Friday, December 28, 2012

A Vintage Christmas

It's been a busy couple of weeks here at Chez QT, so here are a few snapshots of some of my vintage Christmas decorations. (Forgive the dark shots, it was nighttime and my camera is not a good one!)

This is the decoration on the back of my front door. Mercury picks, reflectors, glittered pinecones- all original!

My Christmas blow molds. For some reason I have not been able to find a snowman- yet- but check back next year! The pair of angels I actually bought deadstock from Sines. 

I have a pair of these vintage stockings- aren't they cute?

 I decorate our live tree with only vintage ornaments. 
I love looking at them- I could look at these all day....

These are really huge- that blue one in the lower right is regular size!

I love bubble lights with vintage ornaments!

My aluminum tree- it's only 2 feet tall. I decorate around the bottom with vintage aluminum corsages. The tree topper I just found this year. (See my Pyrex trying to sneak into the picture?)

Some of the ornaments on the aluminum tree. I love these homemade eggshell dioramas. All of these ornaments are vintage miniature size ones.

Some of these balls are really tiny- the one in the center and the one at lower right are only about
 an inch in diameter!

I actually have vintage window candles too- these have red and green bakelite bases with red cardboard tops. 

Hope you had a very vintage Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Recent Bakelite finds

I was just lamenting the lack of Bakelite in the thrift stores back in the summer. Then I had a few finds and my luck has changed! Good thing, because there is nothing I like finding more in a thrift store than Bakelite (yes, even Pyrex, although that is a really close second!) I don't know about you all, but I can't afford internet prices on Bakelite, so I have to get mine the old fashioned way.

And this first one was really done the old-fashioned way- digging through stuff at the pound store!

This cute red scotty was actually a zipper pull on a kids' outfit. The outfit looks to me to be from the late 60s/70s- it's double knit polyester with a scotty motif. In and of itself, the outfit is cute enough that I bought it to resell, but the bakelite zipper pull will be far more valuable. It's pretty large- 1.75 inches from nose to tail- so I think I will make it into a necklace or pin at some point. Just goes to show you that sometimes bakelite can be found in the most unlikely of places.

These earrings I found at a thrift store, and they are what is called "end-of-day" Bakelite, meaning that any leftover single colors were mixed together. They are kind of mustard with bluish-green striations (there's your SAT word for today) and are clip-ons. When I went to pay for them, the lady at the counter looked at me and said- "Oh, these are Bakelite, they're probably worth more than the $5 price tag..."

Really? You don't say...I had no idea.... Gee, and here I was just buying them because I needed a pair of mustard-colored earrings! :)

This bangle I just found today- had a few extra minutes and stopped into a thrift store on the way to pick up my daughter from school. It's a really heavy ivory bakelite. Surprisingly, I don't have any bangles this color (lots of red, yellow and orange, though) so I suspect it will get a lot of wear. It's also a bit oval in shape- I have never seen that before- $2.

This last is a single butter knife. I was really fortunate to find this because the thrift store I was shopping in usually prices their Bakelite utensils through the roof. (I guess it's because every time you open MS Living or Country Living in the recipe sections you see photos staged with these old bakelite-handled utensils- ever noticed that?) Anyway, I always buy them if I can get them cheap, and this was- 25 cents. Must have slipped through the cracks!

And I don't care if it matches anything else, because this is how I display them:

Just fun to look at next to the stove!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hyperventilating in the Thrift Store

Normally I am not the type to get outwardly excited about anything, especially shopping. Calm, cool, and collected, that's me. But today I had one of those experiences in the thrift store that got me all sweaty, weak and shaky.

What could have done that to me?

Oh yeah.....a yellow New Dot on the thrift store shelf.

Good thing I was already down on my knees digging through the lowest shelf, because I got so shaky I might have fallen over. It seemed like slow motion as I reached over and grabbed it. And of course from that moment on I never let it go. I think I had a hand cramp from holding on to it.

As I carried it up to the register and I passed a lady carrying the Old Towne butter dish I had debated buying and put down (too expensive at $9.50). I imagined her jealous looks as I paid my $4 for my new prize. (Don't ask me about the crazy thrift store pricing; I'm not arguing one bit!)

So it made it home safe and sound, just needed a little BKF and magic eraser to clean up the scratches. It came out beautifully and now I just have to find a place of honor for it!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dave Brubeck, 1920-2012

I've been meaning to write a post for a long time about that "other" 1950s musical idiom, jazz. For me, Rockabilly is OK, and I enjoy it to a point, but my real interest in music is the jazz of the decade. I suppose since we just lost one of the icons of the genre, and a musician I had the utmost respect and admiration for, Mr. Dave Brubeck, yesterday, this is a good time to do it.

I think many of us lose interest in jazz once we get past big band swing. The whole notion of bebop and progressive jazz is kind of stuck in an intellectual fog; most people believe they have to really know something about it to enjoy it. Not so. Jazz is probably America's greatest contribution to world culture; the idea that creative energy can flow unrestricted is the very essence of freedom. Just go into it with an open mind, and I bet you will find something to enjoy. After that, like any other form of music, you go deeper from there.

Bebop jazz in the 1950s was the language of the Beat generation. The Jack Kerouac crowd was drawn to it for its free form and spontaneous emotion, much like the literature they produced. Many of the artists knew each other and fed off one another. Milestone recordings from the era, probably must-haves for any serious music listener would be Charlie Parker with Strings (1950), Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (1959), Clifford Brown's Study in Brown, 1955 (my personal fave), and Chet Baker and Strings (1953). All of these are eminently accessible, many feature recordings of standards which you will probably recognize, and you will enjoy them if you check them out.

Probably one of the most notable recordings of that time, and of any time, is Brubeck's Time Out. Brubeck was such an solid musician; he sought out ways to be different and innovative, beyond just virtuosity on the piano and improvisation. Time Out, recorded in 1959, was devoted to making music in different, and rather unusual (for jazz) time signatures. Tunes in 5/4, 3/4, 9/8 make up the bulk of the album. However, that said, it is simply good music, and the fact that the time signature is a little different has really nothing to do with the accessibility of the music. It was the first jazz album to sell a million copies and is probably still selling in record numbers. Do yourself a favor and buy it- I guarantee you will like it, and probably you have already heard some of the tunes, you just didn't know it.

I was fortunate to be able to see Dave Brubeck and his Quartet live back in 1993, and meet him in person. It was a highlight of my concert-going existence and I treasure that memory.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Turkey Day at the PIT!

Hi all, Happy Thanksgiving! I'm a bit late to the party, I know, but hey, it's still November! (Until it's actually December, we won't even mention that other holiday my kids are strangely obsessing about :)

If you've been around the blog a long time, you know that I am a total foodie. And also that we believe very strongly in sourcing our own proteins, through hunting and fishing. And what would Thanksgiving be without turkey? Wild turkey, that would be, just like the first Thanksgiving.

Yours truly, with Eagle Eye and a wild turkey, destined for the dinner table. (I know my attire is so fashionable, isn't it? But it was warm!)

Wild turkeys all cleaned up for dinner. They look just like a big chicken or domestic turkey, but without the giant over-sized breast. The drumsticks are a bit tougher and gamier than domestic, but the white meat is virtually indistinguishable. These turkeys spent their whole lives roaming the woods and foraging for food- no hormones, antibiotics or industrial farms. They can run and fly and I always give thanks for the opportunity to take one of these birds for the table. It is not a simple thing to harvest one, in any sense of the word,  but it is the best way to eat a turkey, IMHO.

My mom taking the stuffing out of the bird (in a vintage apron!) She was getting ready to make the gravy. I do everything else for the meal, but no one makes better gravy than Mom. Sometimes it's best to just leave that to the professionals! As I type this post, I have the turkey carcass simmering in a stock pot for soup.

I set the table with the best dishes, crystal and silver; it's just about the only time I ever use that stuff. I also used my "new" autumn tablecloth. It's not the greatest picture of me, but I wore a salmon-colored knit set. Plenty of stretch in that fabric for turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, Cope's corn, broccoli, cranberries, pumpkin and apple pie!

Happy Holidays from the gang at Chez QT!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SusieQT collects: Printed Glassware

Don't you just hate those bloggers who seem like they drop off the face of the earth all of a sudden?  Oh wait... :)

Well, anyway, things have been really busy around here and I seem to be a week behind on everything because of being displaced due to Hurricane Sandy for a while. But just in time for Thanksgiving I have a post about one of my very favorite things to collect, printed glassware!

Printed glassware was produced from the 40s-70s as a promotional item for consumer brands. In many cases, they were sold filled with things like peanut butter and sour cream. This encouraged the shopper to patronize a certain brand until she had accumulated a set of similar glasses. Popular themes were flowers, outdoor scenes and holiday motifs. Some glassware companies, like Libby, also produced sets complete with carriers and matching drink pitchers. I believe these might have also been promo items in grocery stores (i.e. free with a $20 purchase) or purchased with things like Green Stamps.

I've been collecting them for years, but they are getting harder to find at decent prices. I try to limit myself to sets of at least 2 glasses or those with pitchers or carriers now, which makes it much harder!

This is probably my favorite set, and the only set I currently have on display in my kitchen. I bought this set of 8 glasses with the carrier about 15 years ago for $15- now, I wouldn't be able to touch them for that price.

I love the red, yellow and green color scheme of these- matches my kitchen perfectly. I hope I can find another 4 of this pattern and maybe a pitcher someday to complete the set. (I've been looking for years!)

Juice glasses are so dainty- these are probably 2-4 oz size. It reminds you that years ago, if you wanted orange juice, you had to squeeze an orange (or five)! I found the matching pitcher for the orange juice glasses at a yard sale years after I bought the 3 (used to be 4, whoops!) glasses.

 Not every pattern was feminine and frilly. My guess is these were meant to be used as bar ware. If I had a couple more of these, I'd put them on my Thanksgiving table.

These holiday glasses are very common. It's a great starter set- you can probably find them in just about any thrift store if you're patient. I have a dozen of them and pass them up all them time anymore because I can't even use all the ones I've got! But they are so perfect for a Christmas tablescape set with a printed holiday tablecloth.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Back with a Vengeance

Hi all- things are starting to return to normal around here. Our power was out for a week after Sandy hit, and   then we left for a weeklong vacation the day after it came back on. So, I am slowly getting back into the regular routine. But just because things were a little difficult around here doesn't mean that I didn't do any thrifting or things to blog about- on the contrary! I found a little bit of thrift store therapy went a long way toward restoring my peace of mind.

I'm being much more selective now than I ever was- just because something is a good deal doesn't mean I need to buy it. I almost always consider the resale value of an item, and am really trying hard not to buy things to keep for myself. Or, at the very least, if I buy something to keep, something else has to go.

So here are two of my best scores of the last few weeks!

This set of Libby Carousel glasses is in mint condition. I paid $7.50 for the set of 8, so that's less than $1 a piece. While they are cute and very collectible, they're headed to the antique booth; I need another set of printed glasses like I need a hole in the head.

This is one of my all-time faves. It originally was going to go to the Etsy store, but once I tried it on...well, I have other jackets that I can get rid of!

It's an original issue A2 bomber jacket, not a knock-off. It's goatskin, so soft and luxurious. I haven't yet figured out how to read the government label (there's a date code hidden in there) but it's not old, probably recent issue. But the style is identical to WWII issue and so iconic, it doesn't matter to me. And I think I have the correct patch that goes on the velcro spot left over from my days at our local air base.

The price was $40, which is probably the highest I've ever spent on a single item at a thrift store. I carried it around for a while before I figured I could at least double or triple my money if I tried to sell it. But for now it's staying with me, and I wore it yesterday as a salute for Veteran's Day. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I'm still alive...

Just a brief note to let you all know we're still here. Been without power since 8:22 Monday- no word yet when we'll get it back. Probably will not have internet/phone until much later. Stay tuned, and I'll get back to posting when I can!

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Kitchen Cabinet Display

One of the things I love best about collecting kitchen items is displaying them in my glass-fronted cabinets. When we bought this house, having cabinets like these was on my wish list. (It definitely wouldn't have been a deal-breaker for sure, but it helped when we looked at this house!)

So it was a perfect place to display some of my collections. For a while I collected printed glassware (another post on that coming soon), and I inherited some really neat red and yellow pottery, which went with my kitchen's yellow, green and red color scheme. Those made a nice display for a while. But lately I've been collecting Pyrex, FireKing and jadeite, and decided to re-organize my displays to better reflect that.

That meant moving things around and re-thinking what I reallly wanted to look at for a while. It took me the better part of a rainy afternoon last week to finally settle on a layout, so to document that, I thought I'd show you all.

Here's the before:

Not too bad, really, but not as organized as I would like. Some of these things have been in the same spot for ten years! Also the clear glassware at the top right kind of disappears. (It's really neat close-up, with etched stars, but would be better put away somewhere else.) You can see the printed glassware all jumbled in the lower right. I figured, since you can't really make it all out, maybe it's best if I put most of it away and only get out only one set at a time.

Here's the finished display, and close ups to follow:

I tried to organize it by color a little bit, with the red and yellow pottery near the yellow and green Fiesta. Then the jadeite and Peach Blossom FireKing (which is a match made in heaven, I think), then the Pyrex on the right.

The Fiestaware is not old (mostly), and our regular everyday dishes, so they have to be easily accessible.

This is probably my favorite one, with the FireKing and jadeite. The printed glasses in the carrier are the only ones to make the cut right now. I bought those about 10 years ago in an antique shop for $18. That was a lot for me, and still would be, although I guess if I were to resell these I probably ask for $75!

The Pyrex cabinet. I am trying really hard to limit myself to just the primary colors set and turquoise Butterprint, plus pink and promotional designs. The lone FireKing wheat casserole in the lower right belonged to my dad, so it still gets a place of honor.

Right now, I'm pretty happy with it and it is a nice change of scenery!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rummage Sale Haul of Awesomeness, Pt. 2

Well, now that you've had enough time to digest part 1, let's move on to the miscellany and clothes I picked up from the semi-annual rummage sale. 

Last year, I put a moratorium on my own buying of vintage Christmas items- I have probably 15-18 dozen vintage Shiny Brites I bought back when no one wanted them. But now that I have an antique store booth, I need the holiday inventory ;). These sweet handmade cloth ornaments are just the thing- and only set me back 25 cents for all.

These plastic flocked window wreaths are still in their wrappers- 50 cents for all. I have done well with these on Etsy- should get them listed soon.

I paid 25 cents for the tin and it happened to be filled with tiny craft supplies- a win-win! The sharp-looking object is actually a vintage plastic icicle ornament. I have a little collection of those as well, this was like a bonus find.

This is one of my favorites- a bunch of 7 1980s vintage T shirts- $2.25 for all. These have great vintage drinking-theme graphics. They'll be making their way into my Etsy shop for all those ironic hipsters at Xmas...

Let's take a closer look at the one on the lower left- it's my favorite! 

I think I mentioned before on this blog how much I love vintage flight bags. I have a couple that I use for actual trips- they are still the perfect size for carry-on luggage, and fit a laptop as well! I grabbed these while I was still waiting in line to get in (all the suitcases and lawn items were outside) for $1 each. The TWA one is from the 80s, but the red white and blue one is so 60s. The logo is from the ILGWU and it is mint! It's going to be hard to let this one go, but I can't keep everything.

If you see anything you like, watch my Etsy shop or leave a comment with your email and we can work something out. As always, blog friends get a 20% discount when you enter the coupon code PIT20OFF at checkout.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rummage Sale Haul of Awesomeness! (Pt. 1)

Oh my, it's Christmas here at ChezQT! (At least for me, anyway.) Today was our town's semi-annual rummage sale. I've blogged about these before and the posts are so photo-heavy, so I decided to break them up over two days.

First up will be kitchen ware and linens!

I've been lucky to find a bit of pink Pyrex lately- this pink gooseberry casserole (no lid) was $2. The strawberry sugar bowl is painted milk glass (maybe Hazel Atlas, I forget?) and has a repaired lid, but for 50 cents I couldn't pass it up. I saw a similar apple one the other day at a thrift store; now maybe I will have to go back and get that. The adorable crocheted pot rests were 25 cents each!  

These holiday mugs are Corningware, not Pyrex, but almost the same. I'm hoping to use them as trade bait for some Pyrex I collect. Primary or Butterprint fridgies, anyone?

I loved these straw insulated tumblers at a yard sale in town- but passed them up for $3 there. Guess they got donated to the rummage sale and cost me $1.50 this time.

This is the second vintage BBQ apron I found at this sale. I love this one even more than the first one I found in the spring. Maybe they were his-n-hers, because this one is quite a bit smaller and the ties are so dainty. Love love love the graphics on this!!

And this is the final one for today, an autumn printed tablecloth. I didn't have a fall-themed tablecloth, either and just the other day was wishing I did. Problem solved for $2.50!

Stay tuned in a couple for the clothing and miscellany!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Save the Vintage!

Help! Save the vintage from the Zombies!

More blood-curdling than any horror movie is seeing beautiful vintage clothing ruined by fake blood. While I am all for Halloween and dressing up as monsters (even for adults :) this time of year can be the last hurrah for many vintage frocks. 

Get out there now and cruise those Halloween racks for vintage! It's cheaper than ever (many stores price it at a few $$) and if we don't rescue it, it can end up like above...

I've found some really great items on Halloween racks- this 50s wiggle dress was $1:

This suit- deadstock, still with tags, and now in my Etsy store.

And most amazingly, these Victorian mens shoes, which I just bought yesterday. 

I am shocked to even hold them in my hand. That they even exist after 120 years just blows me away. And that they are still in good enough shape to be worn- the leather is still soft and soles flexible- well, I don't know what to say, except... don't ruin them with fake blood!