Such is the sound of August – every year. School will be starting back up in a week and a half, and for the first time since I started teaching, I am mentally prepared to go back to school, probably because, well, I’ve been out of school since mid-March. While I always need a mental break after a hectic school year, this was a little too long. The school year ended with an abrupt karate chop, and it’s just not normal. I’m used to ending the year frazzled and exhausted, and while I was getting there in mid-March, I hadn’t yet hit the true craziness of the year.Continue reading “Tick . . . tock . . . tick . . . tock”
Install laminate flooring, they said. It’ll be easy, they said. Just click it together, they said.
Perhaps for Stan the Handyman, installing laminate flooring would be a breeze. For me the English teacher and my hubby the graphic designer/drummer, well, that was a different story.
The morning after the bulk of the flooring was put in, I arose at 4 a.m. because my entire body was so sore (especially my back) that it felt that I had malaria. Ok, I will admit that I do not know what it feels like to have malaria . . . but I think it probably feels like that. The constant bending over, measuring, placing, crawling around on my knees and pounding in the boards got to my aging body. Plus, I only had a vague notion of what in the hell I was doing, so there’s that too.Continue reading “Well, that just about killed me.”
I think I have a curse when it comes to tackling home improvement projects.
It never seems to fail: I get a great idea, I get the gumption to tackle the project, and then something goes horribly, horribly wrong. I don’t have the right tools, sometimes. Or, more often, I do not have the brain needed to know what in the hell I am doing.
My husband and I decided to refloor my breezeway area – which for the entire time I’ve lived here has been an ugly brown indoor/outdoor carpet. However, it was durable and stood up to the muck and grime that inevitably got dragged into that area day after day, so I kept it.
We had recently made an effort to turn that area into more usable space. We purchased a small square table from a local furniture store and put it in there. However, the area was also inhabited by my husband’s numerous drum cases. He’s a drummer, hence the cases. And when he plays gigs as often as he does, it is preferable to have the cases in a location where you can just grab and go. Some of that stuff is darn heavy. The breezeway seemed like a great place to put that stuff.
But now we have tired of the brown “turf” carpeting and we wanted something that made the breezeway a place to hang out, if one desired. We went to Menards and picked out some Mohawk laminate plank flooring (Lexington Pine) and loaded up our cart with everything we needed, and we picked a day to get the project started.Continue reading “An adventure in home improvement”
Yesterday my husband and I ventured out to Okoboji, Iowa, which is about 1.5 hours away from where we live. We had visited an antique store there a couple weeks ago, but because we had gotten there so late in the day, we did not get to visit all the antique stores that we saw. There is one store in particular that my husband fell in love with because of one simple reason: vinyl. Lots of vinyl. Even better, there was lots of mint-condition vinyl.
Actually, we both discovered stores that fed our little addictions because I discovered a honeypot of tablecloths in one of the stores. Even better, they were fairly priced. I had about 30 of them to look through, and I made off with 5 of them, including a Wilendur. It is has some faint yellow stains, but I am determined to get this baby looking like new by soaking and scrubbing until it gleams again. Once I saw the tag on this beauty (plus it was 50% off), I knew I had to have it.Continue reading “Antique store scores!”
I am in the inexplicable position of having to watch my oldest child go off and be an adult. I say “inexplicable” because there is no possible way that 18 years has flown by so quickly. I know it’s a cliche to sit here in stupified silence, reminiscing that an oldest child is “of age,” but here I am.
My oldest is a “textbook” oldest. He is the most stubborn person on the planet. He likes to control the show, not be a spectator. From the time he was a toddler, I knew I was in trouble. Looking back on home videos from his toddler days, there were many times when I would be telling him “NO” when he’d reach for something and he would just turn and look at me with that sparkle in his eye, seemingly saying, “Oh, yeah? Try me.” My bookshelf began to get overtaken with self-help books about parenting a strong-willed child.Continue reading “Let him fly . . .”
Fall is my ultimate favorite season, and this year we are having a storybook fall so far in regard to the weather and the colors. The past week we’ve enjoyed mild temps in the 70s and virtually no wind, so the trees are holding their beautiful hues. Some years we’ve barely had a fall, as the cold weather moved in too quickly, or the wind blew all the leaves off the trees. After the extraordinarily hot summer we suffered through this year, it’s nice to have some mild temps and an incentive to be outside.
Yesterday was a perfect fall day. My boys had football games in the morning, so I had the privilege of watching elementary kids play games against a backdrop of fall foliage.
I have an added incentive to walk my Jack Russell, Nick, during these beautifully mild days, as the scenery just cannot be beat.
This is the first fall that I have had Nick with our family, but I think he likes it quite a bit. 🙂
Normally around this time, I’d be heading back to South Dakota to enjoy some of the bounty of my parents’ apple orchard. However, this summer left no chance that a non-irrigated orchard was going to produce anything, so I’ll have to wait patiently until next year.
This is the season of leaves, colors, apples, pumpkins, bright blue skies, and coziness. Enjoy it!
I’ve lived in Iowa for twelve years now, but it took me eleven years before I finally visited one of the coolest retro buildings around: the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Doesn’t sound familiar? It’s known as the last place that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper played on the Winter Dance Party tour before their fateful plane crash on February 3, 1959.
The building is open during the day for tours, and the tours are totally self-guided. The first time I was there, my friend and I were the only people there. We wandered around for close to an hour. This time there were some other tourists there, but not enough to ruin the cozy feel of being inside the Surf.
The preservation of this building was done with the utmost care, as retro-loving people are struck by all the great art deco and Midcentury elements that the building and decor still exhibit. Visitors will begin noticing these elements as soon as they walk in the door.
The coat check area has all the great qualities of early Midcentury design.
What’s really neat (and a little creepy) about this building, as I’ve mentioned before, is your ability to wander around the building at will. No one is directing you where to go. You can sit in a booth and look toward the stage and try to envision all of the famous acts that have played there over the years. The ballroom area is kept quite dark save for the lights of the stage. My camera lends far more light to this picture than will appear to the naked eye.
The booth tables are still sided with aluminum and still have the original reservation instructions.
Visitors are free to roam up on the stage to see what the view has been for decades of performances. (I assume there had recently been a wedding dance here, hence the row of tables and chairs at the front part of the stage.)
To the side of the stage is a little room for bands to get ready for their performance. The walls are covered with signatures of all the people who have played the Surf over the past few decades.
Even the bathrooms are cool!
The more you wander around the building, the more your mind starts to work overtime to imagine all the scenes that have unfolded on the dance floor, the stage, the booths, and at the bar.
The best part of about the tour is noticing the little architectural and decorative detail.
The Surf also has a hallway of pictures that is rather fascinating. It contains pictures of the various bands who have played there over time, along with some of the history of the Surf Ballroom itself. You can read more about the Surf and its history here.
A few months ago I received some pieces of Mar-crest Citation flatware as a gift. I had fallen in love long ago with the starburst pattern on the handle, but I figured that actually finding a set of such flatware was going to be nearly impossible or ultra expensive.
Oh, how wrong I was.
It started with that set. I noticed some other small bunches of starburst flatware on eBay or Etsy, but being the impatient person I was, I wanted a full set instantly. There were a few auctions for brand new boxes, but you can imagine how much THOSE went for. <sigh>
Fast forward to last Thursday, when my significant other and I went thrift shopping for the express purpose of finding some good retro stuff. What we found were a whole bunch of pieces of starburst flatware, and by the time it was all said and done, I had a pretty good set of it going. At ten cents per piece, it was a bargain!
I took a brief glance at the flatware in the store, but I was just so excited to find this stuff that I just instructed my significant other to grab all the pieces he could find and call it good. It wasn’t until I got home — no, wait … it wasn’t until I started to write this post — that I realized how many different pieces I actual had. What I thought to be two different patterns going on actually turned into seven. Yes, really. How many different styles of starburst flatware can there be?
A lot, actually:
The more I looked at these patterns, the more confused I became. The pattern on the left was what I was sure was Mar-crest Citation, but the the one second from the right looked like the same thing. There was a subtle different in the style and placement of the starburst, but neither one was marked. And what about the others? None of them had distinctive markings except for a couple that just said “Japan Stainless Steel.” Doesn’t help me a out a bunch.
After some research, I’m fairly certain that the second from the right is indeed Mar-crest Citation, and the one on the left is an imitation. I thought one of them might be a pattern by Wallace called Bright Star. Here’s a page from a 1958 catalog from John Plain & Company.
Four stars on the handle. But once I started looking at all the patterns on the knives, none seemed to match exactly. So no Bright Star. <sigh> So I try to identify each piece individually. There’s what I think is the Citation:
Then I have a smattering of others. This first one I have found identified as Utica Silver Sheen:
This next one is Everlasting EV2:
The next one I found some pieces of from an Etsy sale, and that information identifies this pattern as Americana Star.
I think I’ve given myself a headache from squinting at pictures on the internet trying to identify these pieces. Anyone know what these are?
Yes, this is another dog-related post, because as I wrote about last time, I happened to acquire a dog that has become a respected member of the family. He wags his tail when he sees me. The boys play with him outside and have a ball. I’ve started to learn his little quirks and have become aware of just how “interesting” owning a Jack Russell can be. Continue reading “Dog days of spring”
I will admit. I am a sucker for retro design. And yes, I have also been known to purchase products that have retro design even though I really don’t need the product. Here’s example one. Here’s example two, although that sack did hold a bottle of wine and I’m pretty sure I needed that. However, I did make a point to visit one particular liquor store for that wine because I knew that they would put it in that awesome bag. So that, my friends, is how I will go out of my way to buy retro-looking products. Continue reading “New! Improved! …. and old?”