Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vintage Towels: the Finishing Touch

So you spent all kinds of time and money restoring a 1950s pink bathroom, seeking out vintage pink fixtures and just the right accessories, but something is still missing.

Or, you want to add a touch of vintage style to a modern bathroom. What is left?

Vintage sculptured towels!

I recently read a great article over at about how vintage-style towels are making a comeback. Apparently all those sculptured and textured towels from your Grandma's linen closet are hot stuff over at Anthropologie, Pottery Barn and even Kmart. Who woulda thunk it?

Why, you and me, of course.

See, it just so happens that here at the PIT we got hep to that jive long ago. I'm here to show you some of my vintage textured towels from the 50s and beyond! (It helps to be the only one in the family with a genuine 50s pink bathroom- I inherited all of these from Grandmas and Aunts over the years. No icky thrift store towels!)

Two of my favorites, both textured plush Textron towels.

 Close up of the large one- this is my favorite!

A matched pair of bath and hand towels. I have two sets of these, plus wash cloths. They probably are the closest match to my tile. These are Cannon sculptured towels like those mentioned in the article. The only downside to all this fabulousness is that the bath towels are about half the size of modern ones. So just use two!

Three of a kind! The middle one is a light green; I usually use it in the other bath.

This is another of my favorites.

I love the pink trim band!

 I bet I'm not the only one that remembers these.... I think we also had matching sheets back when I was a kid in the 70s. I think my eyes are burning.

And for those who call the 80s "vintage", see ET in that image? LOL

Hope you enjoyed your trip through the Chez QT linen closet! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thrifted Thursday- Tiki Time!

Last week my brother and I did a little thrifting for his new pad. He was looking for some kitchen items and a bedroom set. We didn't have much luck there, but I found a couple framed pictures that I couldn't resist.  They were a pair of tiki prints, and I could tell there was something different about them. They just didn't seem like they were originally meant to be framed, if you know what I mean- I could see faint outlines of printing on them.

But I had to buy them and take them home to see what was behind the image!

Not a problem- at $1.99 each I knew one of us would find a place for them!

You can see how this print was cut out of a larger image.

Once I got home, we took them carefully out of the frame, and what did we find inside?

They were both menus from a Hawaiian banquet in 1961! Now, I know it's not the same as finding a priceless oil painting behind a cheap print, but I still think it's a cool find. And I'm a sucker for being able to date something exactly.

My brother now has them hanging in his house- he's going for a tiki theme bathroom, so these will be a good start.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Make-it-from-scratch Monday: Crock Pot Roast

This is a favorite in our house. I make a roast in the slow cooker probably twice a month during the colder months. But since you don't need the oven, you could definitely do this in the summer as well.

I'm using a venison roast, but you could use any lean beef roast, like an eye roast or shoulder London broil (round roast).


2 lb. lean venison or beef roast (can be frozen)
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
about 7 juniper berries (optional)
1 tsp thyme
salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 envelope brown gravy mix, prepared according to package directions
1 oz dry sherry

1) Chop the onion and garlic and place in the bottom of the slow cooker.

2) Season the roast with salt, pepper and thyme, and put in slow cooker. I put my roast in frozen, if yours is fresh, halve the cooking time.

3) Prepare the gravy mix in a saucepan on the stove. I use one envelope of Serv-a-gravy, with 2 cups of water. I usually use a little less water (1 3/4 c.) than the pkg indicates, because the roast will contribute more water while cooking. Once the gravy has thickened, add the juniper berries and sherry and heat through. The juniper berries may be hard to find in your supermarket- try a specialty store or bulk foods store- but they are worth seeking out. They are my "secret ingredient", and with the sherry really complement the flavor of the roast.

4) Pour the gravy over the meat.

5) Cook for 4-6 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

6) Slice and serve with gravy. I usually make herb-roasted redskin potatoes and a green vegetable, like broccoli.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'd like to thank the Academy...

and all the little people out there who made this award possible...(*cue music*)

I've recieved my first-ever blog award from Miss Cherry Bubbles! Now I have to tell you seven things about myself, and pass the award along.

1) When I was in high school and college I wanted to play trumpet in a major symphony orchestra. I got my Bachelors of Music in trumpet performance but never got past the audition stage for anything other than local orchestras. So now I teach trumpet and freelance around the area (weddings, funerals, community events, etc.) with a community band and brass quartet.

2) When that didn't pan out, I went back to school and got my Master's in Museum Science. I went to Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX, home of Buddy Holly. I had always wanted to visit Texas, but never been. When I went to check out the school I felt right at home, and loved it down there. If I hadn't been already engaged to my husband here in Pennsylvania, I would have stayed out West. We'll probably retire to the Hill Country some day.

3) Now that I'm mostly a stay-at-home mom, I can really identify with Squidward. I sometimes feel as if I spend my days with Spongebob and Patrick, longing for sophistication.

4) I have always loved aviation. I started taking flying lessons after college and accumulated 72 hours. But I never got my pilot's license before I went to grad school and had no more money. My most recent real job was curator of an aviation museum.

5) My fascination with the past started with Big Band music. The first record album I ever bought was Glenn Miller's Pure Gold, in 1987. I was in 7th grade. Up until that point, I had listened mostly to classical music. Glenn Miller and I have the same birthday.

6) I still have the first car I ever bought new. My 1997 VW Jetta has 180,000 miles on it. I love that car and hope I can drive it forever. Between my mother and I, we have had a VW in the family since 1962. Hers is now a bit newer than mine, a 2009 Jetta.

7) I love to fish. I hunt as well, both archery and gun. I figured I'd never see my husband if I didn't learn to do what he did, and now I really enjoy getting out in nature. But fishing really suits me- the feeling of persistance paying off and the thrill of not knowing what you'll get.

Well, that's a bit about me, now I will pass the award on to these fellow bloggers- check out their blogs, if you haven't already!

My friend Eileen, an art deco dame if there ever was one:

Bombs Away, a real-life aviatrix and classy vintage gal

Shannon, another mom just trying to maintain her sanity:

Rachelle at who is probably busy having a baby right about now...

And a bonus- I'll give the award to anyone else I didn't mention that can name the song on the sheet music on my header! (See, now that you know I'm a music geek, that isn't just some random image....)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Trash-picked Tuesday: V-mail

Today, Trash-picked Tuesday is a two-fer. (How many times can I type the letter 't'?!) Not only is this item trash-picked, it's also one of those rare times when I get crafty.

I found this cute little mailbox in a junk heap in the woods. It was black, a bit rusty, and the lid was all dented. I think there was a mouse living in it.  But it had potential, so I carted it home. If I got my mail delivered to my porch, you can bet I would've used it for its intended purpose. It was pretty cool in a rusty, beat-up vintage way.

After a couple of years of trying to figure out a creative use for it, I hit on this idea- a Valentine mail box. It's the perfect size for my kids to put all their little cards in it.

I happened to have some pink and red Rustoleum spray paint laying about (what, doesn't everyone? LOL), so after a bit of sanding and knocking the dents out, I painted the body pink and the lid red. My son applied the stickers, and we had a fun little Valentines mail box re-purposed from a vintage original.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Make-it-from-scratch Monday: Hunter-style rabbit

In honor of Valentine's Day, show the man in your life how to cook the game he bags (or buys, in this modern age!)

This is another of my favorite wild game recipes. You can find domestic rabbit at specialty supermarkets or, better yet, your neighborhood butcher shop, or you can use chicken thighs in this recipe. For the vegetarians, you could certainly use eggplant or white beans; but the cooking time would be much less! I used a dutch oven and cooked it on the stove, but you could also use a slow cooker- just brown the veggies and meat first and then add everything to the slow cooker for 4-6 hours.


1 whole rabbit, cut-up, or 2-3 pounds skinless chicken thighs
1/4 pound diced ham or uncooked bacon
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped medium
1/2 c. celery, chopped
8 oz whole baby carrots or 1 c. sliced carrots
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 c. good red wine
herbs, such as parsley, rosemary, oregano and thyme, about 2 Tbs total
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat dutch oven, large saucepan or skillet on stovetop.
Add cubed ham or bacon and cook until it becomes browned.
Add rabbit or chicken pieces and brown on all sides. You may need to add a little olive oil if the ham/bacon is very lean.

Add garlic, onions, celery and carrots and cook until translucent.

Add the tomatoes and the wine- I used 2 pints of my home-canned crushed tomatoes, but a 28-oz can of store-bought is fine. Just make sure you taste before adding any additional salt later!

At this point, you can transfer to a slow cooker for 4-6 hours, or you can continue to simmer it, covered, on the stovetop for about 2 hours. When meat is tender and falling off the bone, remove it to a dish and separate it from the bones. Return the meat to the veggie mixture in the pot.

Heat through, and add herb mixture, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with wide noodles, rotini or penne.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Favorite Diners

 I am definitely a diner gal. I love them all, from the c.1920s Red Rose Diner in Towanda, PA, to the classic stainless, and now closed, Vale-Rio in Phoenixville, PA (home of the famous Colonial Theater where The Blob was filmed).

But one of my all-time favorites is the classic "Mediterranean-style" Vincentown Diner in Vincentown, NJ.

It's the perfect stop on the way home from the beach, with good food, fast service and a very kid-friendly staff. Last summer I was happy to notice that they're serving locally sourced, seasonal organic food whenever possible. (This is another passion of mine- I am such a foodie and strongly believe in supporting local farmers and businesses!!!!)

And now, apparently, everyone else has caught on, because the Vtown Diner was featured in today's Phila. Inquirer for its local menu. Thankfully the place is one of those giant 200+ seat affairs (and not the 30 seat Red Rose!), so there is little worry that we won't be able to get a table. But maybe the counter seats will be harder to get now, LOL!

Check out the review here, and hopefully a similar menu might be coming to your favorite diner!

Photo: Richard W. G. Clapper for

Friday, February 11, 2011

Flea Market Friday: Dreaming of Spring

Primroses- the first sign of spring around here. Even if it's only in the grocery store!

The days are getting longer, and it's staying light until 6 o'clock.

I love primroses, they're cute, smell great, and are hardy enough that I've had some come up every year outside. And this year, I found the perfect containers- milk glass vases!

This one I got for free, believe it or not, on a table full of free items outside a thrift store. I love the fluted shape. (I have an antique glass flower frog inside to keep the tiny flower pot from disappearing inside.)

This vase cost me 40 cents at a flea market a while back. Add in the flowers at 2/$4, and I'd say that's a bargain way to chase the winter doldrums away!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cool stuff from Chez QT: the jukebox

Today I'm feeling crappy, so no Make-it-from Scratch Monday post, just a random pic of cool stuff at Chez QT. Plus, I'm crazy busy getting ready for my son's birthday party- he turns 6 tomorrow. So you just get to enjoy some eye candy, my 1959 Seeburg jukebox:

 When I was growing up, this used to be in the Rec room of my parents' church. It never worked, and was kind of in disrepair, with the title strips all wonky. But as a small child I used to love just going over to push the buttons, even though nothing ever happened. I used to tell my parents that one day I would own that jukebox. Like all parents, I'm sure they just rolled their eyes and said "whatever"...

But I never forgot, and I even kept a list of all the records I was going to buy to put in it. Once I was old enough to go shopping on my own, I started to buy those 45 rpm records.

Fast forward about 15 years, to when I had my first apartment- my mom told me the church was getting rid of some stuff, and right away I remembered the jukebox. So I called up and offered them $200 for it. I think the church secretary thought I was on something, because she said, "You know it doesn't work, and you'll have to move it!"

No problem! I had my brother go over with his truck the next day and we loaded it up. I paid the church and brought it home.

Once I had it in my apartment, I plugged it in and it lit up. but it did not work. That was OK with me; it was mine, and was the coolest nightlight you ever saw! A few years later, after meeting my husband we got it fixed- apparently years ago some kid had gotten in the back and switched a tube into the wrong spot. The repairman just put it back in the right socket and it played. But not that well- I ended up having to get the amplifier rebuilt. This was not an easy job, and back then the repair was kind of expensive (around $300). But it's worked flawlessly ever since.

We bought a fe accessories to go with it, a tableside wallbox:

This is not a "mini jukebox" as many people think- there are no records or speaker and it cannot play any music on it's own. It's really called a "remote selector", basically a remote control that lets you make a selection right from your table and then it transmits the selection over to the jukebox via a series of electric pulses over a wire.

A pair of stereo speakers.

The 1959 Seeburg model 220 (the technical name for my baby) was the first jukebox to offer stereo sound. In order to get the trus stereo effect you had to purchase these additional speakers. Although there are two individual speakers in the front of the cabinet, you don't get the felling of stereo that you get from the speakers in the corner of the room. The promotional literature recommended up to six speakers for a larger room to get the full stereo effect (and to increase sales, because that is what jukeboxes were all about.)

It's interesting to me to note that with digital downloads, people are beginning to go back to a single-driven form of music purchase. Pre-1960s, that was just about all people bought- 45 or 78 rpm singles of their favorite songs. Not until the advent of the 33 LP record in the mid-50s did the idea of an "album" mean anything in terms of sales and artist input.

Now the record industry is all in a dither about "the death of the album", which, if you look at it in historical terms, is not how most people bought music, except for the period from the 1960s-1990s. In fact, a single-driven music industry in the 1950s gave us all those great "one-hit wonder" and regional acts that would never have flourished on a national level. Many of the great 1950s rockabilly and R&B acts were primarily found on jukeboxes, and never got top 40 radio hits. They were strictly niche performers that relied on nickels being put into the coin slots in the areas that they were well-known. It doesn't sadden me at all to think that we might be returning to this type of music market.

So I will leave you with one of those R&B niche acts that hit it big, the Marcels. This is the B side of "Blue Moon", "Goodbye to Love". And it was one of those 45s that I wrote down on my list years ago.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SusieQT collects: Printed Tablecloths

One of my most dear vintage collections is my linens. I love all linens, from vintage embroidered fingertip towels to quilts. But probably my favorite are my printed cotton tablecloths from the 1940s and 50s. I simply adore them, and cannot resist them wherever I find them. I've been collecting them for years, and they were one of the first vintage items I owned.

There's just something so sweet about a printed cotton tablecloth that brightens up my mood, especially during a cold winter. I guess they really remind me of carefree summer living. And the great thing is, they're readily available, fairly cheap (usually in the $12-$25 range, thrifted) and come in many sizes that can fit a modern table. (Lately I've made sure that they fit my table; that helps me resist the temptation to buy everything!)

Printed tablecloths were mass-produced beginning in the 1930s as a way to freshen up the breakfast or luncheon table. More formal occaisions (like dinner) demanded damask or linen and the dining room table. That is why most printed tablecloths are on the small side; 48-52" square or 60" oblong. The larger of these will fit a modern size table, barely. But I still use some of the smaller ones, I just turn them in a diamond shape or let there be bare spaces at the head and foot of the table.

They were produced throughout the 40s and 50s, and later. You can even find some with matching napkins or table runners for a buffet. I am not usually so lucky; if I find a set of matching napkins
I buy it, whether the tablecloth is there or not- I figure that will be the easiest piece to find later! Most commonly they have flowers or fruit, or a Christmas theme.

Here are my favorites:

This one was my Grandmother's. It is still my favorite of them all. I love the lattice design and the apple blossoms; so 1940s.

The roses I have in yellow as well, but that one is round. Since the only round table I have is my picnic table, I use it outside.

I love the colors in this one- kind of unusual.

This is my most recent acquisition- a red, white and blue color scheme plus polka dots! Who cares if it doesn't quite fit????  A steal at $3.50, too!

Sometimes the faded ones have just the right look. Kind of shabby chic, I guess. (Don't judge me by my ironing skills, though!)

This one was a gift from Zootsuitmama, and one of my favorites!

This one is so 50s, with the pink and the teapots.

Another pink one- I have this same design in yellow as well. But I decided to use it on the table today because Valentine's Day is approaching.

Some people really collect state tablecloths. This is the only one I have, but it's a good one- Alaska. It was just on my table last week in honor of all the snow we've gotten!

Here's one of my Christmas tablecloths "in action" ;) . I have printed glasses that match- that will be another "SusieQT collects..." feature someday.

This is a little different- it's a set of 4 placemats, 4 napkins and a tablerunner. I love this; it seems really 1930s to me. I often use just the tablerunner, since my kids are still very messy eaters. We usually put ugly plastic placemats out to protect the good tablecloths when we eat, so they last at least a couple of days before needing to be washed (and ironed, ugh...)

I store them folded in a glass-front cabinet that used to be my Grandma's. You can see some of the tablerunners on the right and the Christmas ones on the bottom.

It's nice to have them somewhere where I can see them and enjoy them, plus the cabinet reminds me of Grandma's house.