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.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Back in the saddle again...

This past weekend I got a chance to scope out a couple estate sales. It had been too long since I'd been able to get my fix! The last few weeks my weekends have been pretty busy and there hasn't been any time for shopping. Anyway, the first one I went to was a bust so I headed over to my friend Chris' estate in Santa Clara. I used to work with her sometimes when she needed extra help so I know her sales are always worth going to and the prices would be reasonable.

I found these cool pictures out in the garage for five bucks a piece. They're a little rough but after a fresh coat of paint on the frames they'll be good as new! They're going to be perfect in my asian-themed bedroom. The stickers on the back show they were purchased at Sears-Roebuck for $4.98 apiece.

I also scored this super cute "Curler Hamper"-pink rubber sprinkled with gold glitter...of course it will be re-purposed to hold other hair accessories or possibly be used on the toilet tank to hide an extra roll of toilet paper.

One of my best friends (who also happens to be my hair dresser) is moving to Austin the first of September and I wanted to send her off with a fun going-away present. This turquoise hair dryer was calling her name! Still in the original box and it's never even been used. The insides are still wrapped in plastic. I think it's too cool to actually use, but it will be great as a display piece.

After the estates, I finally got to see the Shaheen exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Textiles. I'm SO glad I went! The pieces on display were fantastic examples of his brilliant creativity and eye for color and whimsy. I was a little disappointed a catalog of the exhibit wasn't available for purchase, but the collection is a work in progress so I'm holding out hope for a book in the future. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A new purpose...

With the all the stuff that I aquire, it can prove difficult living in a house built in 1959 for "a minimalist lifestyle". I live in an Eichler and not only were they built without much storage, but the model I live in has even less than most! Needless to say, I have to come up with creative ways to store all the "treasures" I bring home. Usually though, I'm just trying to come up with a practical way to make everyday things work for our home. Our hall bathroom is pretty small and has no storage to speak of. I saw a photo of this idea online somewhere (I would love to give credit where credit is due for this fabulous solution, but alas, I can't remember where I came across it!) and knew it would be perfect for our bathroom. I'm sure you've seen those little 50's metal telephone stands at a swap meet or estate sale and thought "that's so cute but who needs a telephone stand anymore?!". Well, here's a great way to re-purpose one: a towel holder for your bathroom. I also use one that belonged to my grandparents in our living room as a plant stand. The one you see above I found in the bathroom (how fitting!) of an estate sale a couple weeks ago and Viola!-extra towel storage problem solved! Oh, and the top is not only the perfect size for an old telephone, but for a box of Kleenex as well...

Ooooo that smell!

Ever buy vintage clothing or bedding at an estate sale that smells super musty or old lady-ish? Or when you bought it, it DIDN'T smell but once it was wet in the wash it started to stink? That's happened to me more times than I can count. I used to try washing the item over and over with regular detergent which didn't really do anything except waste water and electricity. Then I found Febreze Laundry Odor Eliminator. (Do I sound like an info-mercial yet!?) Seriously, this stuff works. You can use it as detergent alone or add it to your regular detergent and it really takes the stink out of stuff after one wash. Over time it's gotten harder and harder to find in stores, but in the past I've bought it at Wal-Mart (although I normally don't support Wal-Mart, I've actually made a special trip to find this!) and once was lucky enough to find it at Walgreens. Whenever I have a bottle I use it sparingly since it's difficult to find, however, I just did a search on Febreze's site and they list K-Mart as the only retailer. I checked google and it seems some sites like Amazon are selling it if you don't have a K-Mart near you. I'm not sure why it's so tough to get but it's totally worth the hunt. Anyway, if you happen to find it, grab a bottle and see what lovely things it can do for your stinky vintage stuff!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Christmas in July

My hubby came through again for me-that's twice in one week! He found a huge box of Christmas decorations in the attic of an abandoned house and lugged it home for me. He called me earlier in the day to ask if I wanted it and in a momentary lapse of sanity I actually told him to just throw it away! I was feeling overwhelmed with "stuff" at the moment and didn't really want to deal with it. Knowing that I'd want to dig through it regardless of what I said on the phone, he lugged it home for me anyway. The box had been sitting in my garage since Thursday because, quite honestly, it looked like a big ol' box of crap and I wasn't too interested. Long story short, I finally dug through it this afternoon and the picture above is of the treasures it yielded! I had get to the bottom of all the ugly junk to find the box of lovely vintage ornaments. And to make it even sweeter, most of them have a touch of pink or silver. I've been a long time collector of vintage Christmas decorations that are NOT red or green so this was a nice surprise. These also help make up for two years ago when I knocked my entire Christmas tree into the fireplace while vacuuming. The casualties were high that day and I've been slowly adding back to my collection every since.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Something's fishy...

My husband is just obsessed as I am with all things old. We don't always agree on decor (see previous post about the pixie cookie jar-he was NOT on board with that one!), but it's always exciting when he brings home a treasure for me after work. Today's find is this fish wall pocket scored at an estate sale for $2. It will look great in our hall bathroom...this time he caught a big one!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oh oh it's magic!

Let's take this opportunity to say a few words about the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It is exactly as described: MAGIC! When I discovered these it was like a whole new world of clean opened up in front of me. They work on pretty much everything. I've used them on my leather purses, patent leather purses, shoes, knick knacks that would not come clean with any amount of scrubbing or soaking, furniture (especially handy for vinyl and formica), paint on walls, ceramics, and most impressive: my husband's white leather tuck n'roll upholstery in his Shoebox Ford. They clean in every little wrinkle and crevice of vinyl and wipe clean plastic all with minimal effort and no harsh cleaning products. This is what makes them so safe to use on that fragile vintage lucite handbag or lovely ceramic painted figurine. I feel very comfortable using them on all treasures I've brought home and continue to be amazed each time I use one. If you haven't tried them yet, here's a link to a coupon:
Happy Cleaning!

Monday, July 12, 2010

It never hurts to ask...

Today I'm going to go back a couple years and tell my favorite "never hurts to ask" story....

I was driving to Lowe's to buy god-knows-what for some sort of project I was attempting and passed a Taco Bell I'd driven by many times. Every time I drove by it, I'd say "I sure wish I could find one of those umbrellas for my back yard!". Well on this particular day there just happened to be a chain link fence around the property (a sure sign the place was going to be remodeled or bull-dozed). Of course, my first thought was, "What's going to happen to all those umbrellas!?!?" I went to Lowe's, did my shopping , and on the way home the chain link gate was open at the Taco Bell. A truck was parked inside the parking lot so I figured this was my only window of opportunity. I found the owner of the truck and asked him if the place was going to be bulldozed which he confirmed for me. Then I asked him if he had a way for me to contact the owner or landlord. I'm sure he thought I was crazy but he obliged and gave me the number. I called it up, amazingly got the owner on the first try and launched into my explanation of NEEDING one his umbrellas. He told me he really wasn't supposed to give me one but I could take one if I wanted. Never one to be satisfied with the minimum, (and chances like this probably only come along once in a lifetime) I asked if I could have two. He laughed and said "ok".

SO EXCITED, I went back over to ask the guy in the parking how long he'd be there so I could have my husband come pick them up. He said he was leaving in 20 minutes, but I could come back with a 9/16 in. socket wrench and open the gate myself whenever I wanted to. This guy was my new hero! I called Johnny and told him to get over there ASAP with the truck to bring my new treasures home! The two fabulous turquoise-starburst-fiberglass umbrellas now live a happy life poolside in my backyard...forever saved from the landfill. And the moral of the story? IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pixie Cookie Jar

A little known fact about me: I really like pixies and elves. I mean REALLY. I have a pretty extensive collection of pixies for Christmas decorations and over the years I've ended up with some pretty awesome Treasure Craft planters in the elf motif. Most of them are packed away since they don't really go with the rest of the decor in my house, but I just can't bear to part with them even though most of my friends think they are super creepy.

Today my husband and I were out running errands and happened to see a garage sale sign. We'd been successfully ignoring them for most of the day but I needed my fix. I hemmed and hawed over my purchase (mostly because I thought my husband was going to have a fit), but really the second I had seen it I knew I'd buy it anyway. I never had any intention of buying a cookie jar (ever), but I couldn't just leave this guy at the garage sale, could I???

Friday, July 9, 2010

New to this...

I'm totally new to this whole "blogging" thing, so I figured the best place to start would be with a little about me. I'm pretty much obsessed with all things OLD. Old objects offer us a window to the past. That gorgeous vintage dress you just found: how do you feel when you wear it? You feel just that: gorgeous- like a movie star from another time, a glamour girl maybe from the cover of a 50's issue of Vogue. Those incredible black and white photos you dug out of a dirty ol' box at the swap meet? They take you back to a simpler place in time. If you stare at them long enough you almost know why the subject is smiling or how the air may have smelled on that lovely summer day by the lake.

I surround myself with these things because it feels right-it feels GOOD. Don't ask me how it all started. Probably a lot of it can be credited to my parents. I grew up surrounded by antiques, hearing stories about each item and how it managed to make it's way into our home. My dad was a dumpster diver since childhood and always took me to garage sales and swap meets during mine. For a long time I thought it was strange but as I got older, Saturday mornings I couldn't wait for him to come home from the sales and show me what he'd found.

High school was filled with trips to thrift stores with friends...we'd ditch out of school early and pile into my buddy's VW bus, eager to go treasure hunting in the 100 degree heat of East County. What I remember most is the lack of AC in those old warehouse buildings and the SMELL OF OLD. Clothes were cheap and the knick knacks weren't worth anything yet in those days before the internet and ebay. And I LOVED every minute of it. Never knowing what you might find was the ultimate high for me. And to this day it's never gotten old.

Now to some of you reading this, this is nothing new to you. You are all too familiar with the high one can experience treasure hunting. I'm not special in these experiences. I just really dig it! The more I think about it, the more I realize how much it actually consumes my life. I rarely buy anything new. I am always on the look out for garage sale and estate sale signs. The only way you can get me out of bed earlier than 9am on a weekend it for a swap meet. A friend of mine suggested I start a blog to talk about all my hunting-she said it would be "interesting". So here I am...and I hope she's right!