Monday, April 30, 2012

Cabin getaway & recent finds

Thanks for all the replies and commiseration on my vintage hair funk post! It certainly sounds like it's going around. Spring fever, perhaps. What I have now is sort of grown out of the middy-like haircut I got in November, but it's definitely due for something. I still haven't decided on what I'm going to go for, but it will probably be just a shorter version of what I have (or what's grown out, rather). My best hair wishes to those of you who were also expressing frustration in your own hair conundrums!

♥ ♥

'Tis the season! Road trip season, that is. Mel and I love to take little road trips to Wisconsin, and spring usually starts road trip season (although in the case of last year, we got there even earlier in the year).

We spent the weekend in a cabin in southwestern Wisconsin with a small group of friends. Other than the overcast, chilly and drizzly weather, it was a fabulous weekend. Lots of fires in the wood-burning stove, food and drinks, games, walks in the woods, and I'm not sure I ever stopped laughing the entire time.

Here was the view from down the road of our cabin. Isn't it picturesque?  (That's our friends' dog Joey, who accompanied us on the trip.)

We spent awhile trying to identify the games hung up on the wall. Investigation led me to discover they are carrom and crokinole game boards, two games none of us had ever heard of.

I loved this bookcase in the cabin. If I had a cabin myself to decorate, I'd want pieces like this, I think...

There were cupcakes for our friend's birthday...

Which then turned into this.

A neat old shed...

Hunting for walking sticks, one slightly more Gandalf-esque than the other...

A great old tractor with over 4,000 miles on it...

We all took a turns. Pretending, that is.

Our friend's Jolene tea towel, I love this thing.

I got to do a good amount of knitting on the road and at the cabin (though the photo below is once we were at home, on our new IKEA shag rug for the den). These are the two sleeves for the pullover I started the last day in February, So Neat and Sweet from A Stitch in Time vol. 2. I made great progress on it until we moved, and then didn't pick up my knitting needles for over a month! Finally, I'm knitting again. I'd love to get this done quickly so I can start one of the thousand short-sleeved sweaters I have swimming in my head. (And hopefully sewing again will follow soon, too.)

It was a great weekend.

On our way home, Mel and I stopped at an antique mall outside of Madison to do a little hunting. I found a lovely scarf and two very inexpensive Bakelite spacer bangles that were tucked in amongst some boring-looking costume jewelry. Yay for the sniff test, taught to me awhile back by a local purveyor of vintage goods. (Unsure of the best on-the-go way to identify Bakelite? Check out Brittany's recent post on Va-Voom Vintage.)

I was happy with those little finds, and then we found The Lamp. You all know how we decided to go with vintage Southwestern as the overall theme in our den. Of course I've been daydreaming about all the rooms in our house, but particularly this one as it's already proven to be the room we spend the most time in. (The fact that our living room only recently got a sofa, still doesn't have the furniture arranged probably and is currently home to all the boxes of our patio furniture probably has something to do with that.)

In my head, I made up a lamp that I thought would be perfect in the room. It was white ceramic, with some kind of nubbly texture to it in some places, with colors that evoked the Southwest, and a fiberglass lampshade. I mean really, dear readers, I made this up in my head out of thin air.

And then we found this.

It took us about .05 seconds to decide it was ours.

I mean, c'mon! White ceramic! Textured sections in shades of brown, coral, and sky blue! A two-tiered fiberglass shade spattered with brown, white and turquoise!

And then when we saw this coral-colored working Westinghouse clock radio in the same booth, and we knew the room didn't have a clock anyway, well... the rest is clearly history.

And while this won't necessarily be the final arrangement on this particular end table (what you can't see is the ugly modern telephone base behind the clock radio), it's getting there.

A trio destined to be together, don't you think? Sofa, lamp, clock radio.

While we were leaning in that direction already, the lamp and clock radio pretty much cemented that a light turquoise or sky blue must be the wall color. Incidentally, that was the overall favorite amongst readers who chimed in.

Huzzah for when vintage decorating starts to come together!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A vintage hair funk

Hello everyone! Is it feeling like Spring near you? We went through a crazy hot spell in March that felt like early summer, and now it's finally starting to feel like April. It's been quite a shock to wear lots of wool after being in short sleeves a month ago! Thanks for all the great and helpful comments about decorating in our den! I now know for sure we're going to go with 1950s Southwestern as our inspiration. I'm thinking up lots of fun ideas for the room which I'll talk about in future posts.

This weekend I had the pleasure of getting to meet my fellow vintage blogger Bex of Subversive Femme and her partner, here traveling around the U.S. (including Viva Las Vegas) all the way from Australia! We carried on like we'd know each other for eons, and now I'm so sad Bex lives oceans away. :(

Anyway, ladies, I'm in a hair funk. Do you ever go through that? I feel like we all do at some point or another. I just can't figure out what I want to do with my hair, and it doesn't help that it seems to not want to cooperate nor look very good no matter what I do.

That fact that my curls always look windswept is annoying me more than usual lately, I apparently no longer could tie a scarf if my life depended on it, and any hair against the side of my head on the heavy side of my part is bugging me. To top it off my bangs have essentially grown completely out and are now so long that it makes doing a front roll (you know, like I often do) almost impossible because there's too much hair. My hair is fine, slippery and prone to frizz and tangles, so everything has to be Just So for it to perform correctly (and even then it's usually fairly fleeting). So now I put it in a front roll and it starts falling out the side within half an hour. Or I pull it back and secure with a barrette and only feel "meh" about the result. Or I fiddle with a gorgeous silky scarf, then 5 minutes later curse like a sailor and throw it on the floor when I can't get it to work.

I need to get my bangs trimmed (I guess they no longer qualify as bangs, more like the shortest layer of my hair). But I'm unsure what I want to do with the rest of my hair. Let it grow a little longer, or chop off a bit? It's been a lot of braids for this indecisive gal lately!

I've been inspired all over by different vintage hairdos, so let's look at some eye candy, shall we? These are some images I've been filing on my Pinterest board for vintage hair.

Some days, I want a short style, but then I remember I would be locked into not being lazy, as I would hate the way it looked when I didn't set it. So that's just not a good plan, much as I like the idea of it. I guess I like my lazy days better! Though isn't this lady chic? She actually reminds me of my maternal grandmother.

{Source:, The Way We Were: Life Magazine Photos Of Women In The 1950s}

Aren't these bespectacled gals and their short 'dos grand? And of course, who doesn't want each pair of eyeglasses shown?! I'm partial to the baby blue ones, something I've always wanted! Oh right, we're supposed to be talking about hair. I really like the style shown in the very middle. I just don't think I can see myself pulling that off (and being able to successfully style it with my finicky hair).

{Source: TeenAngster, Glamor Glasses}

I do love this 1940s knitter's hair, with the softer short waves and fun little whipped topping on her head. She looks a bit like Ingrid Bergman. Wonder what she's knitting?

{Source link not working, pulled from my Pinterest}

But back to a length of hair that doesn't make me hyperventilate at the thought of how awful it would look unstyled, with no braids or updos to hide behind...

I love the style on the factory worker on the right in the below photo. (And of course, I want every single Bakelite telephone pictured!) I'm sensing a trend of liking that shorter, voluminous wavy bit at the top, though not sure how I'd successfully do that. It's not something I've really seen in any vintage hair tutorials. I definitely feel like my face either needs some height at the top or on my forehead, which is why I often like to do a small front roll (and why I used to have Bettie Page bangs/fringe).

{Source: My Pretty Baby Cried She Was A Bird, Western Electric Color Telephones (1954)}

Speaking of which, I do admit there are days when I wish I had bangs again. Look how fabulous Kondalicious looks with her loosely curled long locks and bangs. I dare not do this again though... do you know how long it took to grow out my bangs?! (I had them for years, but it was pre-blog.) Plus my hair never looked this good loose with bangs! No amount of daydreaming will change that.

{Source: Vintage Musings of a Modern Pinup}

So alas, I'll return to my little funk, and hopefully something will snap me out of it soon! What chases the style blues away for you? Do share!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Starting to style our den

How it is that I thought once we moved, things would calm down and I'd have more time for blogging?! Well, we're getting there, but not yet. I don't even have a place to setup my 'blogging computer' (i.e. the computer that has Photoshop), so I had to temporarily set it up on the dining room table. Ugh!

But here I am with my first mid-century decorating post! Most of our free time that hasn't been devoted to unpacking and settling into the new house has been devoted to thinking about and hunting for furniture. I've been a woman possessed. We were volunteered (or as I jokingly say, 'voluntold') to host Mother's Day for Mel's family, so we're trying our best to have things at least halfway decent around here before mid-May.

The first piece of furniture that actually allows us to start the decorating ball rolling is the mid-century daybed we purchased for our den. It's the smallest bedroom, at the back of the house off our kitchen and dining area, where we put our television and where I'll have a desk for days I work from home (if it fitsthat will partially depend on the size of credenza we find with for the TV). It will be our hang out, casual room.

We were having a frustrating time deciding what direction we wanted to go in for this space. Part of that is dictated by trying to cobble together furniture and accessories of course, and last weekend we seriously struck out in the sofa department. Then Monday night I had a brainstorm... wouldn't a plaid sofa be fun? Because it wasn't difficult enough looking for a 1950s sofa, now I had to look for a 1950s plaid sofa? Right.

And then I saw this online, the same night. Here's the original picture from the shop:

Source: An Orange Moon, Chicago

A vintage daybed, similar in style to the case study daybeds, but about a third of what the repro ones go for and in great condition. It also fit the hard-to-fill bill of no arm rests for our cat to scratch and ruin. It was in a shop in Chicago, An Orange Moon. The next morning I called up and sight unseen, I purchased it and arranged for delivery (the same day, how awesome is that). Even though 20th Century Fox had wanted it for some project, it was ours. Ours! That was surely the Vintage Sofa Gods working for us.

So now I have to style our den around this most awesomely wonderful plaid daybed. Right now, the den is kind of a yucky mustard yellow in desperate need of painting. (And semi-gloss. The entire house is painted in semi-gloss. Why oh why? Our friends' Sears kit house in Chicago was also painted all semi-gloss.) And there's no floor covering for the cold ceramic tile (not original to the house, the previous owners probably put it in in the 90s).

Here is the sofa, flanked by lamps that won't stay in this room (and don't even have actual lampshades yet... we stole those off our bedroom lamps since we haven't had a chance to order two matching ones from Moon Shine). The vintage laminate end tables we've been meaning to re-purpose elsewhere (likely the basement), though they work pretty well with this daybed for now.

(You can see there's a little patching to do on the wall behind the sofa.)

Here's a closeup of the awesome, slightly nubby fabric. In this photo you get a better shot of the lamp that won't stay, but more importantly, it kind of shows me that I'm not sure I love light green with this, either.You can also see that the closet doors and trim are honey-colored wood.

What color do we paint this room?!

Now, in spite of the fact that we bought essentially a brown sofa, brown and earth tones are not my favorite colors at all. And if we're not careful this room will veer into 60s/70s territory when I'd like it to stay more 50s. My mom and I were discussing a light buttery yellow for the walls, but I worry the sofa won't pop as an accent piece and it might not be enough color. Also, I can almost guarantee that whatever lamps we have will have fiberglass shades which warm up the room and it might just be too warm with light yellow walls. That being said, we do want to stick with something that's not too bright. We had so many bright bright bright colors in the condo we're ready for a change.

Mel says I'm on a blue kick, which I know is true, as I plan to paint our bathroom a light blue and our kitchen/dining area aqua. But I did see this one similar daybed styled against a turquoise wall...

Source: Vintage Ground / plaid mcm sofa

And I do kind of like that... hm. How many blue-based rooms is one allowed in a small ranch? But it got me to thinking, it could be a great Southwestern-inspired 50s den.

The room also has 2 corner windows, which will make window treatments somewhat of a challenge. Because the placement of the sofa can't change and the cushions have to butt up against the wall, I think sill-length drapes of some kind will be in order, possibly with a cornice or valance shaped around the corner. And we'll also keep blinds (those these ones will eventually go as they're in bad condition), because the windows look out to the alley. I know drapes with blinds were a perfectly appropriate combo in the 50s.

With blinds I'm not sure if the drapes need to close (I believe those are called 'draw drapes'). I'd love to go with vintage pinch pleat drapes but all the ones I see are too narrow at the top to close, so they'd just have to hang along the sides. I'm not sure that would look good with the blinds unless there was something covering the blinds hardware, in which case I'd want it to match. I suppose I could buy 2 vintage panels that wouldn't draw close, and cut some of the length off to make a matching fabric-covered cornice.

Does that sound crazy? Even though I know it was sometimes done, I can't wrap my mind around drapes that don't actually close, though. Let me tell you, drapery has been giving me lots of headaches lately!

Are we a bit crazy to try and hone a 1950s Southwestern vibe in this room? I did get the idea from Mel's grandmother's home decorating book from 1951 (oh boy, I have to share some things from this book soon!!). It mentioned a Najavo rug and that got me to thinking... Mel and I do love the Southwest. The room would definitely have to retain a vintage vibe, and not be all Kokopelli-ed modern and cheesy (50s kitschy, of course is a different story). I could incorporate my grandfather's art, and the plaid daybed would fit right in. Great ceramic or wood lamps... perhaps souvenir pillows from states in the Southwest... It would give us a fun but relatively narrow scope to focus on for this cozy space.

Decisions, decisions. What do you guys think? Any suggestions for wall color, or accent colors in general? Drapery ideas? What would you do with a sofa like this?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Checkered birthday outfit

Happy 35th birthday to me! Here's to my first outfit post in our new yard. I'm so excited to have an outdoor space now. It was a rather cold and miserable day (as often happens to us April birthday babies), so lots of wool was in order.
Unfortunately you can't really tell that I dared to match up two different checked patterns, in my overalls and my blouse. But I think it worked. You'll just have to take my word on that!
This is the patio area to the side of our garage. It needs a lot of work, but we have some ideas. The slightly dodgy and clearly long-enjoyed picnic table was left with the house and will become our first DIY project, as we plan to restore it soon so we can enjoy it for more years to come.
Outfit details: wool checked overalls from Jitterbuggin, boat shoes from Rocket Originals, wooden squirrel pin and checked blouse from Etsy, bakelite and another vintage plastic bangle from here or there, Irish sweater purchased on the Aran Islands.
I've been having a lovely day so far. I worked from home, Mel brought me an ice cream cake (my favorite), and we're ordering pizza from a highly recommended (so I've read) pizza place in our new neighborhood that's been around almost as long as our house has. Cheers to happy birthdays!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! While it's not on my birthday this year, I was born on Easter Sunday, so it's always been kind of a special day. This year, we had Mel's parents over for lunch. Mel's mom was kind enough to bring all the food since we're still settling in, so we had lasagna, lamb, and asparagus. And of course, there was plenty of cheery colorful Easter candy for snacking after dessert.

I sent my mom a couple of quick snaps of the first table I setup in the new house (no tablecloth because I haven't unpacked them yet), and this is what she sent me back. Isn't that so cute?

It's such a beautiful day here, we've been enjoying our new yard and deck.

Hope those of you in the Northern hemisphere are having a wonderful Spring day wherever you are, too!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Starting to plot my corner of the basement

Thanks for all the lovely comments on our new house! We are super busy unpacking and figuring out all the stuff we need to do or buy, but it's been awesome. ♥

One of the things I'm daydreaming about now that we've moved is my sewing and craft space! In our condo, my sewing "area" (and I use the term loosely) was the dining table. Not a very useful setup and annoying when we actually wanted to dine at the dining table.

Now that we have a house, holy crap! I get to have my own real sewing space! This thrills me to no end and is worthy of excessive use of exclamation points!!

It'll be roughly one-third of the finished part of our basement, which is all open. The other two-thirds? Mel will get art studio space, and we'll also have a lounge area. This part of the basement is more like partially finished... it's not very well insulated and is a wee bit rough around the edges, but at least there's peel and stick tile flooring, finished walls, and a bathroom. And it's totally not creepy at all (unlike a couple of what we dubbed serial killer basements that we saw during house hunting—egads).

Here's my corner of the basement. Pardon the dark Instagram pic, but the computer I use to work on photos isn't unpacked yet...actually it has nowhere to go because it's supposed to go in this space, ha ha:

You can see my sewing machine (in its carrier), dress form (wrapped in plastic bags without its base), rigid heddle loom (behind the boxes) and yarn bins have already made an appearance. ;)

Part of that space will be Mel's, but what I have to work with will be roughly 10.5 feet x 8 feet. I'm going to take the corner, so that I have two walls to hang up plenty of things (thread organizer, etc). The bright spot on the right-hand wall is a glass block window that does let in some natural light. To the left of the pole will be the lounge (about as big as the what you see above), which will be tiki-themed.

Now I'll admit this right now: while we're going to try and stay as mid-century and mid-century-inspired as we can throughout the rest of the house, the sewing and art areas...not really. If I let myself only go vintage with furniture, it will be years before I get it all together and make my mind up. To compromise, I'm going to try and accessorize with vintage seating and items, and incorporate vintage fabrics where I can. In my heart of hearts mid-century design is the ultimate, but I do think it'll be nice to just freestyle it in my basement nook and let my crafty geek flag fly.

What areas will I need?
  1. Cutting fabric. I'm thinking possibly an island or kind of a dining table of sorts. I'm short and prefer table-height to counter-height.
  2. Sewing. Doesn't need to be a big table, but maybe something long enough in case I one day get a serger (woo!), so I can have two work stations.
  3. Working on the computer. I'll setup our older iMac down there for blogging.
  4. Working on my loom. I may get a stand for it, or set it up on a table.
  5. Fabric storage. I used an organizer from Target (Circo 9 cubes) in a closet in our condo, but the cubbies were not really suitable for larger lengths of fabric. I think drawers would be better.
  6. Sewing pattern and crafty doodad storage. Not including yarn, which will remain in plastic storage bins in the storage area of our basement (not in the finished area). Space for my sewing patterns, buttons, ribbon, blocking pins, etc.
  7. Book shelves. I'll keep all of my sewing, knitting and craft books in this area.
  8. Seating. I'm thinking a chair and a stool so I can alternate, depending on where I'm sitting.

What are my obstacles to work around?
  1. Fluorescent lighting. Not going to change anytime soon, so I'll need to accessorize with really good lighting. Fortunately unlike the rest of the house, there are lots of outlets in that area. I'm thinking at least a couple of full spectrum lights, and one or two vintage lights with fun shades for a mix of cozy as well as functionally bright lighting.
  2. It's not really a room, so there are only two walls. I can float furniture to make it more of a square space, but will have to think about how. And then we have to think about how we can visually separate it a bit from the future lounge area.
  3. It's not that warm. I'll need a (safe) space heater, for sure.
  4. The floor covering is on cement. I'll need some kind of rug or maybe a big carpet remnant. And a dog bed for Pia to hang out, of course!

So what would you do if you were building a crafty space in a basement corner? Is there anything I'm forgetting about? Do tell!

Next time, I'll share some of the crafty spaces that are inspiring me, and talk more about ideas for furniture, storage and decorating!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Introducing the Golly Ranch House

It happened! Last Wednesday, we officially sold our condo and bought our first house. A ranch house from the 1950s, that I think I'm dubbing the Golly Ranch House.

Everything went smoothly with the closings, and we moved in that night. I just can't believe it! Everything that's been occupying so much of our time over the last three months finally came together. It's kind of an incredible feeling. I'm both excited and exhausted, and getting used to living in a completely different part of the city than I've ever lived before.

Once we settle in a bit this will mean returning to regular blogging! Which I'm sure will include occasional posts about mid-century decorating in our 1955 house. Yay!

Isn't it cute?!
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