Eternally annoyed by fake spring

I am sure I have said it a few thousand times on this blog, but I really, really loathe March in the Midwest. The snow takes forever to melt – IF it melts – and when it does, everything is a muddy freaking mess. I dread letting the dog outside because it means the inevitable muddly dog prints all over the kitchen when she comes prancing back in. Sometimes winter forgets that it’s supposed to leave quickly and quietly and instead hangs around like a drunk party guest, making messes in the form of winter storm after winter storm.

I feel like the den mother for a riotous frat party who, while cleaning up the chaos of the latest party, picks up a blanket to find a sleeping Old Man Winter. After a couple weeks of having above-average temperatures and quickly melting snow, we are now under a Winter Storm Watch for Monday.

<sigh> Whatevs. It goes with the territory of living here, I guess. I should know that once that glimmer of hope sparks that maybe — just maybe — I could get my pond up and going in record time that it awakens the Snow Giant. So we’ll hunker back in for the storm, look forward with dreary eyes for the Big Melt, and then repeat the process all over again.

The Midwest seems to be slowly recovering from the pandemic. Mask restrictions were relaxed a little bit in town, but I’ve found that now we are at that awkward do-I-or-don’t-I mask phase. My husband and I went to some antique stores yesterday and the sign warning was gone from the door of the first shop we went to. When we went in, the people at the desk said it is our choice to wear one or not as I was putting it on. I said OK, and then removed it a few minutes later because, truthfully, I am so tired of wearing masks all day long. The store was full of people and about 1/3 were not wearing masks. Those that did seemed to be judgmental as I walked by them, and it was a really odd feeling.

Anyway, I know better than to keep writing about this topic because eventually I’ll tick people off or someone will get offended, so let’s just move along, shall we?

As I said above, my husband and I really needed to get out of town after being stuck here for too many weekends, so we took off to our favorite antique stores in Spirit Lake, IA. There are four stores that we visit in pretty much the same order all the time. By now, I remember where I saw something cute from the last time we were there, and it’s turned into a game to see if those things are still there.

I did manage to nab some decent tablecloths for chump change, so I was happy. Here they are!

This is such a classic example of Mid-Century cool that I had to get it. You want to know what the selling point was for me?
The starburst clock. I mean, c’mon!
This Wilendur was a steal, probably because it has some major stains on it. However, stains don’t scare me. A good soaking and some stain treating, along with a sun bath, will have this baby looking like new!
Two words: FOUR DOLLARS. I have no idea why it was only four dollars. It is not tagged, but there are no stains on it and it is bright and colorful.
Sometimes I buy tablecloths because of their style and color. Sometimes I buy them for the tags. Sometimes I buy them for the signatures (see below).
Vera. ‘Nuff said.

I have found that I am falling down a strange rabbit hole of collecting after I purchased this bowl a couple months ago:

It doesn’t look like much, but I could tell it had that classic restaurant ware look, and the weight of this bowl confirmed my suspicions. This is a great piece of restaurant ware by Bailey-Walker China. The best part if the date on it:
It kind of blows my mind that something from 1936 that so many have eaten from is now sitting in my kitchen in 2021.

As I was perusing the shelves this weekend, I happened to look under a stack of dishes to find a nice collection of restaurant ware by Buffalo China:

While I am not usually a fan of anything with avocado green, I was able to get 6 crazily heavy platters for $6/plate. The pattern is in great condition (looks faded here but it isn’t) and it even has a cool starburst design on it. This particular pattern is called Oakbrooke, and it also can be found in brown and harvest gold.

Although I much prefer the diner china from the middle of the century, I loved how solid and heavy these were. I would love to find more of the Bailey-Walker pieces.

I’ve been on the hunt for Pyrex ever since I happened to notice that Pyrex is worth more than gold these days, apparently. A starburst casserole dish that I bought years ago is now selling for around $500, and other pieces are in high demand, too. I decided to start watching for Pyrex pieces while antique shopping, and up to today, everything I have found has been priced way high. Imagine my surprise when I spotted a couple of divided casserole dishes hiding behind a school desk!

This is a piece I have actually wanted for quite some time now (because starbursts – DUH!) but everything I have seen has been way overpriced. This little guy came with a lid and was a reasonable $16. Sold!
This one came with a holder and was also $16. Yes, yes, I will take that off your hands . . . thank you very much.
It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that this holder is actually to a Corningware piece, but it’s OK. I have other Pyrex casserole holders that will work with this one. Still looks pretty cool, though.

The last focus of my vintage adventures has to do with spice cans. I have a weird obsession with old spice cans. If they have the right colors and the right font, then I feel compelled to buy them if they are reasonably priced. Behold, my spices of life:

Anytime someone uses a star to dot an “I,” well, I’m probably going to buy whatever it is. Great vintage colors and fonts all around!

That’s it for now!

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The Covid blues . . .

I’m not going to lie; I’m so freaking tired of events being canceled. Everything that my hubby and I have gotten tickets to and have looked forward to has been canceled; all of his band gigs have been canceled or postponed to a later date. We keep setting our sights on the next thing to look forward to, and then it just vanishes.

It’s my pity party and I’ll cry if I want to. Please do not lecture me about how selfish this sounds because I have news for you: I KNOW. Back in March, when my husband and I returned from a band gig in Georgia, the Covid thing was just starting to get serious; my school ended up going online the week that I returned. I remember thinking at the time that we’d have a few months of this and then be back to normal.

No such luck.

I miss live music. I miss seeing my friends in the music industry. I miss watching my husband do what he loves to do. I miss normalcy.

Then again, at this point, I don’t even know what the benchmark is for “normal.”

In spite of all the upheaval – both local and nationally – I have tried to not only keep busy with school tasks, but I have focused on enjoying the antique jaunts that my husband and I are able to make. Accidentally, we stumbled upon a new area of collecting when we were in the local antique store just after Christmas and we spotted a super cool panther TV lamp – in white! I’ve seen them in black before, but this one was a rare beauty.

The downside is that it does not work, but we are getting it repaired ASAP. It just looks cool, and the eyes light up. That started us on sort of a panther binge, for just as we spotted that one, we saw a sort of sibling to it:

He is a planter rather than a light, but once again, he just looks cool. The hubs and I started thinking about how awesome it would look to have an entire shelf of these things in different colors. Hi, eBay. Thanks for there in our time of need:

He works, and he’s beautiful.

There’s a chartreuse color out there as well, and I’m keeping my eye out for a deal on that one. After we obtain that color, I think we’ll be done with our panther collection.

However, I might not be done with my TV light collection. When we were shopping and saw the panther, we also saw this immaculate specimen:

This thing doesn’t even look like it’s been used. The best part is that when I was doing the research for this lamp, I could not find another exactly like it. The company, Bilt-Rite, (evidently from Chicago, according to the stamp) apparently made a similar model that contained a tiny aquarium on one side (poor fish!) and a planter as well, along with the light part and patterned overlay. After scouring eBay , Etsy, and the internet in general, I could not find another one just like this. I was drawn toward its classic MCM style, and had the shop owner not put it on hold for me, I would have missed out on it. The day I went to go pay for it and pick it up, she told me that another MCM fan was in and really, REALLY wanted the lamp. Thank god for small town antique store owners who operate on the honor system.

In the last few months, I have had a rare stroke of tablecloth luck. I haven’t cleaned any of these yet (waiting for summer when I can lay them in the sun) and they are certainly not ironed yet. AlthoughI’ve run across some doozies that were WAY overpriced (which I ignored), most of the ones I got were fairly priced and too good to pass up.

Exhibit A:

I will admit that this cloth was on the higher end of what I’m usually willing to spend. However, I know that anything that has such a classic 50’s style like this is very collectible and very worth it.

MCM Christmas cloths are super collectible, and this one was a freaking steal – something like $8. Yeah, I’ll take it!
This cloth was decently priced and was even signed (see below). Google/eBay/Etsy searches reveal that this tablecloth commands a decent price in resale.
The color doesn’t quite come through on this pic because the yellow is a very faint color, but I’m a sucker for daisies and sunny colors. This fits the bill!
This bright-colored Wilendur had a raggedy tag on it (below), but again, I loved the cheerful colors in it.
This is my personal favorite. I love simple, flowered prints. No tag on this one, but I absolutely love it.
I have a variety of simple damask tablecloths, but red matches my kitchen, it fits my table perfectly, and it was in great shape.
Not my usual style, but it’s red, has a nice MCM vibe to it, and once again, it was in great shape.
This cloth had “my green” in it – that lovely jadeite shade, and it looked to be fairly old. It was in wonderful shape despite a little fading.
No tag, but I liked the red color and the simple, flowered pattern.
Small square tablecloth with some fading, but I liked the colors.
My apologies for the horrible picture. This is a California Hand Prints find in perfect condition. Any time I can find a cloth with a tag on it (see below), I am excited. The picture does not do this cloth justice. It is not faded at all, despite what it looks like.

My last find might turn into its own quest. I picked up this glass for about $2.00 from an antique store, and I loved the funky birds that were on it. Although I missed the signature on it initially, a vintage-finds FB group that I am part of helped me identify this as a Dyball glass. It seems virtually impossible to find a full set of these; the one listing I found for the full bar set was astronomical, so if that is how these things are usually priced, I’m going to count myself lucky that I found one for next to nothing.

I still have to photograph and post the fantastic luggage set I found, and I promise to do that soon. That one deserves its own post!

Until next time . . . keep the faith that all this craziness will end soon.

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And now, FOUR months later . . .

My last post before this one started off “Two weeks later,” drawing attention to the fact that I had been steadily writing up until the two weeks prior. Imagine my surprise when I looked to see that my last post was four months ago. Yikes!

In my defense, Covid has brought a whole new element of chaos to my job – as it has most jobs. In addition, I have found that block scheduling requires a whole new set of planning magic, and doing that planning has kept me on my toes. Writing, of course, fell to the wayside.

Covid has not only kept us home a lot more because of social distancing, but it has also obliterated my husband’s music career. He plays with a tribute band that mostly backs Elvis Presley tribute artists, but they also play with other tributes. Most weekends are taken up with this band, and I travel with him when I am able to. Now it’s December and the band hasn’t had a gig since MARCH. For a man who has played in bands constantly since he was a teenager, this is a little bit of a shock to the system. We were about to head to a New Year’s gig in Indiana, but now that too has been canceled, thanks to Covid. Needless to say, I am so ready for all of this crap to be done. I haven’t been to a live music event in nine months, and that is a very odd feeling for a couple who used to enjoy live events multiple times in a month.

In the meantime, I’ve been visiting antique stores whenever possible, as it is one of the hobbies that my husband and I truly enjoy. I go for the tablecloths, Pyrex, and other 1950s goodies; he goes for the vinyl. After suffering through a dried-up tablecloth market, I have begun to find them again in stores. I have piles that are waiting to be washed. Most are not tagged, but that is OK. I don’t have to have a tag on it for it to be one of my favorites. If it’s the right color or a cool Midcentury pattern, then I might still buy it. Although I still love finding an unexpected Wilendur or Startex, I have also turned them down because they’re bad colors or just not my kind of look.

Earlier this fall, my hubby and I visited some our favorite antique stores in Spirit Lake, Iowa. As we were standing at the register, I happened to notice an adorable display shelf in my favorite green color, complete with vintage-looking decals. It became a perfect place to display my spaghetti glasses and some polka dot bowls (not vintage, but still cute) that I had found on that same shopping trip. It even has a dowel for displaying tablecloths or whatever else. Here it is with a hastily-folded Christmas cloth that I picked up this past weekend. The cloth is stained pretty heavily, so my folding was designed to mask the major stains.

I am a sucker for vintage Christmas cloths in general, but this one was too much. The colors, the starbursts . . . it was a gem that I had to have. Here’s a closeup of its beauty:

In upcoming days, I will be photographing the rest of the tablecloths that I have picked up lately, along with an amazing luggage set that was so unique that, again, I just had to have it. I’ll also be sharing some of my rekindled Pyrex love – something I indulged in years ago but kind of pushed it off to the side in recent years.

I am hoping this upcoming semester will allow me to have more time and energy to write. In the meantime, I want to leave you with my favorite Christmas gift that I received this past weekend. This is my dog, Miss Molly Mae, dressed as Elvis.

Hilarious, is it not? This artist totally nailed my Molly’s expression, and the fact that it also shows our Elvis love is the best. (Note the dog bone-shapes on the jumpsuit!) You can find the artist at www.hommesurlalune.com, or on Etsy: etsy.com/shop/hommesurlalune .

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Two weeks later . . .

I thought it was a mistake when I saw that my last post was from two weeks ago. I mean, that went by like a lightning bolt.

I still haven’t gotten around to taking pictures of the last batch of tablecloths I got during our last antique store run, so all of you who hate that sort of stuff can breathe a sight of relief. For those of you who love that sort of stuff, I promise that the pics are coming. Someday.

I now have one week of the new school year under my belt, and I’m exhausted. I’m sure the students are too, frankly. Although we had a partial block schedule in the past, this year is daily block – 4 periods of day, 1.5 hours each. So, basically, if you are sitting in a math class and you abhor math, it’s going to be a looooooong period for you. I shudder to think of having that long of a math class when I was in school. Math and I did not get along. That probably explains why I am an English teacher.

New year + new virus = lots of new routines: masks during passing time and when in close proximity to students, plexiglass on lunch tables, cleaning desks between each period, making sure you know exactly where each kid is sitting during each class period with strict seating arrangements, etc. I am a fairly relaxed teacher, so this is, well, different. I do not like the hesitation I feel with every decision, wondering if it is “Covid approved.” I do not like seeing the hesitation on the kids’ faces when they are unsure whether it’s even OK to move around the room to grab a tissue or plug in their computer. I’m trying desperately to create a normal, nonthreatening environment as possible, but it kind of feels like trying to pick strawberries with my hands ties behind my back. If I were a student, I would feel very strange if I asked a question and saw my teacher have to pull up her mask before being able to approach me and answer me. That’s the introvert in me. That is why I am trying very hard this year to make sure the introverts in my class know that while we do have some stricter rules, we do not have to sit there, muted and still.

Today will be a day of planning for the upcoming week and some relaxation. My aching back is not letting me sleep in very much these days, so I’m dragging a little. Such is life.

Stay tuned for the pics of the tablecloths. I got some good ones!

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Tick . . . tock . . . tick . . . tock

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.

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Well, that just about killed me.

Install laminate flooring, they said. It’ll be easy, they said. Just click it together, they said.

Good god.

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.

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An adventure in home improvement

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.

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Antique store scores!

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.

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Let him fly . . .

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.

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A most colorful fall

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!

 

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