Personal Shopper

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Every now and then I’ll go to Amazon and just type random words into the search bar to see what’s there.  One of my favorite words, of course, is “retro.”  I’m always curious to see what retro products are available now.  Sometimes it’s depressing, as in the case of one of my recent posts when I talked about the retro products that had to announce that they were retro by putting the word “Nostalgia” on them.  Seriously.  It’s like making a coffee cup and emblazoning “FOR COFFEE” on it.  We get it.  We know its style and purpose already.

So I went to Amazon and put in my favorite search terms and came up with some gems.  First up — a retro condiment set:
71wcP3y2mNL._SL1500_It’s something so simple, yet they did it right this time.  Three bottles — one for ketchup, mustard, and a clear one that you can do pretty much whatever with — are included with retro pictures.  The only way they could have improved this product was if they had used a retro font and varied the pictures on each one.  Still … these are cool. They are normally seven dollars from Amazon, but as of this writing, they are on sale for just under six.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just in case you need a place to put your new retro condiment bottles, you could always get a condiment caddy to easily put everything on the table at once.  (Sadly, your clear miscellaneous bottle will be left out, but I think it’ll recover from the disappointment.)  Since I’ve obviously gotten stuck on a theme here, let’s explore the next item:

Condiment caddy with places for salt and pepper as well.  I love the little details on this item that make it truly retro: the little ball decorations at the top and bottom of the frame pieces.  As of this writing, this item was also on sale for fourteen dollars.

 

 

 

 

 

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I was given this next item as a Christmas gift.  Although it normally wouldn’t have been something I bought myself, I am here to say that these things have a purpose in life.   (The same cannot be said for any of the Kardashians, but this phone rocks.)

This retro handset plugs into your cell phone.  While you may look like a dork using it (I keep mine in my car), it provides a much more comfortable way to talk on the phone for an extended period of time.  With modern phones, there’s no good way to grip the phone while talking.  You either a) press it up against your face until your words sound like mhphmphmphphphrmphmmmph, or b) you grip the phone along the sides with your fingertips until you get spasmodic cramping, or c) you use the spearkerphone feature, which is just an awkward way to talk on the phone because of those wonderful times when two people are trying to talk at the same time and the phone can’t handle that kind of excitement, so you get those awkward pauses when no one is quite sure when to talk.

In short, this handset is an answer to most of your worldly problems.  Plug it in, grip it like a man (or a woman), and feel confident that people are definitely laughing at you while they pass you on the interstate.  Someone’s gotta liven up that interstate driving; it might as well be you.  The best part is that as of this writing, this handset is majorly on sale!  Eight bucks ….  a huge discount off the normal price of around thirty-five dollars.  These handsets come in a variety of colors.  (Mine is pink.)

 

 

61j5ppdLSWL._SL1500_If you are a fan of vintage metal lawn chairs and you happen to see someone selling them at a decent price, let me give you a bit of advice:  jump on those suckers like they are trying to smuggle your TV out your front door.  I’ve learned this one the hard way; this is a trend that has started to come back into style and the “real deal” vintage models are incredibly popular.  Just a couple weeks ago I saw some on one of those local “garage sale” groups on Facebook, and I made the fatal mistake of taking a few breaths before thinking about getting them.  Poof!  They were gone.  Who knew lawn chairs could be such a hot commodity?

Just in case you don’t have the luck or the patience to try to find the real deal, the next best thing is definitely these chairs from Amazon.  They qualify for Amazon Prime shipping as well!  Judging by the “only x left in stock” warning, these are just as popular online as they are locally.

 

 

 

 

This last product isn’t from Amazon, it’s from Retro Planet.  As I’ve made clear before, I am a sucker for retro fonts and images.  Not the chintzy ones that seem to be put on a million metal signs and held up as authentic vintage decor, but for things that seem genuinely retro — not cartoonish reproductions.

Enter the rooster.  On a towel.

26428-vtMr. Rooster here has that goofy 50’s vibe with great retro colors.  I have a special weakness for that color green in the background.  I have such a weakness for it, in fact, that I painted all my kitchen walls that exact color.

These are kind of spendy towels, about six bucks, but I imagine the average person would only have a handful of these to decorate their kitchen.  It’s retro without being contrived, and in my book, that makes it perfect.

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Every now and then I’ll get hooked on a color or a pattern, and it seems that every decision I make has to center around that obsession of the moment.  You know how Hollywood divas have a knack for demanding that everything around them be, say, white?  I’m kind of like that.  Except less crazy.
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I love browsing through all the different crafters on Etsy and marveling at the creativity of some of those people.  I’ve always considered myself a creative person, but I have severe limits when it comes to creating something that people would want to buy.  Every day, Etsy will feature random products on its main page, and I frequently find interesting products through that method alone.
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Just received my new Home Decorators Collection catalog the other day, and although I planned to quickly leaf through it before throwing it away (lest anything tempt me during this season of low funds!), their new retro-style dessert plates and servingware caught my eye.  I love these!

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A few months ago I bought a tablecloth from Jack’s Country Store, needing to cover my cracked ice table with something to minimize the scratching that my boys were inflicting from running their toys all over it.  I purchased an adorable tablecloth that looked like it was straight out of grandma’s kitchen — nice pastel colors with cherries.  Incidentally, they must have been phasing out their larger sized tablecloths, because all the ones they sell now are 52×52, which doesn’t quite reach the end of my table, but the cloths are cute nonetheless.
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It happens every fall.  Just as the leaves start turning and falling off the trees, and the landscape begins to look a little more sparse, I start thinking about Christmas.

I will freely admit that fall and winter are my favorite seasons.  Fall I love for the cooler weather and beautiful colors, and winter I love for the excuse to stay cozy inside and being able to enjoy the occasional snow day.  True enough, after Christmas hits, winter tends to grow old very, very quickly.  I suppose I love winter partially for the rush of being able to decorate another tree and capture that homey Christmas spirit once again.

Each year my tree gets a little more retro.  I haven’t yet gone the way of the aluminum or flocked tree, but it seems that each year my vision pushes me to go with more retro color schemes.  Last year it was blue lights and silver and white ornaments, which would have looked superb on a flocked tree, but still looked cool nonetheless.

And then a few months ago I discovered Bronner’s.  Oh my . . . talk about a gigantic playground for Christmas decorating enthusiasts!  I become even more hooked when I started noticing some of their awesome retro ornaments.

Case in point:

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Silvery goodness with a classic starburst design.  It also comes in green, gold, and blue.  Get it here!

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Oh my, how I love this thing. It’s called a pine star ornament, and it’s about as retro as they get.  it also comes in gold:

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They’re shatterproof, too, which is even better news for those of us with small, hyper, and sometimes violent boys who think that Christmas ornaments make good baseballs.  Or weapons.

Here’s a true starburst ornament, hence its name:

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I am in love.  Truly, madly in love.  Is it taboo to feel love for a shatterproof ornament that sort of resembles a sea urchin?

I am not kidding when I say that these ornaments are just a tiny sampling of what this store has to offer.  There are ornaments for every hobby, every era, every nationality, and every quirk.    They also carry lights (amazing how many different types they have!), outdoor decor, stockings, hats, and pretty much every other item that has a direct or vague association with Christmas.  Go there.  Get lost.  You won’t be sorry.

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Many of you retro fans are well aware that there are many sites on the ‘net that carry retro products — either true vintage or reproductions. The true vintage ones are always good, of course, but it can be a pain to find what you want in good condition or for the right price. The reproductions, on the other hand, can be just plain cheesy for those who are going for a true retro ’50s or MCM look. When straight googling doesn’t get us what we need, however, we can sometimes find some gems just by taking the time to browse a store’s site.

I’m a big fan of the Home Decorator’s Collection. (Note: this is not a paid advertisement!) Not only do they have a plethora of products, they have a look to suit just about anyone, including us admirers of all things 50’s. I spent some time going through their site today and came across a few products that would look right at home in a vintage-inspired decorating situation.

abstract geometric wall art

The 50’s were all about geometric shapes — squares, circles, random lines, boomerangs, etc.  With the right color scheme, this wall panel would look almost as if it were original to the house.

cosmicmirror

What atomic age would be complete without something that looked inspired by the planets?  This mirror looks positively out of this world.  (Sorry — I couldn’t resist.)

geometricsquares

Funky, crooked squares — what more could you want in wall art?.  I have a votive holder that looks something like this, and it makes my kitchen complete.  Love it!

hammeredcoppercanisters

Copper canisters from your kitchen.  I distinctly remember my grandparents’ lake cabin — practically a museum for 50’s decorating — having a set of copper canisters.  These give a slightly more modern look to the copper with the hammered texture.

raindropmirror

It’s called a raindrop mirror, but we 50’s fans are thinking STARBURST!   Such a classic design.

The best aspect of shopping at the Home Decorators Collection, though, is the astounding array of area rugs.  They have them all broken down into styles, with a huge selection of sizes, and it’s not hard to find some rugs that would spruce up any house with retro styling.

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This first one doesn’t try to hide its retro styling; it’s called the Milan Fifties Rug.  And fifties it is!  Sigh . . . I’m in love.

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A little more “white space” on this one (er . . . taupe space?), but that design looks like it’s been lifted from some vintage curtains.  Great retro colors as well.

planetsrug

They called it the Atomic Age for a reason, and this area rug, appropriately called Planets, will give your house that “other-wordly” feel.

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I love this one for the neutral colors and simple geometric pattern.  It reminds me of background graphics you’d find in an advertisement for . . . well, take your pick of products.  Sheets?  Sure.  Salted almonds?  Yep.  Clear telephone reception?  Uh huh.  That’s the comforting thing about looking at old advertisements: they’re all almost interchangeable.  Different happy faces, a small variety of fonts, but really, they were all pretty much the same.

Great stuff, eh?  It’s so cool to see designers trying to bring back (or maintain) some of these classic designs.  I’m very tempted by the Milan area rug, but I truthfully don’t have a good place to put it . . . or do I?  Oh dear — the wheels have begun to turn. Now look what I’ve started!

Until next time, this is your personal shopper, signing off!

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Sometimes I’m lucky enough to find cool retro products just by using the right search terms. Other times, though, I stumble across retro products that seem horribly misplaced. In general, I try to avoid the kitschy retro products that try a little too hard. You know the ones I’m talking about — the rusted signs that say “Mom’s Diner” or a clock styled like a jukebox. On the contrary, I love products that truly look as if they could have come from the 1950s. Some manufacturers are getting a clue that there is an honest demand for this stuff. Let’s encourage them, shall we? Take a look at what I’ve found via Amazon just by searching for the term “retro.” Read the rest of this entry »

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I have to be careful not to become addicted to retro clocks. I love to look at them, especially the original oldies on eBay, but I have to keep myself from clicking “Buy Now.” If I clicked that button for every clock that struck my fancy, I’d have a garage full of clocks, and probably no husband.

In my previous post, I talked about the benefits of buying a new cracked ice chrome table rather than trying to find one that is in the desired color and is also in good condition. Buying retro-styled clocks for around your home is another area where buying new is almost as fun as finding an oldie but goodie. Read the rest of this entry »

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