Retro finds!

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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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Yep, I’m aware that I haven’t written for two months.  That little nagging voice in the back of my head wouldn’t let me forget it.  As much as I would love to be disciplined enough to be a daily (or at least multi-week) blogger, I had to accept long ago that it just wasn’t going to happen.  Something had to give, y’know?  And the truth is, I’m not that interesting.  I run out of things to talk about.  I don’t have time to scour the internet for interesting things, even the things I love to talk about.  During the school year, the majority of my time is spent on school and kids and all the chaos that goes along with school and kids.  When I’m not dealing with the chaos of school and kids, I’m enjoying a leisurely bath. Like I said, something had to give, and I wasn’t going to give up my baths.  After all … blogging while in the bath might prove to be a bit, ah, dangerous.

My part of Iowa is currently under a Winter Storm Warning.  The Weather Channel has named this one Saturn.  Their storm-naming trend has me chuckling in a way; having lived in the Midwest all my life, I know that winter storms are anything but an oddity in these parts.  They happen pretty regularly, whether it involves snow, ice, or a mixture.  The Weather Channel has already come up with some awesome names this year — Thor, Gandolph, etc. — but I know that eventually they’re going to run out of cool names and they’ll be relegated to normal names like Bob and Frank and Sharon.  In fact, giving winter storms these comic book-like names suggests that their appearance is an oddity; a supernatural event that deserves a grand name.  In reality, it’s snow.  We get it all the time here in the Midwest.  The last three Christmases have involved blizzards.  Snow is about as odd as seeing a cornfield as I drive down the highway.

But hey — Winter Storm Saturn is here and I’m sure it will run circles around the other storms (punny, I know).   Having just enjoyed a snow day last week, I think I’ll take another.  Keep ’em coming until spring break, and then I’ll burst into tears because I realize that we’ll be going to school until July.

Not much happening in the Retro Find department, I hate to say.  My youngest son and I stopped by the local antique store a couple weeks ago.  I brought him in there last year but got the feeling that he was not very impressed.  This year, I tried again, and I think I’ve made a little convert out of my 8-year old.  He eagerly went into the store with me and started puttering around, picking up this and that and asking me questions about the items he found.  I quickly discovered the value of having a short 8-year old in the store with me; whatever I could not see of the stacks of stuff piled under the tables, my son was sure to see something cool.  He found three little framed pictures with frames made in Italy; the pictures are nondescript but the frames were charming.  He found two matching ones and then pulled out another one with a different frame pattern, but the three went together so well that we bought them all.  He found a hotel bell that he begged me to have, and wanting to encourage his treasure hunt, I obliged, knowing that I would be sentencing myself to weeks and months of hearing DING! repeated constantly.  However, I drew the line at the “dogs playing poker” tapestry.  He thought it was cool, and I …. did not.  I did find a neat little wall-hanging lamp that has a total Art Deco metal edging on it.  I bought it thinking that I could hang it over my bed as a reading lamp — forgetting, of course, that my bed has a WINDOW above it.  So the lamp got stashed on a shelf until I can find a suitable place for it.

Needless to say, I think I’ve converted my youngest son into an antique hunter.  My oldest son, however, still rolls his eyes and says, “Mom, why do you have to fill our house with 50’s stuff?  Why can’t we have NICE stuff?”

Someday, I hope he realizes that those things mean the same thing.  🙂

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Despite all the hype that we’ve had to listen to for the past two years (at least), there was no apocalypse; no massive power outages; no need to buy wind-up radios and generators.  Don’t get me wrong — I didn’t do any of those last things.  I tended to believe that if people were able to exist before electricity, then we’d figure it out now too.  I’m also not a “prepper,” as if there were a major catastrophe on earth and life was absolutely miserable, why in the world would I want to stick around?  But hey … we’re all still here and now the History Channel will have to dig up some more experts who will be freely sharing their other theories about how the world will end.  Personally, I think there’s a lot of danger in media hyping end-of-the-world scenarios to a young generation of kids who already don’t really believe that they have a lot to live for.  But that’s just me.

It’s been a great Christmas break and I am trying hard to ignore the fact that school has started back up.  Back to the grind.  Back to the chaos.  Good-bye, leisurely mornings drinking coffee and puttering around.  Goodbye to making lunches for the kids and taking the dog for long walks.  Goodbye, sanity.

Ok, so perhaps I’ll hold onto my sanity for a little bit longer.  Time will tell.

This Christmas was a good one.  Despite being a drought, we received a 6″ snowfall just before break commenced.  I packed up the kids, the dog, and all the presents and headed to South Dakota for a week-long stay.  I was able to spend quality time with my family, along with time with my boyfriend and a great friend from my high school days.  The recent snowstorm made for some pretty walks with the dogs in the morning, and a layer of frost over the landscape on the 29th helped me capture some nice shots.

I did get some great retro treasures for Christmas.  The man in my life found the perfect things for my house; it’s evident how well he knows me.  The evidence:

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A star-adorned magazine rack that looks right at home in my 1953 house …..

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… a pink and gray Zenith radio that is so many kinds of awesome that I just love to look at it.  Oh, and it works! ….

clock

 

A Seth Thomas clock!  Oh, how beautiful it is ….

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s.

 

 

 

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Earlier this fall I had gone to Lincoln, Nebraska, with my love.  (Seriously — saying “boyfriend” makes me sound like I’m 12.) We were at his sister’s house and she took us out to the garage where she had boxes and boxes of “stuff” from her dad’s estate.  We opened up the boxes and started sifting through it all, and I was having a great time looking at some of the old cards, pictures, relics, awards, stationery, etc.  Most people digging through the stuff would pull out something and go, “Meh,” and toss it aside, and I’d snatch it up and marvel at it.  Yeah … I’m weird like that.  I kept saying over and over, “We need to scan this stuff in!”  It kills me to throw away pictures, no matter how obscure they are.

I found a stack of pictures stuffed in an old sock box.  There’s something you don’t see anymore — sock boxes from a department store.  Anyway, I started leafing through the pictures and I came across an old photo Christmas card.  The styling of it was so incredibly retro and unique that I made sure it went into the “scan” pile that my love and I were taking back home with us.  I knew just what I would do with it, too.  It was going to be scanned in and edited to become this year’s Christmas card.

So I took it home, scanned it in, cut out the original photo on it, and replaced it with a pic I took of my kids earlier this fall.  I couldn’t find a photo printer who would allow me to just print the photo card without having an additional design on it (OK, I did see that Apple would allow me to do it, but each card would be 99 cents!).  I ended up just printing them as a regular 4×6 picture.  I’ll write on the backs for personalization and will stick them in a regular envelope for sending out.  I think it all turned out pretty neat, and I can be sure that my cards will not look like anyone else’s cards this year.  That’s just the way I like it.

Here’s a copy of the “doctored” photo card — included here for your own use, if you’d like to use it for your own cards.  I’ve uploaded the full size here for download.

 

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A few weeks ago I wrote a post regarding some starburst flatware that I had picked up in various stores and my quest to identify the wide variety of patterns I encountered.  Read the original post here.  As I described in that post, what I thought would be an easy task turned into a frustrating series of dead-ends as I tried to match up the plethora of patterns to definite names.

Then I received a most helpful email on Etsy from a fellow Etsyer named Wardrobecat.  She took the time to correct my futile attempt to identify the pieces and provided oodles of great information.  Here is her email here:

Hi,

I just ran across your website that had a post dated 7-18-12 talking about your recent purchase of many different styles of flatware similar to Mar-crest “Citation”. 

I happen to own a full service for 24 of this pattern, as well as having many new-in-box samples of it. Yes, I realize that I have gone a bit overboard in buying this stuff, but I just love it. I use one set of 12 for everyday use and keep another set of 12 in storage for when I have guests. Many of my pieces are nearly mint. Many I have found in thrift stores for 10-29 cents a piece, and others I must admit that I have paid a lot on E-Bay and Craig’s List.

So anyway, the true Marcrest Citation piece in your photo is the one on the far left. It should be marked “stainless steel USA” near the base of the blade. It will not show the word Mar-crest. Every other type of utensil made in this pattern will have the words “Mar-crest stainless steel USA”, but for some reason the knife does not have the word Mar-crest.

This pattern was made in the following pieces: dinner knife, dinner fork, dessert spoon, teaspoon, salad fork, round bowl soup spoon, iced drink spoon, grapefruit spoon, serving spoon, cold meat fork, butter knife, sugar spoon, seafood fork, cocktail sauce spoon and pie server. 

The knife that you thought was the real one, second from the right in your photo, I am fairly sure is a pattern called “Starette”, made by the National Stainless Company in Japan, which is often marked as “NSCo”. If it has the word Japan, it definitely is not Marcrest (Marcrest will always show “USA”).

I hope this helps you weed out the many variations of similar styles made by different companies. Good luck finding pieces to add to your collection!

and a later email …..

Here is some more info, just to add to the multitude of starburst designs!

The Mar-Crest pattern that you like is called “Citation Futuristic”. There are two additional patterns made by Mar-Crest that are called simply “Citation”. All three feature different starburst designs. The Futuristic pattern has three stars on a wavy handle; Citation variation 1 (often called MCF-1 by online consumers) has five large stars on a tapered handle with a rounded tip; Citation variation 2 (often called MCF-2) has three small stars and four swirling lines on a relatively straight handle that has a slightly square/round tip. I have included a photo showing all three together. 

Sorry it is not a better photo, I tried several times and kept getting glare spots. This is my original photo taken on 8-26-12, and you may use it if you wish.

Cheers!

Needless to say, I am eternally grateful to Wardrobecat for the helpful information!  I look forward to adding more pieces to my collection and seeing which one is truly my favorite, as it seems to vary each time I set a table with them.

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My dad (who always has a bead on some old bound magazine collections on eBay) recently snagged a bound collection of 1950 House Beautiful magazines.  Oh, it is so much fun to go through these — not only to see all the style elements that I love about the architecture and design from this time period — but it is also fun to see some old products and ads that just don’t exist anymore.   Some of the products are funny because they were considered rather taboo and the carefully-worded text is designed not to offend the most delicate sensibilities.  Some of the ads are just downright inappropriate because it’s not even trying to hide the racism behind them.

Case in point:

There’s just no way that you can call something “Sonny Boy” and make a “bank” like this without it being totally racist. I do, however, wonder how scary the clown bank looked.  Hello, nightmares!

What the …. ?  What IS this?  How is it a good luck charm?  How will I be able to sleep without those scary jeweled eyes invading my dreams?  Egads!

Over time copywriters have learned that there are just certain words and terms that you don’t put into a headline together unless you want people to look twice.  Back in 1950, however, this made perfect sense:

When they weren’t coaxing readers to find “gay pick-up gifts for men,” the 1957 Sears catalog was then anxious to make women feel shameful about their natural body functions.  Be dainty!  Get one of these!

Sears catalogs are quite a hoot, mainly for the vast array of things that they offered via their catalog that you just don’t see anymore.

More to come as I continue to peruse these catalogs and magazines.  Summer’s almost over and I’m working on getting all my traveling in so that I can pretend that school isn’t starting back up again.

(It’s not working very well.)

 

 

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While on my Nebraska trip, I stopped by some antique stores that were very interesting, and there was one store called Uncle Sam’s in Fremont, Nebraska, that I threatened to never leave.  It was as if the store was full of stuff I would buy if I trolled around estate sales.  If I would have had a pickup there, I could have hauled off a lot of that guy’s inventory. Read the rest of this entry »

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One of my favorite things to do on a driving trip is to swing through small towns — particularly ones that are off the main highways — and see if there are any retro signs hanging around.  I long for the days of metal and neon, of arrows and boomerangs, of flashy lights and unique signs.  Now it seems that all signage is just plain boring — cheap and boring.  Boring fonts, boring colors, boring overall design.  After all, what uniqueness is there in a Wal-mart sign?  It’d look a lot better lit up in neon with a bright blue flashing arrow pointing to the store.  My opinion, of course.  Take a look at some of the gems I ran across on the backroads of Nebraska … Read the rest of this entry »

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I was a bit of a late bloomer in the Craigslist department, for the few times I had gone there before, I never found anything that I really wanted.  A couple of months ago, however, I started getting into a record player phase, and Craiglist delivered like Domino’s in that department.  I picked up a nice little hand-cranked unit in Sioux Falls, and then I discovered a 1962 console record player in Mankato, Minnesota.  It had the lighter wood that I desired and was more compact than the monstrous ones of the ’70s, so I was sold on it immediately … and it was sold to me.  Behold the beautiful machine:

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This weekend brought some lucky finds on Craigslist as well as my local antique store, and I also happened to turn another year older.  Perhaps the purchases were a way to offset the agony of getting older?  I dunno.

Anyway …

I’ve been on the hunt for a vintage radio lately, preferably one that had a record player built in.  Yesterday I was at the local antique store when I ran across this beauty. Read the rest of this entry »

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