Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Once again, I've been absent for so long, I'm not sure any of you are still out there anymore. But I hope you are! I'll need to spend some time photographing and writing about my latest finds. Until then heres a new post some of you may find helpful: the wonders of Restore-a-Finish!

      Restore-a-finish has saved and restored countless pieces of my furniture and even my awful 1980's oak kitchen cabinets. You can purchase it at Orchard Supply Hardware (in California), sometimes Home Depot, on ebay, and often times at your local antique stores. In fact, it was at an antique store that I first bought mine. I'd seen it for years but had never really given it much thought. One day I was trying to come up with a way to revive the original mahogany paneling in our hallway and I figured I'd give it a shot. I was amazed at the difference it made.

     You apply Restore-a-finish with 0000 fine steel wool. Sounds weird, but it really works. Not only does it moisturize the thirsty wood and bring back much of the finish, but the roughness of the steel wool actually cleans the wood too. Once it's been sitting on the wood a few minutes, simply wipe away the excess with a clean cotton cloth (an old t-shirt is perfect). I literally scrubbed away (make sure to scrub WITH the grain) old paint splatters that had been on my wall paneling for years. The steel wool also removed those ugly black scuff marks that covered the base of my rattan furniture's feet (you know what I'm talking about!) and even water rings in the wood of my champagne Heywood-Wakefield end tables. I've used it for my entire rattan bar, made my faded and water stained kitchen cabinets look (almost) new again, and totally revitalized my 50's dresser. It works for scratches, many stains, and just breathing new life into pieces in general.

   Restore-a-finish comes in several finishes: mahogany, oak, neutral, etc. If you know specifically which finish you have, purchase accordingly. Neutral works best for "blonde" woods like Heywood -Wakefield champagne and most rattans/bamboos. An important thing to note: if the finish on your piece is completely gone- as in the wood is basically dry and naked,-Restore-a-finish isn't going to do much for you. The wood will just soak it up and it is not the same as actually applying a real finish to the piece. I know once you try it, you will love it. Good luck, and happy finishing!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Back for More!

       After two years, I am back! I'm not really sure what led to my abandoning this blog, but I imagine it was a number of things that in reality I can't even remember now. Over the weekend something strange happened to me: I went to log into my Facebook and was told in order to access my account, I'd need to upload a photo ID. For 6 days now I've had zero access to Facebook and it's been an interesting wake up call. Now, I'm not as obsessed with FB as many people out there are, but it's fair to say I am on it daily because I work from home. It's an easy way to keep up with friends and I love what many of my friends post. I know interesting people! And I feel as if those interesting people truly educate me and open my eyes to very interesting things! As much as I hate to admit it, I have definitely felt a bit of a void these past few days.

       Which leads me to this: as an alternative to Facebook, I've been revisiting many of the blogs that I haven't read for a long time. And they are written by-you guessed it-interesting people! People that I have no contact with on Facebook necessarily, but people who educate me and open my eyes to interesting things! So I'm back, ready to read again and ready to post again. AND since my last post, I have a much better phone/camera, so thankfully I can post much clearer and more enjoyable photos. My goal is still to post my fun finds and treasures and hopefully continue to offer you tips that will help with the restoration, upkeep, and care of your vintage items. I'm not an expert, but I can offer you what has worked for me over many years of trial and error. As for now though, I'd like to do a little recap of Christmas 2012 (my favorite time of year!).

      First of all, Hubby decided to go vintage blow-mold crazy this year for the holidays. He found himself an almost life-sized Santa:

     Then he found a set of three carolers (circa mid-1950's):

     Then of course he needed a Santa with reindeer for the roof of our house:

      And talk about serendipity! He'd been obsessed with blow-molds for a long time but they are very expensive to purchase on ebay or at the flea market, not to mention there's not many of them out there. And the ones we found were always in rough shape. Once the paint starts to peel and chip, they don't look as good when they're lit up. I went out of town for a few days and he sent me photos of ALL the aforementioned blow-molds via text. He'd found all of them in one weekend! Two at a garage sale and the sleigh and reindeer on Craig's List. He'd simply placed a want ad and a man responded. He pulled them out of his attic where they'd lived for 50 years and sold them to Hubby. Score! 

     Of course we had to have our annual holiday shin-dig too! I didn't get many pictures as usual, but here's a couple. This first one is Hubby with the dogs during the calm before the storm (note the perfectly placed crackers and cheese plate that have not been decimated yet):


       I was fortunate enough to find a fantastic blue Lurex dress for the occasion! And big thanks to Jamie for the photo of me wearing it!
                                                                                                                                                                                  We really just love having our friends over for a fun time and it's a great way to kick off the season. I also LOVE that our friends always show up dressed to the nines in their vintage finest! We've got some stylin' people in our lives...

      I also was able to attend a fabulous Mid-Century Potluck party thrown by my friend Karen. Everyone brought a mid-century dish and even the most "questionable" looking recipes were actually pretty tasty! I made a reindeer cut-up cake and thought it turned out pretty cute-I'm not much of a cook so I went for an easy but festive dessert:


      As usual, the holidays went by in a whirlwind of activity and I still feel like I'm recovering. I hope everyone out there had a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


   Whew! It's been a crazy couple of weeks and Christmas isn't even here yet! Every year hubby and I like to throw our annual holiday's a ton of work, but SO much fun! Last year I had pneunomia for 2 weeks in December so much to my dismay, we had to skip the party. This year I think I was a little over-ambitious in my planning and decorating, but it was all worth it. I was making up for last year for sure... Unfortunately, as usual, I wasn't able to take any pictures at the party as I was too busy trying to be the hostess with the most-ess! What I can say though is I SO enjoyed sharing my home with all our friends (who all looked fabulously festive by the way) and I couldn't have asked for a better time. To me, this is what the holiday season is all about: sharing, enjoying your friends and family, and spending time together. I'm so thankful for the people in my life and so glad we could all come together for one night to dress up, eat, drink, and be merry, and enjoy eachother's company.
   In the midst of all my planning (and cleaning!) I of course was able to find some time for sale shopping that is. Hubby's youngest son just moved out so we are working on making his room into a guest room (a serious luxury for us!). So far I'd been stuck when it comes to a color palette. It's really hard to start from scratch. The room needs flooring, paint, furniture, the whole she-bang-I really didn't know where to begin...until I found these:

    I think the man who lived at the house had worked for Southern Pacific Railroad because I also found several matchbooks (besides the four shoeboxes full that I bought!) and an employee handbook for the company. These pictures were silkscreened on cardboard and someone made the wooden frames which are stapled on. They are in surprisingly good shape and the colors are incredible! Don't they just conjure up the dreamiest visions of a 40's or 50's vacation at a dude ranch or Mexican villa with an ocean view? (please excuse the picture quality, I've been taking all my pictures on my crappy cell phone until I can find the missing cable for my camera) Here's the back:

   Yup, they were screened on the back of a mayonnaise advertisment! It looks like something is missing from the middle which makes me think there was a third poster, but I guess we'll never know. So for the guest room, I'm envisioning an orange Armstrong tile floor and somewhat of a cowboy/atomic theme. I've got my eye on a vintage chenille bedspread with horse and cowboy on etsy that I think will be perfect. I love finding an item like these posters to inspire me. I don't want to get too crazy with the cowboy stuff as I think that look does better in a tradtional ranch style home or children's bedroom. I'm going to skip the Monterey style furniture with cactus/horseshoe stencils and opt for more mid-century modern looking pieces. The best part about decorating is the hunt for the perfect items, so for now I'm just going to enjoy the process and hopefully it will all come together eventually!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Head honcho...

   I just found out (thanks to a random Facebook post I read) that this book about Edith Head was recently released. I'm pretty much in awe of her. When I am older, I will wear sunglasses just like hers. She is truly an iconic woman and I am continually amazed at the beauty she has created. Edith was one of Hollywood's premiere costume designers and worked at Paramount for 44 years (starting in 1925) before moving to Universal Pictures where she continued her working relationship with Alfred Hitchcock. She created costumes for movies such as The Ten Commandments, Rear Window, The Birds, Sabrina, All About Eve, Roman Holiday, A Place in the Sun, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and Vertigo (just to name a few!).  She was nominated for 35 Academy Awards and won 8 times-more Oscars than any other woman!  Anyway, I've hinted to hubby that this is what I would like for Christmas this year. I think he'll come through for me on this one. Last night when I brought it up I was ready to explain to him who she was. He stopped me mid-sentence and said he knew all about her. He proceeded to rattle off several facts about her career and in the process shocked the hell out of me. I guess I don't give him enough credit sometimes, because he's always proving he pays more attention than I'd like to believe! This book about Edith is also available but it's a few years old:
It was over $200 bucks brand new (!), but I'd be perfectly happy with a used copy for waaay less than that! Years ago I was lucky enough to pick up this little gem:

I'll leave you with my favorite Edith quote:

“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you're a woman and loose enough to show you're a lady.”

Thank you Edith, for giving us so many years of glamour and inspiration!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sunset Magazine's wonderful books...

     Most of you out there have probably heard of Sunset Magazine and have seen the books they published over the years. They've put out books on every home improvement/western living subject imaginable. If you're ever in a thrift store, you've probably at least run across a Sunset BBQ book or (what some people feel is the bible of gardening) Western Gardening Book. Anyway, for my money, vintage Sunset books are truly the bibles of mid-century decorating and  DIY home improvement, and an incredible guide to the lifestyles of the time. They were geared towards the western part of the country and the company started out as a magazine that was provided on trains to promote the "West" at the turn of the century. At that time, the "wild west" had a bad reputation and they were trying to drum up interest in travellers from other parts of the U.S.  Sunset Magazine's headquarters is located in Menlo Park, CA-just a hop, skip, and a jump away from where I live in Sunnyvale. If you ever have the chance to check it out, it's totally worth the trip! They hold annual open houses that feature new ideas for green living, gardening tips, cook-offs, and so much more.

    My hubby got me hooked on collecting the vintage Sunset books a few years back. He already had several different books that had belonged to his dad, including my personal favorite "Japanese Gardens". We always see them at estate sales and thrift stores and the best thing about them is that they're cheap! You can usually pick them up at garage sales for 50 cents and I've never paid more than a dollar for one anywhere. I buy what I don't already have but if I do already have it, I'll buy it again if I find the older edition. My goal is to have the oldest editions of every book since most of them date from the 50's and early 60's. Here's two I found on Sunday at the aforementioned "umbrella" estate:

I already had this one but it dated from the 70's-this edition is 1960 and is absolutely amazing inside. They feature cabins from the woods to the desert to the beach and even show you how to decorate the interior. I also found this:

Again, I already had a newer version of this one but the cover was different. This one dates from 1960 as well. Our house was built in 1959 so I like to keep the editions closest to that time period.  For the most part, I just look through the books and drool over the amazing yards or lanais. Some of the projects in these books are extremely ambitious but I love that everything was written so you can do most of them yourself with minimal skills.

One last find at the "umbrella" estate:
Incredible pale blue and silver lurex gloves! Of course they don't fit me but they're going to make a great birthday gift for my friend Melissa (who doesn't read this blog so I'm not giving anything away!) in a couple weeks. I'm pretty sure they'll fit her, and if they don't she can add them to the fabulous glove collection on the wall of her bedroom.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sometimes you just have to walk away....

     I found this vintage yellow umbrella with built-in(!) table yesterday at an estate sale. I figured they wouldn't let anyone buy it as it was in the ground, but the woman running the sale said it was for sale. Johnny and I hemmed and hawed about it for a good half an hour but ultimately decided we a: didn't have a place for it in our yard (as mentioned in one of my earlier blog postings, I already have two turquoise umbrellas exactly the same, minus table) and b: we were already running late for an appointment we had to make. We just didn't have time to disassemble it, go home, get the truck, and then drop it off at home. Unfortunately we had to take it home with us that day if we were to purchase it. The pool at this house was an amazing mid-century shape AND they had the matching yellow fiberglass pool slide! Johnny was pretty obsessed with bringing home the slide too, but again, we just didn't  have the time.
    As someone who is forever committed to re-using and re-purposing and saving gems like these from the landfill, it literally broke my heart to walk away. But sometimes you have to do just that: walk away. It's harder to leave some items than others, and let me tell you, this was super tough for me. It sounds silly, but I was depressed for hours afterwards. I may stop back by the house tomorrow to see if it's still there but I'm not going to hold my breath. R.I.P. fabulous 60's fiberglass umbrella with built-in table. I was happy to have met you!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back to the blog...

Things have been crazy busy for the last couple of weeks and I have neglected the blog! We went on vacation to Tiki Oasis in San Diego for five days and since we've been back it feels like all I've done is get ready for our Labor Day BBQ...between cleaning and fixing up the back yard I haven't had much time for anything else. I DID manage to sneak in a couple estate sales this past weekend and ended up scoring a few goodies.

When I was in high school I found two paper diner place mats at a garage sale. Someone had saved them from a roadtrip they'd taken back in the 60's. Those place mats started my obsession with vintage travel souvenirs that lasted for years. My apartment kitchen in San Diego was decorated in primary colors and travel plates, vintage postcards, ashrays, etc. for a long time. I always though it would be awesome to frame those placemats and hang them on the wall. Well, somewhere along the way those place mats disappeared never to be seen again and I abandoned that idea. Until this weekend....

I hit an estate that had boxes and boxes of old photos, paper, maps, brochures, postcards, etc. It was so sad to see the WWII era photos that the family hadn't wanted. With all the estates I've personally held, I've never had a family reject the personal items like that. At the very least they've always wanted to keep the pictures and diaries. At the bottom of a box was a menu being used as a folder that held over 30 paper diner placemats from the 1967 road trip the family had taken. There was even a few paper napkins and a vintage Cypress Gardens, FL bumper sticker in there too! The box also yielded three cardboard souvenir photo frames from the 40's: one from "Tops" restaraunt in San Diego dated 1944 (my personal favorite since I'm always on the look out for vintage San Diego stuff), one from the "Persian Room" at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, and the third from the Bal Tabarin nightclub in SF (which eventually became Bimbo's).

Unfortunately wall space in my kitchen is at a premium so I don't know if I'll get around to actually hanging up the placemats but just the fact that I found some after all these years of searching is exciting enough for me. I'm beginning to think I may need a second house to hold all the things I'd love to collect, but alas, that is not a possibility. For now, all the treasures will be tucked away safely in my hutch drawer.