Friday, September 30, 2011

A hole where the heat should be

Here's the first stove update:

Egads! Major dissassembly. I've pretty much removed everything I could get off for a thorough cleaning and investigation. I've taken off the drawers, the burners, the chrome rings and all the back panels. (That 1946 GE radio is for listening to playoff baseball while I'm working- go Phils and Tigers! On a good day I can pull in WJR from Detroit.)

Thank goodness I have a garage to work in!

The door handles are going to get rechromed, and I'll be re-wiring the burners. Here's why:

Those tangled up wires are all dry rotted and brittle. Not something I want to cook on! 
Hopefully rewiring will be straightforward- I can clearly see where all the wires are supposed to hook up to and where they come from. As long as I can get the right wire this shouldn't be too hard. I have a little experience in rewiring and my brother is an electrician so if I get stuck I have some help. The burners themselves are not as bad as I thought they were- I am planning to put them same ones back in.

I'm hoping not to have to do much to the oven wiring- that looks pretty good from what I can see. I'm excited to get past the cleaning stage- that was pretty yucky!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Check one off the bucket list

Ain't she sweet?

As she sat in the seller's basement- obviously this is not my kitchen!

I have wanted a vintage stove forever. Certainly as long as I have lived in our current place -going on 9 years now. With the vintage kitchen I have, it was one of the biggest missing pieces.

But I had a modern stove that worked fine and was perfectly acceptable until recently. As a matter of fact, it still does work, it's just not pretty to look at. So this was the perfect time to start looking for the vintage stove of my dreams! I can have the luxury of taking my time with a restoration project, but still with the motivation that it needs to get finished and get put in ASAP.

Plus, it was relatively easy to convince my husband that we shouldn't spend so much on a brand new stove that I didn't really want anyway. I used my own money on this stove and will continue to do so for the restoration, which probably will include new counter tops, since this stove is 10" wider. (Thank you to those of you that have shopped my Etsy store- your purchases made this little project possible!)

So what did I get? A 1950s Westinghouse stove with double oven, three burners and a deep well cooker. I haven't figured out the exact year yet, but I'm guessing sometime around 1954-56. The double oven was #1 on my list of "must haves"; the deep well cooker, not so much. I don't yet know if I'm going to love it or hate it. But it does have plenty of "counter space", as well as two outlets if I decide I want to add an extra burner or two.

It works great- the knobs are super cool. They change from green backlit to yellow to red as the burner gets hot.

I do want to completely rewire the burners, and probably the oven elements, though, for safety's sake. And I have already taken some of the chrome pieces (door handles) off to get re-chromed. (We have always wanted to restore an old car, and this is kind of like my own version of that.) So it will be a bit of a learning process for me. Hopefully everything isn't too tricky to find and to fix; I really don't want to spend tons of money on professionals.

I will keep everyone updated on the progress, and hopefully you all will be as interested in this as I am! In the meantime, enjoy this c.1960 commercial for Westinghouse appliances featuring the cast of I Love Lucy.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pyrex Done Deal.

Alright, OK, you win!

Behold- the primary color mixing bowl set. I went back this morning and paid $30. They are absolutely mint, with no scratches, chips or marks at all. I know they're very early because they have that deep shape, plus they are thicker than the more modern primary bowls. They have the earliest mark on the bottom, the kind that says only "T.M. REG." and "U.S. PAT. OFF" in a circle around "PYREX", with no numbers.

I had almost talked myself out of them, but all of you that commented have such great taste that I knew I had better listen to you guys! :) Plus, I knew if they were still there today, she'd be in the mood to deal. I think the price is pretty good, and I will be listing some other Pyrex in my Etsy store to make some room on my shelves for these. 

I guess that makes it official. I collect Pyrex. There, I said it. ;)

I actually went to another estate sale today to look at a vintage stove (with double oven!) and will know late tomorrow if they accept my offer on that. Hopefully I will be 2 for 2 this weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Flea Market Friday: Salad Days and Pyrex (This post brought to you by the letter K)

Those of you with more than a preschool education may be wondering why I've posted this Friday update on a Thursday. I'll get to that later.

I happened to stop by an estate sale today after dropping my daughter off at school. Those are the best times to go shopping- on a weekday when I have no kids along!

I picked up this 1940s wooden salad set in mint condition for $4. It has the wooden bowl with hand painted veggies, salad tongs and six bowls. I have been wanting one of these sets for a long time; as a matter of fact, my mother has one. We grew up using it a lot as kids, and it always makes me a little nostalgic. I figure that I will eventually inherit that one, so I hadn't bought my own.

But when I saw this one, I couldn't help myself. It has literally never been used! And my mom's is all chipped up and worn. Plus the little old lady selling the stuff was so sweet, and we got to talking... and I had to have it. For $4 I think it was well worth it. Now I just have to clear some space on my shelves! That is after we use it tonight, probably the first time it will have seen lettuce in 60 years.

I also bought this metal letter for my daughter Kate, which originally was a medallion for a screen door. She is three, and yes she is learning the days of the week in preschool this month. I'm probably going to put it on her bedroom door.

I had actually been to a yard sale at this same house a few months ago (where I bought this galvanized tub) and left it behind that time. I regretted not buying it since then. For 50 cents I should've bought it the first time. When I got a second chance at it today, I didn't think twice!

And that brings me to second chances, and why I'm posting this on Thursday instead of Friday.  Also at this estate sale is a set of Pyrex primary colors mixing bowls. They are in great shape, and have the earliest hallmark at the bottom, from the 40s. The lady wants $45 for them. After hemming and hawing, I decided to leave them there. I have lots of bowls, including a couple Pyrex mixing bowls, like the large yellow one from that set. I have never felt the desire to own the complete primary color set, although the colors do appeal to me and they are so iconic. I do have some other primary color stuff, like fridgies, but I buy them to use, not to complete a set. I hesitate to call myself a Pyrex collector, although I do own quite a bit and really love it. (They just take up so much darn space! :)

However, the bowls are in such great shape, and I know it is a good price. I think I could probably go back and get them tomorrow for $35 or $40. If I buy them I would not sell them; I would use them, though I may sell some other pieces to make room and might just about break even eventually.

So what do you guys think? Should I go back and get them if they're still there tomorrow?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Living in a Fishbowl

Well, I finally finished my TV-to-fish tank project. For those of you who are long time readers you may remember that I had a 1950 Motorola TV that I bought at a yard sale. It never worked, but the cabinet was nice solid mahogany, the speaker cloth was fine, and I knew it had potential.

I took the guts out of it- that picture tube was heavy! It had a few scratches (OK, gouges) and water marks on the top, so I had to refinish it. After my coffee-table makeover project earlier this summer, I knew this would be fairly easy.
Here's the 'before':

And the 'after'. Came out pretty well! I also restored the knobs with a little elbow grease and some black marker to color in the dial numbers (remember those? LOL).

But that was the easy part. The hard part was finding a fish tank that fit inside and that covered the whole porthole window. I finally found one at a yard sale this weekend for $3. It's actually a hermit crab tank, but it fits great and has a cover. I had trashpicked a filter pump and aerator from our neighbors and two seascape backdrops, so all that went inside as well. At some point I want to find a large black and white still from a vintage TV show to use as a backdrop, so it looks more like the TV is still playing a 1950s show. 

I had to buy some lighting for inside the tank. Since there is very little headroom, I decided to get a string of rope lighting and attached it to the inside upper edge. It's not real bright, but it does the trick- it was more important that the lights didn't get very hot.

We made a shelf out of plywood to fit on the rails that held the TV chassis and slid the new tank in.

It's hard to see, but we have two fish in there- Gomer Pyle and Barney Fife. One fish is white and the other black and white. My son is a huge fan of the Andy Griffith show, so hopefully we'll find a B&W photo from that show that we can use as a backdrop. (We lost our best fish, Nemo, earlier in the week, so he never made the move. RIP, Nemo.)

And lit up at night, with a Helmscene 3D TV lamp on top. (I must have taken 100 pix trying to get a good one, and this is the best of that lot. My camera stinks!) That is a vintage ad for the 1952 version of this TV on the table next to it. I used that for reference when putting the knobs back together.

Nov. 2011 update: I changed the background to a vintage test pattern, and added period rabbit ears and a UHF tuner:

It is definitely cool, and I think just about anyone with an old TV could do it, if I could!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Flea Market Friday: Beacon Blankets

A few weeks ago I was able to right a childhood wrong by going to a rummage sale. Well, that might be a little bit of a reach. But I was able to recapture a childhood memory of sorts, and pass it on to my kids.

When I was a kid, we had a blanket that we used for taking to picnics, outdoor concerts, etc. It was very colorful and had a southwestern motif. We used to call it the "Indian Blanket". Eventually all that toting around took its toll and we lost it somewhere, never to be seen again. Of all the things we misplaced over the years, that blanket is probably the one thing we remember most. 

As I grew older and more obsessed with collecting, I realized that the "Indian Blanket" had been a Beacon blanket, or "Camp" blanket. These textiles were originally manufactured from 1920 through the 1940s by the Beacon Manufacturing Company. In fact, they sold so many -21 million a year in the late 1930’s- that “Beacon” became a generic name for the cotton camp blanket. Beacon pitched its product as a modern marvel: a fluffier, less expensive, moth-proof alternative to wool that was easier to clean and just as warm. Their designs originally copied Navajo hand weavings although at their peak, Beacon produced as many as 1500 styles, including many Art Deco motifs.

Country Living did an article on them a while back, if you want to read a bit more.

In all my years of scouring thrift stores, yard sales and such I have always looked for another "Indian Blanket". And perhaps a little part of me was hoping to discover the exact same blanket I had had as a child. But I never found one, until a few weeks ago.

I scored this blue and tan example with an Art Deco ombre plaid (the fading design pattern was a Beacon trademark) for $4 at a rummage sale. It's in great shape, with no holes, tears or frays, something that probably couldn't have been said of our original Indian blanket. It is a perfect fall addition to my son's bed, and he loves it because it is nice and soft. I promised him I would be more careful with this one and not lose it!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Quick Update!

Hi Folks, just popping in to let you know that I've been a busy bee lately, just not a blogging bee, it seems!

We survived Irene and Lee with only about 1 inch (of a total of 25 inches) of rain ending up in our basement. No big deal.

I had a yard sale on Saturday and got rid of a bunch of baby stuff. Plus there was a celebrity sighting! Sculptor Steve Tobin stopped by with his kids. I am a huge fan of his work, but I didn't recognize him (boo) until later that night when I watched a video on his work at Ground Zero as part of a memorial concert I played. So the rest of the weekend I was all happy like, "Steve Tobin came to my yard sale!" LOL That was almost better than getting rid of all my baby crap and getting some $ for it as well.

Steve Tobin's Syntax. It's made out of letters. I wish I had a dozen in my yard.

I canned a batch of apple butter. Talk about a long process.... First you have to make apple sauce, which I have done many times (tutorial here). Then you have to cook it down and spice it up to make apple butter. I ended up cooking it overnight in my slow cooker and canning it the following day.

Now, as I am writing this, I am making another batch of peach jam. The first batch is half gone already; at this rate we'll never make it till next year. Yesterday I bought a whole bushel of peaches for $3. For the whole basket! But the catch was that they were damaged and bruised. So they had to be used immediately.

And I've made a couple thrifting trips as well. Picked up some killer items for the Etsy store, which I have neglected a bit lately. But I will get some new inventory up soon, including the most incredible sharkskin jacket ever, some deadstock women's woolens and some vintage plus size dresses. I also got myself the most delicious golden yellow bakelite bracelet this morning, when I dropped off all the stuff that didn't sell at the thrift shop. For $3.50. I love it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bet this never happened to you...

And if it did, I want to know. I'm thinking of forming a class action suit.

What is wrong with this picture?

No it's not a steampunk range. (At least not yet, but I'm thinking that might be a fitting end for it. Grrr.)

In the middle of the night I awoke to a crash. Thinking that something (like one of my beloved 50s lamps) fell over and broke, or worse yet, someone was breaking in, I ran downstairs. But everything was in its place and buttoned up tight. At least until I went into the kitchen and saw this:

(Obviously that is not my head, it's my husband's. He did most of the clean up while I stood there slack-jawed. Plus he has long arms and could reach all the glass without stepping on it.)

The glass door had fallen off my oven all by itself and shattered into a bazillion pieces. (FYI, it is safety glass, like a car windshield. Now you know.)

Besides being a royal pain to clean up, especially while trying not to wake two small children- talk about potentially making a bad situation worse- I had to spend all morning trying to find a replacement.

Guess what? There are no replacement glass pieces to be had- it's been discontinued. I found a couple on ebay but they were asking $160 plus shipping. For a 14-year-old oven door. It's not worth getting repaired, especially since there are a few other things wrong with it already.

So I guess I'm doomed to spend this weekend trudging through big box stores looking for a new oven. And since one of my criteria is always that it should be made in America, I think I might be in for a long day. 

Yes, I know what you're thinking- time to step up that search for a vintage stove. That's always been on my wish list. I'm working on it. I'm just having a hard time convincing my husband to cut the countertop and cabinets off to fit a 40 inch stove instead of a 30 inch. I told him he can either do that or learn to cook. Hey, it's his choice!