Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fish Tank turned Terrarium - craft post

Hi Guys,

Today's post is pure 'craft' with very little (actually no) vintage.  Although I do promise to make a few references that people under 30 will have a hard time getting.

I have a few fish tanks around my house.  You never know when you will need to house a mouse or hamster or something else (to those that know me and my penchant for taking care of small furries, this will make perfect sense).  For those of you that want to play along at home,  you can usually find fish tanks at tag sales for under $10.    Tanks that have developed (water) leaks are also great to upcycle into Terrariums.

One thing I will mention if I haven't before - I am frugal when it comes to crafting. That is to say I don't like to buy anything new I don't have to. (up and up Yankee thriftness!)     At some point I will do a post about how I source some things for gardening without paying a lot, which may or may not end up being helpful.

1) Assemble your ingredients

  • Drainage material (I used small white crushed stone )
  • Charcoal - this helps with filtration and keeping the soil fresh
  • Potting Soil  - should be self explanatory (though if you are planting cactii or succulents, you should get a soil suitable for those).
  • Sheet moss (helps retain the moisture for the plants and prevent soil erosion)
  • Plants & Decorations

"And Everyone wanted to get in the newspaper story about it..." (Arlo quote!)

So the above couple pictures are basically the kittehs checking out all the neat stuff I have assembled for this project.  Note, I am doing this in the middle of the living room rug, so have put a towel down to make things a little easier for cleanup.  Newspaper works well too,  but the cats tend to like to play (*read* shred) it.

2.  Creating the drainage layer.  - I used white crushed stone.  I had bought a few bags a couple of years ago and had half a bag still sitting around. I rinsed it a few times and soaked it overnight so as to remove any extra chalky residue and creepy crawlies that may have moved in while it was sitting around.

3.   Charcoal layer   - Sadly I forgot to get a picture of the charcoal layer, so imagine it in your head.

4.  Spread out the Potting Soil. ( Note the Quality Control Dachshund making sure I am doing it correctly.)  There should be a 3" to 5" layer of soil, at least deep enough to put the root balls of the plants you are planting in.  Note-  pack the soil down so there aren't any air bubbles.  This will keep the soil from settling too much later and exposing the plant roots.

5.  Figuring out the placement of the plants.   I left them in the pots and moved them around a bit til I felt I liked the arrangement and each plant had enough room.    The plants I chose for this terrarium are: Fancy leafed coleus, Polka dot plant, African violet, and Cock's comb.

6. Planting the plants - make sure they are spaced out enough so they have room to spread a little. You should have put enough soil down so that the root balls are not sticking above the soil level.

Investigating kitty

7.  I put sheet moss around the bases of the plants sort of sporadically. I have seen terrariums that have it covering the entire potting soil layer, but I didn't want to do that.  The sheet moss will help the plants retain moisture, as well as keep the soil from eroding down around the roots.

8. Decorate!   - Colored Gravel - you can categorize this under 'decorations'  I sprinkled some handfuls of colored aquarium gravel around because I thought it looked nice.

More Decorations - couple of plastic cows (Note the 'walking dead' cow on the left - Calvin (my dachshund) started chewing the cow's face before I realized what he was up to)

"A little Birdhouse in your soul..." (They Might Be Giants)

A small set of twinkle lights.  Yes, I am a sucker for twinkle/fairy lights and will add them to just about any craft I can.   I got this set at the dollar store - it is about 2 feet long and has a waterproof battery pack (takes (2) AA batteries)  so perfect for this environment.  (I taped them to the upper wall).

 The final masterpiece!  

Here is Lightning kitty relaxing on the top of the finished terrarium.   I had a screen top that goes with this size aquarium that I am using because well ...cats...plants..... 

Update - After about a 2 weeks, the cocks comb died.  The polka dot plants (there were 4 ind. plants in the container, and they were a little on the ragged side when I got them)  one of the 4 has also died.  The African Violet seems to be faring the best.   I think maybe I need to move the whole terrarium to where it gets a little more light.

Thanks for reading!
xo Yvonne

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vintage Car Spotting of the Week- Spotlight on an late 60's model Ford Galaxie

Hi Friends on the Interwebs!

One of the things I enjoy about this time of year is that car buffs bring out their 'pride and joys' taking advantage of the beautiful weather. My son, Peter, is a classic car lover and a virtual encyclopedia of all things Automobile. We will be driving around and see a vintage beauty.  (Often we chase them down through parking lots or follow them for a couple miles to get a better look!) Peter will comment about how a specific year saw the last of the large engines for that manufacturer, or when emission savings devices were introduced on a certain model so the gas mileage drastically improved,  what year the tail fins were especially large, or the details about a trim package that was offered on some models.     His absolute favorites are the old Cadillacs.  His dream car is an Eldorado from the seventies,  you know - the kind where you can fit your entire extended family in and still have room for a couple of Great Danes or perhaps a VW Beetle.
 Some of these land yachts rival the length of modern day RV's, believe it or not.  (unfortunately, a lot of them get about the same amount of mileage per gallon as RV's do, too :(   Only 7 or 8 miles per gallon.)  He is saving for a fixer upper one of these now, so I will probably be continuing the saga as time goes on.

Peter's dream car - a seventies Eldo

So, I thought I would start a new feature on  'Tea & Cat'  of Vintage Car spotting. That is to say when we cross paths of a Vintage lovely,  I will post some pictures and a little about the car in its heyday.
(with Peter's help on the specs and details).  So here is today's car,  The Ford Galaxie.

We estimated this one to be from the late 1960's.  It was in awesome condition. I snapped a couple of pictures while at a red light.

This isn't your Grand-dad's car....oh, wait, yeah maybe it is
 The Galaxie was made as an answer /competitor to the Chevrolet Impala.  It's first year was 1955. Naming convention of the time was the space age fervor that wound it's way into many aspects of our Culture.  Most of the Galaxie's were of the 500 or 500 XL designation, but later, They had cool names like "Starliner" and "Sunliner."    Wikipedia does a nice job of going through the model years and different versions here.

Even though the body did not change significantly during the 1960's, we know that the car we saw was a late '60's model by the square tail lights (the earlier 60's ones had round tail lights, they changed over in '67)

The list price for one of these new in '67 or '68 was about $4200. (the average US household income then was around $8000.)

They even have a club for Galaxie owners & enthusiasts: /

Do you have a penchant for classic cars? If so which is your favorite?  Please comment below!
Thanks for reading
xo Yvonne

Monday, June 30, 2014

a little about "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries"

Hello my little flappers & sheiks!

I wanted to share with you all a wonderful series we discovered awhile back:  Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries,  produced by the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC).   It features Essie Davis as the title character Miss Phryne Fisher -  a well-to-do femme fatale in 1920's Melbourne, Australia.  (first name is pronounced 'Fry-knee,' from the Greek, 4th century BC, after a famous Courtesan.   I think the name was vogue for awhile around the same period as Myrtle or Gertrude)    Miss Fisher is an upper class but down-to-earth woman of the world.  Finding herself with a knack for deduction and reasoning, she often crosses paths (in a meddling sort of way) with Melbourne's Finest:  Detective Jack Robinson, and Constable Collins at his right hand.  In similar 'Murder She Wrote' fashion, Phryne often finds herself tripping over dead bodies when taking a train ride or out visiting friends.  (and don't even get me started on Midsommer, England!)

In true Flapper sense, Phryne is a liberated woman.  She goes against the grain of what society expected from a lady in her day - she chooses not to get married, gets romantically involved with (several) different men of her own choosing, practices 'family planning', lives alone, goes out frequently by herself, and carries a gun even.    (Only occasionally when she is hit on by a guy that seems barely old enough to wear long pants, do we ask ourselves 'how old is she supposed to be again?")  

And then there is the costumes... Oh, the costumes.... they are so lovely. Bravo to Marion Boyce and her design team!   A woman of society in that day was expected to have a different outfit depending on the occasion and time of day, so the design team had their work cut out for them. There is an incredible amount of moving between scenes within the series, sometimes within each episode - from traveling, to home, to nightclubs to afternoon tea, and the wardrobe does a great job of keeping up appearances.

Oh Phryne,  you should know better than to wear white!

Love this outfit!

Unlike many other historical mystery series, where you, the viewer, find yourself a little unraveled by things they present to you in wondering if they are being historically accurate, or whether it fits as part of the story,   Miss Fisher's drags you in to the story.  The supporting cast are wonderful as well, the relationships you find yourself shipping -that of Dot & Constable Collins, the budding feelings between Phryne & Detective Jack.  The writers did a great job of translating the Kerry Greenwood novels to the screen.  

Interesting tidbits - Prohibition in Oz

One of the things I found of particular interest about this show, was that it is supposed to have taken place about the same time period as another of our favorite shows, Boardwalk Empire. Yet there is little mention of prohibition. On the contrary, they seem to have cocktails quite frequently throughout. It seems that catching up with bootleggers is furthest thing from Detective Jack's mind with all the murder going on. The one exception was of the episode that took place in a speak-easy kind of nightclub, which would lead you to think that they were trying to hide something.   My sweetie Chris is from Australia, (Sydney) so we got into a discussion about prohibition between the countries.  It seems that prohibition was more of an American concept. Although Australia did practice it, it was done by territory - The people in the different regions voted on it.   Melbourne did in fact practice prohibition during that time period. (It was repealed throughout Australia in 1928)  However, there are still a few townships near Melbourne that never went back - they remain dry even today

Sadly, Netflix has only made available the first season of Miss Fisher's Murder mysteries, so we must be patient for seasons 2 & 3.    If you get the chance - WATCH THIS SHOW - you won't be disappointed!

Have you seen any other awesome historical mystery shows?  Please share! Would love to hear about them in the comments.

xo Yvonne

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Vintage Bathing Beauties

Hi my retro lovin' peeps!

Warm weather is finally here! Gentle breezes, summer dresses, peepers peeping at night-time, beaches, gardening, backyard crafts....  

I recently re-read a couple of my all-time favorites: "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Belles on their Toes"   For those of you who have not heard or read these books,*  they chronicle the lives of the Gilbreth family - a dozen kids born to Frank & Lillian Gilbreth around the early part of the 1900's. It was written by two of their children.  Frank and Lilly were motion study experts who went into factories and figured out how to speed processes and assembly lines up.  This is kind of like the fore-runner of modern day ergonomics.  Part of what I love about these books is that they reflect the change in our culture but in an everyday sort of way -  the advent of automobiles, women in the work force, fashion changes: bobbed hair, silk stockings, teddies (the undergarments), makeup, bathing suits.   'You are not going out of the house like that'  seems like getting ones parents to accept that you want to wear the latest fashions  is a universal argument whether it is 1930 or 2014!   (* Note- none of the movies made (including the 1950 version with Myrna Loy (who is one of my most favoritest actresses in the world) does the books justice - Read them!)

One part in particular in "Belles.." (circa 1925)  talks about the changes in swimwear and how no one wore old fashioned 2 piece suits anymore.  One of the oldest daughters, Martha, forgets her swimsuit when they take their annual summer vacation to Nantucket.  She wears the under part of the Mother's Victorian era bathing suit to her sisters' horror.
["Martha was wearing what appeared to be a tight-fitting black union suit. If you looked at it closely you could tell it was the under part of Mother's suit, with the legs and sleeves rolled up as far as they would roll. It wasn't any more extreme than bathing suits other girls were wearing, but Anne and Ernestine were shocked almost beyond words."]

When the Mom finally comes to join them, she ends up purchasing new suits for the girls:
[""If it comes below my knees," said Martha, fumbling with the wrappings. "can I take a hem in it?"
"Goodness, it won't come below your knees," Mother laughed. "It's a one-piece suit."
"One piece?" Anne and Ernestine shouted together.
"No girls wear those old-fashioned two-piece suits any more, do they?" Mother asked.
"We do," said Ernestine. "Remember Dad's rules."
"Modesty, " Anne recited flatly. "Skirts at least to the knees. Black stockings. And a minimum of skin showing."
"Times change," Mother told them, "and your father would have changed with them". .....
Martha held up the suit. It was light blue, and had a low-cut neck.        .....[then]...
She handed Anne and Ernestine each a package like Martha's.] 1

This is sort of what I imagine Martha's new suit to have look like. (vintage suit from the 1920's)

Here is a red one from the same time period.

A few months ago I came across this awesome photo slideshow on The Weather Channel of all places.  They actually have some very neat videos in their archive.

The full slideshow is here:  Before the Bikini: Rare Vintage Beach Pictures  by Edecio Martinez. 

 It occurred to me that we in the modern day tend to have a notion that all vintage bathing wear was all black, multi-layered with mob caps and stockings.    While this is true of the very early part of the century (i.e. prior to 1910),   There were suits that by the teens and 1920's that weren't far off style-wise from today's one pieces.
Victorian era -Some of the costumes included a 'wool cape' to
wrap yourself in after a dip so people would not see the clingyness of your suit. 
 I think too, that Europe may have been a little further ahead of the fashion curve, as many of their earlier suits seemed more revealing, or perhaps America was just more modest as a culture.

1929 - Officer in Florida measuring to make sure not too much skin was showing.
Beach censor regulations had been put in place
"In 1907, a scandal erupted when Australian swimmer, Annette Kellerman, the first woman to swim across the English Channel, was arrested in Boston for wearing a more form-fitting, one-piece suit".
This was circa 1912,  you can see that the suits are more form fitting, and the gal on the left is sans stockings!
I absolutely love the polka-dot print of the suit on the right.
I found this on pinterest. It's a navy colored bathing suit circa 1915.  I LOVE this!  it is totally adorable

This next selection of pictures is from the late 1920's.  The suits are all one piece and seem to bear a closer resemblance to what we see today.  Note there are color variations from the plain black or dark material of a generation ago.  Also, check out the strappy shoes & short stockings in 
pictures 1 & 2 - they couldn't have been that comfy in the sand.....    The lady in picture 3 has a pearl necklace and some decolletage going on. Makes you wonder if she was there to swim or 
check out the action!

Another invention that was prevalent in the Victorian Era was the Bathing Machine.      These were basically large wheeled changing booths that were pulled into the low surf, some horse drawn or pulled by attendants.  A person changed inside and exited to swim.  These were mostly prevalent during the 1800's, when men and women were segregated to swim (because it was improper for one to view the opposite sex in their bathing attire at the time).   Apparently some beaches hired a 'dipper' - someone to help bathers into and out of the Bathing Machines.  Some 'dippers' would yank the bathers into the water, supposed to be part of the complete bathing experience!   The bathing machines were used up until the first decade of the 1900's, at which time it was becoming more common for men & women to swim together.

And here are a few Bathing costumes that I especially liked....
Bathing Pajamas!  because they are as much fun to say as they are to wear!

maybe I'm just a sucker for a large pom-pom hat....

I love the patterned suit on the left. Check out the recessed gores too!
And again with the strappy shoes at the beach, that's got to be uncomfortable.

While this I believe was a 'professional' photo,  I still love the striped underlay and the large flower motif.

And here is something for those of you who like to incorporate vintage into your home decor:

These are actual vintage bathing suits that have been framed.   (complete article can be found on "Completely Coastal" blog.)

And a slightly more understated approach from

 Have you ever tried wearing vintage swimwear? Decorating with it?  Would love to hear your thoughs in the comments!    So glad you could stop by my blog.

xo Yvonne


1:  Belles on Their Toes,  Frank B Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey,  p.52 & p. 68-70

      Thomas Y. Crowell Co.; c. 1950

(note - Belles on Their Toes chronicled the life of the Gilbreth family after their father Frank had passed away from a heart condition).

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!