Thursday, December 29, 2011

The 1930s Project

I've been kicking around an idea here for a couple of years, and perhaps by making an official announcement  on this blog I can jump start it. Please join me for the adventure!

I have always been fascinated by the 1930s. Ever since I discovered big band swing in 7th grade I have been enthralled by the Art Deco era. All of it- the history, politics, and economics as well as the lighter side of entertainment, fashion and culture. Seriously studying the 1930s has been my avocation since I was in college. Even as an undergrad music major, I spent far more time with Paul Hindemith and Weimar Germany than I did with many of my friends. As a graduate student, I focused on early 20th Century material culture- the artifacts of technology, transportation and manufacturing from the period. And while I may know a lot of facts, I have always felt that I was missing the experience portion of the equation.

I have always wanted to know what it would have been like to truly live during the 1930s. I would like to do an  experiment in which I put aside most of our modern conveniences and live as a Depression-era housewife. Of course, I do have a family and their needs will have to be accounted for, but I will try to do my best to accomplish all of this in as authentic a way as possible.

Perhaps some of you have had similar thoughts. For some reason I haven't talked about it a whole lot on this blog, partly because most of my readers are into the 1950s. And while I like that time period, I have never really felt the pull to live it like I have with the 1930s-early 40s era. I am also aware that there are other people who do this as a lifestyle (some of whom are my good friends) and have been doing so for years. I admire that and I am by no means considering myself an expert on this- I just want to see if I can do it for myself!

So I am announcing the start of this project in which I live as a 1930s housewife for two weeks in August of 2012. The adventure will start with background posts leading up to it at my other blog:

Or you can join me facebook:

See you later, gator!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thrifted Thursday: Pyrex and FireKing

I hope all of you have had a very happy Holiday season and wish everyone a happy New Year!  I got some much needed items, and of course, the kids had quite a haul.

Presents are great, but as you know, nothing makes me happier than thrifting, and getting a deal on something I collect!

Since the kids are off of school this week, I can relax my schedule a bit and get to those places I don't normally frequent because of time or distance. Today I went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, ostensibly to look for new bathroom sconces for our cabin. Of course, none of those there were right; it was two big shelves of hideous brass and glass fixtures, just like the ones I want to get rid of! But I did browse through the household goods and came back with a couple scores:

I found this Butterprint 442 (1.5 qt.) Cinderella bowl in great condition, for my set for $3. I now have 3 of the 4 - just need the 443 to finish it!

I also couldn't resist these FireKing beauties. I don't collect this pattern (yet!) and don't even know its name, but I adore it! The handpainted flowers are lovely, and the whole set was only $5. It's a big 2 qt. baker, one cereal bowl, two handled ramekins and three tiny custard cups. They don't appear to ever have been used; I wonder what happened to their mates? I can definitely see collecting this one becoming my next obsession!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thrifty finds

I've been doing a bit of thrifting lately, buying a bunch of stuff for my Etsy store. Of course, one of the hidden costs of having a vintage store is that you inevitably come across stuff you can't bear to part with and end up keeping. I don't know the technical term for that, but it eats into the profit margin for sure! These are the things I'm keeping as a Christmas present to myself, and who doesn't need a little of that? :)

Perhaps it's a backlash from the recent trend, but I am finding a lot of Pyrex here lately. There have been some really great pieces out there at bargain prices. I snagged this 1.5 qt covered dish for $4.50, and the price tag said "as is"! I am still trying to figure out what was supposedly wrong with it- there are no chips anywhere and it is pristine. I am being pretty good and only allowing myself to collect Butterprint or Primary, or else I would have a houseful! I even left a couple Butterprint round casseroles behind, because they looked like they had been through the dishwasher. I may even use this dish tonight for a recipe I will be posting next Monday; bringing back "Make-it-from-scratch Monday". Stay tuned!

Longtime readers may remember that my 7 yr old son collects these souvenir wooden wall plaques from state parks. I haven't found any in ages, and he has been getting a little down about ever finding any (like kids can be, LOL) but did find this one last week. This is not as vintage as some of the ones we already have- it's metallic foil- but he will love it. (We saw some bald eagles this summer while fishing on the Susquehanna River.) I am going to let my daughter wrap it up for him for Christmas. I was a bit shocked at the price- $8.50, WTF?- but what the hey, 'tis the season to overspend!

Speaking of which, you can see some of the rest of his collection below:

I found a better vintage lampshade for his atomic starburst lamp. Still not 100% sure this is right, but it's a lot better than what we had before

That shade actually came off of this lamp, which I bought for my daughter's nightstand at our cabin. I'm trying to get a little shabby cottage-y thing going for her up there (the polar opposite of my MIL's style who also lives there, hehe) and this will be so much more appropriate than the fussy super-traditional brass stuff she has now. I want to find a frilly shade for this- I know exactly what I want, just got to find it!

The best find of the last couple of weeks, however, was this: 

It's a 1930s 2 piece skirt and top set. Made of taffeta with ruffled detail and cute little brass buttons. I was originally planning to put it in the shop, but after I measured it, it was close enough that I could conceivably wear it.                   

After I lose about 10 pounds.                         

It will happen. I just needed the motivation and this is it!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

'Tis the Season of Giving- and we have a Giveaway Winner!!!!

Let's not forget the spirit of the holidays and remember to give a little back to our community. My cousin lives out in LA and is involved in a church program to send Recovery Bibles to inmates in prison. If you are looking for a way to give this season, why not look into this program and donate (PayPal accepted) if you can:

And since we all love to get as well as give, we have a winner in the Pyrex giveaway! According to, which drew #3 (I'm sorry, I tried to do a screen grab and failed miserably...), our winner is Miss Dollie DeVille! Dollie, send your address to practiceintime (at) gmail (dot) com and I will carefully pack and ship your prize! Three cheers for our winner!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's beginning to look...

...a little like Christmas around here. We've started putting up decorations, and have a few new items this year. I found some really great holiday items over this past year, and while many of them went into my Etsy shop, I saved a couple for us.

Here are some of the newer vintage items around Chez QT:

A pair of bottlebrush trees and a little flocked deer on top of my TV-quarium. I should now say that this is my "prize-winning" TV-quarium, LOL, thanks to the good folks over at No Pattern Required, one of my favorite blogs. Unfortunately, the TV-quarium will have to be moved somewhere else next week, as this is the place we put our Christmas tree.

One of a pair of vintage stockings I'm using as decorations around the entrance to our living room. I make the white pine garland myself every year- over 25 feet. It's very easy; I should do a tutorial one of these days.

I found four of these bakelite and cardboard window candles at an estate sale this summer. I have other red window candles and I needed a couple new ones- these are perfect. They are also nice and heavy so they don't have to be taped to the windowsill. (Don't you hate that? LOL)

I have some new blow molds also- the two angels were 99 cents each at Sine's 5&10. Really. This store still has stock from the 50s and 60s and has never changed the prices over all these years. Instead of putting them up in the living room like last year, I decided to put them all in the downstairs window. I don't know if I like this or not, but we'll see. I do know that I need at least one more, because groupings of odd numbers look better. See how I can rationalize another collection? :) This is why I have more stuff than space.... heehee!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway! Now that we're up to 100 followers, it's official- game on! Get your name in by Friday, and at this point you have a pretty good chance of winning!

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Pyrex Giveaway!

Whew! It's been hard to keep up a regular blogging schedule these days. I promise you I haven't forgotten all about blogging- it's just been a little hectic around here!

Not coincidentally, I'm sure, I've noticed that we are hovering right around 95 followers. I'd really love to get up and over 100, so to sweeten the pot a bit, I'm going to do a giveaway.  Spread the word, get out the vote and get yourself entered to win:

A 1959 promotional Pyrex Golden Casserole 2.5 Qt. Cinderella dish with stand! This casserole is in virtually mint condition and is fairly rare. It is ivory with a gold leaf grape motif.

You can enter to win in any one of the following ways:

1) Be a follower and leave a comment below.

2) Repost it on your blog.

3) Mention it on facebook or Twitter.

Make sure to leave a separate comment for each entry method. The winner will be randomly selected after the contest closes at midnight on Friday 12/9. I will ship anywhere in the US and Canada at my expense. Unfortunately, I cannot ship anywhere else- if you still want to enter and you live elsewhere, we can figure out a different (i.e. less heavy and fragile) prize.

Monday, November 21, 2011

SusieQT Collects: Quilts!

Hey all, what better way to warm up in this cool weather than snuggling up under a vintage handmade quilt! I am fortunate in that I have quite a few, all family heirlooms. I think most of these are 1890s-1930s. It seems my great grandmas were busy quilting bees, and since they lived in Michigan, I suppose they needed to make lots of them!

So a few weeks back, I took off my summertime chenille bedspreads and swapped them out with a few of these beauties:

This one is mostly embroidered; the green and purple sections are pieced.  I suppose this is technically a "coverlet" because there is no batting in between, although it is still quilted. It's in my daughter's room because of the purple. 

I apologize for the blurriness of this photo, but it gives a good shot of the pattern. I like the mostly green background and this is one of the larger quilts- fits over a full/queen bed. I believe this one is from the 1920s/30s.

I just love the handmade, rustic appeal of vintage quilts and I also really dig trying to guess the era of the fabric pieces. I think most of these are 1890s-1930s. This one is a nice close up of some Art Deco fabric. I believe the pieces are feedsack.

This one has a blue and brown theme- very masculine- but then again there is quite a bit of pink. But I think the pink might have been originally red.

I love the edging. This quilt (actually another coverlet) is pieced primarily of indigo calico, probably from about 1900.

I like the triangle pattern on this one, even though it's not in great shape anymore. I actually rescued this one from my mom- she had relegated it to outdoor duty. She has more of these than I do, even- all made by the same ancestors.

This is my favorite- a turkey red album quilt. The squares are all embroidered nature scenes or childhood scenes. It's a twin size quilt. I don't have any twin beds here, or I would use it. 

I need to figure out a better way to display them. I'm not big on hanging them on the wall- that's a little too country for me. Some of them are too small for laying across a bed, and with small kids they are too fragile to drape over a sofa. So for now, they're put away in a blanket chest.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Little R-n-R part 2- the goodies!

Okay, now that I got that last post off my chest it's back to the fun and frivolity! On our 10th anniversary get- away post last month, I mentioned all the great antiques stores we stopped at in Adamstown, PA. Since I am so cheap, most of the time when I go into an "antiques store", it is purely a research project. As in, how much can I get for my stuff if I put it in my Etsy Store, and laughing at the prices some folks will pay.

But there are always a few bargains to be found, I guess, and particularly when you are faced with So Much Stuff! Don't get me wrong, there were things in there I wanted to buy, but I just don't have the money to spend $1200 on an amazing lithographed tin toy from the turn of the century.
My outift for our 2nd day out- wide legged sailor jeans, saddle shoes and  my 49er.

So what did I buy? Well, since selling vintage clothing has become my business, I naturally looked those racks over pretty carefully. And those of you of like mind and taste will probably agree when I tell you that most of the older stuff I saw was either in poor condition or had a sky high price tag. There were plenty of newer items from the 60s and 70s to be had more reasonably, but those just aren't my style. And on a trip like this, I buy for myself- I can't make enough money re-selling things that are on the high side to start with.

So I found this gem of a handmade day dress:

It's never been worn, has the original belt and I loved the cute cotton print fabric. But at $15, it did have one flaw: all the buttons melted when it was pressed! They aren't melted onto the dress, thankfully, just into flat disks that are no longer functional or pretty. Eventually I will find some nice vintage buttons and replace them all before I wear it next spring.

My next find was blue and white also. I recently became an official Pyrex collector, and besides the primary color set, I have been working on a Butterprint mixing bowl set. I had bought the large 444 last fall at a Goodwill ($2.99) and hadn't really found anything else cheap and in great condition (my two priorities, in that order!) But at one of the antique malls I found a little booth of only Pyrex and Fire King, and they had the 441 there for only $4. (There were actually quite a few booths with glassware and kitchen items; some were so spectacularly staged I could have lived there- wish I had my camera to share them with you.)

The 442 was at the booth as well, but not in as great shape, and for $6, I think I can do better eventually. The thrill of the hunt is really why I'm in it, anyway. 

And my final purchase was totally one of those splurge deals, for something that I would normally laugh at my own stupidity for paying the price, if it weren't so gosh-darn perfect:

I bought a set of rabbit ears for my TV-quarium. Late 40s/early 50s RCA antenna, with bakelite base and red tips on the antenna. It is so perfect, that for $18 I didn't think twice. (The other item on top of the set is not a radio, it's a UHF tuner which came with the original TV for $1. I have a couple TV lamps that I'm playing around with as well; still haven't settled on the perfect 'look'. But the rabbit ears are definitely staying!

Friday, November 11, 2011

I am Penn State

I'm sure many of you have been following the Penn State scandal with a heavy heart, as I have. I am a Penn State alumnus, class of 1997. My father went there (class of 1954) as did my grandfather (class of 1928). I have numerous friends and relatives attending there now. 

Football team, 1927. From my grandfather's scrapbook.
If you said that I should "bleed blue and white" well, you'd be wrong. I bleed like every other human being and this scandal has cut me to the core. I have cried for those boys every day, and I am doing it again right now...

I can't stop thinking about those poor children and how they must have gone home, got into their beds and cried. And nobody did anything to help them. They were so vulnerable and had no one to go to.

If there is any comfort to be gained from all of this, it is that so many of us in the Penn State community are outraged and hopefully would have done the right thing if we saw that little boy getting raped. Going forward I think the best way to heal is to do whatever we can do to give children a save place to go and a responsible adult to talk to. If only these kids had had someone to confide in, I want to believe that this abuse would have been stopped long ago.

My grandparents near center of campus. Caption reads, "Still love each other, April '27"
We also need to reevaluate our priorities when it comes to college athletics. I love sports, and football is at the top of the list. I played in the Blue Band; I was on that field in front of 100,000 rabid fans. I participated in that game day spectacle that will occur again tomorrow. I received all expenses-paid trips to the Rose Bowl and other privileges. But if this situation is what comes out of blind allegiance to sports at the expense of humanity, then count me out. Modern college athletics have become a different beast entirely than for what they were originally intended. 

When money and prestige drive a program and a school instead of the well-being of its people we have gone down the wrong path. What ever happened to the days when "student athlete" meant something- that you were a student first, not just auditioning for TV ratings and the NFL? At Penn State, we always paid lip service to that ideal, that Joe Paterno made sure his players did well in class and graduated. But they were always football players first and foremost, and that is what has led to his downfall.

We need to return to that notion of athletics as a secondary facet of a well-rounded education. We need to stop treating kids as money-makers and start valuing them as individuals. We need to stop rewarding mediocre classroom performance with athletic scholarships at all levels. Don't give me the argument that Joe Schmo would never have gotten into Penn State except for his athletic prowess- we should be investing that athletic budget into helping him get good grades on his homework instead of excusing him to go to high school football practice. 

Look at the way the service academies do it- no one gets in purely on athletics. They have to be accepted on their academic merit first. Somehow they manage to produce a decent, competitive football team and at the same time don't lose focus on the "student" part of the "student-athlete". I'm not saying that everyone can or should adopt the rest of the service academy standards, but it seems to me that they do keep the focus off the field, where it should be. 

Student Pep rally, 1927. Near West Hall dorms. From my grandfather's scrapbook.
Way back in my grandfather's day, this was the case at Penn State. Football was just one part of the overall academic experience. Sure, students played and went to the games, but no one expected the football team to subsidize the rest of the school and no one was using college football as a springboard to the NFL. Back when "the New Beaver Field" was built (in 1909, near Rec Hall) it held 30,000 people. It was central to the campus and not isolated. Football players were definitely BMOCs, but were still expected to show up to class and graduate on time, with an education they could use. 
1925 football tickets for the "New Beaver Field". Unused, as they all should be tomorrow.

We need to get back to those days of small-time athletics, where the emphasis is placed on building a strong mind and a strong body, and a strong school. We need to return to college football as a pastime, not a means to an end. Strip Penn State of all its NCAA scholarships, put the football team back on par with the girls' tennis team and let the academics be first and foremost. Cancel the rest of the season and the next one as well. Let's get some perspective on who we are as Penn Staters and what we should be doing to be the best people we can be. Let those 10 year old boys that will live in our memories forever have the justice they deserve and a lasting legacy of humanity at Penn State instead of just going about "business as usual".

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Halloween 2011


You might have heard about the freak snowstorm we had on October 29th. I think we probably got about 6-8 inches of snow, obviously not a normal occurrence for this time of year. I can remember seeing flurries in late October but nothing like this:

Yes, my kids went sledding on Saturday and trick-or-treating on Monday.

Sunday we went to a kids' pumpkin carving event .

 It was held at my sister-in-law's club, which featured this cool original 1940s dartboard.

Then it was on to Grandma's for more pumpkin carving. Jayson grew these pumpkins in his garden all by himslef, so it was special to turn it into a jack-o-lantern.

Tinkerbelle and Davy Crockett ready to go out trick-or-treating. The Davy Crockett costume is deadstock 1950s, picked up for a few bucks at a thrift store. It's still plenty big for my son, but in a few years it will make its way to my Etsy store. He was a big hit with all the older neighbors- they both cleaned up on the candy!

And looking forward to the next holiday on the calendar, yours truly bagged a wild turkey last week. I love the idea of providing Thanksgiving dinner for my family. It kind of makes me laugh when I hear all this talk about "heritage birds" vs. supermarket birds. Really, wild turkeys (and venison) are what the Pilgrims ate at the original Thanksgiving. That is our real "heritage", and wild turkeys should be more celebrated than they are. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Little R-n-R, part 1

Last week my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. While that's unbelievable in itself (has it really been 10 years already?), what might be more surprising is that we have never taken an overnight trip on our own, without kids, in seven years. So it was high time to remedy that situation.

Once Grammie was settled in and taking care of the kids- bless her, it's not easy to get a 3 and 6 year old off to school in the morning- we set off on a little trip to Lancaster County. Our itinerary was to spend Thursday shopping in Adamstown, PA -the antique capital of the world- and stay overnight at an old hotel in Lititz. Friday we would spend some time in Lititz, then make a stop at a farmer's market on the way home.

Pennsylvania's Lancaster County (aka "Amish Country", for those of you in parts far off) has always felt like home for me. My family has lived there for generations, since the mid-1700s. My grandmother lived in Lititz for much of her life and I spent many happy weekends there visiting. So I wasn't exactly the usual tourist (something there are lots of, this time of year), but it was a little different to actually be there as a hotel guest.

Adamstown is a little over an hour's drive from our home. But it was well worth the trip to do some shopping at all the antique malls and stores there. We spent hours poring over the booths at the Mad Hatter, Pine Hills, Adams Antiques, and others. I bought some goodies, which will be part 2 of this post!

We ate lunch at a great brewpub, the Union Barrel Works in Reamstown. It's a little off the beaten path, but well worth seeking out. The food and the brew were incredible! We had originally planned to eat lunch at Stoudt's in Adamstown, but they are not open for lunch during the week. Quite a few of the antiques shops in Adamstown are also not open during the week, so plan your visit accordingly. It wasn't a problem for us, because there were plenty of other places that were open- more than we could do in a day!

This was my outfit for the day- a Lilli Ann knit suit with a 1940s collegiate look (the skirt is pleated, hard to tell in the photo) and saddle shoes. It was the perfect outift- quite comfortable for a day of shopping.

Then it was on to the General Sutter Hotel in Lititz for our overnight stay and dinner.

Our room was beautiful- nice and roomy with antique Victorian furnishings. It was just our style; we don't really enjoy the corporate hotel chains, and try to stay in places like this whenever possible.

I loved the "TV lounge" just down the hall- it was really a library/sitting room for the guests. I was daydreaming about how to turn this old "portable" TV into an aquarium....

We ate dinner there as well; the food was out of this world. I had a NY strip with an Asian soy-ginger sauce, and my husband had crab cakes. We dressed for the occasion- my dress is the first piece of vintage clothing I ever owned. It's a black velvet wiggle dress with the most incredible beading detail around the neckline and front pocket. I think it dates from the mid-late 1950s. It was given to me in high school by a friend of my mother's who knew I needed a black dress for a concert. Needless to say, this dress is a little over-the-top for concert attire, but still one of my favorites for dressy occasions.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Halloween at Chez QT, 2011

These last few years I have really been getting into the Halloween spirit, and decorating up a storm around Chez QT. I think it is one of the few holidays I enjoy as much, if not more, than my kids.

Since my kids are so small (6 and 3) I try to stay away from the blood and gore, monsters and such. They're too young for that sort of thing. I focus instead on generally creepy things, like bugs and naturalistic/decayed things. I'm big on groupings of slightly weird objects as well, like last year's display of stopped clocks (up again this year).

My kitchen sideboard. It's nice to get out some silver and not polish it for a change, LOL. The pumpkin on a candy dish pedestal is a real pumpkin from last year that we hollowed out down to the skin and dried in the oven. It's basically ever-lasting now, and filled with faux leaves. 

I love bugs this year! The branches are curly willow from my brother's tree, spray painted black. We used a lot of them all over the house.

My son found these skulls in the woods- one is a fox and the other a coyote.

More curly willow stuck in a fat lava pot with a mum. This is probably one of the best shots of the new TV aquarium, with its new test-pattern backdrop. (Why I couldn't get a decent shot before, I'll never know...)

I love this idea- reminds me of something out of a magazine. Normally I have cornstalks on the front porch, but ours were all ratty after the hurricanes and not fit for display. Thank goodness for the curly willow! (And did I ever mention how much I love galvanized stuff? The bucket is an old sap bucket I trash picked from a dump in the woods ;) 

Jayson grew all of our pumpkins in the garden this year- it was a very good year.

Also note my Halloween blowmolds, all lit up and happy at night (like some of you are, I'm sure, LOL)! I put orange flicker bulbs in the front carriage lights also- that is such an easy, cool effect, I wonder why more people don't do that.

And finally, RIP Dracula...
While it looks nice and sunny, I turned around and snapped this picture of the cold front coming in!

If that's not scary, I don't know what is!