up. They were just about ready to put on bathing suits and dive in.

We borrowed a pump from my husband's boss- needless to say he didn't get to work today- that I think was used to pump out a barn. It smelled like cow manure- really gross. And the worst part is that our vacuum cleaner was among the casualties... gotta love life sometimes!