Friday, February 21, 2014

Vintage Pink Canister set

Hi Friends,

Continuing with my thread from the other day,  another fantastic thing to help cure the winter blues is thrifting!  

I have to share one of my newest vintage acquisitions with you! These were thrifted at one of the local Salvation Army stores near where I live for a little less than $2 each.

It is a canister set, à la Mid-Century.   (The soft pink is a dead giveaway!)   There are a few little chips in the paint, but no rust that I could find.  And don't you just loovvee that cursive font?  Yes, my little darling canisters, I will keep my sugar, flour, coffee and tea in you!

Now I was never a huge fan of pink in large quantities,  but having found these and fallen in love with them,  I've been inspired.  They call to mind the beautiful, feminine colors of kitchens from the past.   Turquoise, pink, mint, yellow,  nothing like today's industrialistic stainless steel and concrete. 
Barbie, eat your heart out!

dreamy yellow for this fifties kitchen

I have decided that my very own kitchen needs a retro update, and it's going to be pink!
Now, just in case you've decided that I've fallen and hit my head, thus turning me into some kind of nutcase who makes crazy decisions at the drop of the hat, fear not - I have befallen no such accident, dear friend.

Truth is, I have been contemplating some kind of kitchen make-over for awhile now.      I love my house, truly I do. But the builders of this house circa 1987 were truly uninspired.  When we moved in, (16 years ago)  all the walls were flat white paint. The kitchen cabinets were bottom of the line plain brown pressed wood.  Counter-tops are a cream colored vinyl (I think) that have lovely cigarette burn marks from previous owners.   Although during my tenure, I have painted the cabinets, walls and tiled the floor,  the kitchen longs for some creativity to bring it to life.  I believe I have found inspiration through my canister set.

Turquoise was a very popular color

The description said this was from the 1970's....  I absolutely adore this kitchen
 (or anything purple for that matter!)   Second choice if the pink doesn't work out!

Mmmmmm! Can't you just smell the cookies baking?

I have also gotten some wonderful insights and reassurance from Brittany of Va-Voom Vintage  [Vintage Blogger Extraordinaire!]  She has been very helpful with lots of ideas on vintage kitchen makeovers as she has done her own.   I hope to share some of my plans in upcoming posts,  if any of you has some ideas to share, or have done your own retro make-over, I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Curing the Winter Doldrums...

Hi there Cats and Kittens,

It's a cold and wet February day... we are experiencing yet more 'blizzard' conditions.  I don't know about you but I feel like staying curled up under the blankets with a cup of tea and furbabies to snuggle with.   My energy level lately has been that of a carrot.    A few things have made these winter doldrums a little more bearable....

Doing some winter crafts....

I have a bunch of sewing projects piling up,  but haven't been able to focus on anything large at present [see carrot reference above]  One of the things I did tackle was a present for my Mom.  I made an apron using Butterick Retro pattern B5435 (from their 1954 collection)

This is the first time I have tried one of the Retro patterns,  a few of the pattern companies have been doing reproductions of their vintage ones.   I plan to do a posting on the project, so check back to see the details of it.

Planting a little bit of Spring....

I think I have made mention previously about my love of nature and attraction to fabrics/home decor/accessories that incorporate natural elements. Of course,  you can't get more natural than plants.  My Dad is from Holland, and has an inborn talent for all things flora. He has always kept a beautiful garden both indoors and out.  His talent lets him grow and get to bloom many variety of plants and flowers that are difficult for the average gardener, such as: Clevias, Amaryllis, Orchids, Lilies, Streptocarpii and others.    

I would love to have even a small amount of the flowering loveliness that my parent's home has in my house.  Unfortunately, I have animals. Indoor plants and indoor animals do not mix very well.   There are several plants that I wouldn't even consider having because they are toxic to the furbabies.  But even the non-toxic types my babies have found a way to destroy.   Most recently I had a small cactus,  I thought I would be safe with a cactus,  I mean it has prickers and all, so who would want to go near it?   Then I came home one day from work and found it's poor cactus body masticated to a pulp under the kitchen table. I went in search of the guilty party -  you would think that there would be some evidence left behind on someone's mouth, but strangely, no such incriminating evidence was ever found...
So, my battle wages on - I have decided that I would need to be more clever if I wanted to keep plants indoors.   One idea I came up with is a terrarium. So one of my next winter projects will be creating one.

Here are the plants I chose for the terrarium. (As you can see, little Ms. Thing 1 and 2 are already investigating their potential prey.)  Once the project is complete, I will post the details!


I have to admit, I'm a kid at heart.  Although I'm not what anyone would call an artist,  I do like to draw.  But what is even more fun is coloring!    One of the things I got for Christmas was a Dover 'adult' type coloring book ~ "Godey's Fashions,"  that depicts ladies' fashions from the 1830's to 1890's as were found in Godey's Ladies book.  (This publication from the 1800's could be considered something akin to today's Vogue Magazine.  It originally featured serials, short stories, poems, book reviews, needlework patterns, but later began including fashion plates for the most trendy styles as found in Paris and Victorian England.  The Editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, seized the opportunity of the magazine's popularity and began to address issues like social injustices and the importance of education for women.

The drawings in this coloring book were done by Ming-Ju Sun,  and are incredibly rendered with beautiful detail.  Coloring has been not only fun, but soothing to take the edge off these arduous winter days.

Hopefully, you, my dear friends, will have found some interesting things to help you pass the long, dark hours of winter.  Please do share, I'd love to hear about them!  
Fear not though, Spring is just around the corner (or so they tell me).  Excuse me as I have another foot of snow to be shoveling.

Stay Warm!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The formidable Jeeves and Wooster...

What Ho, dear friends on the Interwebs!

If you are like me, you go weak-kneed at the thought of the Roaring Twenties....  The dresses, Beautiful Art Deco, Victorian reminiscence,  flappers and sheiks....

I'm not sure how I have been able to live through 3+ decades of entertainment in my life without knowing about the comedy team of Fry & Laurie doing a TV show called "Jeeves & Wooster."  (although it may have something to do with my not being British)

Jeeves and Wooster was a three year series from 1992-1995 (though the seasons were not like what are normally considered TV seasons - only about 5 episodes each).   It is based on PG Wodehouse's characters from several books he wrote starting circa 1917, The Man with Two Left Feet, (although there was an earlier book in 1915 (Extricating Young Gussie) where Wooster & Jeeves make an appearance.)

If you are fan of Boardwalk Empire, you will absolutely adore this series.   Where Boardwalk Empire often shows the dark and shadowy world of the teens and twenties,  Jeeves & Wooster is a gay old time.   It follows the high jinx (if you will) of 'Bertie' (Bertram Wilberforce Wooster) and his 'Gentleman's gentleman'  (valet)  Jeeves.   Bertie is an upper-class English dilettante who spends his time visiting various country homes of friends from school, getting engaged and narrowly escaping matrimony, lunching at the club, and doing the biddings of various Aunties.   Jeeves is the quiet ever-present servant who seems at times to be three steps ahead of the game, having an answer to Bertie's quandaries, plans-of-action for the many debacles that Bertie & his friends often got themselves into.  I was wont to wonder at times whether Jeeves got some slightly sadistic pleasure at being a cat at the mouse games. 

There seems to be some recurrent themes in the shows, that of meddlesome Aunts for instance...
Bertie's Aunt Agatha is pushy and proper, and tries on several occasions to hook him up to a suitable young lady.  Aunt Dahlia,  although seemingly more modern and less pompous than Aunt Agatha, often takes Bertie to task to do something mischievous or illegal on her behalf.   Some of the dialogue is priceless when Wooster speaks about them to Jeeves....

"On the occasions when Aunt is calling Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps"

Also of note, are Bertie's renditions of popular hits of the day "Forty-Seven Ginger headed sailors,"
"Nagasaki," and my personal favorite:  "Putting on the Ritz" where Bertie comments on the odd syncopation of the song - " That Irving Berlin fellow has a bit of a cropper here, Jeeves...too many words and not enough notes."  Of course Wooster's character makes perfect use of Hugh Laurie's song and dance talents, as does Jeeves' character showing off Stephen Fry's dizzying intellect. They could not have found more perfect men for these roles.

I happened to enjoy watching the series with my sweetie Chris, who had found it on Hulu, the TV service we subscribe to  (we discontinued using Satellite or Cable last year, as it was getting to be so pricey... so now we have Hulu & Netflix).  I believe many of the episodes are also on Youtube.
Chris managed to do a little research into Wodehouse's youth, and found that his father was a magistrate posted to Hong Kong, so little PG was sent off to boarding school.  His holidays were spent being shuffled from one Aunt's to another, which explains his marked off-putting characterizations of them.
The books I believe were originally compilations, but I have also seen them in single volumes, so the publishing company must have broken them out at some point.  I found this list on Amazon that lists them chronologically.  (I managed to get a few of the series for Chris for Christmas presents)

There was plenty of early twenties stuff to drool over: Art Deco furnishings of his English flat and a NY apartment, a travel cocktail set that makes an appearance in several episodes, beautiful dresses, Bertie's roadster.  Some of the comedy comes when Bertie comes home with the latest fashion (i.e. a straw boater, a white 'evening' jacket) and Jeeves makes an understated remark about how it should be disposed of in short work.    

One small criticism,   although the supporting characters were awesome, they had a variety of actors play the recurring roles throughout the duration of the series.   It was a little difficult following them from one to another as they often looked different.

Sadly, we made short work of the episodes as if they were Christmas pudding...
So 'til next time dear ones!
xo Yvonne

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween Parade of Doggies!

So what's a crafty gal to do when her kids get too old to make costumes for?  Make them for her dogs of course!

I have to admit, I always felt bad for animals whose humans do things like this to them:

But costumes needn't be over the top.   My cuddlebugs don't mind wearing sweaters and such in the cold weather, so I figured I would make something based on a similar pattern.

My Mom & Dad came to visit for the weekend.  My Dad is happy raking leaves and working outside this time of year, but my Mom and I love Halloween and sewing, so we set forth to make our doggies costumes.
The local dog park was having a Halloween event:  costume parade and contest, along with refreshments for both doggies and their humans.  We had to go!

Mom decided on a simple cape for her dog, Sparky.  She found a pattern on the internet and got some awesome blue cotton fabric with little stardust swirlies, and a darker blue fabric with little stars for the collar part.  She was thinking he might be a superhero, but ended up making him a wizard from Harry Potter. She put a lightning bolt instead of the star in gold fabric on the back.
Cape pattern

Here at Tea-and-Cat blog, there are plenty kitties to help with the sewing!
Mom showing off the near finished Cape

My Mom & Dad's dog, Sparky, is a Pomeranian* (non-standard size, probably what the breed looked like prior to breeders miniaturizing them)   He is six years old and very lovable.  

One of the ancestors of the Pomeranian breed is the Spitz hound.  There are a few different types of "Spitze" :
German, Finnish, Asian, and the Dutch Keeshond. They were bred originally to help hunting, herding, and pulling sleds, and all other type of fun stuff they did up in the Arctic regions back then.   Sparky looks remarkably like a German Spitz/Dutch Keeshond .

Although I'm fairly certain my Dad does not have Sparky herding any of the local squirrels, we had to check every now and then that he wasn't hooked up to a wheelbarrow moving leaves to the giant compost pile in our
backyard  (jk!)

So my original idea was matching cowboy outfits for Calvin & Charlie,  but somehow ended up being closer to Mexican Serapes with little matching hats. I used fabric from my fabric stash,   some chocolate brown corduroy type material, black denim, and lots of rick-rack for trim!
Kitty!  Mama Cass helps with the patterning

Laying out the trim

Sewing it all up

Finished Doggie Serape

Off we went to the Dog Park Halloween Event,  they thoroughly enjoyed the fresh air, which was pretty warm for this time of year.
Sparky at the park (oops, he blinked!)

Sparky in his wizard ensemble

Calvin in his costume

overhead view (the pink scarf is what I use to sling walk him)

Charlie in his costume,  (The hat kept slipping down)
There were a variety of pups in costumes, I have included some pictures below.  They also had a bunch of prizes for different categories - pairs, character from a book, funniest...
I entered my guys in the 'pairs' category, but alas, did not take a prize.

Sparky took second place in the Book Character category.   My mom ended up bringing home a big basket full of fancy doggie stuff, which they generously shared with my guys too.

boxer in a froggie costume (he took first place in the 'funniest' category)

A collie giving saying hello to Calvin. the Collie is sporting a 'Cheshire Cat' costume.

A basset hound in a cowboy costume There were actually a number
of cowboy doggies there, glad I went a little different!

Part of the Halloween parade.  

Little pumpkin dog
Prize table!

Tired Charlie on the way home.
So that was our big Halloween outing this year.  

Do you dress your pets up?  Please comment and share!

xo til next time, Yvonne

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hey there Cats and kittens!   This week I wanted to share with you my findings on an awesome French singer from the 60's, but first a little of the happenings in my world....    

My son turned 18 this week. Aside from finally being able to vote (he has been coming with me and 'helping' me make decisions on how to vote for a few years now), and being able to purchase lottery tickets by himself,  his looming 18th birthday meant the deadline for all his Eagle scout work.  Peter has been involved with the scouts since 4th grade.  Like me, he has a lot of anxiety issues. He is introverted, things like social settings and new situations are difficult for him. The wonderful thing about the scouting program is it is has something for everyone.  It is just as helpful to kids who love the outdoors and are outgoing as it is to shy kids who like to read and are science and history nuts.    He is lucky to have a great troop with leaders who really go the extra mile.    

Peter, not unlike many other boys, was sidetracked for awhile (girls,  hanging out with friends, and other stuff that put his scouting interests in the backseat.) So getting the last of his merit badges done and deciding on/working on an Eagle project didn't get started til this past year. For those of you who are not familiar the Eagle process, it is complex and includes a lot of paperwork (before, during and after working on the project) getting approvals, and all sorts of other fun time-intensive stuff.   Suffice it to say, he finished the project about 3 weeks prior to his 18th birthday and the final paperwork and Eagle application was turned in a day before.   Talk about holding your breath....

He chose to do a set of shelving units for our local food pantry. Previously, Peter had no carpentry experience, so there was a steep learning curve. He worked with a couple of Dads from the troop who are carpenters/contractors. Then he had to organize friends, family & scouts from his troop to come help him build the shelves. (Eagle projects are mostly about showing leadership, so the process of getting others involved in your project and leading them by teaching, showing, organizing, etc. is more important than how your project actually turns out.)

 He had several work days over the summer, transforming our back yard into a workspace that looked like a cross between a mill store and Sanford & Son.  The end result were three very lovely shelving units. We took lots of pictures along the way, and I thought he did a great job.   The food pantry was very happy with them.   He is now waiting for his board of review with council (we are doing lots of role-playing and going over questions to prepare, because he doesn't have an easy time with talking in front of people).    Fingers crossed, I will keep you all updated!

Peter working on one of the units

Finished units installed at the food pantry

Now onto French Music!
With deep, soulful brown eyes, a chocolate syrupy voice,  and looks to rival any of the heart-throbs from the sixties,   Richard Anthony is one of the most awesome French singers I have heard.

 In the early 60's  Richard Anthony was very taken by the up-and- coming rock'n'roll music.  Having originally been born in Egypt, his family moved around between the UK, Egypt, Argentina, and finally settled in France when he was a teen.  His family was pretty comfortable, his dad was in the textile industry and his mom was the daughter of the UK Ambassador in Iraq. After he graduated and had a tried out a few jobs (like Refrigerator Salesman) Richard decided to put many of the English pop songs he loved to French lyrics. (he is fluent in 5 languages and later would do recordings of other songs in different languages as well).    His first recordings were "My Destiny" by Paul Anka, and Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue" in 1961. These didn't make a very big impact. However, a year later in '62  he released his third album and his work started to take off.  One of the next tunes he did was a really beautiful song called "J'entends siffler le train"  (I hear the whistle of the train)   the French version of  "500 Miles."

"J'entends siffler let train"
["500 Miles (away from home)" is a folk song who's beginnings are hard to trace.  It's first recording was by the Journeymen in 1961,  and had a popular version done by Peter, Paul and Mary. It has also been sung/recorded by numerous other artists  (The Kingston trio, Elvis, Sonny & Cher, The Highway men, Roseanne Cash, Joan Baez, and the list goes on)  ]

In 1964 after continued success, Richard Anthony bought a private jet and was able to fly to his some 300 shows that year along with his musicians, instruments etc.  He became the first musician to use  flying as a mode of transport, as it was safer & faster to travel through France that way than on the roads.

I spent the other night playing around on Youtube and listened to a number of his songs. Many of them had videos to go with them, which leads me to wonder whether they shot the videos solely to go with the songs, or whether they were clips from variety shows or the like. (as a child of the '80's and the fledgling MTV age, inquiring minds want to know!)   At any rate,  the videos were awesome! Here's a sampling  (click on the song titles to see the videos):
Itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini
I love the  Un, deux trois..." chick with the cat's eye glasses and floppy hat; her slightly exasperated tone as if she's bored with the whole beach scene."  Then check out the gal in the background with the Asian style straw hat and braids à la Mary Ann of Gilligan's Island.  
One other thing I find fascinating is how popular culture changes its idea every few decades as to what is considered an ideal body type.  When little Ms. Bikini gets to the shore line and drops her towel, you can see that this chick has curves!  
 [For that time period, the "it" girl had a classic hourglass figure. In America, Betty Grable, famous pin-up, measured 36-24-35.  With British Women, the average was 37-27-39.   much shorter (5' 2" with 3.5 shoe size).   I am a little over 5' 7" with size 11 feet.  Man do I feel like an Amazon!]

Here's another Richard Anthony song called "Fiche le Camp, Jack" (Hit the Road, Jack). Although the song is not one of my favorites,  I love the outfits the girls are wearing in this video. Classic sweaters with pearls and A-line skirts.    My Mom, who was a teen during the fifties & early sixties, said they used to take cardigans and wear them reverse, buttoning them up their backs. (when I found this out, I started wearing this fashion to school!)
"Fiche le Camp, Jack!"

Another one, "Let's twist Again"  is done in English.  I love how they are all polishing the soles of their shoes before they start twisting!
"Let's Twist Again"

Other songs I really liked - "Lundi, Lundi" (Monday, Monday) "Le Voix de Silence" (The Sound of Silence),  and "En Ecoutant la Pluie" (Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain)

Richard Anthony is still around and performing (although now he looks a little more like Pavarotti than Frankie Avalon).  He has over 600 songs to his credit, and sold 50 million records. ( He has had nine kids (through two marriages and a number of partners), one other thing he has been very successful at !)

Do you have a favorite singer from the past?  Please Share!
I would love to hear about it.

Til next time, xo

Bibliography/Information from:

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Can you beat this amount of mid-century awesomeness?

Hi Friends,

First, a heartfelt Congratulations to Lisa of My Pretty Baby Cried She was a Bird blog, who got married about a week ago. I read Lisa's blog regularly. She adds wit and a knowledged eye to her many vintage finds, from tag sales to old advertisements to photos. I never know whether I will be treated to Borden's talking cow family ads, or a critique of a mid century dining room. A true gal after my own heart!

Now down to business....  I have come to possess my own little piece of mid-century awesomeness.  My very own starburst clock!

As my fellow afficianados of the fifties & sixties decades know that due to our newfound space travel, society was obsessed with all things not-of-this-earth. This translated into many design flourishes like Googie architecture found in motels, gas stations and bowling alleys, and fins on everything from cars to eyeglasses.

The Starburst or Sunburst clocks are perhaps one of the better known pieces of iconic fifties material culture. Their original designer was George Nelson, well known for his design advances in that period.  They were soon to be copied by many different companies like Lux, Elgin & Westclox. Westclox made sunbursts and starburst clocks, some capped with little balls at the end of their spikes.  Lux put little flowers on the ends of theirs and called them "atomic daisies." Some of their clocks were also made with pop-art colors like striking red or blue.   Elgin used teak and brass alternating spikes to differentiate themselves. I have included some photos of the many different types I found on the internet:

alternating teak & brass spikes

spikes capped with little balls

Atomic Daisy clock

 Personally,  as much as I love fifties design,  I was never a fan of the straight, hard lines that are found in a lot of the items then.  I like a much softer, organic feel to my furnishings. That's why previously, I never longed for a starburst clock to adorn my walls.
Then a few months ago, that all changed.  I was doing some looking around on the web, when I saw the type of starburst clock with swirly lines and LEAVES on the ends!  (I am a nut for floral and nature themed items...)
so obviously I fell in love with it, and had to try to get one of my own.      Sadly, I found that many of the clocks I saw on Etsy, Amazon & Ebay were all priced in the one-to-several hundred dollar range.
But not to be discouraged, I kept digging.  Low and behold, I found a 'fixer upper' model on ebay for $12!  yes,  my own little piece of fifties iconicness for under twenty bucks (including the shipping)      My clock still runs, although at some point the wiring was changed out, (and it looks like the person who rewired it may *not* have been a rocket scientist, as the wires look a little funky)  The official maker of my clock is United.
It also has two candlestick pieces that abut from either side a little below the dial that take a Christmas sized lightbulb. This is somewhat of an oddity, as I have not seen any other clocks that feature those.

The leaves have a fair share of rusty spots, but overall it's not in too bad of shape.  I have purchased a bottle of "Krud Kutter - The Must for Rust!"  (no kidding that's actually what the product is called!)  It's a biodegradable rust remover product.  I plan to clean the metal pieces with that, and then hit them with a couple of coats of metallic Krylon paint.    The dial needs some cleaning too.  I was also weighing the possibility of replacing the wired clock movement with one of the battery ones you can find in a craft store.  I have yet to open it up, so that may not be as easy as it sounds, but with the wiring as is, I am fearful of plugging it in and leaving the room as it may be a fire hazard.  Plus, having it eight feet up on the wall with a plug hanging down looks a little unsightly.   At the very least I am going to have my Sweetie take a look and rewire the plug with a modern one.
Nifty Candlestick appurtenances
So I am so thrilled to have found this piece!  I will definitely take pics of the 'restoration'  and post them later.
Have you found a wonderful item online or at a tag sale that you were able to fix up?  Do share!

Pleasant thoughts coming your way!